GoRuck Challenge 1359 Debrief: Why You Should Do One

Last Friday night, myself, Denee, and 3 others from CrossFit Kent Island joined one other brave Kent Islander for a GoRuck Challenge in Annapolis.  A GoRuck Challenge is billed as a 12-hour endurance event, aimed at building teamwork through tough physical challenges.  I’d done 3 Challenges before this, so I kind of knew what to expect, but they’re always different, depending on the instructors, or Cadre (borrowing from Army lingo), who are always combat special ops veterans.  Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Marine Recon, etc.
GORUCK Challenge 150306 005Our Cadre this time was Phil, an Army Special Forces dude specializing in diving.  So we were pretty sure we were going to get wet at some point, even though the temperature that night never got above 13 degrees.  The first thing Cadre Phil had us do was take off our jackets and stuff them in our rucks, already loaded down with 40 pounds of bricks and anything else we wanted to bring – mostly extra warm clothes.  We couldn’t get that done in the 20-second deadline he gave us, so we had to pick all our stuff up and run.  And run again, and again, maybe 4 or 5 times until we got our shit together.
GORUCK Challenge 150306 043Then it was time to move out to our first objective, to find and exfiltrate a downed warhead (a 300-lb telephone pole) and a casualty (a 100-lb sandbag).  It was a good 5 miles away, and we had 90 minutes to get there.  No problem, except it was so icy on the Annapolis sidewalks that we were falling all over the place, and 2 miles of the trip were trudging through the snow on the median of Route 2 in Severna Park.
GORUCK Challenge 150306 051We picked up the log and sandbag, rotating people on and off the weights so that one person could rest at a time.  We moved out for what seemed like an eternity.  It was a quiet, dark night, and as much as we tried to motivate each other, our thoughts always came back to “how much longer can this go on?” As it turns out, we moved the log up and down the Baltimore-Annapolis Trail for about 12 miles, and when we finally ditched it the sun was starting to come up.
GORUCK Challenge 150306 112 (1)There’s something so gratifying about that sunrise during a GoRuck Challenge.  You don’t know how much longer you’ll have to go, but you know at that point that it can’t last forever, and you made it through the night.  There were points for all of us where we wanted to quit, wanted to find a spot to sit down and rest our exhausted legs, but at the same time you don’t want to let your team down, so you keep going.  Now in the early daylight hours, we knew we were on our way back to Annapolis, and there were a few more smiles and jokes, from us and from Cadre Phil, who turned out to be one of the funniest guys on the planet, with stories galore about his tough days overseas and about why we were doing what we were.
GORUCK Challenge 150306 085We got back to the Naval Academy Bridge going back into Annapolis, and Cadre Phil rushed ahead of us, looking down at the water.  My positive mindset eroded quickly, as I thought he was looking for a break in the Severn River ice where we could get in the water.  As it turns out, when we made it up to his position on the bridge, he was waiting to give us our GoRuck Tough patches and congratulate us on making it through the longest, coldest GoRuck Challenge he had ever known.  All in all, we traveled 29 miles in 10 hours, finishing at 7am.  We promptly called some family members for a ride back to our cars in Eastport, and then headed to Chick n Ruth’s deli for some breakfast and a cold beer.  They don’t serve beer until 11am, but we convinced our waitress that we REALLY needed them, and she pushed it through.  She should get a Tough patch for that.
And after all these pictures where you can literally SEE the cold, hell you can almost hear our teeth chattering, NOW do you get why you should do one?  I guess I haven’t made it to that point yet.
You should sign up for a GoRuck Challenge, or a Spartan Race, or a 10K, BECAUSE IT’S HARD.  And that works in two ways.
1. Having an event out there, lingering somewhere in the near-term future, motivates you to give it your all in training.  If you don’t train, or you “phone it in,” you will get smoked during the event, it will suck, and the regret of not training to the best of your ability will set in immediately.  Put together a training plan, make it a gradual ramp-up (especially if you’re expecting yourself to be able to do much greater things than you currently can) and stick to it.
2. The challenging event itself will propel you forward into even greater things.  I don’t know what my next event is, but I do know that my current mindset is that there is nothing out of bounds.  I can accomplish anything I want to, because I’ve already done something that seems so difficult that my perspective has changed – for the better!
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