Once in a while when I am going through Team X-1 applications I see one that just makes me ask “What the…”? Haidar Hachem is one such guy. It takes a lot of guts to put on Speedo and a pig-faced beanie and run out in public. I should know, I haven’t taken my shirt off at the beach since the 1970′s. While you may look at the pictures and think he is just a living “wardrobe malfunction”, you’ll find he’s a really interesting guy who battles everyday to get better at what he loves. We stopped him just long enough between costume changes to get some questions answered.
You are really active in the Obstacle Course Racing community. When and what got you into doing OCR?
The first ever Mud Run I did was “Merrells Down And Dirty Mud Run.” That was back in May of 2012. A bunch of friends and I thought it would be fun to just go ahead do one. I fell in love. While it was only a Mud Run, as soon as I got home I searched the internet for any and all types of events I could do. And it eventually evolved to longer and harder events. The more I can push myself physically and mentally the more fun I have at these events.
You are known for your “costumes” out on the course. How did this get started and when did you lose all sense of shame?
Believe it or not, I actually used to run in a t-shirt and shorts. I had always run as a piggy, but was dressed. Then I met one of my best friends today who goes by the OCR Panda, Michael Deater, who is also part of Team X-1! I thought it was hilarious that he would run in nothing but a Speedo and a Panda hat. Then I thought to myself, why not? So I bought myself some pink Speedos and started running in that. The significance of the orange and green socks are twofold. I love the University of Miami & they are the team colors for the first ever mud run team I joined “MudrunFun.” And I never really had a sense of shame prior to me dressing up. Growing up I always had the state of mind to do what I wanted to do and what I liked and if anybody had a problem with it, well that’s their opinion and I could really care less for it. So here we are today, a 6’2, really hairy guy who runs around in nothing but a Speedo and a piggy hat.
I have worn other costumes in different races though!
You’ve had Type 1 Diabetes your whole life and most recently been treated for thyroid cancer. How do these issues affect your training and races?
It actually affects it a lot. I am currently treating my diabetes with an insulin pump. It’s a device that stays attached to my body all day and night (except when I shower, race or train) and delivers insulin. It’s basically an external pancreas. Since I train so hard and so often I have to test my blood sugars about 10 times a day, once every two hours or so. I even wake up in the middle of the night to test myself just so my numbers don’t dip too low.
Now when race day or an event that I signed up for comes up, I always have the same procedure. I eat 2-3 hours before. Test my blood sugars, eat if I need to and disconnect my pump and go. Depending on the distance of the race I’ll take food or nutrition on the course with me to keep my blood sugars up. But with something like a GoRuck, SERE or anything longer than a 5k, I’ll always have food with me to prevent a diabetic seizure.
Then comes the thyroid cancer. That has been a hard one to really deal with when it comes to training. You really don’t know what you have till it’s gone. The thyroid actually controls sleep, growth, heart rate, metabolism, emotions… And I don’t have one. There are some days where I don’t want to get out of bed, where I’ll snap out of nowhere, where I’ll just be completely lethargic or depressed. It’s taken its toll on me, but I won’t let it keep me down. I push harder and harder every single day to show that if you set your mind to something you can achieve it no matter what is ailing you. That is why I keep signing up for longer and harder events to show that you can do whatever you set your mind to.
You ran the insane “Fuego Y Agua” 100k trail race in Nicaragua about a month ago. What kind of experience was that?
That was one of the most miserable/amazing experiences I have ever had in my life. Now, I was disappointed because I missed the cut off time to go on to the 100k, but the 50k was enough to break you. I really had to dig deep and fight to push on to the end. But the experience was beautiful, how many people can say they actually scaled and was inside a volcano? I can. And me missing the cut off has fueled me even more to train harder. Josue Stephens put on a hell of an event and I will definitely be back there next year to complete the 100k.
What other races do you plan on running this year? Any more travel/destination races?
I received a Spartan Season Pass for my birthday last year. So I will be travelling to multiple locations around the US to compete in the Sprint, Super and Beast events. And I want to also go to Vermont for the Ultra Beast (marathon distance). I also want to do Worlds Toughest Mudder, a GoRuck or two, some SERE events and a lot of events here in FL as well (Hogwild, Monster Challenges, Highlander) maybe a couple Disney races as well. Some triathlons too! I love the bike and swim portion.
Besides your trusty Speedo, what gear do you use in your training?
Haha! Well I can’t lie, the Speedo only comes out race day. But honestly, I would not be able to complete any of my training without music. So of course I’ll have my phone and headphones on me. And I do have to do a name drop because now I can actually have fun training while swimming because of my Surge Headphones and Amphibx armband. But other than what I use to train, for recovery I love my rolling stick, foam roller and lacrosse balls.