Blog | A Personal Challenge During a National Pandemic

A Personal Challenge During a National Pandemic

by Steve Hammond on June 05, 2020

I am originally from the UK and moved to California 5 years ago after meeting my wife, Stacey. My career for most of my life was being a guide - mountain, climbing, skiing, kayaking and rafting, which is how Stacey and I met. She booked a rafting trip in Zambia where I was guiding on the Zambezi river. Our lives took us all over the world while we dated and landed me back in the UK where I first began working with Spartan as a course manager. Fast forward six years, we live on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, California, with our two year old son, Henry. My job with Spartan has evolved from managing the course to developing the sport and representing the lifestyle through various media outlets. Our family had learned to be very adaptive as I am away for several weeks a month, and then enjoy dedicated time at home as well in between races. Being slightly nomadic was normal for me coming from a guiding background and constantly being on the move. We had found our rhythm or at least we thought we had.

When I first heard the words ‘stay at home’ and ‘do not work’ it scared shit out of me! My whole life I've been active and have never missed a day of work. Covid-19, for the first few weeks, had me a little flustered and with a lack of purpose; I was off centered. I very quickly realized that I needed an objective, a goal that is not easily attainable. I've always wanted to do a running challenge with big miles, but with a busy work schedule and family commitments, I had no time for a big challenge. So rolling into April, I decided to set myself a hard target of running the days of the month of April as miles. 1 mile on the 1st, 2 miles on the 2nd, 3 on the 3rd and so on!

April 15
It is currently April 15, and I just did 15 miles (120 miles in total)!! I’m halfway through the days of April but nowhere near halfway through the miles that I need to complete this challenge! 465 miles in total by the end, if I make it that far! My body hurts. I’m tired, and I am doubting my bodies abilities to complete it. “But isn’t that the point”, my wife asks me, “this is why you're doing this, to push yourself.” As usual, my wife was right. I needed a purpose, a job, you could say. This has got me consumed, and I am loving every minute of it. Planning my next run, setting alarm clocks at 4:30am to get those miles in and home be in time to care for my two year old son, Henry, so that my wife can get her work done.
Back in March I put it out there that I was taking on this challenge and had a huge response from people wanting to join me in this. Clearly, I was not the only one that needed this.
The amount of people that smashed the challenge is overwhelming. My job has not really changed! The Spartan courses that I set give people the opportunity to test themselves through an obstacle course and the Hammond Challenge has given everyday athletes of all abilities an option to push their body’s to the limits. It’s amazing to see.
The goal initially was to challenge myself and to finish something, but I've realized that this is not just about me. It’s about encouraging people to keep active, connected and motivated in this very strange time, and that has turned out to be a huge bonus.

May 27th
Looking back at this feat that I completed a month ago now; it seems overwhelming that I came out the other side, completing it and without injury. This challenge became a part of me. My determination grew, and there was no option for failure. The approach in the beginning was that I could break up the runs. If the shit really hit the fan, I could do some on the bike, just get the miles in. What evolved was the realization that once I was in a run, I was committed, and not just to complete the miles by running, but running it in one push every morning. The strength of my mind and body did surprise me. May 1st, I woke up and could barely move; there is no way that I was running that day. However, if April had 31 days, and there had been one more day of the challenge left, I have no doubts in my mind that somehow my body would have gotten through it.