Charleston GORUCK Tough Class 2000 AAR
I’m feeling my age this morning. Becoming athletic in my mid-thirties is taking a toll on my body. Yesterday we finished my tenth GORUCK event, a 14 hour Tough challenge in Charleston. It wasn’t the hardest one I’ve ever completed or even one of the hardest, but I entered the event barely able to walk due to back pain. I woke up with the pain starting under my shoulder blade and wrapping around my ribs to the front of my body. Deep inhales, sneezing or coughing shot so much pain through my core that I nearly hit the floor. An adjustment by Adjustment (his F3 name because he’s a chiropractor) loosened me up earlier in the day, but I started hurting again before the event.
A hard rain hit Charleston a couple of hours before the event and it cooled the temperature down to a bearable degree. We arrived 40 minutes early and began following the posted instructions by the cadre to be in equal ranks by alphabetical order. I haven’t been so surrounded by buddies since my first event. 28 F3 Summerville brothers and five FIA Summerville sisters composed nearly half the field of 70. Also on the team were F3’s Cousteau (one of my best friends since college and Push partner), F3’s Milton, F3’s FEMA and F3’s Metro, all brothers from other regions. I was also stoked to see Luc Gilgore and Allen Yeh, local ruckers and Facebook buddies. Personally knowing half the field really got me fired up.
This year, I had a goal to build up a strong F3 Summerville rucking group and made it my personal goal to get them ready for this event. Over the course of the last year and on separate occasions, some non-F3 ruckers have told me that F3 has put a bad taste in their mouth because so many show up unprepared, grey-manning portions of the event. That means they try to fade into the crowd instead of working. I’m not going to let my crew get that reputation, so I worked my butt off through daily workouts, simulations, happy hour lessons, blog posts, videos and individual chats to get our boys ready. I don’t deserve credit for even 1% of the success we saw, but I’ll take pride in knowing the preparation worked. I’ll also take credit for a half of a percent 🙂
The event began with admin and introductions by the cadre. We were told to get wet by jumping into the fountain and get back to our spots in 30 seconds. Then we were in for some “on your face” and “on your feet” by the cadre and some overhead ruck holds. Then back into the fountain. It wasn’t much of a welcome party, but they made up for it later with plenty of miles and heavy shit.
The Team Leader, Assistant Team Leader and Navigator were picked and I was appointed Navigator because I know my way around. However, the Team Leader knew a quicker way to Hampton Park, so I became an ATL to help him since he had never done an event before. This was great for me because I got an hour of walking, which really loosened up my back without having to carry heavy shit. We had a lot of people and a lot of coupons, so I appointed a coupon leader. I should have appointed Hotspot but I didn’t see him and we had to move fast, so I appointed another experienced rucker.
The first movement is always rough because we’re trying to figure out what we’re working with. Which coupons (the heavy things) suck the most. Who are our beasts. Who are our weak links. How do we move that many people and follow traffic rules. What do these particular cadre care about.
We arrived at Hampton Park pretty quickly but were told we didn’t make our time hack – which was bullshit – but he had to have a reason to PT us. After getting into formation pretty sloppily, we were told to sprint to the pond and back. Still sloppy as hell, we were told to run around the pond, which I did while wearing my ruck and the Ruck of the Fallen, a ruck we carry in honor of those servicemen and women who died for our nation. Because we left some men behind, we had to run three more times around the pond. I ran one lap with the Ruck of the Fallen and then another lap with Adjustment’s ruck.
It’s about here when Adjustment started hurting pretty bad. His calves locked up and he said he was out. The F3 Summerville boys rallied around him and convinced him to continue, but Adjustment was heading toward a real rough night. It never got much better for him.
Next up we had to do 2,000 burpees total, which divided by 70 was 29 each. Led by Coach, we knocked those out pretty easily and then we were forced to do some more running, this time suicides. We took a little breather, filled up on water and headed out toward the Citadel where we would sneak onto campus through a back gate lining the Charleston marsh. And by through, I mean over, to an awesome obstacle course.
The obstacle course was one of the coolest things I’ve done in a GORUCK event and sneaking into the Citadel is definitely something I’ll be bragging about for a while. Next we got a long rest while everyone was finishing the obstacle course while awaiting the giant buoy’s arrival. What? A buoy? Yeah, this giant son of a bitch…
Okay, this is the point where I should tell you that I stopped writing this post for two weeks and just got back on it today. I don’t remember exactly how everything went down now, but I’ll keep going. Back to that damn buoy.
We got on a twelve man rotation, six on and six off. I stayed on that rotation until we were able to finally drop the buoy. I kept my head down for the next few hours carrying that thing and somewhere along the way our mission changed and we went from securing the Charleston coast to finding a downed pilot, which was this heavy as hell medical tool. I don’t know what you call it. A mannequin?
We carried that thing and the buoy until our next resting spot where we were shown a trailer with one wheel. We dropped some of the weight and replaced it with the trailer. All the weight we still had, like the buoy and a bunch of other shit, went into the trailer. We stuck two big metal pipes through trailer to lift the wheel-less side off the group. Then a bunch of folks got on the metal pipes, some got in front of the trailer to pull, some got on the back to push and we were off moving again.
I have no idea how many miles we carried that son of a bitch, but it was a long way and I just stayed on rotation with the poles sticking out the side. Three people were on each pole and the person closest to the trailer had most of the weight. This is where, as I write, I type in shame. To carry the pole we had to bend over at the waist. Remember, I went into the event with a bad back and didn’t think I should be there at all. Here I was moving a wheel-less trailer bent over at the waist. At one point my back caught and I literally said “I can’t do this.” FIA’s Renee Cleary, who was also on the pole, responded “Yes you can. Keep pushing.”
I felt like an ass. I’ve never said “I can’t” in an event. My back caught, a sharp pain shot through me and it just came out. That attitude absolutely cannot be tolerated and it won’t happen again. Man, what a little bitch comment.
Eventually we got rid of the trailer and began the VERY long walk back to ENDEX, through West Ashley and downtown Charleston, eventually reaching Waterfront Park. We had to do a little more PT, which included some welcomed flutter kicks in the fountain. After some encouraging words from our cadre, who were awesome by the way, we were patched.
This was one of my favorite events to date. F3 Summerville turned out 28 guys. We trained together for months and then executed together. I can’t tell you how proud I am of my boys. Not one of them grey-manned the event. At one time I looked at that trailer and literally EVERY single person on it was F3 or FIA Summerville. I made it my personal goal to make sure these guys were mentally and physically prepared. Mark that down as an other accomplished goal because my brothers totally crushed this GRT.
This was class 2000, so we got special patches.
(All photos by JP Cleary, F3’s Whacker)