Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Go Ruck Light NYC 8/17

Where do I start... this was something I've really never experienced. It was physical, it was spiritual, it was very very mental. In all it was nothing I could have expected before going through it.
Go Ruck events are not, first and foremost, a race. you are on a team and it is about your team. It is not a half marathon where you are think about finishing. you end up think about yourself
First a recap of the event:
Go ruck light, advertised as 4-5 hours, 7-10 miles. You show up at your rally point given a week in advance, in our case it was 26 wall st. a.k.a. the steps of the federal building next to the NY stock exchange at "0700".
60 people proceed to show up with ruck sacks full of 35lbs of bricks and water. then your "Cadre" shows up. A Cadre is the Go Ruck event coordinator, but they are much more then that. They have been well schooled in the art of what you are about to experience. Each is a combat seasoned special ops trained standout. They are experts in building teams from their experience in having to do so in some very shitty conditions. In our case it was Cadre Chris and Dakota.
Your Cadre put you through your warmup party; an hour plus of PT involving, holding your ruck over your head, squats, nose-to-nose pushups, flutter kicks, PG elephant walks, and a variety of maneuvers  that give you an intro into stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about your team.
After thoroughly exhausting most parts of your body you set off in two files, unaware of where you are going.
About a half mile in while heading north in manhatten we are walking by a park with a fountain in it. Cadre tells us to go into the park. He tells us to get into the fountain in two rows. Everyone without hesitation goes in and forms up. He then gives us our orders as we stand there up to our knees in some suspect water. We are to move as a team to Central Park, about 4.75 mis away. Three of our 30 team members are now "casualties" and cannot walk. they must be carried, the lightest girls are chosen. At that point he tells us the head bands and and hair ties are now band, much to many chagrin. Cadre says, "Life is not fair and it sucks sometimes, del with it and move on."; a statement that stuck in my mind the rest of the day.
We now proceed north, now wet, buddy carrying our three casualties, transferring rucks, organizing loads and switches. It quite amazing how quickly your become friendly with complete strangers when you are put to a unitive task. After carrying one of the "casualties" several times, her name was Dara, we started to get to know each other as exhausted conversations took place amongst the suck of the situation. Toward the end, we actually began to find solace in small adjustments in carrying position in which we carried our casualties.  Relativity became apparent as you realize certain things that in most aspects, "sucked" less and that in the moment that made them feel good.
We stopped several times to do work, flutter kicks, pull ups on some scaffolding, etc and a 10min break to drink a beer in a local bar.
We got to Central park and were lead to a sandy area south of the ball fields in which we were told to drop our 35lbs ruck and set up a baseball diamond. we were then told to collect half of the hydration bladders and empty them between the bases.
We were then introduced to Terror ball. I gruesome relay, that involved military crawls, bear crawls, crab walks and people who were trying to stop you by tackling, MMAing or Judoing you. luckily you had a defender. Anyway it was exhausting and very dirty. As a team the losing entity was required to empty the remainder of the hydration bladders on the ground into a central location forming a mud pit. As a team en total we were required to camouflage ourselves with the result. We refilled out hydration bladders and were formed into ranks. We were told that we would now return to the start. Another 5 miles away. This was unacspected as we were definitely 4 hours into our supposedly 4-5 hour event.
we jogged in ranks out of central park to the west and into central park. We were told to "refresh ourselves" in the columbus circle fountain. Becoming soaked we began our trek south . We jogged as a 30 person unit, running mostly in the bike paths of 9th avenue, organizing those who were now starting to enter the struggle zone. Team members began to do things that were above an beyond as more and more people became unable to keep up. Whatever was needed, carrying extra rucks, motivating and even carrying other team members.
then a 1/2 mi from the start, Cadre announcement: the 6 heaviest members on our team are now DEAD. They are no longer contributing members but must  now be carried to the finish and in under 10 mins. With a severely diminished squad of individuals, some who we were asking what they did and what their name was to confirm their coherence, we had to come together and figure this out. It came to be that 11 miles into our day, only about 10-12 were capable to the endeavor. A significant mount of suck was to be had over the last 1/2 mile. Carrying 180lb people is not comfortable or fun. withe the motivation of my teammates I was able to get my teammate home.  It could have been the hardest 7 blocks I've ever had to endure.
We arrived, casualties in tow, back at federal hall to a slew of spectators, who were there to see the attractions. when we dropped with seconds left to our deadline it was an illustrious  moment. relief, satisfaction, reward. Every team member got there, in whatever condition they were in. THEN: Cadre says form up three ranks.
"second rank give your ruck to 3rd rank. First rank, pick up second rank and proceed east. 3rd rank follow." After traversing the equivalent of almost a half marathon, most of which was carrying much more then your body weight and 8 hours later, this was a death sentence. We moved 100m east and the Cadre told us to stop. "You are done". Smiles all around. hugs, kisses it was amazing. Cadre pulls out the Go ruck Patches that can only be earned, never bought and says, "To most this will seem like a stupid pice of fabric, but you will always know what it took to earn this, display it proudly,"
I can't explain the difference of this event to anything else I've done physically properly.
I never met these 29 people before and in 8 hours we became very close.
When you remove the diametrically opposed views of the media, put people in a situation in which they need to work together and most importantly teach them how to do it, you find a refreshing camaraderie amongst  people that is missing on television. to do nose-to-nose push ups with someone you never met, carry someone you've never met, work with those youve never met, then celebrate with them is amazing. 

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