What Can I Expect From The Aston Down Spartan Race Hurricane Heat?

What Can I Expect From The Aston Down Spartan Race Hurricane Heat?

With my first ever Spartan Race endurance event just over a week away (The Hurricane Heat) I, like many others have no idea what to expect or how to prepare for one. All I know is that I will definitely be put through my paces with a large group, in the night, for 4 (maybe 5 or even 6) hours! So, with the obvious part out the way, what better way is there to gain some insight into what’s going to happen during the late hours over in Aston Down, then by speaking to the Spartan Race U.K. director himself, Karl Allsop.
Karl started his love for Spartan with a Death Race back in 2012 where he competed in and gained a massive insight into the world of endurance events. Through this community of adrenaline junkies he fell into the world of Spartan and ended up going from a Spartan Race Volunteer to becoming the Spartan Race Director in 2015.
Firstly Let’s start with Aston Down Race Course. Why this venue year in year out?
Every venue offers its own special area and has it own key feature that makes its stand out, but the first thing you think as a runner when you get to Aston Down is that its a flat air field; this is going to be easy. Thats until you reach THAT valley. Every runner has the same look on there face as they wind in and out of that valley and then when you think you have escaped, you get hit by Bucket Brigade. No easy way to do it, you just need to grit your teeth and finish that section. It sucks but you need to grit your teeth and get through it.
How can people best prepare for this course?
If your at the bottom of a valley, there is only one way to get up and thats to get up those hills. You get to Aston and think its going to be pretty easy, and then you look at the elevation you’ve gained by the time you cross that finish line. You can feel every bit of it. If there is something that sets Aston apart from the rest, its that. Get those hill climbs in. Get used to those hills. Get used to those carries up and down those hills. Get a log, get a sandbag, all pretty easy to access stuff, get a heavy item and get up and down those hills. Get used to that feeling.
Going up and down those hills 15, 20, 30 times across a race will take a toll on you. Your body will pay for it if you don’t have the right nutrition. We say it to everybody, but hydration days before is just as important. If your trying to hydrate on race day, its almost too late already. You start to realise that preparing for race day in advance massively helps; hydrate. Your still going to get to the finish line and at the end of the day, thats what being a Spartan is all about. It’s starting and it’s finishing. Everything in between is just one foot in front of the other, but there are a lot of things you can do to make yourself enjoy that a lot more.
Hurricane Heat; What am I actually going to need to do?
That is the age old question! Probably the one we are asked the most. I could sit here and tell you exactly what your going to do, but that would ruin the surprise. You would not enjoy it as much and you may even back out of it. That also wouldn’t be fair on everyone else taking part. What we can do is tell you what you might come up against based on what we have done before. It’s pretty obvious that during any Spartan Endurance event you are going to carry weight. That can be anything heavy! Heaviest Sandbag we have had was 300lbs split between a team. Heaviest Log split between a team was 1000lbs. 1500lbs tractor tire split between a team. Weight is a massive thing. There is a purpose to that weight. Its not about how heavy can we make it, its about getting everyone to work as a team. That one weight won’t move with one person. It’s unmovable. Its about how you move it together. Thats the whole thing about the Hurricane Heat; Every test we give you there is a purpose for it. The challenge your going to have is that your mind isn’t going to know what that is.
How can you best prepare for a Hurricane Heat?
Physically, people tend to relate and compare running a 6 hour Beast to a Hurricane Heat and think they will be fine. It is not the same thing. They don’t think about the body. How does it feel to run around in boots, with a rut sack and wet kit for 4 hours? I always say its best to train how you fight! If you think you are going to come up against something, practice it and learn it. If you think your going to get wet feet in boots, get in those boots and do a 20 miler with wet feet. Prepare for it. If you can see where the problems might come from, you can pre-empt them and work up to them.
Mentally, you will start thinking flight or fight straight away. Its about understanding how to deal with that emotion. There are a lot of things you can do to control that. Breathing techniques to control that response can make a massive difference. Understanding that you won’t be doing the tasks forever. Hurricane Heat’s have an interesting way of making it feel like its going on forever, but it won’t. Flick that switch in your mind and remind yourself its just one foot in front of the other. Relentless progress.
A lot of the time you wont know and understand the process while its happening but when you get to the end, you will understand all of it.
How many of those that start a Hurricane Heat actually finish?
For a Hurricane Heat, almost everyone should finish. Its a tough event, its not the easiest event and there will be people who want to quit. Its a team event, its not about the individual, we are not trying to make anyone quit. We are creating a situation where quitting and walking away is the easiest outcome. What we are looking for, or are trying to encourage everyone to not take that option. Almost everyone should do it. We have around 95% of people finish. You have people stop for various reasons such as past injuries but everyone that starts should be there at the end. We want everyone to say ok i’m doing this and i’m getting to the finish.
What would you say to get people interested in talking part in the Hurricane Heat to actually sign up?
Understanding what do you want to achieve from it. Its great to be able to take on something that you are prepared for, but are you able to take on a challenge where you don’t know whats coming. Are you not only ready to be challenged physically, but ready to be challenged mentally as well? Be challenged through your mind and your ability to take and accept whats in front of you? If you are, then hey, come along. We will get you in there. Or if your not sure, come and look at the start and at the end. You will see the difference in these people with smiles on their faces. You don’t know what they have been through, but they are smiling and there is only one reason for that. Its because they have achieved. They have done something they didn’t think they could do. I guarantee that every person who has got to the end, no matter how strong, has thought about quitting; But they haven’t, they are still there.
Are you interested in taking on a new challenge such as a Hurricane Heat? Or are you yet to try out a Spartan Race and are looking to push yourself further? Will you be at the Hurricane Heat over at Aston Down on the 22nd June? For 25% off of all open heat U.K. Spartan Sprint, Super and Beast events use the code ‘URBANSPARTAN’ over on www.spartanrace.uk. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and thanks for reading.
 
Image Credit: Epic Action Imagery

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