(Story by Casey Conlon)
BILLINGS – What do you do on your birthday?
Relax? Maybe take the day off work? How about run 30 miles while contending with 60 obstacles aiming to break your will?
“For me this is the perfect birthday,” said Sheena Hauf, “be with my friends, get to do an amazing race.”
And how long does she think it will take?
“I’m hoping 10-12 hours.”
Hauf is training for a Spartan Ultra Beast – the toughest race the adventure company offers. She’s never done anything this big, but jumping in headfirst is all she knows.
“My very first one I ever did was a tough mudder in Colorado,” she recalled. “It was 14 miles and, I think, 3,000 elevation gain.”
Hauf’s love for the outdoors came early. She was a wildland fire fighter for 14 summers straight out of high school. Now a nurse, she realized just how much she missed it.
“I worked outside all the time, I ski patrolled, I did wildland fire, I was out all the time,” said Hauf. “Now being a nurse I’m stuck inside all the time. I needed something to get me back outside.”
But that wasn’t her only motivation.
“I got married in 2011 and I gained a bunch of weight,” she said. “Got married in Maui, came back four months later for my reception, and I couldn’t fit my wedding dress. So this all got spurred because I couldn’t fit a wedding dress.”
Hauf’s first Spartan race was in Kalispell in 2015, and she knew then simply running wouldn’t cut it anymore.
It’s fair to wonder if she misses the obstacles now when she’s out for a simple run?
“Yes, very boring.”
“It’s so much more fun,” said Altrain Fitness owner Trevin Ophus. “It’ not, ‘let’s go to the gym and get on a treadmill and let’s do something boring to get in shape.’ It sounds ridiculous, but let’s go carry buckets around, let’s pick up some weight and move it across the room, let’s pull ropes, let’s climb ropes, let’s get back to the natural state of fitness”
Altrain Fitness in the Billings Heights gives Hauf a chance to practice her favorite obstacle.
“I love the rope climb. I used to absolutely dread it,” Hauf admitted. “I knew I would have to do 30 burpess when I came up on it because I could not do the rope climb. But one day in Colorado it clicked and I got it and it was the most amazing feeling in the entire world.”
Ophus even designed a way to help her with her least favorite.
“The spear throw, it’s the easiest thing you would think, but I absolutely hate it,” Hauf said. “A softball player growing up, and when you have to throw I go cross-body and it always falls off.”
Practice makes perfect, of course. And practice is one thing Hauf can’t get enough of.
“Sheena’s very dedicated,” said Ophus. “She shows up every day if not twice a day in here to work out. This is definitely her happy place. She might come in frustrated with her day, and when she leaves she’s always feeling awesome.”
And isn’t that all we want on our birthday?