On 8th October 2016, 58 brave Spartans took part in an endurance event which would test their mental fortitude, camaraderie and grit for a total duration of 4 hours. Unlike a regular Spartan Race, Hurricane Heaters are placed in teams and then assigned to complete various tasks according to the Krypteia’s (Hurricane Heat Leaders) plans. This usually takes place on the race course and may involve the use of obstacles as well.
Our most experienced Krypteias Jack and Jake lead the group through the first activity. Their mission was for one person to touch a bucket which could move around (courtesy of the Krypteias). Additionally, our class had to respond to the whistle blows given by Jack.
- 1 Whistle – Bear Crawl
- 2 Whistles – Leopard Crawl
- 3 Whistles – Burpees
At the end of it we also got our class to memorize the Warrior Ethos by appointing leaders of Teams to shout them out while the class repeated the lines in various stress positions. These four verses are key to successfully accomplishing a Hurricane Heat. They will remind you why you are here and why you should not give up until the event is over. Memorize these before your next event and they might just save you and your team a lot of Burpees.
- I will always place the mission first.
- I will never accept defeat.
- I will never quit.
- I will never leave a fallen comrade.
1500-1530: BURPEE WAVE
Similar to a Kallang wave, except instead of lifting one’s hands in the air, we got our class to perform Burpees and pass the wave along.
We turned things up a notch by making the first person performing the Burpee run to the front of the line before the ‘wave’ ended so our teams would be moving forwards at all times. Then we made it a competition – the first team (out of 4) that reached the end of 50m while performing the Burpee wave would get to rest. The remaining teams would then need to compete again to be the first one back before they could rest.
After the first team reached the end and moved aside to rest, we reconsidered the offer. Letting them watch at the side wouldn’t be in tune with the spirit of the event.
“You have 2 choices. Either rest at the side… or split your team up amongst the remaining three so they have more people and will cover the distance faster.”
As we scanned the faces of the first team, we could tell that some of them were not too excited about the change in reward. Too bad, this is what the Hurricane Heat was created for – to drill into our Spartans the value of teamwork and camaraderie.
“More hands make for lighter work.”
1530-1630: WOUNDED COMPANION
We started this station with tasking the teams to send a representative to fill up their team buckets with water. Initially this was meant to simulate the load of carrying a wounded team-member. It would test the team’s ability to plan and strategize how they wanted to carry the bucket as they moved to the next station along the course.
However we soon realized that the buckets had holes in them. Before we knew it, some of them were empty. Good thing we had a backup plan which was to use the spare 1.5L bottled water we had included in everyone’s mandatory gear.
The class then followed Krypteia Raymond along the route we had planned. Sometimes the speed would be fast, almost like a sprint. Sometimes it would slow down to a crawl. This was done to test our class’ ability to stay as a team (Warrior Ethos 4). Eventually the line spread out pretty thin and some teams had some of their teammates struggling at the back.
Seeing this, we radioed Raymond at the front. It looked like they haven’t learnt the meaning of “leaving no comrade behind”.
Raymond made a quick stop for the people in front to perform some Burpees while the rest caught up. Then he introduced some casualties in addition to the filled bucket. This made them move even slower but at least now, the teams were moving as a team. We continued like this for a couple of kilometres and made the class cross a few obstacles in the process until the reached the next station which was an open space beside the Rope Climb obstacle.
This station was one of the more memorable ones…
Our class were told to take their bottles out of the bucket and line them up 10 metres away from where we placed the buckets. The participants then had to take a large sip of water, hold it in their mouth, log roll to the bucket, spit the water out and log roll back for another sip.
It was slow moving and we could tell from the looks of our heaters’ faces that they really did not enjoy this. This activity taught our class the mindset of Warrior Ethos 3 – “I will never quit.” We wanted to emphasise that despite the fatigue, giddyness and discomfort they felt, as long as they kept going, they would eventually reach their goals and complete their mission. Even if they had to take breaks, just witnessing the rest of their teammates continuing to slog it out should be enough to convince them to not let them down by slacking and contribute to filling the bucket.
Maybe I got a little soft or too empathetic because I eventually got our Krypteia in charge of this station to allow them some log roll variations. Starting with being able to walk back after spitting the water out to doing bear crawls, squat jumps, ape crawls and crab walks instead of rolling. This would double up as a lesson on crawls which was required for the next station.
1700-1800: NOAH’S ARK
After learning the various crawls, we got our class to use the webbing (part of the mandatory gear list) they had brought to tie one hand to another partner. This was then followed by a record breaking animal crawl from the Rope Climb station to the Rolling Mud Station. I don’t think any Hurricane Heat class has ever crawled this far before!
Along the way, our Krypteias kept them busy switching crawls, singing songs, and making the last group crawl to the front. This was a great idea by Jake to get the groups always one their feet (and hands) and not let them think that they could fall behind because they were at the back.
1800-1815: COLD WATER MEDITATION
Initially we planned to use the Rolling Mud or Dunk Wall obstacle to submerge our class chest high in muddy water but the Dunk Wall’s water level was too high – a safety concern. Thus we settled for the Rolling Mud obstacle which had a lot of mud but not enough water. Adapting to the situation, we got our class to coat themselves in mud before settling down, closing their eyes and listening to a guided meditation led by me.
The aim was to get them reflecting on the lives they have led. Where they have been, where they are going and where they want to go. Most of us are too busy being busy with our lives that we rarely stop for a moment to consolidate our thoughts. I believe everyone has the wisdom inside of them to know what they truly want out of life.
We just have not taken the time to plan or summoned the courage to take action or keep putting off our plans until ‘the situation improves’ or ‘the time is right’. At Spartan, we aim to “Build Better Humans” and what the world needs is for more humans to do the things that inspire them and contribute to the betterment of society and the world at large. Thus I also made the distinction between striving for “self achievement” and leading a fulfilling life. The latter involves an element of altruism. One can be satisfied by finally buying your dream home or owning your dream car but for how long?
Finding and pursuing one’s passion is only half of the equation.
Selfless dedication to one’s passion that ultimately helps improve the lives of others is the other.
Your life will be much more fulfilling and you will enjoy lasting happiness when you know that you have made a positive difference to the lives’ of others.
I left them with this quote:
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”Pablo Picasso
At this point every Hurricane Heater with a watch would know that the end was nearing. Thus we named the last station “Homerun”.
Our class’ mission was to make their way back to the finish line safely. From four teams we merged them into two and got them to tie their hands together. Then then jogged back to the start at the Finish Line, completing a number of synchronized burpees along the way.
Just when they thought it was over, it wasn’t. We got them doing a number of extra exercises at the finish line. The site of the finish line certainly lifted their spirits but in no time we watched as their faces fell one-by-one as the exercises continued.
This was something we had learnt in the army. “Don’t assume the mission is over until it really is.” In this case it was only over when we handed them their dog tags and shirts.
A month prior, I was put in charge of planning for and organising this event. It was no small feat as I had never taken part in any Hurricane Heat prior, both as a participant or as a Krypteia so the learning curve was steep.
Additionally, we faced numerous restrictions from the Malaysian licensee who at one point demanded we had our own medical team on standby which costs nearly SGD$40,000! This was out of the question and we had to make do with switching the time of the event to 1500 – 1900 instead of the usual time in the wee hours of the morning before the first Spartan wave is flagged off. This allowed us to tap on the existing medical support from the race which only covered from 0600 – 1900.
Planning and Execution
Planning wise it wasn’t that hard but to successfully execute the plan required a great deal of preparation.
Although we arrived 2 days in advance, we did a recce of our Hurricane Heat route 3 times in total – once a day. We got so familiar with it that there was no need for a map. We timed how long it would take to walk from station to station and adjusted our plans accordingly. We took a station out and distributed the time for that station across the others to ensure we had ample time to get our participants back before 1900.
The Value of Teamwork
I felt the greater part of executing a successful event was the chemistry amongst our capable team of Krypteias. They took time to memorize the plan and time schedule and stuck to the important timings throughout the event. I take my hat off to them. Well, it seems like the Hurricane Heat lives up to its purpose of fostering teamwork in everyone!
“Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is progress.
Working together is success.”
I think the Krypteias and I would agree that this particular class of Hurricane Heaters were unique in the sense that they were willing to engage in the activities we planned to the best of their abilities. They did not harbour any preconceived ideas or expectations of what a Hurricane Heat was supposed to be like despite a number of them having done the previous Hurricane Heat Asia 002 in Singapore. Unlike previous classes (from what I heard), there was no complaining. Everyone accepted what needed to be done, put their head down and grinded.
As such, they have earned our respect and admiration in having braved the STORM!
Well done class.