I found out about GORUCK Heavy late last year and decided with several of my close Cincinnati friends that we would attempt one. GORUCK Heavy is billed as 24+ hours of special forces training and will cover 40 to 50 miles. Same brick requirements as a regular challenge so 4 bricks for 150 pounds and under and 6 bricks for 151 pounds and over. I signed up for Chicago Heavy as soon as I found out a second one opened up. I wanted to know if I had what it takes to make it through all 24+ hours.
We started at 8pm at the Cloud Gate sculpture aka the Bean in downtown Chicago. Over the next 25.5 hours, we would visit some of the best neighborhoods of Chicago, several beaches, Wrigley Field, and much more. We started the night with a team of 29 people. All the participants had at least completed one GORUCK Challenge. I was very excited about the team as there were five women including myself. Our Cadre for the night was Jason, whom the GORUCK Tough community affectionately calls Ranger Jason. I was called first to be team lead and had to move the team to a park a little over 2 miles away. It was a pretty easy movement throughout the city and several of the team members lived in Chicago and were familiar with it.
We made it to the park and went through inspection. Since I was the team lead it was my job to ensure everyone had their bricks, id, and cash and were in the correct formation. In addition to inspection, we also had to place all of our food in bag. No food was to remain in rucks. It took several tries to get the formation correct, but eventually we got it right, I was fired as team leader, and we moved on. Our next stop was a park with a half mile loop and we would start doing a PT test. Our PT test was a 5 mile run in 40 minutes or less, 2 minutes of sit ups, and 2 minutes of pushups. This was definitely one of the nicest parts of the event as we were unrucked for the PT test. During the PT test, we had three people drop from the team. So after PT we were down to 26 on the team.
After the PT test, we moved to the beach to do more PT there. Time is a funny thing during a GORUCK. Since no watches, cell phones, or GPS devices are allowed, it’s very difficult to tell the time unless you happen to pass a clock somewhere. So time is even more difficult to tell on the beach at night. We did various exercises in the water with the waves hitting us. I’ve discovered that I don’t really have sea legs as I kept falling during the exercises and trying to get up. This was definitely the hardest set of PT I’ve ever done in a GORUCK event. I will admit, I’m not the strongest at upper body exercises with my ruck and it was even worse filled with part of Lake Michigan. During every GORUCK event you start doubting why you are there, what you are doing, if you should continue. As I attempted to lift my ruck above my head and failed consistently, I had my first creeping thoughts of doubt. We lost another team mate during the beach PT so the team was at 25 members. After an undetermined amount of time in the water, we were able to move out and low crawl along the beach. I must admit, getting out of the lake and low crawling along the sand really improved my mood. I stopped doubting and started moving along with the team.
It was after our low crawls, that the Heavy started to get really interesting. Ranger Jason started to teach us parachute landings, bounding exercises, and flanking. We would do the bounding and flanking all throughout the event as we had to take objective points along Lake Michigan. We took our first objective point and started the first long movement.
Throughout the night we keep moving north along the beaches until we arrived at our next objective point. Here the sun was starting to come up and I saw the most beautiful sunrise. I was part of the small team that took the objective point just as the sun was rising. There are two points of a day when you know what time it is for sure. Sunrise and sunset. I knew the sunrise was around 6:30am so I was thinking we had another 14-15 hours. I was feeling good and felt confident about continuing. My only complaint at this point was too much sand in my shoes (thanks beach PT) and my stomach was growling a bit.
As the sun starting coming up, we did another session of beach PT. We went along the line and each one of us had to pick an exercise to do 10 reps. After each of us choose our exercise, we turned around to face the waves and started doing flutter kicks and pushups. I’m pretty sure this is one of the moments that Ranger Jason enjoyed the most as he started calling out the downs and ups on pushups in time with waves. So Ranger Jason would call down and wait till the waves hit us in the face to call up. After choking on a bit of Lake Michigan, we were finally able to get out of the water. Ranger Jason told us to get in a penguin huddle and get warm. The group was given the choice of food or change of socks. The group choose food and we were given five minutes to eat before moving out again. Up to this point, we were probably at 11 hours into the Heavy.