The first event. How can you not be a little nervous? Be warned, if you are reading this, you’re entering into a lengthy read.
As the date of April 7, 2019 kept getting closer I was nervous and excited. Ready to try a GORUCK event and worried I’d be the weakest link.
I rucked a ton in January for the Resolution Challenge. Kept it rolling in February and capped the month out with miles and miles of Rucking Disney. March, I took a week off. Then got a terrible stomach bug. Then focused on the CrossFit Open. Back on the wagon in April, but kicking myself that I hadn’t done more to prepare. I certainly felt nervous.
The start point was about an hour and a half from my house. Determined not to rush or be late due to traffic, unless it was out of my control, I left about 2 hours and 45 minutes prior to go time. Hit one rest stop. Then grabbed a few very plain (chicken, rice & cheese) tacos at Chipotle. Only ate 2 because I didn’t want too much sitting on my stomach.
As I pulled up to the start area I was immediately a little more comfortable. There were people milling about, chatting, smiling, getting their gear ready and more. I was more comfortable once I got there because A- I knew I wasn’t late, but more so because B- it looked just like a run or bike rose starting area and I’m comfortable and familiar with that atmosphere.
Soon after my buddy Josh from the Camel City Ruck Club rolled up. I said hello to him and he gave me the 12 Mile Ruck patch from the January Ruck Club callout. It’s a cool patch but not the one I came to earn on this day. After I finished getting ready and dropped off the can food from the GRT led service project I headed down to the front area with Josh. He introduced me to a few people and we talked for a few minutes until it was officially time to get the show on the road.
There were about 80 signed up and about 55 or so that actually toed the line. We had two Cadre, in GORUCK your cadre is the leader of the event. They are all former or current US Special forced military members. We had Fagan, from SC and Cleve from Jersey.
This GORUCK Challenge Light event was the third event of the weekend. The Heavy is a 24 hour event with about 40 miles of rucking. The Tough is 12 hours and up to 20 miles. The Light is 5 hours and 7-10 miles.
If you’re crazy you can sign up for multiple events in the same weekend. If you’re insane you do all 3 and earn a special designation as psycho, kidding. You become a HTL finisher. An amazing endurance feat. There were 7 or 8 hitting the third leg of their HTL as we started the light.
Many of the events are themed and this one was Bataan Death March. I’ll include some links below so you can actually learn a little about this historical event. It’s wild. Take the time to learn a little about it.
We were broken into 2 predetermined teams. A quick gear check to see ID, Water, Weight and Quitters Cash and we were on our way to a soccer field for some PT. (Physical Training)
We were told that another cadre had passed away for Cancer in the prior week. We would be doing the workout that was created to honor him. That was out welcome party.
Cash in: 400m Run
75- 4 count mountain climber
75 – 4 count – Flutter Kicks
75 – 4 count – Arm Claps
Cash out: 400m run
We rotated team members in the middle of the circle to count out the reps and when to break. I jumped in during a round of the squats, the movement of the 4 that I was comfortable with. Cleve has his drone out and I came away with this cool picture.
That took us about 2 hours. We were sufficiently smoked after that.
We went back to the start point to get all of our coupons. And I do mean ALL of our coupons. Cadre Fagan like to make sure everyone has something so they don’t feel left out. Thankfully there were some veterans on each team that helped organize things and distribute them. The pushed us pretty hard to get the stuff and get ready to head out.
Around the school. Down a big hill and off to a park we went. Cadre Fagan team had an early lead when we caught them. Then teams became intermingled and spaced out. There was some shouting, yelling and some lack of team work for a bit. The liter was being carried by 4 people and i took a turn on it pretty early. I didn’t stay under it as long as i wish i could have, but i was under it for longer than i was comfortable being. That thing was so heavy. Cadre Cleve’s team took a moment to regroup and then we headed down a different street from the other team. As much to get ourselves together as to shave some time. Once we made that split, we got a little more organized and made good time. We beat the other team to the park by several minutes. We grabbed some water, snacks if you had them and wanted them and at that point we started sharing some of the stories of Bataan that we had researched. I ate some beef jerky, drank some water with Nuun tabs and finished it off with some sour patch jelly beans. After the other team arrived we all shared some more stories from Bataan and got some lessons from the cadre. They talked about team work and how they pushed us to get out in a hurry on purpose. They reinforced team work and yelling and cussing at your team mates probably isn’t the most effective way to communicate. Since we arrived first we got to hand off a sandbag to the other team.
It was time to head back and the cadre switched teams. We were with Fagan for the return trip. We set a team leader for the return trip and I had grabbed the 25# team weight that was on a big chain and then someone needed to grab a flag so I had the NC flag. I’m glad I got to be up front with a flag for a while. To be honest if i hadn’t had a team weight with me I would have felt like I should have rotated out and got a coupon. I looked around a few times to see if someone needed to rotate. Being up front as a “Flag” was more challenging than I thought it would be. The heavy Litter was right behind us and we were trying to keep moving so they could. Then we would be hearing yells for Flags to slow down since the group was splitting up. I felt bad for the studs carrying the heavy load that we needed to slow down but Tate, one of the HTL guys explained that people were saying flags but was really talking to them since they knew they were the ones really driving the pace. The group splintered quite a bit on the way back to the school so we had to stop several times to regroup. Thankfully, another HTL, Navigator Mike kept us going in the right direction. We got back to the school first.
Since you don’t have a watch or phone out during these events I wasn’t sure what time it was when we made it back to the school but the prevailing thought was that the event had something else in-store for us. And then we waited. And waited. Where the heck did the other team go?
Cadre Fagan took the opportunity to chat with us a bit and told us that this was not a normal light. This was a tough light, i had to chuckle at his play on words. Apparently most welcome parties aren’t quite the beatdown that the Rooney wod places on us. Or for that amount of time. But remember, all the events are different and you don’t know what you’re going to face. That’s something that really intrigued me about these events. It’s getting prepared and having an unknown team and not knowing what you’ll be doing but getting it done.
As it turns out the other team took a wrong turn and ended up doing an extra half mile to get back. When they arrived both of the cadre took a moment to talk to us. Reinforce that often the Lights don’t have that long if a PT session and that we should be proud of our accomplishment. We were at Endex. We were patched and then handed a cold beer.
I had a great time at this event. I was worried that I wouldn’t be ready and while I still have a lot of fitness to achieve I made it through the event. You never want to be the weakest link, and I wasn’t. But, I was far from the strongest link. There are some amazing endurance folks that do GORUCK events. Special shout out to the fellas who did the HTL. Because even after all they had already endured they were under heavy weight and helping the team out. The Light was about 5 hours and 5 miles. Because of the honor we laid to Cadre Josh Rooney our actual rucking with the coupons was less. Believe me, there were still some valuable lessons learned.
I need to continue to work on the PT (physical training) aspect of this type of endurance / fitness event. The flutter kicks were a major weakness of mine during the welcome party wod.
One of my 2019 goals was to do one or more (because I had already signed up for more) GORUCK events. I am really proud of the effort and accomplishment. This event was on my moms birthday and I think it’s a testament to both of my parents for instilling a hard work and effort equals success mindset in me. I would have and maybe still do a little bit consider this type event outside my comfort zone. I’m an analytical person. Calculating risk when possible. Planning most of the time. For GORUCK you can train and get ready to handle it. Embrace the suck, in a way. It makes you stronger. It brings you together with other people who also want to get better, and be more human. It was a great experience.
If you want to push yourself physically and mentally. Learn to communicate in a co trolled stressful situation and get some good livin (fitness and friendship) in; find a GORUCK event and sign up today.
That was hard. And very worth it.
I warned you that it would be a long read. If you’re interested in rucking, or doing an event, don’t hesitate to let me know. I’ll point you in the direction of some resources that I’ve found super helpful. Some I’ve already blogged about I’m sure.