by Carrie Adams
With Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the entirety of the East Coast and already effecting 50 million people, at Spartan Race HQ, we’re paying attention. In New York, Sandy is flooding Battery Park, leading to mass evacuations, and excessive storm surge threatening to run rampant in lower Manhattan at high tide tonight. As New Yorkers are preparing for power outages and possible food shortages Spartan Race is preparing to put on our first public demonstration of Spartan Race in Times Square Thursday, November 1st from 11AM – 2PM.
With billions of dollars of damage possible, markets closed, and schools and businesses on hold, Hurricane Sandy, a Category 1 Hurricane being dubbed a “Super Storm” is proving to be a formidable weather event for the heart of the East Coast. And Spartan is no stranger to Hurricanes. It’s how our infamous Hurricane Heat was born and it nearly destroyed our Headquarters and town of Pittsfield, VT, not to mention the home of our new HQ presence in Boston, MA.
Our experience with hurricanes is storied. When news of the impending landfall of Hurricane Irene began to circulate in the summer of 2011, Spartan HQ worked diligently to keep race doors open for the weekend of our first ever two-day event at that time in Amesbury, MA. When the State of Massachusetts shut down the site and the venue for Sunday’s August 28, 2011 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 and has thrived ever since.
Hurricane Irene then descended on the East coast and ravaged Spartan HQ in Pittsfield, VT and nearby Killington, VT where the Spartan Race World Championship Beast and Ultra Beast race was held in September 2012. The towns became islands, stranding the people who ultimately were helped by the Air National Guard, (one of Spartan’s partner sponsors) who assisted 14 other towns in the same stranded circumstances that were they were airlifted supplies and supplied necessities as the roads were being repaired to allow access into the battered towns.
As you can see, the lodge at K1, where a thousand Spartans earned their green medal, collapsed due to the effects of Hurricane Irene. The Pickel Barrel, where hundreds of athletes gathered with their turkey legs and celebrated their completion of the BEAST, has suffered flooding. The bridges up and down Route 100 have collapsed, making it impossible to travel through the heart of the Green Mountains, by car or by foot. In fact, Pittsfield has become an island because of the destroyed bridges, entering and exiting the town line. The destruction of the bridges in Pittsfield has made the town unreachable, for there is absolutely no way to get in or out, except by helicopter! In fact, one of these collapsed bridges was located just outside of our office.
Vermont and our HQ hunkered down and rebuilt, though effects from the storm were still visible at our 2012 Beast and Ultra Beast event.
The New York Times had some good news early Monday morning about Times Square, saying: “…even an impending monster storm like Hurricane Sandy has not kept the tourists away from Times Square. In a post, one of its reporters says, “The approach of Hurricane Sandy may have shut down Broadway theaters on Sunday night, but it did not blow all of the tourists out of Times Square.
Late into the evening, hundreds of people milled about in the cool, fresh air, bathed in the glow of electronic signs and giant TV screens.”
It will be a rough few days for the East Coast and Spartan Race wishes all residents and visitors to the East Coast a safe week with the impending storm and storm surge. We are vigilantly watching the “Super storm” at HQ for all those in the path and hope to be out en mass in Times Square on Thursday as scheduled to bring some Spartan spirit to the people of New York. Our entire organization has been trained in Hurricane event management over the last two years, Sandy will be no different