Wow what a day at Aston Down! Two races in a day, both challenging and exhausting but at the same time totally different from each other. Let’s start from the beginning. I have arrived the night before, Friday night. Good thing about the recent changes was that Spartan team organised to allow the campsite just next to the race site. So it was a relief as you don’t have to travel anywhere between the races, it saves you time and it is just all the good vibes to spend more time with your fellow Spartans.
I registered for my Spartan Super distance for Saturday morning. I wanted to get it done as soon as possible, because I had a Hurricane Heat 4 hours endurance challenge same day at 18:00. So my plan was to get Super done in the morning as quickly as possible, spend as little time as possible on my feet, recover and get ready for the evening. I was thinking if I be able to cope with two demanding endurance challenges on the same day, especially that endurance is not my strongest point. But oh well, I said to myself, you are going to suffer, but it will be fun. I knew that for my body 6-7 hours between the race should be enough to recover. The main question about Hurricane Heat was that nobody knew what to expect and it was the biggest unknown.
My start time was assigned 8:40 for the 12+km obstacle race. It is such a good feeling to be on the start line with all the Spartans around you and you can feel that emotion going through you. The start kicked off and we were on the track. This time I kept my pace and was not trying to sprint through the start line as I did in the previous race. I knew if it is going to be hills just around the corner I will be out of breath very quickly. And hills are not my strong side. Not strong at all. So decided to pace myself in the beginning but my plan was still very clear – to give everything I have during this race!
Not long enough into the race we had lots and lots of hills which led us to carry all the different objects like tires, sand bags, logs. My calves could feel it and got pumped straight away. Up the hills no doubt I was walking, but everywhere flat I was jogging. It was hard moments as my body (more likely my mind) wanted just to walk, but I kept repeating myself that I can still rest while jogging and be a bit quicker rather than just walk till I get my breath back. Every where I was just pushing myself where I could. Besides all that obstacles thrown at us my timing chip got loose and I had to deal with this as well, instead of just concentrating on the race. In the few water refill posts I have asked medics if they have a tape or something to tighten my chip…with no luck.
Anyway, around 9km in the race my calf started cramping. Another thing that I was not ready for. I didn’t have any electrolytes or water with me as it was reasonable distance to go without any supplements. Time by time I just stretched and it all went pretty alright due to the cramps. I still could feel it, but it was nothing major. Next obstacle was bucket carry full of small rocks and it was hard, my friend. You are not allowed to put it on your shoulders, so you can carry it only with your hands. The distance was pretty long to carry, quite heavy and uncomfortable, weight. After this obstacle I start seeing last obstacles and the tents where Start and Finish lines were. By this time I was pretty exhausted with 30 burpees already done on my way. The next obstacle was spear throwing. And this is something that you really cannot practise. And I failed. Another 30 burpees. After it was done it was rope climbing. You have to climb almost 5 meters up. For me not a big deal, but… I don’t have any technique. Haven’t practised it till I was at school and everything what I can rely on is just my upper body strength. I had to climb up the rope with my body weight – 98kg, to reach the bell just using my hand strength. Another few obstacles and the finish line! Straight away I have got the medal I was down on my knees getting my breath back. The total time was 2 hours 20 minutes, which made me in the 145th place out of 1554 which is good and being fair to myself that I gave everything I had.
So it was 11:00 in the morning and I had 7 hours to recover till my next challenge. Just after few recovery drinks after the finish line I was heading to my tent to shower and go back into the warm sleeping bag to rest. Suddenly IT hit me so hard that I straight away felt down on the ground with a massive calf cramp. While on the ground I tried to stretch my calf but the pain was unbelievable. I had lots of cramps before but never like that. I started shouting for the help and on lady came in help. She helped me to bend my calf the opposite direction to make as much stretch as possible. I am not sure how much time it took but I guess few minutes into the massive pain, cramp started to go away. I managed to stand up and was heading straight to get my electrolytes (lucky enough I took it with me). My body was tired, light cramping started appearing on the upper legs as well, I started shaking for the tiredness and everything what I was thinking just to get needed rest. So with my limited moves, covered in mud, dirt and sweat I just got into my sleeping bag, covered in another one. I was lying in the tent and my body just could not stop shaking. Was not hungry at all and bit of sick but I knew that I need to eat as much as I can for the recovery. So got all the carbs just next to me, mostly fruits and dried fruits (the thing was to get easy to digest, quick release carbs, that body doesn’t need spend much energy going heavy to digest the food) and was forcing myself to get that much needed calorie intake. For the next few hours nothing happened and I was still trying to get warm, covered in two sleeping bags and warm clothes, but shiver was till with me. Not long time passed and I started feeling better, even managed to get a nap. Around 15:00 woke up and was feeling goood. I knew that I was going to recover till the next race 🙂 Went to the shower, stretched a bit and started getting ready for the Hurricane Heat. The only and the biggest of my concern was how to avoid cramps, because I knew if it hits me the same way again, I 100% will not be able to finish. So got more electrolytes in place, plenty of water and juice and regular salt. I was ready.
Hurricane Heat 4 started at 18:00. Nobody knew what to expect. And I was looking for the challenge, to get uncomfortable as much as I can, to push myself through the hardest moments. So we have been divided to three teams, 40+ people in each team. Myself was assigned B42 code name. Short enough we were represented to carry big fat log. Everything about the challenges became to solve it as the team, to help each other as the team, to act as the team. Log was heavy and we could fit around 30 people under that. It meant if we want to get more people under, we need to sync our moves, steps, etc. In the beginning it was difficult, it was a mess and we were not able to move on quickly (relatively quickly, as with that heavy log nobody moves quickly). Finally we managed to sync our steps and to switch between each others to rest, till somebody else will raise the hand to to be changed. By my estimate in total we carried the log around 4 hours and around 7 km. After the first few hours shoulders were burning and energy levels were going down, but everyone was in the good mood. I still was in the zone and still in my comfort zone.
When all three teams were asked to drop the log it was a relief and in my mind I was hoping that we don’t have to carry it again and start working on some other stuff. And indeed we got plenty of running-thinking challenges to solve, mostly up the hill and down. After some time we were told to get deep into the muddy pond. This is were it started to feel a bit uncomfortable as we had to get into the muddy water with all the clothes, shoes, bag pack. Water start reaching the neck level was not that comfortable, but still fun. We were doing burpees, push ups, sit ups and other activities. By the time we got out of the water it was almost dark and it started getting cold. This is the time when I started thinking, we better pick up that logs again and get working our asses just to get warm again. This moment for myself was most uncomfortable for the time being as started thinking it would be so nice to be in the hot shower now. We were under the log in less than 10 minutes and the cold really started hitting. I was carrying the log as long as I could, I wanted to run, do any activities just to get warm. On the same time I was thinking about another team members, especially girls who most of the time were not able to help with the log carry. They must be even colder and how strong they are just keeping with the team!
By the time we started heading back no more big surprises hit us. Everyone was in a good mood, the team leader was doing great job keeping everyone’s mood at the peak and soon enough we have reached the finish line. It was awesome, everyone was happy and in euphoria. All together it took us 5.5 hours the whole Hurricane Heat. We took the final pic of the team and I rushed for the deserved rest.
It was wonderful, challenging day with lots of gained experience. Met lots of wonderful people and made me started waiting for another events. What I learned from HH4 that everything to achieve is so easier with the team together, however to make the communication effective between the strangers is not easy. Not easy at all. It was only 5.5 hours in total, where we were tired but not dead tired. And this is another upper step I want to get on. To see true myself and true teammate next to you, when you are exhausted, hungry, with not enough sleep. And you still have to keep going, keep pushing, keep thinking and keep supporting each other. Can’t wait for another endurance/survival races and challenges I am going to experience this year! Arooo!