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.
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.

GORUCK Constellation Changes for 2020

Cadre Machine was on the GORUCK show with Bomber and Lee today and gave a lot of details about the new constellation events. I’ve heard they were changing but hadn’t heard much else about them until today. If you are a member of the Tough our check out the interview. Below are a few notes i jotted down while watching.

If you are interested in more of the firearms training that GORUCK does check out the All Day Ruckoff podcast episode 41.

Some highlights of the Constellation changes:

Taking the parts of Jedburgh and Trek that were awesome and Incorporating them into constellation.

There will be 4 survival type courses.

  1. Constellation
  2. Navigator
  3. Ascent
  4. Immersion

Beta testing is happening in Miami or Fort Lauderdale later this fall, and also in Texas this fall.

Some of the events will be on the calendar in time for the Christmas in July sale.

Machine said that there would be 12, twenty four hour events. One a month happening all over.

He went on to say that constellation would also have 12 hour events that would run 8am – 8pm. (Maybe 15 hours if that’s what it takes to get the material in.)

I’m guessing those will be the normal version and that there will be more access to those than the 24 hour version.

Many of them will be done in conjunction with (Fire Rescue?)

And many will have a Force on Force event the next day from 8-5.

He said “this is going to be badass”, we will be repelling, getting CS gas training, hot working cars, locking picking, “all kinds of cool shit”.

I am very excited about the 2020 Constellation events. I did the 6 hour course this year and really wish I would have signed up for the 12. I wanted to learn more. 6 hours was great but it wasn’t enough time. The new curriculum sounds amazing.

January 2019 Challenges

I had already signed up for the Monthly Rucking Challenges (MRC) series this year when GORUCK released a monthly virtual challenge as well.

Who doesn’t like a challenge?

MRC’s challenge was a 20.19M Ruck. It was suggested to do it at once if you could but don’t worry if you needed to break it up into chunks.

Then the GORUCK Challenge came out. At first glance, 50 miles. It’s a resolution ruck.

Wait, upon further investigation it’s 50 miles in the first 15 days. Yikes!!

I’d never rucked that far, in that amount of time. Ever. But I figured it would be a good way to start getting some miles on my feet. So I jumped in.

1/1/19 6.52
1/2/19 2.5
1/2/19 2
1/3 2
1/5 5.18
1/6 5.04
1/6 2.08
1/8/2019 9.03
1/10 3.8
1/12 5.1
1/12 2
1/13 5.15

Boom! I got it!

I learned a lot during the process. Started taping a few spots on the balls of my feet since I get a few hot spots in those certain area’s and a little tape really helps. I also learned about the Injini toe socks and Farm to Feet socks make a great combo.


I used the Resolution Ruck patch in Disney. Now I have to figure out where I put it so I can put a real photo of that patch.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Ruck & Learn – Taco Bell Edition

I feel like I should justify this, or start it with; “Look, I only eat Taco Bell about twice a year”.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, lets proceed. It’s just something about Taco Bell. I feel guilty for eating it because I know there are better choices. To be honest, there are way worse choices too.

However, just ask someone what happens after they eat Taco Bell. They have to go to the bathroom soon after, right? You’ve been there. One minute you’re finishing some tacos, and the next you really are running for something but it’s not the border.


A body knows when it shouldn’t have something in it, and of all the fast food choices in the world, Taco Bell seems to run through people like the Rio Grande, quicker than anything else.

The craving started after a 5 mile ruck on Saturday. If I’d just stopped and got a taco or two, I wouldn’t have learned this lesson. But I didn’t stop, I came home and ate a snack.

Sunday on the way home from church I still had a taste for taco’s so I grabbed a combo with 2 chalupas and a crunchy taco. Not long after that I was suited up and headed out for a 5 mile ruck.

I really needed to pee after about 2 miles, but the greenway bathrooms were locked up. I’m not sure if that’s a Sunday thing, or it was super cold, or what. Anyway, the next stop for that was at around mile 3.5. So onward I went. Since it was fairly chilly I had some tights and sweat pants on, a under armor heat gear top and a hoodie. So even though my stomach was starting to rumble at the stop, it was a porta john and I didn’t want to do anything else there. The last mile and a half and drive home were probably at a quicker pace that I would have liked to go since I was just out to get some miles in and not really to try and push it. I purposely think about the spacing of the bathrooms on the routes I take because that’s just something that seems smart to do.

I won’t soon forget that if I’m going to eat Taco Bell, I will give myself adequate time to do anything that needs to happen after the food goes in before I head out for any amount of rucking.

Ruck & Learn – Towel Edition

Today I went for a 5 mile ruck. And at the end of that ruck I learned something new.

I need a towel. If you’ve done any rucking you know that the sweatiest part of you is your back. Where the ruck sits.

Even though I’ve done some rucks i guess I’ve always just driven home. I hadn’t thought about how sweaty I was getting my car seat. Today I stopped by the grocery store to get a few things and when I got back in the car, then I leaned my lesson.

Take a towel. Or just change shirts I suppose. But it was 40° outside. A towel will have to do.

Rucking Gear – Keep It Simple

I can nerd out over things. If you know me, that won’t come as a shock to you. I like to know a lot about things.

For my upcoming GORUCK events, especially since I’m doing the Light Challenge and its 4-5 hours and not the 12 hours of the Tough event I’m really trying not to overthink it.

But for me that rides a fine line between




I’m trying not to get to the last one. I am immersed in podcasts, blogs, YouTube AARs (after action reports) and more at the moment. I want to make sure that I’m aware of what’s to come and more importantly that I train for it.

I know from my time in CrossFit that you can get into a stage of having all the gear in the world. And while much of it serves a purpose for some people, most of us don’t really need 3 jump ropes, 2 pair of knee sleeves, multiple wrist wraps, more than one belt, weight lifting shoes, each brand of CrossFit shoe, 7 pairs of hand grips, etc, etc, etc.

It’s easy to want to try all the things, but what really works best is finding something that works for you and sticking with it. It is, after all, the work that you put in that advances your ability to exercise a little better than the newest piece of gear.

Heading out for a 6.5 Miler. Sipped coffee for 2 miles before throwing the cup in the Rucker. 

All that being said, I’m doing a lot of reading and research on the “best” gear for GORUCK events and rucking in general. I’d like to learn from other people’s experience and just get a few good pieces that I can use over and over again. That’s why it took me a painstakingly long time to settle on the GORUCK Rucker. It’s a great pack and I’m just using it for Rucking. If I wanted to swap back and forth one bag for rucking and everyday use I’d have probably went with the 26L GR1.

I’ve read things from Ruck.Beer, All Day Ruckoff, and many more. Those sites are pure gold if you’re looking for rucking material.

I found this on a site that hasn’t been written on in 2 years. But I think it’s probably great advice.


Your primary goal here is to have fun. Don’t overthink it. If the weather is decent, just wear comfortable clothing that isn’t going to hold a lot of water. Bonus points for looking kinda ridiculous.”

The art of manliness has a post outlining mostly simple gear. So far I’m using simple gear.

I’ll have another blog on what bag I ended up with for use as my gym bag / travel bag.

As I find any gear that I think is a must I’ll probably write about it.

Current Gear Set Up:

Shirt – Whatever Dual or Tri blend shirt I have on. I haven’t tried a tech fabric yet, mostly because I hate teach fabrics but I do think they dry faster so I am going to have to pull out an UA shirt and give it a shot. Even if it’s only for events. Ugh.

Underwear – UA 9” Boxer Jock. The legs don’t ride up. These are my goto gym underwear and I haven’t had a reason to think I’d need to change.

Shorts – Whatever. Mostly I have Lulu shorts so I’ve mostly worn those.

Pants – UA sweat pants. I have a few pair of tech pants I’m about to try.

Shoes – Brooks Adrenaline – I’d like to try the brooks Glycerin for something with a little less arch support, and it’s what Road Runner Sports recommends in their shoe picker for me. I’d also like to try the MACV1 from GORUCK. .

Socks – Shout out to Ruck.Beer for the Toe Socks under a wool pair. I’m using the local company Farm to Feet hiking socks. I made the mistake of one Ruck with shitty cotton socks that I thought would keep my feet warm. It was a 4 miler. Hot spots formed after 2 miles and I’m lucky and blessed that I didn’t end that one with massive blisters. For now, I’m also back to adding a little duct tape before I start. I had to do that until my feet toughened up when I was at outback and I’m doing it again now.


Intro to My Rucking




What it is. How I found it. And maybe the most important, why am I doing it?

What it is:

Rucking is carrying a weighted pack on your back. It implies action, energy, and purpose.

Rucking is the foundation of Special Forces training. Green Berets are well versed in shouldering heavy rucks through cities, mountains, jungles and deserts, in war and in peace — alone when they must, together whenever possible. Rucking requires strength, endurance, and character — and builds it, too.

Note: Hiking is rucking in the mountains, urban hiking is simply called rucking. Rucking can be done at any weight.

All that was taking from the GORUCK site for What is Rucking. If you’d like to watch a 2 minute video on what is rucking click here.


How I found it:

I’ve known about GORUCK for a while. I had some folks I knew from my old gym do an event, but I honestly didn’t give it much thought. Then, in the summer of 2018 Chris Spealler launched a program called Grunt Work. We had done some Grunt Work through ICON athelete at the gym and it included sled pushes and pulls, farmer and other carries etc. It’s a great workout that is often low impact on the body. Don’t mistake that for easy. I signed up for Gruntwork and try to put a workout like that in with my regular training every once in a while. The program called for a ruck once or twice a week. What’s a ruck, it’s putting some weight on your back and going for a walk. Simple. Effective.

Then, in September they partnered with GORUCK. Log 4 rucks in Strava and one person will win a GORUCK pack (backpack that is basically bombproof) and a weight plate and some other gear. So I jumped on it. Did my first 4 rucks due to this challenge. One was in Denver, and I’d taken a cheap Jansport bookbag and “borrowed’ some dumbbells from the hotel. I rucked down a coffee shop and back. Around 2 and a half miles. About halfway I worried about, what would happen if the backpack breaks and I have to get these 3 dumbbells back to the hotel while trying to carry a coffee.

I didn’t win the ruck, but during that time I had been investigating the GORUCK site more and more.

You need to know that there is a difference between rucking for fitness (there are a ton of fitness benefits) and doing a GORUCK event. The event contains rucking but also comes with huge lessons in leadership. It’s run by former or current special forces members from our armed forces. There is PT with your ruck; like push ups, squats, bear crawls etc. At these events you and your team will carry logs, and other objects. You’ll learn to work as a team. And unless you quit, you’ll come out on the other side with a sense of pride, lessons in leadership, a great workout and you’ll earn a patch. The patches are always earned, never sold. All those lessons are what I’ve read about and been told. I have yet to do an event, but that will change on 4.7.19 in Charlotte, NC.

After Finding it:

I researched the GORUCK packs over and over again. They are built in the USA and have a lifetime guarantee. If something happens to it, they’ll fix it or replace it. But they aren’t cheap. That’s for sure. I waited for the Veterans Day sale and pounced on the Rucker. It’s cheaper than the GR1 (the staple of the line, the first pack made) and even the website says if you aren’t going to be carrying a laptop, get the Rucker. I had a bag I use for travel that has a laptop area and this was just to ruck with. So, I grabbed the Rucker and a little while later got the 20# GORUCK plate to go in it. I won’t be rucking with my weight vest anymore.

Rucker: https://www.goruck.com/rucker/

Why I am Rucking:

I really enjoyed the rucking we did in the Gruntwork Challenge.

I love the exercise benefits of it and the change of pace you get with adding it to CrossFit. I’m may do a post with all sorts of links of the benefits of rucking.

I miss the endurance aspect of cycling. I won’t say running because I never really loved that. But I did like the running events you could do and be a part of.

I love the fact that GORUCK has different events. Not only do they have Light (5ish hours) avg completion rate 100%, Tough (12 hours) with an average completion rate of 94% & Heavy (24 Hours) with an average completion rate of 50%. You can get real crazy and do all 3 in succession for an HTL with just a few hours between events. There’s also Selection, which appears to be like the CrossFit Games of GORUCK.

Each of those type events is different or seems to have a theme.

Memorial Day, 4th of July, Veterans Day, etc. And some are based on famous battles in History; D-Day, Battle of Baghdad, Battan (https://www.goruck.com/event-14107/) which I’m doing, and more.



One of my Professional Development goals for 2018 was to read more books and get a few new leadership books under my belt. I read a few good ones, but so many just get repetitive. You could boil over half the leadership books out there down to the fact that you need to communicate with all types of people and in different situations. GORUCK is going to be a real-life communication book. You have a leader, pushing you and a team to accomplish tasks that you are going to have to communicate to do.

This is from the GORUCK webiste: Note: Your Cadre will lead the class, teaching team-building and leadership lessons based on his time in Special Operations.

This is outside of my comfort zone. That’s another reason I think this is going to be a valuable experience for me. And there is an amazing community of GRTs(GORUCK Tough people, apparently you can be a GRT by finishing a Light, which is a little confusing, I digress). The community of people I’ve already interacted with, read articles from, got training advice from, etc is inspiring. I think it’s safe to say that community’s of rad people doing cool shit is a huge similarity between CrossFit and GORUCK.

I’m going to train and exercise (win), add this to my professional development (win), get real life lessons from special forces trained teachers (win), meet awesome people (win) and earn a damn cool patch (win). That seems like a lot of wins.

Currently I’m enjoying the training. I really hope I enjoy the events and they are something I can do a few of each year. They seem amazing.

I think my twitter is going to turn into my training and exercise social media outlet. So if you care to follow along, outside this blog, feel free to head over to twitter and look up @dhill37.