Race Recap: 2017 Greek Peak Spartan Race and Hurricane Heat
Reebok Spartan Race held its first ever domestic winter Sprint course at Greek Peak in Cortland, NY on March 4. That same night, Spartan hosted the inaugural winter Hurricane Heat. Spartan had previously hosted winter races in Slovakia and France in 2016, but until now things only got as cold as Lake Tahoe or New Jersey dictated in October. Brian Gowiski won the men’s elite heat with a time of 38:24 and Tiffany Palmer took home the women’s elite victory posting a time of 50:55. This was my 11th Spartan Race and the only other race that was this cold was the Fenway Park Sprint in 2014. Here’s how everything went down in upstate New York.
I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express with elite racers Patricio Remache, Giovanni Escobedo and Charles Macdonald from Friday to Sunday but I ran in the competitive heat, finishing with a time of 1:18. That time included waiting for a buddy to take multiple attempts at the rig obstacle before I convinced him to do the burpees. Packing for both the Sprint and Hurricane Heat was stressful and left me with a headache by the time I arrived at the hotel. On race morning, I parked at a satellite lot, took the shuttle (a school bus) to the Greek Peak Mountain, picked up my packet and checked my bag. The packet pickup took a while because this was indoors and there was a logjam of people trying to register. This was at 9:00am so I can only imagine what it was like later in the day. From wake up time to bag check, here is what I consumed:
1 serving X-Endurance Extreme Endurance
1 GLUKOS Energy Gel
200mg caffeine pill
½ serving Cellucor Alpha Amino Xtreme
Eggs, Bacon, Turkey Sausage, Orange Juice, and a Cinnamon Bun. This was the complimentary hotel breakfast.
Wearing three long sleeve shirt layers, a short sleeve shirts, a fleece jacket, three pants, (including thermal pants), wool and running socks, a face shield, winter hat, DgearOG gloves, a CamelBak Circuit hydration pack and Merrell Mid Capra Bolt Hiking Boots, I lined up at the start line and got ready to take on a unique challenge. The entire course took place in snow, meaning there all parts of the ground were covered in snow. This caused me to slip and slide a bit and actually fall forward a few times. The rig obstacles was all gymnastics rings;there wasn’t any nunchucks or round objects to traverse. This made the rig one of the easier obstacles for me because I have decent upper body and grip strength. In fact, I didn’t fail any obstacles in this race, which means I hit the spear throw!
Other obstacles included the Bucket Brigade, which was revisited during the Hurricane Heat, the Atlas Carry, which was probably the hardest due to the stone being slippery, and the rope. To this day, I’ve yet to use any foot technique when climbing a rope. I always use just arms and this never fails me. The winter version of the dunk wall was sliding over and down some snow hills and at the end of the course there was a huge downhill snow mountain which I’m sure racers slid down at some point. Some of the water at the two stations was frozen which I’d imagine became an issue as the day went on. The hose of my hydration pack froze, something which had never happened to me before, so I learned my lesson there.
One of the most inspiring moments was watch an adaptive athlete with a running blade for a leg conquer the slippery terrain. This man was at a huge disadvantage since his metal blade kept slipping against the snow/ice yet he used trees, branches, anything he could to stay up navigate the terrain. If a man with one leg can do this race, so can you. After crossing the finish line, the next objective was the 4-hour Hurricane Heat (HH).
My cell phone had frozen and turned off while I was racing so I had no way to create any social media content. Therefore, I headed back to the shuttle, got in the car, drove back to the hotel, took a warm shower and started preparing for the Hurricane Heat, which required my attendance at 4:30pm. I threw three pants layers, three long sleeve shirts—all different from the Sprint clothes--and this time I wore North Face snow boots. I threw the Nike jacket and face shield in the dryer on my hotel room floor and I started to fuel up. Here is a list of everything I consumed prior to the HH. Keep in mind I had completed one HH already, last year in Palmteron, PA.
BETWEEN EVENT FUEL
6oz baked chicken, 3 oz white rice, 3 oz green veggies
1 serving SI Nutrients Max Endurance
1 serving Betancourt Nutrition Glutamine
1 serving Prime Nutrition Beta-Alanine
1 serving GLUKOS Energy Powder mixed with water
1 serving GLUKOS Whey Protein Powder mixed with water
Throughout the weekend, I was eating cashew nut butter. I’m a huge nut butter guy.
Now wearing an Osprey Packs Rev 12 Hydration Pack, I headed back to the frozen mountain to meet more Spartans. I was one of the first to arrive at the HH meet-up so I was waiting for close to an hour in the cold for the squad to assemble. This was probably the coldest part of the entire weekend, tied with the walk back to the car, post HH. The HH saw 61 Spartans divided into five teams and some challenges were team vs team while others were performed as one total unit.
The HH challenges included fun and intense relay races that incorporated some of the obstacles from the Sprint course. For example, fill a bucket halfway full with rocks and sprint through the Bucket Brigade obstacle, trying to be the first member of your team to finish. Or, as a team, pull each member of your team literally as they sat on top of the sled used in the Sled Drag obstacle to other side of the rope and the first team to get all members to the other side of the pit wins. To you Spartan employees reading this (I know who you are), no, I will not share the details. I will say that we had to move 6,000 pounds of sandbags from one spot to another which was just straight up gritty manual labor.
I’M READY FOR MORE
My Osprey Pack hose froze, but I still had the water in bladder. Next time I do a cold event, I’ll just wear my Goruck Rucker with a Nalgnene/metal water bottle inside. I packed almonds, Vermont Meats Jerky Sticks, protein bars, Honey Stinger energy chews and some energy gels. I had plenty of food left at the end of the event. At the end of the HH, I gave my T-shirt away to a female Spartan because there weren’t enough for everyone, and I collected my second HH wedge and dogtag. The HH was run very efficiently and it was an absolute blast.
By the time I got back to the hotel, it was 11pm and I ate that same meal I ate before the HH plus Friday night’s restaurant leftovers. And of course, I cracked open a beer and watched some fights. Spartan put on a unique race and it was great to see that not one Spartan dropped out of the HH due to injury or coldness. Hurricane Heats are also a reminder that some of these same people complete the Agoge, a 60-hour event. That's something that would truly help me find out who I am. Until then, I’m taking 2017 one article and event a time. Last year, I completed 16 OCRs and 2 Gorucks. Time will tell if I reach those numbers this year.
I WILL ALWAYS PLACE THE MISSION FIRST
I NEVER ACCEPT DEFEAT
I WILL NEVER QUIT
I WILL NEVER LEAVE A FALLEN COMRADE