by Michael Vidas, Hurricane Heat Chicago, Class of 2011
I came into the Chicago Hurricane Heat with no idea of what to expect. I was told to show up with a head lamp, two glow sticks, and to be ready to get dirty. I was informed that this will be like nothing I have ever done before. That I will be challenged in ways that I hadn’t even thought of before.
Everything I was told was absolutely correct.
I had never entered a Spartan Race, or any other similar event prior to this heat, but after spending half a decade as a rescue swimmer with the US Navy, I felt I had probably been in a similar place. I was both right and wrong. I know a few things about pushing limits, and pushing beyond what you’ve thought you were capable of. But this is a different animal.
In ancient Sparta, when the army would roll into combat they would walk closely shields up knowing that in teamwork lies safety. In fact, the penalty for losing your spear or helmet was a fine, the penalty for losing your shield was death. The group came before the individual. The famous phalanx was a Spartan invention. Combining many shields into one to form an invincible fortress. Out of many, one. A mantra so meaningful and lasting that its printed on every single piece of currency used in America. Every person, from Sparta to the Middle East, that walks into combat knows that the person next to them is, at that moment, is the most important person in the world. This is the order of the day at a Spartan Hurricane Heat.
The Hurricane Heat isn’t a race. That was made apparent at the very beginning. There were no clocks, there were no timing chips. Just a bunch of athletes from different backgrounds with a desire to overcome anything that we encountered. And overcome we did.
A pitch black night, our paths lit only by the headlamps of 20 other strangers, we took off into the Illinois woods. While travelling through knee deep mud and chest high water, we were directed around the course by our Spartan staff leader completing various obstacles and always, ALWAYS moving as unit. If one of us couldn’t run, we would all walk, if one couldn’t walk, we would all crawl, and if one couldn’t crawl, we would carry them. Out of many, one.
In my life, I have completed many, many obstacle courses built by some of the hardest people on earth. I’ve even done them everywhere from Iraq to Maine, from Afghanistan to panama, wherever they said go, I went. I have never been presented with the challenges of this hurricane heat. A cargo net is one thing, a cargo net while holding an egg in one hand and being faced with the added challenge of having two out of our unit of 22 not being able to touch the net, makes it insanely more complicated.
Nothing put before us was impossible. Nothing put before us was easy. We accomplished every task, we did every burpee. We started as a bunch of athletes on a field, we ended as one TEAM of very muddy Spartans.
Out of many, one.