A week later I am still processing what happened last Friday and Saturday. 11 and a half hours, 19.6 miles, 880 reps of “insane PT with a heavy tick on [our] backs”, 1 Cadre, 2 photographers and 18 teammates. Those are the data points coming out of what was Class 771, GoRuck Challenge in Ann Arbor.
What is not captured in the data is the teamwork, attention to detail, leadership, friendship, hardship, cold, wet, fun.
The GoRuck Light the week before was only a taste of the GoRuck Challenge. During the Light, we carried heavy stuff, moved as a team, and had fun, but I never once came close to feeling like I wasn’t going to make it. During the Challenge, my brain was in a constant battle with itself. At around 2 or 3AM, I’m pretty sure I could see the “I quit” devil on my right shoulder, and the “you can’t quit” devil on my left, they were both laughing at me.
I had about 8 feet left to travel through the “tunnel of love“, with our team weight, a sand bag, on the back of my head pressing my face into the dirt, and who ever behind me pushing my feet, trying to keep up the speed of the line. I was stuck. I was ready to throw in the towel. Then, the second person from the end, graciously lifted the sandbag from the back of my head, put it on theirs, and it was exactly the support I needed. I got through it.
If you are looking for physical and mental growth, there is no substitute for being pushed to your breaking point, your red line, and staying there… a lot longer than you thought possible. The GoRuck Challenge did that for me, big time. Tough Mudder is a mental walk in the park compared to this event.
The PT we did was pretty basic on the surface. Push-ups, over head squats with our bags, mountain climbers and oh my the butterfly kicks. What made it interesting was all reps were to be done in unison, and they ended when the last rep was done and we held the “rest” position for a ten count as a group.
The “rest” position was rest in name only. For the butterfly kicks, the resting position was done holding your heels 6″ off the ground. As it would take the group a moment or two to settle in, the 10 count was more of a 20 count, and felt more like a 200 count. I won’t soon forget after a set, laying there on the dark gravel, some time around 4AM, every muscle in my body trembling, trying to keep my feet up, waiting for the ten count to start.
We did our PT in the dark, we did our PT in the light, and yes, we did our PT in the river, even the butterfly kicks.
We climbed stairs, we crab walked stairs, we carried each other’s packs, we carried each other, we shared food, water, cold, warmth, and I’m sure some other things while we were in the river together. We also all shared in the victory of finishing. As a team. I have a lot of respect for everyone who completes a GoRuck Challenge.
I’m so glad and fortunate to have met Cadre Tyler, and been a part of class 771.
Here are a few more of the pictures captured by the guys who were willing to give up a night’s sleep, and lug their gear around town, and water, so we could relive the event.