I completed my second challenge and fifth Goruck event on 29 July 2016 in Flagstaff with Cadre Chad, an SF engineer. I plan on doing any event which appears in Flagstaff and as many events as I can which are in Arizona. If you have the opportunity to do an event with Cadre Chad, then jump on it. He is tough, but personable and shares a lot of his experiences.
For previous events I trained for the event following Goruck’s six week program. This time around I followed the Tactical Barbell Zulu program which lays out a lifting schedule. Combined with the Tactical Barbell Conditioning program, I had a general fitness program which makes me good for any event, but not great at anything in particular. Four times a week I would lift: squats & bench press two days and dead lift & dips the other two days. After lifting I would either do a high intensity conditioning workout or I would go for a ruck. I have since switched my training to the Tactical Barbell Fighter scheme because it works with my schedule. I lift twice a week, condition twice a week, and ruck twice a week.
The only change in my gear was a new headlamp; I destroyed my previous one in the Pacific Ocean during the Pearl Harbor Challenge. I now used a Black Diamond Spot 2016. The rest of my gear and its placement in my GR1 remained the same.
The 20 lbs weight plate is in the laptop compartment with a cut-down-duct-taped yoga brick above and below it. The main compartment holds my 3 liter Source water bladder, cheap cycling wind breaker, spare AAA batteries, and a Pelican 1020 case. In the Pelican 1020 case I keep my ID, $20 bill, and first aid kit. The first aid kit is nothing more than duct tape, gauze, benadryl, tylenol, and aleve. The outside slash pocket held a Source UTA and a dry bag. The dry bag had my food (4 Clif bars) and electrolyte tablets (Enduralyte Fizz Lemon Lime).
Our event began in a city park. There were only seven of us and initially it looked like we were only going to have four members. Cadre joked that if we didn’t have enough the event would go from a Challenge to a war stories and beer. I almost wish that had happened because Cadre Chad has some great stories.
Our team weight was a waste oil can filled with sand and covered in Route 66 stickers. Before any great American road trip, especially one on Route 66, you should have an oil change. Our flag also had to be freestanding and weigh 25 lbs. A team member built a base with deployable legs. There are some refinements which could be made to make it faster, but her engineering was quite impressive.
We nearly had a med drop during the Welcome Party. The individual was from Phoenix, and though physically fit, was not used to the altitude. Phoenix is at 1,000 ft elevation compared to Flagstaff’s 7,000 ft. The individual was able to recover and, spoiler alert, made it to the end.
During the Welcome Party we also learned the importance of having a standard operating procedure (SOP). We lined up to do flutter kicks and some of our feet were pointing to the cadre and some of heads were pointing to him. When told to roll to the right we rolled over each other. Lesson learned. It does not matter if our feet are pointing toward or away from the cadre as long as we have a standard we will end up with the same results and avoid rolling over each other.
Cadre asked for a team leader and I quickly volunteered as I did not want to be penalized for lollygagging or hesitating. I led the remainder of PT during the Welcome Party and then was instructed to move us to a nearby high school.
At the high school, I was fired from being team leader and a new one was selected. We then had some bear crawl races and bear crawl wrestling at the high school. The races were straight forward. Bear crawl to a point and return the fastest. The fights involved being in the bear crawl position and causing your opponent to put their knee on the ground or otherwise drop out of position. Initially we did one and one and then expanded to melees. Our finally battle was every man for himself. Honestly this was one of the most fun things I have done.
With our new team leader we rucked to a church. We also received a coupon before we headed out. It was a one handed rock. The rock could only be carried with one hand. If I passed the rock to another teammate, then I had to do it with one hand and my teammate had to receive it with one hand. The purpose of this was to make us consider our veterans who are returning without all of their limbs or without function in their limbs. The point was definitely made.
We did not make our time hack in part because we did not listen to our TL or our bodies. TL would tell us to run and those up front did not set a pace because of their own inexperience and physical inabilities. We could have done it had we set a decent pace.
After paying our debt for not making the time hack to the church, Cadre provided Get-To-Know-Your-Cadre-Time. During this time we were allowed to sit, take care of our feet, eat, and ask Cadre Chris anything. He said he would answer anything that was asked, but cautioned us to consider what we were asking because he would give an honest answer. Not everyone will want to hear the answers of a combat veteran. That said, his stories were amazing and what he shared was truly appreciated. Get-To-Know-Your-Cadre-Time should be mandatory for Goruck events.
Switching TLs, our next movement was to the trail head of Mount Elden. Once there our next time hack was to make it to the peak of Mt. Elden before sunrise. Our American flag had to be flying with all of us posed around it as the sun was rising. We took breaks frequently and checked for altitude sickness. Thankfully no one succumbed to the altitude. Our team just barely made it to the top in time. We could have made it with time to spare, but our team broke down. We were doing so well until this moment; in our exhaustion our personalities clashed.
After a team photo, we hiked down the mountain and earned our patches. I would not hesitate to do another event with Cadre Chad. He definitely gave more than any other cadre I have experienced. This event, though a “typical” challenge and not a special event, was definitely more enjoyable than any other GORUCK event I have done.