GORUCK – Memorial Day Weekend – Light AAR

I was excited and nervous for my second GORUCK event. A light challenge in Chapel Hill over Memorial Day weekend. The theme of the event was Honor the Fallen.

A little back story on getting ready for the event.

After my last light event I realized I needed to up the intensity and frequency of rucking PT workouts and training. I was in the middle of a cycle of Pathfinder Training but had neglected the workouts in favor of the part of the challenges and the miles. I had to rush to get over half the workouts and 2 challenges done in the last few weeks to finish the program. There is a weekly recommended workout and there have been some GORUCK workouts as part of their monthly virtual challenges. I love the pathfinder program and plan on doing it for a long time, but personally i needed some more direct guidance on the workouts. After listening to an All Day Ruckoff on Heavy Drop Training and learning it was for all ability levels not just folks who wanted to do a Heavy, I reached out. HDT has 3 workouts, a care package, which is an amrap and either a run or a ruck every week. Sounded like what i was looking for to compliment Pathfinder, helping me with specific workouts. HDT was in the middle of a cycle but Bryan made an exception to let me in during the middle of the round. I got 3 weeks of workouts in before the Memorial Day Light. I felt better prepared and yet still a little nervous on what was coming our way.

To make matters more interesting, the weather has turned HOT earlier than normal. Highs in the upper 80s and low 90s all week. I reached out to my group of Pathfinder and got some great advice on tapering leading I to the event and about hydrating the week of and during the event. That advice was crucial to my success.

Event day comes and I roll up to the start point. Say hi to a few people I recognize and get everything ready. We do the admin portion and learn there won’t be a welcome party. The weight and the miles will be our main instructors of the day.

Sandbags. 3 – 80s. 5 – 60s. 4 – 40s.

1 can and 2 bladders full of water. And a team weight that the team leader carried.

We headed out and on the first evolution we just called out for “can anyone take the …..” and if you were lucky someone was ready to take your weight for a minute before you went to relieve someone else.

About 10 minutes into that first ruck I realized that the mouthpiece to my source hydration bladder had come off. I guess the good news is that they are designed to be able to be removed, so I wasn’t just leaking water, but I couldn’t drink any. One guy who had done several of these came by and reminded me to drink and I told him I couldn’t. He said he had an extra mouthpiece and he’d give it to me at the first stop we had. He was in F3, and his name is Uzi. Uzi really saved my ass and made the event bearable for me. I was going to ask the group of anyone had an extra but knowing that someone did and I’d have it in a bit was a relief. I’ll be ordering an extra or two so I can repay the favor and pay it forward sometime down the road.

After a good ways we stopped under some trees in a church yard.

We had some lessons taught by the Cadre and then had time to share stories on why we were there for Memorial Day. About half the class spoke and it was great hearing the why of so many.

Before we set off again we organized ourselves into 4 smaller teams. My team of 5 was awesome. We had a bladder, 40#, 60# and 80# sandbags. We rotated through them in a set order. I’m not sure the order was the best but we were at the front of the group, right behind the flag and helped set a good pace. That 80# bag was a monster.

I’m right behind the flag In these photos, with the 80#er. I would rotate off that onto a brief rest period before we would rotate again. I tried to keep getting fluids in as it was so hot.

We stopped again after about 4 miles, talked about what was working and what wasn’t. These are the times to get some food, go to the bathroom and refill water.

We changed team leaders and set out for the final few miles as we headed back to endex. Somewhere in the final mile to mile and a half the toll of all the coupons and the heat was catching up to me. I had to stop rotating into the 80# bag and ended up sticking with the 40 the last mile, until the Cadre stared eliminating a few coupons. I am in awe of the folks who kept rotating those monsters around and doing work. Our mission changed up the teams in the last half mile and we had less coupons. The team work and communication was still required because a lot of us were slowing down a bit.

One thing I noticed in the third evolution, was the front group and the flag had to be called to slow down many times. The back of the group was moving a touch slower and the group was splitting. That’s not something that is allowed. I think it would be interesting to take a few of the people that were slower and get them up front behind the flag. It might help give them some confidence in not falling behind and they might surprise themselves by going faster with other GRTs on your heels.

We rolled back into the park where we endexed. The class was roughly half men and half women and let me be the first to tell you, that everyone did amazing. Every person on our team that day carried some heavy stuff and just about everyone had the 80 on their back for a while.

Another thing I noticed out in the middle that it might be a good suggestion to rotate people in and out of the flag position because while they have a lot on their shoulders for pace setting the flag is usually lighter than other coupons and if they don’t also have a team weight it might be a way to keep some other folks fresh longer.

Cadre Blackdog and Cadre Doc spoke a little. Chris (aka Blackdog) said he wanted to see about a non welcome party event where the coupons and the miles did the work. I thought they did a great job with the event. The lessons in team work and communication were good and everyone got a heck of a workout.

Class Photo
I made it! You really do have to earn these patches.
Lou!
Uzi! The man, the myth, the Legend!
Mike – aka The year of the GORUCK

Corey! -Love this dude

That was one hot event. We covered nearly 7 miles with a lot of heavy items and had to really work together to keep moving forward.

It’s amazing at how different events can be. This is only my second and I’m looking forward to more in the future. Every Cadre has a rough outline of time to go by but can run the events as they see fit. Not knowing what you’re getting while you are there is a way to really get outside your comfort zone. I want to keep working to improve my fitness and endurance so one day I’m the guy who is still grabbing the heaviest item at the end to help out someone else.

Is GORUCK really building better Americans. It seems that way. The people that come out for this are already great people but getting some real world team work, leadership and communication training only makes people better. Better members of their families, work teams and communities. That’s pretty amazing.

Java GR2

I was looking for the right pack for Rucking. I knew it was a GORUCK pack but wasn’t sure which one.

I went back and forth over whether to get the Rucker or the GR1. Ultimately 2 things led me to the Rucker.

  1. It costs way less. These packs aren’t cheap. But they are built in the USA and guaranteed for life.
  2. The GORUCK website told me which pack to get. Need to protect a laptop, get the GR1. If you don’t, get the Rucker.

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After I got my all black Rucker in I noticed there was a beautiful dark brown color on the GORUCK website. And the color name was Java. What!? I love coffee. Java. It was perfect. I reached out to a few people and asked how dirty the pack might get at an event and what they thought about black vs java. Both of them suggested that for events, the black is a good safe bet. I agreed with them and went on about my day.

Now that I had my hands on my Rucker, I knew how solid it was. I love it. But I couldn’t stop thinking about the Java pack. GORUCK also had their larger pack, the GR2 which comes in a 40L version in Java. I did a little more digging around on the site and found out that the color name was in homage to Jason’s (the Founder and CEO of GORUCK) late chocolate lab, Java. Java had been in many of the product shoots and was being remembered with this color name. We had lost our beautiful dog Trixie not a month prior to this and now it just seemed like the perfect storm leading me to this bag.

Here is the story behind Java Forever.

https://www.goruck.com/stories/the-dog-behind-our-java-rucks

I love GORUCK products. I love made in the USA products. I love lifetime guaranteed products. I love Java (coffee), and I love and miss our dog.

I had a Reebok CrossFit 41L backpack that was my gym bag and it was great. One large compartment. Velcro on the front and sides for patches, laptop compartment, etc. But I couldn’t get this out of my head. Those Reebok bags go for a good price on Ebay. I sold it and then pulled the trigger on the GR2 during the holiday sale.

This pack is beautiful. It’s well made. Has more compartments that my last bag and it will be a great travel bag. Is it overkill for a gym bag? Yes. Does it make me happy every day I pick it up and take it with me? Also, yes. And that, my friends, makes it worth it. Java lives on in the name and having it, right now, makes me smile and reminisce about Trixie.

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I’m looking forward to having a GORUCK event patch to put on this bag in April.

To be fair, the more I think about it, the less I think I’ll care if a pack gets dirty etc, during the events. Event tested with any scrapes etc they will get. I might end up with another color sometime and at that time I’ll have a nice black bag we can put some bricks in as I start to recruit some friends to join me on this crazy journey.