Goruck. Class: 453 Team: Alpha
Its 10pm. You walk into a bar in Boston. You see your team mates. They greet you with “You look like hell!” And the challenge hasn’t even started yet.
They weren’t wrong. I do. But lets back this pain train up a bit. Some where, at some time, the NE Spahtens got the bright idea to do a Goruck challenge. I’m not going to lie I had been wanting to do one since I first heard about it a year or so ago. I had plenty of friends who were GRT Goruck tough: The title given to those who have completed a GRC Goruck challenge. Plenty of chatter about it hit the group and page. I followed the Goruck Boston page and I have to say I wasn’t really impressed. It was a lot like looking at a fraternities facebook page and not knowing the characters or the jokes. I had a game plan in my head, totally helped by the great Kay Norm who organized a group for just Spahtens. But I also knew the chances of us being able to remain together in the chaos of the beginning would be extremely difficult.
Now back to the bar. I love when Spahtens get together. Jessica was there handing out shirts and hats. Sandy and Vince were there discussing the downfall of pop music. Bobby with his Everest ready pack. Kay, James x2, Lisa, Jennifer, Paul, Corrine, Adam, Amy and others. I’m not real clear about the attendees. I’m quite sure that Shadows showed up. But I don’t know where they went. All I knew is I wanted beer. Josh Butler, my battle buddy, and I ordered quick. I’m hard of hearing so anything that was going on I was rather oblivious too. I recall Paul got up for a moment. When he returned he had some awful news. This would cause him to have to leave us. I mention this only to establish just where my head was at even before I began. Exit the bar, off to the next one.
On the way to the next bar we picked up our gear and another Spahten. Also at this time we picked up “Goldie Pot” I understand this was a favorite with the kiddies in Bravo. At the Sideline bar we found out that it closes at 11:30 on a Friday, in Boston, on St Paddies day weekend? But we regrouped sank some beers and then moved to the rally point. Stray Spahtens were gathering there along with all the other GRCs at the Soldiers and Sailors monument, our SP. Pictures were taken, some info was given and then we were directed to the Parade deck to form into 3 groups.
I’m fuzzy with the next order of event’s. To me they are irrelevant. What is important is that the Spahtens were doing their best to stay together and it was working. Role-call came and went. Some more chatter was spoken, again my hoh was killing me. Then group thrashing. I’m familiar with this. Push ups. On your feet on your face. When the second round came I noticed that the guy to my left was struggling with his team weight. I told him give it to me. Just in time for flutter kicks. Roughly 60lbs on my chest for an exercise i’m not particularly good at any way. But oh well.
This is where things get really fuzzy. I was watching what would become group Charlie getting thrashed for not being able to follow simple instructions. An alumni was being pulled out and getting individual instruction. Chaos was growing and I know this has a tendency to spread fast. So I was kinda checking out our happy little band when Cadre Lou came over and said he needed 6 bodies. His tone was “not in a minute, yesterday!” So in maybe my only moment of clarity, in an attempt to spare Bravo from extra PT I moved quickly. The result was my movement into group Alpha. Precisely where I thought I didn’t want to be. With a Cadre I didn’t think I wanted to be with and worst of all: Separated yet again from my Spahtens, my team, my friends, my battle buddy, and most importantly separated from some one I gave my word to that I wouldn’t ever, ever leave.
Spahtens are a sneaky bunch of creatures though, they creep up everywhere. But I’ll get to that later. Off into Alpha I went. I knew this was an alumni group. I recognized some faces and names from facebook, there were some in animal masks, and strange faces. But I actually knew some of them. I went to the Fire Academy with one, and of course our own Adam Barbrie. I knew I was in deep, over my head and sinking. But there’s always a light somewhere. I don’t exactly know when I became aware, but in group Alpha there were two solid, strong, unflappable Spahtens I hadn’t even met yet. Casey O’Connor and Andrea Piscapoe. So knowing Adam, Sean and now Casey and Andrea I felt that I was in good company. I would soon learn that I was in excellent company all the way around! Going into this Challenge I had had a plan: Suffer in Silence. Now that I was on group Alpha, this plan was not going to be an issue to complete.
Our first TL and ATL were awesome. They got us together and working together pretty much immediately. I know we were tasked with something originally but I never heard it. Instead we did a bit of character building PT in the Common, tried to move a tractor trailer and built a snow pile. Then I heard: Movement to Boston College.
The benefit of not knowing Boston is not knowing distances. I fell in, in the rear and stepped off. As we moved we collected coupons. At some point I heard Cadre Lou claim that “epic couponing Boston” was going to be going into effect. By the time the sun came up, everybody had one. You have to get to sunrise. Always. In any event that I’ve done, training camps, basic training, long hikes and traverses.
When your at you lowest at night you just have to get to sunrise. Sunrise brought us to Chestnut Hill reservoir (I think). We secured a massive log which really could only be carried by 3 people. At this point I would like to say that if not for 2 massive individuals in the Group it would have been a much longer day, The group, those who could fit, rotated out the 2 front positions. However Christian and Jim 50/50 swapped the rear position. So for “epic couponing” you were either under the log, or under a weight. There was never any relief.
After depositing our coupons near Fenway we took a short respite to gain refit. After which we were on out way to Tuft’s medical center to get Lou’s car. Again another short break. We did some of the standard Goruck stuff in between and after. On our final march toward the common we incurred causalities. But there’s something about knowing the end is near that can drive you on. Beers were to be carried as well as our fallen comrades and we marched on. Alpha group was the first back. We preformed a few more character builders but eventually rallied back at the SP. Patches were bestowed, a diamond was exchanged (she said yes) and beers were cracked and consumed.
Charlie came in next. I remember thinking I know a lot of those clowns too. But I was waiting, agonizingly waiting for Bravo. I needed to know how my friends were. It was killing me. To add to my agony when Bravo came in they didn’t stop at the SP. They rallied at the Robert Shaw civil war memorial. From the distance I could see faces I needed to see. They had suffered and they had succeeded. I knew what they had gone through. As much as I wanted to run down there to be with them and share with them I knew I couldn’t. Not immediately at least. They had gone into this thing and come out together as a Team. I was so happy for them. But I didn’t share their suffering. I didn’t go through the suffering with them. I just wasn’t part of their team.
I had been with my own team on Group Alpha. As such I had my prejudices changed. I am proud I was with Group Alpha. I had all my securities removed. I entered Goruck as a total newbie. In a group with Alumni of multiple Challenges, Goruck Heavy, maybe even Selection. I “suffered in silence” as best that I could and I trudged on. I may have looked like the Walking Dead. Acted like a zombie. Or any number of other alliterations of a person that was just to beat to care. But I adapted, adjusted, dug in, hung on and prevailed. I was humbled.
During the GRC I crawled very deep inside my head. I had told myself before I started that I didn’t really want to do this. I was separated immediately from my team, my support crew, my reason for showing up. I was and still am at the end of my rope in my personal life as far as exhaustion is concerned. I couldn’t however, quit. I’m not good with faces or names. If by chance you were in group Alpha and you are reading this. I’m sorry. I know our head count was 30. I know there was a horse, a unicorn, a zebra, Patches, Costigan, Barbie, Piscopo, O’connor, the lovers, the Marbleheader (not me), Huge Jim, Christian, Blonde girl blue hood, Girl in the Red Jacket, Guy in Red Jacket, and 13 other amazing people. You made this an amazing experience for me. Like I posted on Facebook. 453 Alpha: F*ck all of you. Individually and collectively. And most of all. Thank you.