This 12 hour Hurricane Heat (HH12HR) was the first invitational, unofficial World Championship, as well as Kyoul Cha‘s last event. The hype going into this event was big, because of all the talks of big names coming to compete in this World Championship. As a result, the Krypteia had big plans to make this one of the hardest and most inspiring of the HH12HR's. Initially, I wasn't planning on running this event because of other commitments, but when Kyoul Cha invited me, I knew that I had to run it. I have the utmost respect for the man and know that anything he is responsible for will be high quality. It also ended out that this HH12HR was Kyoul’s last, so this was a special event for everyone involved. His goal was to show us what true endurance is: a long hard slog where you never give up, no matter how tired you are, monotonous your task is, or how much you’d rather be sleeping. So without further ado, this is what happened during the event.
In being a championship, this event was won, finished, and lost based on accumulating points. The top 10 in each time-hack gave you points, plus extra points for extra challenges and efforts. Since this was a championship, my goal was to see if I could win. Not-a-spoiler: we worked really hard.
Challenge 1: Team Hill Sprint
Split into two random teams. One team moves wood from one side of a fence to the other, and the other team runs up and around a giant hill. Repeat for 2 rounds. Prior to leaving, they stated the score was the average of two rounds of running. The timer ended out stopping with the last competitor on each team. For me, I was on the team that went first, but we lost by 2 seconds. That was 100 points that someone else got that I didn’t. I had a deficit to make up.
Challenge 2: All the Sandbags
This is a classic introductory challenge for the HH12HR’s. The gear list had 5 sandbags on it, so your challenge was to run out to the designated spot, fill your sandbags and bring them back. If you brought more sandbags back at once, you got more points with a whopping 150 points for bringing back all sandbags at once. Being in it to win it, I knew I had to do all the sandbags; so on the run out I stayed right behind the top group and put my gloves on. When we reached the sand-spot, I immediately dropped and started filling sandbags. One key strategy for me is to bring a giant Osprey pack, so once I filled a sandbag I put it in the pack. I managed to fit 3 full sandbags in there. The hard part about that is getting up. When you’re on your back with a full ruck, you feel like a turtle on it’s back, so what I did was roll over onto my chest and do a push-up, then get up from there. The last two I took out my duct tape and tied the heads of the bags together. Those went over one shoulder, and I was off. I wasn’t the first participant to leave on the way back, but I was the first to leave with 5 bags, so I knew that all I had to do was get back without getting passed. I walked for a good distance at first, but when I started feeling fatigued I would count 45 steps and put the bags on my shoulder down for 15 breaths. After those breaths, I’d sling the bags on my shoulder and get on my way. Rinse and repeat for maybe 2 miles. I ended out coming first, but one of the strong ladies, Stacey Simmons, was only a few minutes behind me.
After I was finished, we could ask Kyoul for what I call “extra fun,” which included doing more exercises for more points. I also ran back and helped Van Aguilar with some of his sandbags, which gave me points and took some from him but helped him continue further in the event.
Challenge 3: For the Love of Towel
The gear list included a 5-gallon bucket and a 3ft towel. Your task was to go 500m to wet your towel, then put the water in your bucket. Rinse and repeat until your bucket is half full. This one sucked. In previous Kyoul events, it’s been awkward when your towel was larger than 3ft and a heavy, absorbent towel was a detriment, so many people cut it down or brought small, non-absorbent towels. My towel was cut down to 3ft, so I had a super small towel. After a couple rounds, I realized that this was not going to be good for me, so I gave up entirely on getting point from being top 10 and instead focused on just finishing without burning myself out. Many people with larger towels finished in around 10-17 rounds. I ended out completing 36 full rounds and barely making it past the time hack. Thanks to Patrick Miles for letting me use his larger towel for a few of those rounds.
Now that I had gotten zero points in the first group challenge, plus the second time hack, so I was behind. It was time to maximize points on every single thing that was left.
Challenge 4: Group Sandbag Worm
This was not a time hack for points. As people finished, we took two of our sandbags and linked them end-to-end with a string of other people. If you have any experience with sandbags, they don’t link together well. We lifted this string of sandbags onto our shoulders and walked about 2-3 miles including up a large hill. It was challenging to get everyone to keep the worm up for extended periods because some people weren’t as strong at the weights. Eventually, Amy Saldana penalized us for taking too long by splitting us up and forcing us to bear crawl roll the sandbags up the largest incline. While this hurt and took longer, it wasn’t as bad as the super long group sandbag because we could move consistently. Once we were at the top of the hill, we did some exercises to tire us out including synchronized sit-ups with a bag on our chest and in our bag. After that, we put the shorter worms on our shoulder and had 15 minutes to get back. If you weren’t broken at this point, it wasn’t a big issue to get back.
Challenge 5: Human RC Cars!
This included doing laps of a little dirt-bike course that was maybe 600m long with rolling hills. Only instead of running, you were doing Ab-Wheel Bear Crawls! After you finish a lap, you did some exercises including 10 sandbag thrusters, 10 sandbag squats, 10 sandbag lunges, 10 sandbag atlas lifts-push-ups, and 10 sandbag burpees. One exercise per lap, and complete as many reps as possible in the allotted time. Of course, we weren’t told what the allotted time was.
As I mentioned before, I saw myself as in quite a point deficit compared to other people, so I needed to crush this challenge. I had never done an Ab-Wheel Bear Crawl, so I set out trying to figure it out. Within seconds, I broke my Ab-Wheel and was given another one by someone who had dropped out already. After that, the first few rounds were rough with some speed demons flying by, but over time I figured out the balance and also figured out that I’m much better at reverse Ab-Wheel Bear Crawls than forward ones, and that way you don’t fall on your face when you’re going downhill. (I fell on my face more than once in the process of figuring that out.) My technique was to go back on the downhills, forwards on the uphills, and alternate on the flats until I got tired. Since I wasn’t as good at the Ab-Wheels, I needed to crush the workouts between the laps, so that’s exactly what I did. The Ab-Wheel speed demons would gap me on the lap, but I’d take about 15 seconds to finish the first 3 exercises, and maybe 45 seconds for the last 2, so I’d catch up. It was a constant struggle to stay on the heels of those speed demons.
After lap 11, they switched it so instead of Ab-Wheel Bear Crawl, you did laps with your water-filled bucket. My response THANK YOU! This was my jam. I grabbed my bucket and held it in the fold of my elbow a little out from my body so that the sashay of my hips didn’t knock water out, then I just trucked. One of the Ab-Wheel Speed Demons, Brandon Lewis, noted that once we went to the bucket, I just went flying. Instead of me struggling to keep up with them, they were struggling to keep up with me. After we got to lap 18, we then switched to carrying a single sandbag around the lap. My response: YOU MUST LOVE ME! I threw a sandbag in my big pack and went off running. It would take me only a couple minutes to finish a lap, so I left the extra sandbag in my pack when I did the exercises to save time. After these laps, I eventually lapped second place. After lap 23, they started cycling through the Ab-Wheel Bear Crawl, Bucket, and Sandbag, so I suffered through the Ab-Wheel then charged through the rest, finishing 25 total laps, at least one lap more than anyone else.
Challenge 6: Sandbag Drag Race!
Right after we blew out those laps, our next challenge was to drag a single sandbag about 800m, facing backward. If the sandbag broke, then it was our task to fix it. As a result, I decided to double wrap my bag, so I walked over and started putting a bag inside of another bag. As I was walking back to the start line, I realized that people were already going! It wasn’t a start all at once thing. It was go do it NOW! So I quickly got to the point and started dragging as fast as I could. I started in maybe 12th and worked hard, even though my quads were screaming. I managed to make it past some people and got onto the final stretch, is about 20 meters behind fourth. I made a push, then 4th made a push. We battled at a distance until I made one final push to catch up with 30 meters to go, but he matched my sprinting pace, so I relented. I ended out finishing 5th and getting some points, but not nearly as many as I might need to solidify the victory.
Challenge 7: Public Performance
After that challenge, it was all about cleaning up loose ends and doing our dance. At the end of the past two HH12HR’s that I’ve done with Kyoul, we do a Zumba dance in the festival area in front of everyone to show how much fun we’re having and to reinforce that every moment we’re outside our house, we are performing publicly. People watch us and silently judge us. At first, the dance seems silly and they laugh at us, but slowly they realize that we’re having fun, and they see the joy that we feel from finishing a long, hard HH12HR. That might stimulate them to think about doing it themselves. As long as it makes them think about how they can take that next step, then our task is complete.
After all of that, we had an announcement of the final ranking. Because of all that happened, I had no idea where I was. I thought I had a chance at first, but there were a lot of unknowns: one challenge that I scored no points on, missing the first set of 100 points, and the last sprint where I scored okay. I thought there was space to beat me. Kyoul announced third to be Brandon Lewis with 640 points. Brandon had been next to me during the towel challenge and had been second on the Human RC Car laps, so he had done great work. Second, was Rachel Nelson Helms, which surprised many because she edged out almost all of the men! She had done very well on the heavy sandbag carry and consistently performed through the rest of the event as well, earning 660 points. And first, with 840 points, was me! Despite all my worry, I had racked up enough points to take the title of first (unofficial) HH12HR World Champion! After a grueling event like that, I know that I’ll be proud of that title for years to come. I think everyone who finished that event should be very proud of his or her accomplishments because Kyoul really pushed us to show us what true endurance is!
Tell me about the gear!
One common question I get for these events is what gear I used. First of all, I’m a sponsored athlete of Marena Sports, so my signature long red tights and compression underwear were Marena. (Ask me for discount codes & other ordering questions.) They’re super high quality and last through these events without taking a lot of wear and tear. They also keep me decently warm and have a great even level of compression throughout calves, quads and butt. My shirt was a Merrell long-sleeve top with a thin Merrell windbreaker for when it got windy and chilly. My shoes were Merrell Agility Peak’s, which are great for heavy rucking and trail running. Socks were Injinji trail running with crew length. I used Gurney Goo on my lower back, hips, shoulders, feet and manly areas for lubrication. My nutrition was almost exclusively 3L of Lemon-flavored Tailwind (12 scoops/3L), with the exception being Hammer Salt Pills and Health Warrior Bars. I had Mechanics gloves on, and my pack was a red Osprey 60L hiking pack. I had Frogskin bottoms and a Neptune heating top in my pack for if we got cold and wet, but I didn’t end out using them.
The next common question I get after these events is how do I train for this? In my day job, a medical intern, I get used to working 12-hour shifts where I’m doing something all day long, every day, for 12 days at a time before I get 2 days off. I wake up at 4:30 am most days to work out for 60-75 minutes before going to work. I do a lot of running on roads, trails and incline treadmills. I also work in other key skills like heavy rucking, grip training, and stability exercises. At least 2-3 times a week, I go to a Crossfit Gym in Palm Desert called Shifted Fitness and Performance to improve my strength and give me other varied challenges.
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