“The GORUCK Challenge is a team event, never a race. Think of it as a slice of Special Operations training where – from start to finish — a Special Operations Cadre challenges, teaches, and inspires your small team to do more than you ever thought possible. Leadership is taught and teamwork is demanded on missions spanning the best of your city.” – GORUCK.COM
At 8:45pm on June 28th, I was at the start point for the GORUCK Challenge in Cincinnati, Ohio. Friday night was the start of my back to back GORUCK challenges. I had signed up with my husband and two friends, who had never done a challenge, to do Friday night and convinced a few friends who had done a challenge to come down for Saturday night.
Around 9pm our cadre shows up, moves us to a quieter spot to go through the roll call, a few basics (flag, rucks and team weights never touch the ground), hand us a few more team weights in addition to the 25 lb one a team member created, and move off into the city. Cadre Chris (former Recon Marine) lead us on a scenic tour throughout different parts of Cincinnati. I think his motto must be heavy and often. We had our 25 lb team weight, a 45lb bumper plate, a 50lb slam/med ball, 7 small logs, a gigantic rock, and “casualties” throughout the night between 11 people. Since I was the lightest I ended up being carried as a casualty for most of the first few hours. Class 677 came together quickly and the group moved weights around sharing the load and working together.
Overall this challenge was “pleasant” and fun with the team. Well as pleasant as challenges get. Challenges are always hard but the team made this one really great. It was a small team but everyone worked together really well and camaraderie was high. Friday night went for a little over 11 hours. From there it was time for breakfast and some sleep to prepare for Saturday night’s start.as a team. There is an awesome video that was created from the first half of our challenge. We went from task to task accomplishing what was asked of us.
I was really looking forward to Saturday night as Kristen, Megan and Adam were coming down from Columbus to join me aka make sure I showed up for the second night. I did a challenge with Kristen in November and met Megan and Adam at the Dublin challenge in March. Saturday night didn’t start off really well. We pulled into the parking lot and I realized that I had forgotten the team weight. I had borrowed a team weight that Milwaukee used the week before and left it in the trunk of my car. We were in a friend’s car so I had my husband and friend run back to his house to grab it. Luckily I knew a few of the shadows and had them coordinate to get our team weight to us.
Typically the second night in a city is done by the same cadre, but Cadre Chris had a new Cadre shadowing him on Friday night. Saturday would be Cadre Marcus’s first challenge. Marcus did the typical roll call, walked us through the rules (no rucks on the ground, no team weights on the ground, etc) and told us we were going to have fun and it was going to be hard. First thing about Cadre Marcus is that he will never lie to you. If he says you will have fun, you will. He didn’t lie about it being hard as well. GORUCK challenges typically start with a Welcome Party and this one was no exception. I was moving ok through the welcome party, but I was definitely slowing the team down on bear crawls, some new exercise movements, and some fun PT like high five pushups. The welcome party definitely reminded me that I was tired and doing this a second night in a row.
We went through Cincinnati carrying the 25lb team weight, the 45lb bumper plate, and the 50lb med ball. Throughout the night we gained water bottles, a few of the small logs from the night before and 4 large logs. The Saturday team was bigger so this made carrying the weights much easier. However, with a bigger team comes bigger weights. Cadre Marcus likes to tell us that 90% of our pain is self-inflicted and it turned out to be true (mostly). We stopped at a pharmacy to resupply our water. Four of us went in to purchase water for the team. Kristen, myself, and two of the guys from the team went in, pulled two shopping carts, rushed over to the water, and starting throwing gallons of water in the carts. After about 8 or so gallons in the cart, Kristen and I stopped the guys from throwing anything else in. We only had 5 minutes to purchase water so we quickly went back to the front. Everything that was didn’t add to our water bladders had to be carried with us and we ended up carrying 10 of the gallons throughout the night.
As we moved through the city, Cadre Marcus stopped us and instructed us to pick up some logs. We had one large one, two medium size and one ladies only log. This class had six women in it to split the time under the log. We had to move all the logs to Eden Park in Cincinnati which was about 3.5 miles away. I gave the ladies an easier (NOT EASY) way to carry the logs utilizing our rucks instead of our shoulders. So we carried our log, multiple water jugs, and different weights throughout the movement. We ended up in teams of ladies based on height. So me and Kristen were one team, Megan and Stephanie made the tall team, then the mid-sized team of Kate and Crystal. Each team taking turns on the log, then stabilizing the log for the another team, taking weights from the girls underneath the log. For the most parts, we had a system going and we were able to maintain transfers pretty well. Since we had a system that worked well, we ended up spending a lot of time waiting in the beginning of the walk for the other logs to get their systems together as well. I think that is one of the hardest parts of the challenge is figuring out the best way to do something as a team.
I broke my one personal rule of a challenge and I cried… only a little though. One thing I promised myself when I did my first challenge last year was that I would not cry during a challenge. We were almost finished, I was holding Kristen’s hand as we walked up the hill to Eden Park, and I was so relieved we were close to being done. I started to cry in relief. I’m pretty sure I scared the other girls a little as we were walking along, carrying a giant log to it’s new home, making little baby sobs. This wasn’t my breaking point, it was really a break through point. The rest of the challenge was easier. Friday night we did a movement across a pond and I had some issues keeping afloat. Saturday night, I had no issue doing the exact same movement across the pond.
As I mentioned, Cadre Marcus doesn’t lie and he promised we would have fun. After the log carry, we sat in a pond singing Girl Scout songs about a shark, then enjoyed a scenic trip through Mount Adams at sunrise. I’ll admit to giggling like a maniac during the shark song as I thought it was hilarious to be sitting in a reflecting pool singing about getting eaten by sharks. The rest of the challenge flew by as we went from Mount Adams to different points around Cincinnati. We eventually ended up at Fountain Square, our original starting point, and finished the challenge. I earned my second Tough patch of the weekend. I’d done it.. finished my back to back challenges. I was ecstatic that I’d actually finished, but I know I never would have made it without the team each night. Each challenge was difficult but made doable with the team. I know the ladies of night two really helped me through so big thanks to Kristen, Megan, Stephanie, Kate and Crystal! I love GORUCK for showing me that what I thought was my limits are not my actual limits. I’m feeling confident to go into the Chicago Heavy in September!