GORUCK Light AAR
GORUCK Light is an introduction to the team-based training found in Special Operations. While wearing a backpack (or ruck in military parlance) with 2 or 4 bricks in it, you and your team receive a guided tour (AKA rucking) of your town with good livin’ (AKA PT) along the way. It is not a race. You do not win or lose, but your team does. The only way to succeed is as a team.
The class learns teamwork through adversity. This adversity is orchestrated by a cadre, an experienced member of Special Operations. Danny, a SF medic, was our cadre for class 311.
Each class may have up to 30 teammates. There were nine people in the class. I thought it was only going to have four as only four people signed up on the Facebook page. The Facebook page is the main source of information about your event and I highly recommend signing up. That said, several members stated they couldn’t find the page; a problem I also had which was rectified with an email to Goruck.
Three of us (myself included) are civilians. Five of the military members were going through a two month leadership course in southern Arizona and the other is a member of the National Guard. The National Guardsman, a combat medic, completed several Goruck Challenges and Lights. His girlfriend was doing her first light.
There are many ways to prepare for GRC or GRL. I followed their 6 week program and felt fairly prepared for the physical challenges. How ever you decide to train, make sure your training includes rucking.
Although the event is physically challenging, the mental taxation is a far greater problem. It is very easy to quit rather than push through the event. My mental training consisted of watching Apollo 13 the night before the event. What better movie/event to reinforce the concept of teamwork under harsh conditions?
As recommended I wrapped my bricks in three layers of duct tape.
Members of the GRT community recommend wearing the bricks high on the back and securing them so they do not shift around. Just as there are many ways to train for the event there are also many successful ways to pack the bricks.
My food and electrolyte tabs were kept in a 1 quart Ziploc bag in the outer slant pocket. I kept a Clif Shot in my cargo pocket for easy access. After I ate, I replaced it the next opportunity I had. I packed more food than I needed. I had enough to share with others, but so did everyone else. I also had Nuun electrolyte tabs. Imagine Alka-Seltzer crossed with Gatorade. These tabs are excellent and definitely kept me hydrated.
As long as you have a durable, comfortable pack, you will be fine to complete the event. That said, the GR1 is made for this event. It is expensive, but it is durable and well made.
Five of the military personnel wore ALICE packs which jut out. The packs worked well, but when we did low crawls under our teammates (Tunnel Of Love) the ALICE packs definitely whacked some of us. Our lone female reported having a mastectomy as a result of the packs whacking her. A low profile pack is not a necessity, but it is appreciated.
A Pelican Box 1020 contained a first aid kit (gauze & duct tape wrapped around an Aleve tube), my ID, cash, Leatherman PS4, and my challenge coin. I also brought a cycling windbreaker which was kept in the mesh zipper compartment. Of all of these items I only used the Leatherman (we used another teammate’s first aid kit though). I would not hesitate to bring all of these items again because their weight is minimal in comparison to their utility. I also brought a pen and a rite-in-the-rain note pad. I brought them in case there were complicated orders (there were not). It is not a huge weight, especially in comparison to three liters of water, but I would not bother to bring them again.
I wore Saucony trail runners. Five of the military personnel wore combat boots which retained water and did not drain well at all. The civilians wore trail runners or running shoes and had no problems with water retention. Of note, our cadre stated he wore trail shoes on missions & patrols and wore combat boots for general duty.
Injinji toe socks were worn on the recommendation of long distance runners. With fabric between to the toes I had no hot spots, blisters, or other feet abnormalities. Being made mostly of wool they wicked water & sweat and dried quickly.
Any athletic wear will suffice for the event. All but one person wore shorts. I wore swim trunks which I typically wear when working out or running. I was going to wear Patagonia Rockcraft pants, but they were too hot when training. A cycling jersey served as my top and the pockets in the back proved useful for keeping items close at hand.
Mechanix gloves protected my hands when carrying coupons and enjoying bear crawls.
We met at Wheeler Park on a windy, sunny afternoon. After going through a safety briefing, Cadre Danny called for a non-military, non-Goruck candidate to be team leader. As there were only three options, I volunteered as tribute. The cadre provides mission details to the team leader who then leads the team on said mission. Our goal was to move from Wheeler Park to Thorpe Park in 8 minutes to meet a contact. We did not make the time hack and as a result the corrective action was physical exercise. Once we arrived in the general area, I was looking for an actual contact (we were originally assigned two cadre so I was looking for the second one. This was wrong). That error taught us a chant, “Pain now. Beer later”. The first part of the chant is said in the down position of a push up. The second portion is thus said in the up position.
Once we arrived at Thorpe Park, we entered a pond up to our shins. We then received our welcome party which consisted of squats, flutter kicks, squat thrusters, and other body weight exercises.
Our next mission was to pick up a cache of weapons and move to a safe house. Cadre Danny showed me a map of where we were and where we needed to be. Like last time, the route was up to us.
I was then fired from being team leader and another person was brought on. From the field we had to march to the Lowell Observatory on top of Mars Hill.
From there we went to the woods behind the observatory and performed a few more team building challenges and earned a jerry can filled with 5 gallons of dirt.
With a new team leader, the American flag, team weight, and other coupons we marched to Northern Arizona University to take out a target. We had to borrow 4 minutes of the Cadre’s time, and we paid him back with squats, push ups, flutter kicks, and more.
We rucked to our exfiltration point on time and proceeded to do more PT. With the last round of bear sleds complete, Cadre Danny had us rise and receive our GRL patch.