Okhane - Inspired by Sport, Health and Wellbeing.
A worldwide community connected through and inspired by sport, health and wellbeing
Okhane - Inspired by Sport, Health and Wellbeing.
A worldwide community connected through and inspired by sport, health and wellbeing

Into The Unknown

Author: Hatti Robinson
Date: 18th December 2017

As part of our coverage of The Unknown, we have asked two Numbers to recount their journeys; both attended the same event but had vastly different emotional experiences.

In this review, Hatti, or #230 to you, recounts her 29 hours in Unknown territory.

**TW: This content may be upsetting to read**

They were the loudest bangs that I had ever heard, but the only sounds I could process were the words, “Put your sandbags over your heads”. Through the smoke, I looked to my left to #140: “This is where I’m going home Rina.” I whimpered. “No you’re not,” she replied, genuinely confused.

She was right. I was in the 24th hour of The Unknown 2017; I had already been beasted in the freezing cold sea; fought one of my fellow numbers; navigated in the dark without a compass or a headtorch; helped my team get up and down a mountain; jumped into a canyon of rushing water and carried my Bergen (at nearly 40% of my body weight) on a busted ankle for more time than I would have ever chosen to. I had already seen so many Numbers leave; some utterly spent, others just done. I was in 12 hours longer than the highest bet anyone had made for me: I was hurting, I was tired and I was literally wetting my pants but I could still move, I could still walk, I could still lift. I was still in. So, for the third time in my Unknown experience, I put my sandbag over my head.

I know full well that no one (and I mean no one) thought I was going to do particularly well at The Unknown. That’s not to say that people weren’t expecting to be proud of me – heck, I signed up and turned up to what is possibly THE hardest 36 hours ever in the whole world. I hope that everyone knew that I was always going to put it all on the table, but even my mole of a boyfriend thought I was only going to be in for four hours. To be honest I understood the doubt: I’m Hypothermic Hatti; I weigh 46kg - on a good day when I’ve had a lot to eat and haven’t pooped - and I’m quite accident prone! I’m chirpy and I wouldn’t say that I exude “toughness” from my pores. I am – for all intents and purposes – the baby sister, daughter, niece or pet of the OCR community, while The Unknown is unrelentingly brutal both physically and mentally. To put it simply- The Unknown wasn’t something people thought I would be good at.

Into The Unknown 1

To be honest, I never had any expectations of how well I was going to do. The only thing I had was the sole aim of having one person (and I had a preference for who) say, “I underestimated Hatti” when I finished. I didn’t go in thinking of a time limit, I didn’t even have a task I wanted to make it past; all I wanted was for one person to have felt like a chump for underestimating me. So I prepped like a madman.

By the time I arrived at location with my 17kg Bergen (containing four changes of clothes and 5mm of extra neoprene) wearing 1mm of neoprene, a compression top, leggings, shorts, a rain jacket, my overalls, a neoprene hat, neoprene gloves and my number vest; I was the strongest, fastest, heaviest and warmest I had ever been in my life. And it worked.

I flew through the first ten hours, giving it everything I had and really enjoying seeing myself doing well at the tasks. I was keeping up with the group in the carries, the crawls and the submersions. I was holding my own in the ring, had good form on my squats and was confident in the night-nav even without my compass and torch (lost the compass, broke the torch). Not many people expected me to make it to the next morning, but I did.

Into The Unknown 3

And then I met my first sandbag. Y’all thought I was going to get cold. Y’all thought I was going to be weak. Y’all thought I was going to be slow. What none of y’all thought was that I was going to lose my shit over having a sandbag over my head.

The entire time I was in The Unknown I watched my fellow numbers push themselves to the brink. I watched people overcome fears, I witnessed people achieve things they never thought that they could and I was reminded that not everyone’s 100% is the same but as long as you give yours; you have everything to be proud of. I was completely humbled in the first five hours as I watched fellow Numbers fight with their demons, their weaknesses and their strengths, and gave their absolute all. I have never been prouder of someone whose name I didn’t know that when I saw Numbers digging deeper than deep at Location 2 to get the gear up the mountain, and I think it’s safe to say I have never been in such a powerful group than when I was penguined with my fellow Numbers just before I left. That’s why I knew I had to keep pushing. As long as my legs worked, as long as I was standing beside these awesome people, I wasn’t going to stop.

The first time I put that sandbag over my head, after the night-nav, it took me three hours and me brushing my teeth to get the noises out of my head. In the end, I had had to take five minutes away from a task (and lose a patch), confide in a member of staff and brush my teeth to bring me back into where I really was and calm me down. In an interview with Ami from Mudstacle, I even said that I wouldn’t do it again; that me having to put my sandbag back on would mean I would quit then and there. But every single time it came to it – or anything else that made me fart with fear – I looked to my left or right and saw the awesome people I was with, and did it anyway.

Which is why, at hour 24, I lowered my sandbag onto my head for my third and final time, allowing myself the fleeting thought that I might actually now make it to hour 36.

As soon as that sandbag was lowered, I left The Unknown

I don’t think I can begin to explain to you what it’s like to want to be in a room with white noise playing, a sandbag over your head and in a stress position, but at hour 24 that’s exactly where I wanted to be, because my brain kept taking me a very long way away from it. My brain, my sleep deprived, calorie starved and dehydrated brain decided that it was going to just let rip: the entire time I was in that barn I was fighting off noises, feelings and people who weren’t there, at one point I was literally writhing around attempting to loosen hands around my neck that wasn’t there, all the while remembering who I was really with and where I really was.

I got taken out of that barn twice. I don’t think anyone has ever been more surprised by my strength than Adam Luck when he told me that I was going to be seen by a medic and I promptly dug my heels into the ground as though they were anchors. But they were doing the right thing. and what happened next was potentially the most pivotal thing in my entire life.

Having removed my tape and my sandbag, while I was still clawing at my neck, a medic got down on my level and told me he knew what was happening; he explained that Staff were concerned I was going to make things worse for myself, and he asked me what I wanted to do and why.

It took me less than three seconds to look around me and make out the figures of people I knew before answering that I wanted to go back in. The truth is, I could deal with being taken out because of the cold, I could even cope with the thought of not making it because my body just couldn’t push me. I’d prepped in these areas as much as I could and I knew that my strengths and weaknesses in these areas came solely from me. But the thought of coming out because of what some f***er did to me wasn’t okay. I needed to try to beat this. I wanted to go back in “for one more go”.

I had been reminded that I wasn’t alone, that I was surrounded by people who would always keep me safe and no one was judging me for being – what I thought was – an absolute nut job: in that moment, that was just what I needed to find the strength to go back in. By allowing this, they gave me the chance to be brave; something that I desperately needed and that will forever change my life.

I didn’t make it to the end of the task: I was pulled out for medical reasons, despite trying desperately hard to persuade them for “just one more chance” again. To be honest it was probably the right call for everyone. I had done it; I had beaten my demons just a little bit more… But I was spent.

Into The Unknown 5

I don’t think I can begin to explain to you what it’s like to want to be in a room with white noise playing, a sandbag over your head and in a stress position, but at hour 24 that’s exactly where I wanted to be, because my brain kept taking me a very long way away from it. My brain, my sleep deprived, calorie starved and dehydrated brain decided that it was going to just let rip: the entire time I was in that barn I was fighting off noises, feelings and people who weren’t there, at one point I was literally writhing around attempting to loosen hands around my neck that weren’t there, all the while remembering who I was really with and where I really was.

I got taken out of that barn twice. I don’t think anyone has ever been more surprised by my strength than Adam Luck when he told me that I was going to be seen by a medic and I promptly dug my heels into the ground as though they were anchors. But they were doing the right thing. and what happened next was potentially the most pivotal thing in my entire life.

Having removed my tape and my sandbag, while I was still clawing at my neck, a medic got down on my level and told me he knew what was happening; he explained that Staff were concerned I was going to make things worse for myself, and he asked me what I wanted to do and why.

It took me less than three seconds to look around me and make out the figures of people I knew before answering that I wanted to go back in. The truth is, I could deal with being taken out because of the cold, I could even cope with the thought of not making it because my body just couldn’t push me. I’d prepped in these areas as much as I could and I knew that my strengths and weaknesses in these areas came solely from me. But the thought of coming out because of what some f***er did to me wasn’t okay. I needed to try to beat this. I wanted to go back in “for one more go”.

I had been reminded that I wasn’t alone, that I was surrounded by people who would always keep me safe and no one was judging me for being – what I thought was – an absolute nut job: in that moment, that was just what I needed to find the strength to go back in. By allowing this, they gave me the chance to be brave; something that I desperately needed and that will forever change my life.

I didn’t make it to the end of the task: I was pulled out for medical reasons, despite trying desperately hard to persuade them for “just one more chance” again. To be honest it was probably the right call for everyone. I had done it; I had beaten my demons just a little bit more… But I was spent.

It’s crazy how physically draining emotional turmoil is: the next few tasks were zapping for me and it wasn’t long before I couldn’t lift my arms above my head and a member of staff had to dump my bucket over me for me. I knew I had reached the end. I was finished, and I was heartbroken.

I made it through 29 hours of The Unknown: the most anyone thought I was going to last was 12; I think the most popular guess was around 8. I had beaten everyone’s expectations, I had pushed harder than even I thought I ever could and I had finished unable to lift my arms or move my legs. I had given it my all, and then some.

I spent the rest of the 36 hours naked and howling in the back of Foz’s van (it’s not as creepy as it sounds). I flitted between being proud of myself and being utterly devastated that I hadn’t quite made it, but the one thing that always remained was my happiness at having been a part of such an amazing experience.

The Unknown is still totally unknown for me; I am still so very confused about how I feel about how I did and what happened out there, but what I do know is that I am overwhelmingly proud of every single person who turned up to The Unknown and took something from it! I for one was reminded that ultimately it doesn’t matter how you do, what you’re good at, what you’re scared of or what anyone else thinks: if you show up and give it your all, you’re always a winner. I cannot describe the feelings I have for those of you who stood beside me and unknowingly pushed me forward when I needed it the most: my gratitude is genuinely beyond measure. But most importantly; to the staff that gave me this opportunity, you will never ever know how much you have changed my life. Staff Chaffe, Luck, Foz, Scottie and Allan, that wonderful medic, and so many other people in black shirts (that wore them the whole time)… You are so appreciated; you not only made me feel incredibly safe but you pushed me to be braver than I could have possibly imagined. You helped me beat the c***s, and for that, I will be forever grateful. And of course, Gaz and the crew, for making this event in the first place… Wow. What more can I say than that?

Into The Unknown 7

And so, as a final note: if you’re thinking of doing anything in life, take that jump; sign up; put that sandbag over your head… Because I promise you - you’re braver and stronger than you think!

#230 out.

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