As an obstacle course enthusiast – maybe fanatic – a good sandbag should be in your arsenal for training. They’re awesome for simply throwing over your shoulders and hiking up a hill, to sprints, to much more technical routines than I’m qualified to recommend or dig into.
In fact, most races these days have some form of sandbag carry built into them. This may be a simple “pancake” carry at a Spartan, to a significant Wreck Bag carry at OCR World Championships. FIT has had Wreck Bags on course for many events now, and BoldrDash has a unique super long WreckBag that takes two to carry. In fact, with their signature orange handles, chances are high Wreck Bag is the style you’re most familiar with.
However, there are many other games in town. There are many vendors of sandbags or sandbag type equipment – and I’ve recently had my hands on such a beast from Brute Force Training out of North Denver.
The bag I was provided with is a Firefighter Red Athlete Sandbag kit. This gives me the bag itself, and two filler sacks – one for approximately 50lbs of sand, the other for approximately 30lbs of sand. Unlike the very similar GoRuck sandbags, the filler bags are included, and unlike Wreck Bags – they are shipped empty, which is significantly easier for your mailman. I spent less than $10 on two bags of play sand from my local hardware store to fill mine, and had left over.
The bag itself is made of 1000d military spec Cordura, and has a seriously chunky YKK zipper. It’s 8 handles are made and supported by what looks like seatbelt webbing, and are incredibly comfortable in the hand, even under weight – and noticeably more so than the GoRuck models. The handles are rounded, and sit proud of the bag itself, so you’re not grasping, trying to find them. The handles themselves are oriented on both vertical and horizontal, and on each end – theres no end to the variety. Don’t underestimate having contrasting colors too – black handles on a red bag are easier to find than the black on black GoRuck.
The fillers are double velcro’d, and easy to fill. They have a red stitch line to indicate when they’re at weight, and purposefully leave some space for the sand to move freely, creating an unstable load. One bag is rated to 50lbs and wider than the second bag, rated to 25/30lbs. Both fit in the shell together, or separately – so you can mix and match and create your own sandbag weight. Of course, you can partially fill the filler bags to get your perfect weight at any time.
Comparing this to what I believe is the most popular OCR sandbag on the market – Wreck Bags – there’s significant differences. For one – Wreck Bags ship full, and don’t use sand – instead they use a proprietary rubber pellet system designed to not shift, rot, or gain weight when wet. They only have a couple of handles, unless you buy the optional grip straps, and the weight isn’t variable. If you’re storing your training tools outside, or have the potential for them to get wet – a Wreck Bag is an instant no-brainer. If you’re buying in bulk for an event or gym, Wreck Bags will last a life time. In fact – the 50lb Wreck Bag in these photos is one of the first bags they’ve ever made, and it’s looking as good now as a new one – if a little dusty. Not a pulled stitch or tear to be found.
Another popular option, already mentioned, is the GoRuck Sandbag – which appears to be similar in many ways to the Brute Force sandbag – both are 1000d mil spec Cordura, both bullet proof in construction, although GoRuck make you buy your filler bag separately. More on that, below.
In fact – GoRuck have legendary build quality – and a legendary Scars warranty to back it up – but Brute Force is no slouch, either.
Each Brute Force sandbag comes with a 30day money back guarantee if you don’t want to keep it, and have a limited lifetime warranty, that excludes (from their website):
Actions that will void the warranty: (Do at your own risk)
-Dragging the sandbags
-Overfilling shells or fillers
-Using wet sand or abrasive filler material
-Pouring sand directly into the shell
-Exceeding pronated handle weight limits
-Running into it with a snow-blower (yes, someone tried to claim this)
Our priority is to keep you training, and we will work with you on a resolution.
It’s nice to see they want to work with you to resolve any problems, and it’s worth noting that Brute Force *and* GoRuck specifically mention slamming and dragging as reasons for exclusion from their warranties – yes, even the famous Scars warranty won’t cover slamming and dragging.
When it comes to buying, it’s not always so straightforward.
GoRuck insists you buy the shell, THEN buy the fillers – whereas Brute Force sells you the whole set in one go. What does this look like in pricing? Lets break it down:
Lets assume we’re shopping for a 60lb training bag. Prices include shipping from the vendor website, to MA, as of 7/17/16. Tax not included.
Wreck Bag: 60lb bag – $159.95. Free shipping. You would need to include the additional Wreck Ribs for $29.95 to get the flexibility of the Brute Force or GoRuck bags – but you need no sand. Available in several sizes – but the size you buy is the size you get.
GoRuck: A single 60lb filler bag was $25, and a 60lb shell was on sale at $69 for a total of $99 inclusive of the $5 shipping. Worth noting that GoRuck had a sale on the shell, which was normally $85 – and they had limited filler bags available, 40lb and 60lb only. Are they getting out of the sandbag game? Available in 20lb, 40lb and 60lb shells, with 20lb, 40lb and 60lb filler bags – if they get them back in stock.
Brute Force: The Athlete Kit gives you the Sandbag shell, rated to 75lbs, a 50lb filler bag, a 30lb filler bag for $129.95, plus $15.20 shipping. For a total of $145.15. Smaller kits (and larger kits) available, each one with multiple filler bags included. Add $5 or $10 for sand.
What about the spoiler in the room? The home made, duck tape special? This 50lb home made sandbag is a simple $5, 50lb bag of play sand – wrapped in as much duct tape as I could. It’s not particularly versatile or flexible, prone to busting open and no handles – but if all you want is weight, throw this in a ruck and off you go for very short money.
So you have some cash in your pocket and you want to buy a sandbag – which should you buy?
I think the home made bags are t0o limited in their scope. I’m concerned about the lack of availability and flexibility in the GoRuck filler bags – and the sale price on their shells – which brings it down to the Brute Force bags and of course, Wreck Bag.
Wreck Bag are New England owned, and bomb proof. The contents of each bag will never get heavier in water or rot, and they can live outside. The weight doesn’t shift, and the bag is well built. However, they are a little limited in how you can “handle” them, without buying the extra ribs, and the weight is non-adjustable.
Brute Force offer a Made in America bag that is also pretty damned bomb proof. Sand is cheap and easy to get, but will get heavy if you soak it. The weight does shift, which they consider a feature, and the multiple filler bags mean you can tailor the weight to your needs. Plenty of handles that are comfortable.
As an additional, Brute Force produce an app that delivers a daily sandbag and bodyweight workout – it shows you each movement in a video, gives you a workout of the day, and lets you time and track your results – while you can do the workout with any sandbag, Brute Force are the guys producing it – it’s a nice touch. Wreck Bag have a certification program and trainers in real gyms – both pushing the scope of what a simple “sand bag” can do for you.
Which would you pick up?
(Code NES will get you 10% off, and a bulk order of 6 or more can be arranged for more savings)
We’ve had a custom, coyote GoRuck GR1 ruck sitting, unused and unloved in a box for a few months now, just waiting for a good reason to get it in someones hands.
After the amazing turn out for the Family Reach Foundation at VT – we had our cause, and started a raffle that ended mere minutes ago.
That raffle started out with nothing but a Ruck – quickly, the BattleFrog New England guys offered up a family pack of tickets to next years event. Then, we had a local lawyer offer up huge breaks in their fee’s if someone wants to remortgage. Lastly, a kind donation by a team member added a whole pile of awesome GoRuck gear to the pile – a tac hat, source bladder, shadow pocket and some patches.
The raffle was a huge success! With 211 tickets sold at $5 each, we’re SUPER please to announce that we’re able to donate $1055 to the Family Reach Foundation – we’re going to round that up to $1100, because they’re worth it. Our goal was $1000, and we beat it 🙂
Of course, who won?
Sean O’Meara bought four tickets, one of which was drawn – so Sean, check your Facebook messages 🙂
Thank you to everyone who continues to support what we do here at the New England Spahtens – and for buying your tickets for this raffle, you’ve helped families of kids who are battling cancer – 100% of the proceedings will go directly to their aid.
GoRuck, better known for their rucksacks and multi hour endurance Challenge series, amongst other things, recently went head to head with the Vermont Beast and held their first obstacle course race on the same weekend.
Brave. Self diagnosed GoRuck Fan JayBean Miller headed down there, ran the Nasty, then drove all the way back to Vermont to run the Beast in one weekend (nuts, nuts I tell you). So, how did GoRuck do?
(all pictures are courtesy of the GoRuck Facebook page)
Let me start of by saying that I love GORUCK. Anyone who has ever made the mistake of asking me about the company or events has sat there while I ramble about how I love the company. I also want to say that I did not stay for the whole weekend, right after the Nasty I jumped in my car to drive to VT for the Spartan Beast in the attempt to participate in the two biggest races of the year.
Because of my GORUCK / OCR background I had extremely high hopes for the Nasty. While I will explain different factors that could contribute to my experience, I have to admit I was disappointed with the outcome.
What did the Nasty do well?
There were many things the Nasty did very well and the one that stands out the most is the uniqueness of the obstacles. While there were and wall obstacles, there were also obstacles that wont be seen by anyone unless you sign up for the military. I enjoyed seeing people overcome fears left and right at the Nasty, myself included (i hate heights). The other aspect of the Nasty that stood out was the Memorial Mile. The Memorial Mile was where you were given a small American flag and spoken to about the sacrifices made by our military then turned around to a steep mile all uphill. This kept close the traditions of military and meaning behind everything that came after that part of the Nasty.
What the Nasty needs improvement on…(from a OCR perspective)
As I stepped to the starting line of the Nasty I was extremely surprised at what I saw. A very simple start flag between two posts and Cadre Lou as MC and some casual country music playing softly in the background. Why was I surprised? This is the GORUCK Nasty 001! I signed up as quickly as I could once registration was open. As a OCR AND GORUCK fan I have been waiting for this moment for months! It was hard to sleep the night before I was so excited. Then once getting to the starting line its not only a simple set up, but laid back music, and only one staff member? I hate to compare and even though I do not get into the whole “Spartan Race hype and mood” They have HUGE/MASSIVE Spartan banners, gates, volunteers to help with last minute questions, large columns that look like they were taken from Spara, smoke, aggressive / loud music, and a MC that gets you PUMPED before the race begins. I was not sure what to expect from the Nasty but I expected it to blow Spartan Races out of the water. This was also true for the end of the race… simple and anti-climactic. On to the race itself..
Out of the gate was relatively simple and straightforward uphill to a crawl, cargo net, and a rope swing. From there there was a guy spraying water telling you to roll in the mud. While I enjoyed the obstacles as I said what I did not like was the rope climbs. I am a relatively fit person and can climb ropes no problem. My issue was how much I had to watch people fail these climbs. Two of the most unique obstacles offered began with a rope climb… so if you did not have the ability to climb a rope or pick it up on the fly you were out of luck. While they both offered a latter climb instead, even the most seasoned GRT or OCR racer did not want to be seen going that route.
Next was the Cadre that were stationed at the obstacles. I felt they were relatively quiet and not a known presence considering how easily they can all steal the show. Going along with that I didn’t really have a good grip on who the people running it were, I felt the volunteers and Cadre needed to have brighter shirts or some way of letting people know who they are. Lastly was course navigation and the “in-between” time. So many OCRs that I have run in the past have used not only the terrain but also mud and trees to mix up the time between one obstacle and the other. I was very surprised at how the space from one obstacle to the other was a simple path, no mud no woods travel time or anything. This made that time somewhat uneventful.
These are my thoughts on the Nasty from a OCR persons point of view. Again let me say that I LOVE GORUCK and unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to stay for the whole weekend and get the “full Nasty experience”. But stripped down to a OCR I was surprised and disappointed.
Many of you have met Jay Bean, either at a GoRuck, race, or under a log at CMC – he wanted to share his perspective on the differences between to the two types of events –
My name is Jameson Miller… I started my love for races and challenges in 2012. Since then I’ve participated in numerous OCRs and GoRuck challenges. While there are obvious similarities between the groups of people that prefer one over the other, I wanted to shed some light on why I believe people like myself prefer GoRuck type events over OCRs. Before anyone continues to read I want to make sure everyone knows this is my OPINION and INTERPRETATION as to why some people including myself prefer one over the other. So no getting offended or upset about what is written!
While both OCR and GoRuck groups both have close knit communities GoRuck is different in many ways. People who have participated in rucks have suffered together and have been forced to come together as a team to accomplish one goal. With the emphasis always being on the team and the person next to you there is no time to worry about your own personal performance. In comparison OCRs are ultimately about the individual and his or her performance. Yes I understand that teams exist but races are rarely run completely as a team, carrying, and motivating one another and overcoming physical and mental obstacles together (yes I know about HH and its still much different from GoRuck – keep reading).
The other aspect of GoRuck that is very personal and emotionally binding to the vast majority of participants is what the organization stands for as well as supports. The Green Beret Foundation mission is as follows:
“The Green Beret Foundation is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization that provides unconventional resources to facilitate the special needs of our wounded, ill and injured Green Berets and Green Beret Gold Star families. The GBF imparts unique support to the Special Forces Community in order to strengthen readiness and uphold Green Beret traditions and values.”
Many people who are active in the GoRuck community are prior service, have family that serve in the military or are simply passionate patriots. You can understand why an organization with such close ties to supporting the military brings out the best in people. Combine that with 12+ hours of physical, mental and emotional suffering as well as growth and you have one motivated group of people that are diehard about what they do.
Most importantly are Special Operations Cadre that own the company and facilitate each challenge personally. These individuals are the best of the best, the most highly trained operators the US armed forces have to offer, and they are there for you to get to know. During the challenge you not only learn first hand about the training they received but also get to hear stories you would never hear anywhere else. Stories about fallen comrades, sacrifice, and of course about why they love what they do and why they love the USA.
I could go on and on about why I love GoRuck and the GBF, but I’m sure you all understand that by now. What it comes down to is the bonds you form during the event, what you learn about yourself, and of course the importance of the GBF. There is an emotional attachment that I can’t explain on top of that, you just have to experience it for yourself.
OCR racer or GoRuck nut… They are all a different breed with a certain something different in them you just don’t see everyday. I hope to see you all out on the course or with your face in the mud and a ruck on your back.
GO RUCK Challenge
St. Patrick’s Day weekend
March, 15th-16th , 2013
By Bobby Jackson
This whole ordeal for me began with Hilary Peak. I saw a post that she was getting rid of her registration and I jumped. The transfer of registration was done and was in. I happen to have a friend who trains guys in the National Guard and I asked to borrow his Ruck so I didn’t have to buy one. He dropped it off and it was bigger than the ones I had been seeing. No matter, the night before the challenge I was up late wrapping bricks and getting clothes ready. I had been working long hours that week and didn’t have time to do it earlier. I only got about 2 hours of sleep. Woke up, and brought everything to work. Worked 7 to 5:30 and hit the train from Worcester. 1 hour and 40 minutes later I was in Boston headed to Fire and Ice. Some Spahtens were there; others were resting up at home or heading into the city. I hit the wall as I got into Fire and Ice. With little sleep the heat from the grill was putting me down; I knew I needed to get some food in me because I wouldn’t be having a real meal for the next 12 hours. We were all just hanging around the table as Paul Jones announced that he had to leave due to a family emergency, he got up, wished us luck and was off. We closed the place out at 11; I went to go change into my gear with Sandy and Vince Ree, and Jessica Wohlen. We headed out to meet everyone. I was hoping my gear was going to be enough for the challenge even if we had to hit the water. That was my biggest concern because there had been rumors floating around that we may. Cold out, plus water, and then you get to see just how tough you really are. Here we go.
Some Spahtens were already at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Boston Common and some were having their last few beers before “the suck”. We all got there and BOOM! New England Spahtens group shot!
Once Cadre Lou got our attention he had all of us run down the hill and we quickly learned what getting into rank meant. After an introduction of the Cadres we began with exercises in rank. Pushups, Flutter kicks, Ruck overhead presses with hold for 30 seconds, Caterpillar pushups in your ranks, leg lifts, Elephant walk (thank you Adam Barbrie for the name of that), and I think that was about it. James Johnston and I were switching off with our team weight. Let me tell you, trying to hold a 35 Lb kettle bell off the ground while doing pushups is way harder than you may think. Especially dreading the consequences if you were spotted letting it hit the ground. These guys didn’t seem to be screwing around one bit. I sure as hell was taking it very seriously while alumni’s were cracking beers and swigging Whiskey. Yeah, maybe next time.
1:35am: Leg lifts.
Then my rank and another, (or all of them, I just can’t remember) suddenly had to sprint over to a pavilion by request of Cadre Lou. He immediately asked for four people once we got over to it and made them the beginning of the ranks back over where we all first lined up. I think it was just to get us going, maybe a tactic to confuse some; it’s a little fuzzy at this point, still feel tired today from the challenge. The Spahtens did well sticking together because we had quite a few in our group. At this point Team Bravo of Class 453 was formed. First team leader,.. Steve DellaCroce (or “Shrimp” thanks to our very own Cadre Chris).
We had three team weights of around 35 pounds or so and an American Flag. The flag could NEVER touch the ground, the rest we were told was ok only if our Cadre said so. We began with a little speech where our Cadre referred to us as “weirdo’s”. All strangers to each other, but by the end we would be a team of weirdo’s, or a “family” of weirdo’s if you will. He stated that he would not be yelling at us because his voice was shot. I found some relief in this because I fully expected to be yelled at or hear yelling most of the time. I figured that’s what they do. Next I remember breaking into inchworm pushups around 2:20am. This is in the down position with EVERYONE all up in everyone’s business. “Get up in there” our Cadre ordered us.
We had no idea about the time, no watches were allowed. So the attempt was made for the inchworm pushup but it was a lot harder than you may think. He also asked us to do a caterpillar push up where we walked on our hands in the up position. That didn’t happen either. We got up, went back into rank, and he said a few more things and we picked a navigator. The only thing that really stuck out that he said was that we were about to hike to Fenway Park. So our team leader and navigator lead us towards Commonwealth Ave across the common and through the public gardens. We weren’t allowed to talk because it was so early in the morning and we had to stay an arm’s length away from the person in front of us. We didn’t do either and bodies started dropping. The first dead body happened before we left the public gardens, and of course he picks the biggest guys first. Sweet. I believe Nate Warren was the first to die, but I’m not sure because I did lose some of the order of things. So it was either Patrick Verrico or Nate Warren. Not sure if this was the first dead in the picture, that’s Nate.
We had to pass off the “deads” Ruck sack to someone who wasn’t dead and the people holding the body were supposed to hand their Rucks off to someone who wasn’t helping in the carry either. This got a little messy, especially because we weren’t supposed to be talking, and Cadre Chris didn’t like how slow we were going. So then bodies started to drop, 2, 3, them me. Shit. I became one of the dead. Let me tell you, Patrick and I agreed, being dead sucks. When people started to lose strength and not calling for someone to fill in for them in the carry, they start to pull on your limbs. Carriers were constantly pulling at your shoulders, knees, and wrists but it really was the only way. So every time we rested I could feel everything going back into place from being stretched out while being carried. Embrace the suck as they say…yeah…I was trying to, I swear. So my right shoulder was being pulled on bad. I was looking around at the other dead guys and Team Bravo as is was kind of turning into a shit show as here we were being pushed to go faster and keep quiet. Here’s Patrick Verrico being carried down Comm Ave. with Copie and the team in tow.
Cadre Chris kept saying, “Team leader”! Which meant get the f*#k over here now! Pushing Steve to make shit happen and get us moving quicker because we we’re being timed. He had found a street cone and made Steve hold it on his head just to add to everything.
Finally through Kenmore Square, onto Lansdowne street behind Fenway, took a right around the lot, and we finally stopped at the statues known as the “Teammates”. In tribute to the 86 years the Red Sox hadn’t won a championship we did 86 Ruck pushups. 1, 2, 3….1! Yeah,… that was no fun. Not even sure where the team weights were at this point either. My arms gave out pretty quick. I wish I had thought to train doing pushups with my Ruck on, but I didn’t. Then 86 flutter kicks complete with pausing around the 40 something count while our Cadre spoke of honoring the Red Sox and those 86 years. Then we continued onto the 86th Flutterkick. I believe, if memory serves me correctly, it was time for bathroom breaks. You had to get a battle buddy and go. So in pairs of two’s we started running off like planes launching from a carrier. Scattering to find anywhere to let it fly! Pun intended. Ha! So I went with someone, don’t remember who at this point, ran up the street towards Boylston, rounded the corner only to see about 6 girls with puddles starting to run out from underneath them. I will refrain from name dropping even though I am tempted. They were either leaning against walls or sitting on rails properly placed with giggling and sighs of relief echoing down the alleyway. “Oh what a feeling” I think was a phrase I remember. So I did my business too and we headed back to the statues. Got a team picture around 4:40 am and headed over to a gas station.
We consumed water and ate food rations; one member was having bad back problems due to bad back problems and had to step out. At this point I could feel the cold and see my breath. We got a new team leader, Lisa Klinkenburg. She and a few others went with Cadre Chris and found stacks of cardboard wrapped up for disposal. He had us get four of them and told a story of 3 suicidal bombers that each had a third of a bomb in their Rucks, they ran behind enemy lines to assemble and plant it on a roof top of a terrorist’s home. Then get a few miles away, get drunk on a bottle of Jack Daniels (that came with the bomb parts) and hit the button. So, these were bomb pieces.
We were going to wrap them in duct tape but there was only enough for one stack to get reinforced. We had to get them to Faneuil Hall by a certain time, which not even the team leader knew of. The picture is us leaving Fenway lead by Team Leader Lisa.
This was a shit show cause as we broke off into groups carrying the “bomb parts”, they started to fall apart. Cardboard started to fly and Cadre Chris was constantly calling “Team Leader”! Threatening Lisa with penalties if we didn’t get moving quicker but the balance of speed and strength wasn’t working out to the speed we needed. We were all struggling with our piles down Comm Ave, some were coming apart worse than others. I found some twine to try to tie one of the stacks together, didn’t help. Steve DellaCroce’s group had grabbed some dowels to carry their piles with. Not sure where those even came from. So it’s about 6:50, we kept on to the end of Comm Ave, and people were really struggling for the last few blocks with the deteriorating piles. Some ran to the bathroom after being warned that they could in fact be arrested and charged as a level one sex offender if caught, and others got water and ate their rations. We picked up the “bomb parts” and made it across the public gardens. Then someone died so then the Rucks have to be moved around and the dead carried. Half way through the common we started onto the bridge over the duck pond but then we were told it was rigged to blow so we had to go straight through the drained out, muddy duck pond. Lisa in green with cone, Navigator in front with cone.
We started to sink into the mud, but you just had to go in and not think about it because we had the Cadre hassling us and Lisa to get moving. Judging by the sun almost fully up I would say that was when we had to be to Faneuil Hall and we weren’t going to make it. We made it though the duck pond and then total failure. At 7:22 am, one of the piles fell completely apart and as the group on that pile was struggling to get it back together Cadre Chris decided to punish the rest of us.
Cadre Chris yelling at the group with the busted “bomb” says “Since you weirdo’s are holding everyone up I think we’ll do a little PT until you stop holding us up”! So we did Ruck pushups. Weak and tired for sure we all struggled bad with this set of 1, 2, 3,…1 type pushups. Having us hold ourselves in the middle and down positions between a few of the reps was the Cadres style at that point. We finished the pushups. The pile came together and we started moving quickly to the Hall. Now at this point the navigator was up front pulling us, and Lisa was trying to bring up the tail end but he kept moving forward and leaving the rest behind. There was no “team” anything going on. I was afraid of what was to come next because of this. We make it to right around the corner from Faneuil Hall but we left a trail of cardboard we had to go back and get. We collect it up, get to Faneuil Hall and form into ranks. He tells Lisa he needs 4 people. Myself, Patrick, and two others step forward. It’s about 7:55am and we’re sent out to find dumpsters to put all the cardboard in and as Pat and I break off we see the police rounding the corner past us to see what is going on.
Pat and I hit an alley, find two dumpsters but when we get back we have to head out cause the cops told us to “move along”. We dump the cardboard in front of a store that is being built and Ruck it to Bunker Hill Monument. 8:43 am, Sandy Ree takes command as team leader and Cadre Chris tells us how we still suck as a team in many more words than that.
So we pair up with someone of equal height and weight for buddy carries from Bunker Hill to “Old Iron Sides”. Down to the U.S.S Constitution we go switching off every block. At one point my partner Kyle jumps to high up onto me and I’m feeling shaky at this point and can’t hold us up and down we go! Land on my elbow to my shoulder, Ruck goes over my head. Get up and thankfully am ok. We get down to the landing where the ship is and get a decent break. Bathrooms, refill water and food rations.
We still aren’t doing anything right the Cadre informs us and we get our strap privileges taken away. Craig Copie-Copland became captain of the U.S.S No Teamwork (still according to Cadre Chris). Soooo just before 10:00am, the Ruck chain begins.
Holding your own in front of you and holding onto the persons behind you. I did not like this. Nobody liked this. We crossed Rutherford Ave this way onto the river way and the count began. My Ruck felt so heavy at this point and it was a 1, 2, 3,..1 count to 30 twice, then Cadre Chris increased the count to a 60 count twice, each had a rest between them but by the time we all got to the last 60 count it I was feeling the burn. We ended up stopping at a little playground. So, Cadre Chris let us put our Rucks down and talked to Craig who told us we could get our straps back if we, as a team, did 86 pull ups with Rucks on. We all lined up and I think we broke 40 total. I put all the pull up pictures in there so no one was left out. You’re all welcome.
Everyone gave it a serious effort, but we didn’t make it to 86 pull ups so we only got one strap back. Then we were given another option. In the water and we get both straps back. No question for anyone, we kept the one strap and headed towards Kendall Square. No swimming. We were in formation seeking out a bar to have a drink in by order of our cadre. Then Chris found railroad ties. Yeah, we had to carry, as a group, railroad ties. We lined up by height and split into groups according to height. We lifted them up and began to head towards Central Square. Cadre Chris was constantly pushing us to go faster. Craig was trying to get us to switch positions with the groups, front to back, and stay in formation with the ties inline and people in tow two by two. I swear I remember him sort of jolly and jumping around while commanding us.
Pretty quickly the weight of the ties was wearing us out. Concentration was going and people were switching on and off the log real often with a little bit of bickering when we had to change direction as Cadre Chris decides not to go to the MIT baseball field but to continue down Mass Ave. So we get to the Mass Ave Bridge and dump the ties on the grass. We lined up in formation and Nele Schulze was elected Captain while Cadre Chris is playing balance beam on the rail separating the traffic flying by and us. He told us there was a med evacuation back in the Common. So we had to hoof it back fast he says. Carrying the team weights was getting to be a little much for all of us. We were switching out real quickly the whole time. Crossed the bridge, and hooked left down Marlborough St. Gloucester St is where Ben went down. We were given only a few moments until Cadre Chris started counting down and yelling at the team leader. No one was really moving to get him and the count was getting low. I ran over to a leg and three others followed. We got him up and that’s when my back felt the most strain. Picking him up kind of did me in. I couldn’t hold any position in the carry for very long anymore but rotated in when I recovered, we had every guy come through to help out. Holy crap the team was trying so hard to keep him up and run as fast as we could. It was awesome the effort being put forth by everyone, we were a tired, exhausted, but a well oiled, Team, getting it done machine. We were approaching the public gardens. Mind you it’s just before 1 in the afternoon and people are out celebrating St Patrick’s Day. We come charging in as if we are on a battlefield. Oh the looks we were getting, people coming over trying to ask the team about it, we’re almost to the street and Chris had just killed a few off. We have to wait for the traffic light making the dead super heavy for anyone who is helping, we are exhausted. 12 hours with only one real long break kind of exhausted. We carry them across the street and right away another dead. At this point Ben hates life because everyone is trying to dig deep and pick him up and run with him. And now we have another to carry and I think one more went down before we got to the street. We all cross into the common, and are told to head for the pavilion. We take on enemy gun fire! “Everybody down!”
We all hit the deck. 10 seconds later. Cadre Chris yells ”Get back up!” We all rise, get the dead up, start to move towards the pavilion and BAM! A group of 3 women to my left all die! I run over to help cause someone already had my Ruck because I was about to jump in on carrying Ben. Lisa was one of the dead and the look on her face not having to do anything but be dead was a priceless look of relief complete with a smile. Over my shoulder she goes and we’re headed for the pavilion. I ask if my shoulder is hurting her and she said, “No, just make this be over!” Got to the pavilion we all found our Rucks and got back into 2 ranks.
Ben Bradley becomes leader, and we are instructed to partner up with our buddy carry partner and start carrying each other around to the backside of the pavilion. We’re switching off as often as we needed to because we’re all dead tired at this point. I’m carrying my buddy and I put him down, we switch only for a few feet because he’s all done. I’m facing the state house as I get put down, I pick up my buddy and Cadre Chris says “Ok, stop weirdo’s, put everything down you’re done, your GO RUCK TOUGH”! I didn’t buy it for a split second because he had us all fired up running around like people on a battlefield, but it was true we had finished! One of the team weights turned out to be a 30 rack of Beer and everybody began to throw some back, and a few others had brought some as well. Definitely more than enough to go around, I mean it was St. Patty’s Day after all!! Cadre Chris had us line up for a group picture and to present us with our GO RUCK patches!
I can’t even begin to say how that felt at that moment. Even though we were done it felt strange to not have my Ruck sack on and be carrying something, or someone, or being called a weirdo or freaks. We had pulled together as a team. At a certain point we really began to work as a unit without thinking about it. It felt like that happened much more right after the Ruck Chain and Ruck pull-ups. This group got it done. As we became more and more tired we seemed to be pulling together as a group. I don’t remember much bickering throughout the challenge. Some here and there which I think is normal when learning about each other and figuring out tasks but overall it was awesome to see a big group pull together as one. Thank you Vince Ree and Jessica Wohlen for shadowing us and taking pictures of “the suck”. I believe Vince figured out the total distance was about 13.4 miles Rucked. Thank you Adam Barbrie for the idea of using visual aid to tell this tale, it made a big difference. I think given what I know now, I would do another GO RUCK again. Just not sure how soon. Thank you everyone in Team Bravo, Class 453. This was an experience that I will never forget and it wouldn’t have been the same without every last one of you. Thank you and AROOOOO!!! Bobby Jackson of the New England Spahtens
Right after Christmas this year I started registering for events for 2013. After a Resolution Run with Becka we stood at the TNT table where I was on the fence to sign up for this half marathon. I also was on the fence about signing up for a GoruckChallenge. So that day we made a deal that I would do the Half and she would do the Goruck.
We started training for the Half in mid January and on my non-running days I used my ruck and 6 bricks to get used to the weight in the bag on my shoulders. The Goruck being in March meant it was before the Half and I would start using the bag on some of my shorter runs. Unfortunately Becka was injured and in hopes to get her better for the Half transferred her Goruck entry until a later time.
So March 16th, 0100 rolled around a lot quicker than I thought it would. The whole week I was sort of a mental mess. I knew I was going to test my physical abilities but for some reason getting my head into the game was a lot harder than getting my body to be stronger. Now that it was just me heading into the Goruck I was nervous because it is easier to jump into something with a friend but I knew it was a team challenge so I got in my car and headed to Boston.
Being in the right place at the right time, I got into Boston and started chatting with some people from the NE Spahtens team that I had joined their facebook group to hopefully join in on some 5k OCR or something. Well at 0100 we got into our lines and I happened to fall in with this amazing team.
Embracing the suck started promptly with pushups, flutter kicks, and inchworm pushups. The challenge started with 102 people that were broken into 3 groups each with different Cadre to make this challenge different for everyone. We were placed with Cadre Chris, who I saw on Thursday at War Stories & Free Beer and was a bit at ease that at least it was a familiar face (even though Cadre Lou & Garet were the others leading the other teams who were also at WSFB)
So coming together as a team, inchworm pushup is one way to get to know your fellow teammates and also trying to move clockwise while doing them. I can honestly say that I need to work on my pushups and feel as though I may have done 1 correctly off my knees and it may have been the one to end the inchworm pushups because it was get off the ground or we keep trying…
Our first mission was to get to Fenway Park and to do so silently. As the Cadre noticed us not working together and being not so quiet people were being “wounded” and we had to carry them to our destination. With no watches and it being the early morning, we had no idea what time it was or how long it took us to get to Fenway. But we made it but failed our mission because we were too slow. PT it was, and in honor of the Red Sox and the fact that Cadre Chris missed both World Series games being deployed we did pushups, and flutter kicks in cadence in reps of 86.
With time to refuel and change out team leaders our next mission was to get 4 giant cardboard bundles from Fenway to Faneuil Hall. Cadre Chris told us how those 4 giant bundles were pieces to a nuclear weapon and we needed to get it to its destination. If i could remember the real life story I would tell it but it was 4am maybe at this point and well I can’t remember it other than in the soldiers bundles it was 3 pieces- 2 parts nuclear weapon, 1 part handle of whiskey as it was basically a suicide mission.
So off we went. Compressed cardboard bundles, I will never look at them the same. They were heavy and awkward and needed at least 4 people to carry them. The words “move faster” were uttered many times as we headed to Faneuil Hall. As we approached the Swan Boat area we were told the bridge was lined with IED and that we had to go around. So into the muck we went. So what happens when a bundle falls apart and you leave part of your team behind? PT and again we were honoring the Red Sox in cadence for 86 pushup then 86 flutter kicks before getting out of the Boston Common.
I can honestly say that with everything that was going on with this mission it was a blur getting to Faneuil Hall and once we set those 4ish bundles down to end the mission and find them their final resting place in a dumpster. But Boston PD had a better plan for us. Apparently they come out of nowhere on a crowd of 30 “weirdoes” and giving us our marching orders to leave their property. So onward up to Haymarket we went trying to find these bundles a home and between random trash bins and recycling bins (and the side of the street) they did.
Now it was on to Bunker Hill like our hair was on fire and once we arrived there it was time to come together with buddy carries. Now I am not small, I am on my way to getting to my goal weight and well no lady was the same height or weight I was. So I met Steven, we were not the same size or height but we were matched up. Mission was to buddy carry each other 50/50 to the USS Constitution. The phrase “If you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying” was mentioned to us and well we took advantage of that. Steven did carry me for a bit but then as we tried to switch and I give him a piggyback ride, we went down like a ton of bricks. So we took rucks, we took team weights, a road cone, and the team flag and off we went trying to keep the team in somewhat order bringing up the rear.
Longest break we had was at the US Constitution and after some food, water, and bathroom break it was time to get to Harvard Stadium, like our hair was on fire. As we weren’t coming together as a team we were forced to come together. We lost strap privelages at this point and could only carry our rucks but 1 handle, then had to carry them as a team by holding 1 strap each with the person in front and behind us. Making our way through Charlestown we were working as a team in walking/fast shuffle in cadence.
Options: Get in the water waist deep to ear 1 strap back or do (you guessed it) 86 pull-ups as a team on a nearby playground. We opted for the pull-ups and came about halfway to pulling that off. So we got 1 strap back. Not it was double time like our hair was on fire to Harvard.
The Bar rule: Get a bar to serve you a drink for free and we get a break with no ruck and we get the beer. Mission accepted. Mission failed as Cambridge at whatever time it was in the morning had no bar open to even try to get a beverage.
Onward to some railroad tracks, Cadre Chris happened to find 2 railway ties hanging out which needed to get to their new home at MIT. So we separated into 2 teams by height and off we went. Yet again hearing “Move Faster” as we went down Mass Ave heading to MIT.
The final stretch (but we didn’t know that at the time) was to get back to Bostom Common say it with me: LIKE OUR HAIR WAS ON FIRE. At this point we were starting to get it, keeping our formation decent, changing the team weights between us and keeping them at the front. Keeping the group together and navigating to the common. Then causalities stuck, and we were slowed down a bit, but we were making out way and finally the common and traveling the shortest distance we could to get to our destination. As part of our team was up the hill a bunch of us were killed and had to be buddy carried up the hill. Finally in a pack we start to form back into formation and Cadre Chris says the words that after 12.5 hours we weren’t sure when we were going to hear them “Congratulations you are finished” as we formed into our last formation as GORUCK Class #453 Team Bravo to receive our GORUCK TOUGH patches you could feel the energy from everyone it was amazing.
We had finished, hugs all around from 30 people that some may have known each other but in that 12.5 hours of Good Livin’ came together as a team to complete an event that some would just say is plain crazy. But as I look at it now, it was a challenge that I could have not done without everyone that was there and I am extremely grateful to have gone through the challenge to learn about myself but to learn about what others can do when you work as a team. I look forward to doing more events with the NE Spahtens in the future as I have learned being part of a team is better than going at it alone.
When I was asked Saturday evening if I would ever do one again, I said no way. But when I woke up Sunday and realized what we had accomplished, I cannot wait to sign up and finish the next one.
As someone from another team put it:
“I am not as strong as I thought I was, I am stronger than I could have possibly imagined.”
Now to conquer this 13.1 miles in a little over 4 weeks
Adam has kindly written a guest blog post covering his experience in the GoRuck Challenge, this past St Paddies day – as part of Alpha Team, with James Horgan (read his review here). Be warned, this isn’t a family friendly review – leave your swearing hat on.
St. Patricks Day
By Adam Barbrie
The yearly tradition of people drinking a lot and celebrating Irish Heritage only happens once a year. What better place to hold a GORUCK Challenge than Boston. We all started pouring into the common to meet at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument for our 0100 challenge. We were there for a little while till the Cadre showed up and got the show on the road. When the Cadre arrived they did their usual attendance to see who showed up and who didn’t. Cadre Garrett was also wandering around doing a gear check briefly by flashing a flash light right before he had to deal with the first round of Boston Cops that showed up. After Attendance came the Welcome party.
During the welcome party we did a few different exercises not only to warm ourselves up but to start to work as a team. This is the usual case in any GORUCK challenge. The Welcoming party consisted of Push-ups, Elephant walks, Caterpillar push-ups, Flutter Kicks, Ruck press and on your belly, on your back, on your feet. (There could have been more but let’s face it, I wasn’t completely sober when I started). After the Welcoming party had come to an end which seemed shorter than usual. We split up into our pre defined teams that we set up from the beginning. Minus Cadre Lou moving six people to Team Alpha. I was on Team Alpha. There were many familiar faces on that team from past challenges and some new ones. James Horgan; a NESPAHTEN was one of the ones that got changed to Alpha. I don’t think that was part of his plan. After splitting into teams we all went our separate ways.
Team Alpha was originally told to go to Bunker Hill. That didn’t end up happening. We made it about halfway out of the park and Cadre Lou didn’t like what he was seeing. He made us turn around and do low crawls for quite the distance through the grass in the common. I have done longer before but no matter what they still suck! Once we low crawled through the grass we were at the sidewalk. We were told by our Team Leader (Horse) that we were supposed to go to the bottom of the hill by the enterance to the common on the side of Cheers. We rucked too far so Cadre Lou had us bear crawl up the hill that was on the same street. About halfway up the hill we switched to crab walks going up the hill. Once we had completed that, we had our first task. We proceeded to follow horse while we were in ranks down towards the Ice Arena in the Common. It was there that Horse had told us that our first task was to move a mac truck trailer 50ft. We tried moving from many different ways but those things were not budging. Cadre Lou only wanted us to try that so he could put it up on the web site if we did it. After the failed attempt at moving the trailer we had to carry snow up and down the park to where Cadre Lou and Cadre Adam were. We had to keep building a giant pile so that way the next day the city may say “How’d that get there”.
In between moving snow up and down the hill was a very humorous experience. At one point in time Horse had his mask on and was having a dance party for Lou. Another time Zebra had a road cone and started pretending to hump Cadre Lou’s leg. We were all laughing. Doing things like that, help to keep people sane during the challenge. Once we were done with moving the snow, we were told our next task. We had 2 Hours to get to Boston College. If any of you know Boston you know that is at the end of the green line in Cleveland circle which is about 6+ from the common. I’m not sure of the exact distance. For a while during the first two or so miles we were on and off rucking every minute. During the off time we were taking big strides as to help stretch while we were doing it. About a third of the way to our destination we were told that we lost strap privileges. Everyone except the people that were carrying weight could not use their straps. Some of us found different ways of hiding it from Cadre Lou. I kind of had the strap leaned over my forehead so that way it would relieve some of the weight at one point. I know a few others did as well. If they don’t see it you can get away with it.
Along the way while we lost straps Cadre Lou had started his game called Extreme Couponing Boston. While we were rucking along the Cadre had found a ladder in a dumpster. We carried that. Right around the same time they had also found some of those parking space cement blocks. We had found an easy way of carrying this until the ladder almost broke. As a team we would switch off carrying the ladder with the Cement blocks on top of it. We still didn’t have straps at this point either. A little while down the road we came to a seven eleven store. We needed to grab more water because people were running out. We had like a 10 or so minute break while some people drank some beer and some people had a snack. Almost all of us had flasks myself included. Especially Jon who had a half gallon flask filled with Jameson. Once we were done at the seven eleven we had our straps back.
We kept going up the street and across and still along the way the Cadre were finding things for us to carry. They had found a car tire in between some cars. They had also found a cement pole like one that would have a parking meter on it or go near a fence. The car tire wasn’t so bad as you could just put it around you but the pole was a bit awkward. It could be carried alone but we did it in pairs to help make it easier. Swapping the shoulders helped as well because it kind of dug in after a while. A little bit more up the road the cadres had given us more things that we already had. We now had everything plus some cinder blocks. This made it so that about 20+ people were now carrying things at one time. Once we got to the pond right near Boston College we all took a break in the woods to relieve ourselves and then we just kind of hung out while the Cadre were looking around the area. Those of us that had done a challenge before knew exactly what they were looking for. They had found us a Log that only four people could carry at a time and it had to have weighed like 200+ pounds. I don’t know the exact weight to it.
This made it so even more people were carrying weight. Once we got the log we were told to start making our way back to the Boston Common. At one point in time Cadre Adam had told one of the girls that if she could steal a dog from somewhere we could get rid of the ladder. That wasn’t happening. As we kept going and singing random songs we stopped a few times to take breaks as we weren’t on a time Hack. After a little while more down the road right by Fenway Park we came to the I-90 overpass. We were told at that point if we could stack the weight nice and neatly on the side of the road we could lose it. Most of us knew the reason behind this because they were going to have the 2200 class pick all the stuff up that we had left. Once we had dropped the weight off we were then told to go to the Ted Williams statue at Fenway Park. We then were told that we were gong to have a 20 Minute Break which usually does happen in the morning at some point. It was about 9 am at this time and we were told that if we were going to go to a store then we had to take a battle buddy because no one walks around alone. Hell no one pee’s alone either. Some people went to the convenience store and I went to the liquor store. I had been drinking Whiskey all night so I decided I wanted a beer. I gave a few beers out and I drank two. It was at this time that I had noticed that James Horgan was looking really tired so I gave him one. After that beer he seemed to be a bit more awake. It was at this point that Jon had reminded us again that his flask needed to be empty before the end of the challenge. This is when I started to become quite drunk as most people were aware.
At the end of the break Cadre Lou had told us to start stretching and that the night before was rough with all the weight and now it was time to have fun. He told us to start making our way towards tufts medical center because we had to move his car. This was said jokingly but hell I would have tried. Can’t be that hard with 30 people. We started to make our way to tufts medical center and halfway there Lou wanted to play a game. The game was called “Make Lou Laugh”. This game consisted of the girls going to find some random person on the street to tell Lou a joke and make him laugh. While this was going on, all of the guys were doing caterpillar pushups until the girls had found someone. It was just our luck that Cadre Lou laughed on the first one. After we had gotten up we had gone over to the guy and he told us the joke. It was at this point when Andrea had come up to me and said if we didn’t laugh we would be doing caterpillar push-ups again. We all laughed anyway. We then saw a crowd of people outside a Bar waiting in line for autographs from The DropKick Murphy’s. Once again as usual we started yelling the GORUCK chant as we were running just to draw attention to ourselves.
After this we continued on our trek to tufts medical center. Our final task was to get two 30 racks from the package store along the way. After we took a break for a few minutes outside tufts medical center we proceeded on our way. This time people were getting killed off. As usual the heaviest person always get killed off. Then it was two other people that got killed off and had to be carried. At this point I was talking to Jon and I had told him I better not get killed off again. Not even ten minutes later we were stopped and we weren’t supposed to be. At this point Cadre Adam had come up to me and started counting down from 5. Instantly I though Shit I’m going to be dead. Sure enough he got down to one looked right at me and said “You’re Dead”. I was not happy. Everytime I get killed off I either get dropped or run into a telephone pole. Well this time was no different. I was dropped right before we went into the common. Once we were in the common we then were right near the statue that we sterted at.
We were told that we had to bear crawl up the hill with the ACRT (Active Cell Repair Technology). Once we were at the top we started looping around to go back down and crab walk down. This was apparently not good enough for Lou so we had to do it again. I came back around the second time to just about where I was before and we had to stop. Cadre Lou said he still didn’t like it so we had to sing Spongebob Square Pants in the common loud enough so everyone could hear. We did it. At this time while we were singing it we had a mini crowd around us as ususal probably mostly thinking “what the fuck is this”. Some people were also taking pictures. After this Cadre Lou had asked Cadre Adam if that was good enough and it wasn’t. We then had to follow Cadre Chris around the common rucking. While we were rucking we all though it was because we were killing time until the other classes got done. We made it back to the top of the monument and that is when Cadre Lou said congratulations you have completed the GORUCK challenge and to set our rucks down and to grab a beer. Which we all did rather quickly. A few minutes had passed and Cadre Lou was talking then laughing because someone made a comment about him not having sex in a while. He then had said that his good friend Richard had something he wanted to say. Richard had proposed to his girlfriend Lauren at the end of the challenge. After this is when Cadre Lou started handing out the patches and we had finished.
This GoRuck challenge in my mind was a very good challenge. I had never had Cadre Lou and was excited to see what he had up his sleeve. We had carried more weight than I had ever done in any other challenge and I had done two previously to this one. It was a great indication of how The 0100 Team alpha could work together and overcome everything. Including helping people with injuries and helping to keep people sane. We were always there for each other and making sure one another was good. For those of you who have done previous challenges and are already GRT you know how the newbies feel when first completing a challenge. Overwhelmed, Tired, Hungry. Knowing that you just got ass raped all night by the Cadre or possibly been Peen bumped by Team Farm (Cadre Lou in this case). You are now part of something bigger and you can move onto many different challenges that await as a GoRuck Alumni also known as GRT. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend this past weekend. Congratulations to all that completed their first challenge this weekend! Way to go, you all kicked ass and I hope to do another challenge with you!
I would also like to extend a thank you to Eric Gove from Eric Gove photography for taking pictures all night for Team Alpha. Some of the pictures are in this blog.
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.