by Carrie Adams
When news of the impending landfall of Hurricane Irene began to circulate, Spartan HQ worked diligently to keep race doors open for the weekend. When the State of Massachusetts shut down the site and the venue for Sunday’s August 28th day of racing, and declared a state of emergency we were forced to cancel the heats. Amidst the disappointed racers and staffers, no one was more upset than our own owner, Joe DeSena and the crews, course designers, and builders ready to race in Amesbury.
Plans for possible Sunday heats evaporated when we were notified that streets would be shut down and the Sunday permit would no longer be valid. A new plan was necessary. Phone calls, site visits, and last minute adjustments were made and SR staffers managed to negotiate an alternative for a few Spartan athletes brave enough to take on the challenge. By noon on Friday, an invitation went out to all Sunday racers giving them the chance to try Spartan’s course with a unique twist. An early morning run through the course led by some of the Founders of Spartan Race. And just like that, Running with the Founders: The Hurricane Heat was born.
Running in teams with self-determined names like “Team Orange Hat”, “Team Death”, “Team Sandbag” and without chips at 6 AM, Saturday, August 27th more than 150 people spent nearly 2 1/2 hours with Joe DeSena and other Spartan staff racing the course, doing burpees together, hauling sand bags and getting a taste of what motivates our company of athletes to do what we do with our races.
The athletes, dubbed the Hurricane Heaters, earned their finisher medals and in their own words, told of their experience out in the woods, in the mud, and in the company of some other amazing runners who took part in the first heat of it’s kind.
“Team Orange Hat Forever!! ” – Domenic Fernandes
“Running the Amesbury Race twice in one day was awesome! Hobie is def a damn Beast. Joe once again thanks for taking the 6 am Hurricane Heat and making it worth the 2 1/2 hour drive to the race. Team Disconnected rocked it.” – Nathan Holmes
“Team Green of the Hurricane Division. You all rule!! No questions.” – Jennifer Sullivan
“Can’t thank Joe enough for making the Hurricane Heat happen! It was 2.5 hours of torture but we loved every minute of it! Thanks for designing such a challenging course, pushing us to our limits, and running along with us carrying a sandbag! Thanks to Team Orange Hat for killing it! And Mr. Orange Hat himself for dragging that sandbag under the barbed wire for the team!” –Alison Brown
“Thanks, Spartan organizers, for putting together this morning’s Hurricane Heat. Wish Irene would have let us have Sunday, but this was a great and perhaps more memorable alternative. Toughest course I’ve done (so far). Go Team North Shore!” – David Elston-Pollock
“The Amesbury course was awesome this year, even better than the last.. Thanks for lettling the Hurricane division run and Team Death kick axx!” – Jonathan Rheaume
“Thank you to all the organizers for pulling together and making the hurricane heat possible. It was above and beyond the call of duty, and something we all will never forget. For all those people who complained about the situation, I hope you were there to enjoy the heat with us, and recognize how hard they worked to make it happen. Special thanks to Joe for running with us at 6am with a sandbag for the entire race!” – Kevin Andrews
We were thrilled to give some Spartans a memorable experience in Amesbury Running with the Founders. It should come as no surprise to you that Joe D and few Hurricane Heaters took to the trails on Sunday to get in a training run…
On a more serious note, our thoughts go out to all those still at the mercy of Hurricane Irene. Our own HQ in Vermont has been hit hard and many people are without homes, power, and have been evacuated with no sure sign of when they can return. We hope that Irene passes soon and the recovery can soon follow. Stay safe until we race with you again, Spartans.