Coming into this past weekend and the custom GoRuck that awaited, I assumed having done a few of these endurance events would prepare me for what was waiting for me and the other CFS members. The time of 12 hours doesn’t scare me anymore and the carrying a pack is nothing new. Being out in the middle of nowhere is a welcome invitation and the other people being worried about a hospital being several miles is something that anyone that goes backpacking or camping already knows. As Chad, Tim, Brad, and I prepared our packs to take on another thing normal people call “crazy,” we were settling in quite nicely.
I use to get nervous with these but I have started to get a little calmer, focusing on what my body needs me to do to keep going, to keep chugging along. We started at a bar named “Duffy’s,” in a room in the back that must have been opened by a few firefighters because of the memoribilia that was everywhere. We got there 2 hours early, which could make anyone start to rethink what the hell they were doing at such a place getting ready to go out into the cold, with hypothermia a definite possibility, and paying someone to beat the shit out of you for 12+ hours.
Around 12:45 AM, we started getting around after our cup of coffee with loading up the gear onto our backs never to allow it to touch the ground till we were done. That is 1 rule of GoRuck. Never let your pack touch the ground unless you are wearing it, no matter what. If you need something, rest it on your foot but no more than that and do it quickly or the team suffers the consequences. As we are standing around joking about no possibility of taxis being here, a taxi van drives by very slowly, turns around and stops right by where we were all standing, its back tires nearly touching the wheel wells. The sliding door opens, and I can’t make this shit up, out comes a wedding party, that’s right, bride, groom, and a few others, completely dressed in full wedding apparel, and they are going into Duffy’s for drinks…what is even crazier, the matron of honor (I think) is drunk off her ass already dancing around like a retarded chicken!
Never a dull moment, even in a hick town!
A little after 1 AM, our Cadre, Bo, takes roll call and starts filling us in with the whats and whys of GoRuck explaining that it is more than just another thing to do, it is a family of people, military and non-military, to work together and push each others limits for the good of the team. Honestly, even with playing football for several years I still was unsure of how deep that went. With that being said, we were off to a parking lot across the street to set our “baseline.” Baseline is like a point of reference, a default system that the entire team knows to go back to when it needs to be on the same page right away. Like our Cadre said, it can take 15 minutes or 5 hours. I guess our group decided on getting as close to the 5 hour one as possible. With those of us that were new, it was something new that needed figured out but the alumni were having issues as well which frustrated everyone. Punishments were handed out by turning what felt like 15,000 times, bear crawling, centipede, running, and whatever else the Cadre thought up. Establishing a baseline was as simple as all 25 of us turning the same exact way every time, and then using that in every aspect of PT we were doing. It only took us 3.5 hours to figure it out. I do have to point something out because under normal circumstances, no one would do this. The centipede, although kept us warm, is not something you want to spend an afternoon doing, especially if everyone has been eating beans. Imagine 25 people lying on the ground, with each person’s head being buried in the ass of the person in front and so on until the last person and we had to move like a centipede, which really made the stomach hit the ground more than usual. I will leave it at that.
After that time, we figured it out and officially became the class of #439, which was a huge accomplishment. Problem is, we all knew there was more to it than that. What followed was missions that we needed to carry out with a time limit being placed on them.
We had to meet up with Timmy Allen, 5’4″, shorter than a door. He had a missing front tooth and was from Arial, New Jersey. He liked the Philidelphia Phillies. He was the leader of the resistance fighting against the zombies. We had to get from the center of town out past the bridge in 30 minutes, or something like that. But first, we had to lower our body temperture to disguise ourselves from the zombies, so we had to do face down snow angels. Somehow, I don’t think that would actually work but whatever….LOL! After that, we set out on our mission in formation recanting the information so we would remember. There was really nothing to this, just a simple march with our rucks. When we got to our location, in under the time, I believe Timmy gave us information that we needed to blow up the boat dock that was a few miles away so the zombies could not get supplies. This is where our packs became bombs and we had to carry the straps on our forearms for those miles.
Carrying that much weight on my forearms for that kind of distance was new and a bit painful. Our mission, explained above, didn’t seem to bad, but this is where people started struggling. We carried those things for what seemed like an eternity and seen a sign for the dock. Problem was, we still had another mile. Something that was really awesome about GoRuck was the encouragment to get to know each other. We bullshitted, had fun, and just talked about anything all while doing hard shit. Comraderie at its best! As we were approaching the boat dock, daylight was hitting us. It was hard to believe that half our time was over already! Our Cadre had us plant the explosives, meaning he had us take our socks and shoes off and submerge our feet up to our ankles in the cold, oily water! A bit cold but not bad, as he had us pull them out, he told us to put them back in so he could take a picture. We got them out and put our socks and shoes back on and, by this time, because we were doing everything as a team, we rose as one, from being on the ground and one person would yell out the next step to getting up so we would all do it in unison. Locking arms and standing up was the last part. From there we were told to run around in a big circle to warm out feet up. This is where I am thankful I wore my boots. I was worried how they would hold up and how my feet would adjust to them. Both held up great and kept my feet warm and protected them from abuse.
We had to carry artillery up to a location (Starved Rock) that had a position on the river that would provide excellent offense against zombie boats. What our cadre meant by artillery is to find some long heavy logs. Not sure of the mileage but this is the part that kind of sucks for me. Being tall means that when I pick a spot on the log, usually in the back, which is the heaviest, 2+ people can no longer have it on their shoulders. The pace was kept pretty constant which brought us to the base of Starved Rock. At first, because the steps were icey, that is where the logs would come to rest. A few of us noticed that there was room on the side to get the log up it so began our trek up the hill. I say hill because of what Vermont showed me about hills. What made this difficult was the fact that several hundreds of pounds was sitting on our shoulders as we started climbing ice covered steps all the while making sure to do so in unison with each other. It was a true test of ourselves, not individually, but as a unit that was only hours before trying to figure out how to turn around in unison with each other. When we got to the top, mission complete, right? Not quite, and all I can think about is how the Cadre was seriously looking for some Spongebob song he wanted to play. Although he couldn’t find it, he chose 3 random songs and had us do push presses and squats with the logs in beat with the songs. What I remember that ended this mission was doing 3 push presses with each one yelling louder than the last 4……..3……..9, and on the last number pushing that log as hard as we could over the edge of Starved Rock.
Our mission was to meet up with Timmy Allen, from Jacksonville, NC. He had 2 girls, 1 boy and likes the San Diego Chargers. I am a little fuzzy about the wife, something like an Every Tuesday wife. After a series of steps going down then up, we were up to the lodge in search of some sort of statue carved out of a log, where we would catch up to Timmy Allen. We all proceeded to the front of the lodge and contemplated whether to all keep marching around as a whole unit or to send out a search party. Our leader of this mission elected to send out a search party so we were able to get schooled in the art of setting up a basecamp and how to form a pattern of overlap so that nothing gets missed when scanning the terrain. They told our Cadre they only needed 15 minutes which only gave us an additional 10 minutes to find it if they didn’t. The hunt was on and as they headed out, all we could do was watch them disappear around the bend in the road and hope they were going the right way…….to be continued.
What have I learned up to this point? That I love survival and getting back to the basics. Life is simplified to the person on my left and right with no cell phones, internet, computers, or other distractions to keep me “plugged” in. If the end of the world comes, I have a really good feeling our CFS brethren will all come together with our families and survive. Giving up is overrated and a crutch. The mind is a powerful thing if you let it and if it is strengthened, nothing can stop you.