(Last week, I posted a link to a blog I was asked to write about my experience with Spartan Endurance. This is my original writing that I had to edit down to make room for the comments I included. Enjoy)
Wet, muddy, cold. Swearing I would never, ever do it again. When I called my husband after it was all over, apparently I dropped the f-bomb more times in 5 minutes than he had heard in the last 5 years. Or so he tells me. I don’t remember. Kinda like childbirth. Also, kinda like childbirth, as the days passed, the pain and suffering started to blur and the aftereffects of being through something difficult with a group of people also sharing that pain and suffering started to change into…something. Something indefinable.
Indefinable. We all have people with which we share things. Friends, colleagues, family. But it isn’t until you share discomfort and difficulty that you make those deeper bonds. I don’t mean the discomfort of an awkward situation – we’ve all had those – but real discomfort. Wet, muddy, hurting, and yet still moving forward because your team needs you. Once you’re pushed so far out of your comfort zone that you can’t see where you started, and you look around at the other wet, muddy faces struggling right along side you, things change. You change.
There’s a new “fad” out there on TV. Reality shows like The Selection, Team Spartan Race, even to an extent America Ninja Warrior College Madness, pushing small groups of people together, who may or may not know each other at the beginning, into doing difficult challenges. I’m not even talking about that, although I see shades of similarity now that I’ve been through it. Twice.
I’m talking about Spartan Endurance. Specifically the Hurricane Heat (HH). What? You haven’t heard of it? Well, let me just tell you, it’s hell, it’s cold (or hot), it’s definitely wet, it’s probably going to be muddy, and fun. How can it be fun? Imagine playing Hungry Hungry Hippo in groups of 6, carrying the “hippo” (the 7th person) and racing against other “hippos” to a field of tennis balls to see who gets the most balls in the 5 gallon bucket the “hippo” is holding. Oh, and the “hippo” can’t touch the ground. And you have 30 seconds before you have to go back to your spot. Then imagine a similar game where your team has a few minutes to gather the most tennis balls from the field, even stealing from other teams. The first team to 60 wins. We never made it past 28.
Imagine being duct-taped by the wrist in a group of about 12-15, and having to negotiate your way through mud and under barbed wire, all while trying to educate a Frenchman on the slang of the word “slippery”. Imagine standing in a line, facing a similar line of people, and having to pass a bag of peanuts down the line, using only neon-green, 2 ft long broom handles, and not letting the bag fall, otherwise you have to start over. Imagine a grown-up version of a 3-legged race, with someone you may (or may not) know, in the dark, up and over muddy hills. And imagine joking and laughing the whole time, keeping each other’s morale higher than yours, so they can boost yours higher than theirs. Oddly, I adapted a few of these challenges for my Cub Scouts, and they loved it.
Why am I talking about this? It’s simple. It’s been almost a year, and the Hurricane Heat is back in Atlanta. That one that I swore I would never, ever do again? This year, it’ll be my third HH. Over the summer, I participated in one at Ft. Campbell, KY, and it was almost like a family reunion. There’s something special about this group of people. We bonded in Atlanta that night in a way not many people do. I’ve made lifelong friends, bonded closer with acquaintances I had only just meet a few weeks before, and have found a network of people that “get it”.
We started that evening as strangers, for the most part, nervous, scared, not sure what to expect. But we finished as family. There’s definitely something indefinable about that night, the night that started with HH-080. Last year, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. This year, I can’t wait for it to happen. That was the magic of 080. I don’t know what the new number will be; I don’t know what the new team name will be; I don’t know who I’ll see/meet there. But I hope you’re one of them. Come define the indefinable with me.
Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, I’m a 45 yr old housewife, with 2 kids. I’m not a runner, I’m not overly strong, but I know how to work on a team, and I’ll never leave a fallen comrade.