Monday, September 14, 2015

Myrtle Beach GORUCK Light Sept.5 Class 927

The first GORUCK I did, back in October 2014 was also a Light. But it was also a Mogadishu Mile, something a bit more special in the GORUCK world. I didn't do a re-cap, but damn straight my girl did.

Myrtle Beach in September is significantly different from Portland in October. A) It's a helluva lot warmer. B) The beaches are sand, not rock. C) It's a helluva lot warmer. D) There's a ton of people in Myrtle. E) It's a helluva lot warmer.

And this event was also significantly different from my experience in Portland.

My Portland GORUCK was pretty much an "Embrace The Suck" kind of thing. I am in no way knocking it. It's GORUCK. You sign up, and you get what the Cadre and the environment give you. This is important to know. I've attached pictures of both events to try to show the difference.

But my Myrtle 'ruck was actually fun. Ya, there were some moments when I would rather have been sitting on the beach than marching around with sand in my junk carrying a big ass water container, but it was still fun.

(Unless noted otherwise, all photo credits to two of our shadows, Tammy & James Vretis. Thank you guys so much)

Class 927

I'm not going to go into too many details on what GORUCK is. But the basic premise is Team Building and carrying shit around. Although I understand some people like the Team aspect, Team has never been a word I use often. I really just like the physical aspect of these things. 

As noted above, there's a good chunk of people in Myrtle Beach, especially on a nice Saturday on Labor Day Weekend. Well, our start point was at a popular beach head right down town. And although parking kind of sucked, I've never minded making a spectacle of myself, and I'm pretty damn sure a bunch of folks hanging around in a beach parking lot, in the sun, 80degrees, wearing backpacks made a spectacle.

GORUCK is team thing, so you introduce yourself to people when you show, because you're all going to be relying on each other soon enough, may as well get to know your buddy now. As we kick about the Team Weight shows. An ammo box with some gear in it, and a bottle of Captain Morgans. Nice. Then the team flag shows. Thank Christ, I was most worried about this, because YOU WILL have an American Flag when you do a GORUCK. The fellow that brought the flag was a badass who had also done a longer GORUCK event the night before. (You'll meet these crazies when you do a GORUCK). Unfortunately, I guess the flag pole wasn't up to par, so the current pole was taped to this big heavy ass metal rod. Rumor was it was now 27#s. Can't confirm or deny that one.

After getting the flag squared we trudge down to the beach and line up. Yep, this is military styled event. Stay in formation until told not to. Rucks off, rucks open in the sand, Cadre is gonna check out your weight/gear.

Look at those smiles! 4 out of 5 Dentists recommend GORUCK

There are currently a few different options for what kind of weight you use, but essentially I was carrying 4 bricks, 2+liters of water, headlamp, batteries, ID and twenty bucks. I knew I wasn't going to need any extra layers on this's freeking 80 degrees. 

Have you done a GORUCK before? Well let me tell you, your Ruck can make a huge difference,my GOLITE pack was designed with Adventure Racing in mind, not lumping bricks. When I get the funds, I will be looking into a GORUCK Pack. It makes a difference, TRUST ME.

Packs on. Two rows facing each other.

Front leaning rest. It felt like we spent 15 minutes bear crawling backwards and forwards while introducing ourselves to each other, again. (Hint, practice push ups and bear crawls for your GORUCK.)

Pack on your belly. Two rows back to back.

So now we're leaning against each other doing squats. I hardly squat anymore because of all the damn running, so this kind of sucked for me.

Pack on your back, face your buddy.

Do more squats,but it only lasted as long as the country song that Cadre played over his mega-phone. I love country music. My partner however, was singing along. Which was cool, motivation and all.

Then...then, the much dreaded Buddy Carry. I HATE THIS. I'm a tall skinny guy, trying to get underneath some two hundred pounder is brutal on me back and knees. But, perseverance, and using a smaller partner helped. 

Grab the Team Gear, time to go!

Staying in formation seems pretty hard for civilians, especially when you now add in the weights of the ammo box, 2 five gallon (filled) water jugs, and an army duffle full of something...
So we shuffle down the beach, I'm loathe to call it marching, with our Flag Carrier in the front, team weights behind. Now, at this point my bad memory gets even worse, but I believe Cadre gave us fifteen minutes to cover about a mile of beach. Now, 15min per mile is no big thing on pavement, but lumping in the sand is a different story. Our destination is the Ferris Wheel on 11th. Our "Platoon Leader" and "Assistant Platoon Leader" are tasked with getting us there in time. 

However, neither of them have done a GORUCK before, and neither of them are carrying a forty pound water jug. So when they ask for a jog....the formation gets a little sloppy. Trying to double time carrying some of the team weights can be challenging.
But hey, we make the cuttoff and we make a real great scene because this is where the beach is really damn busy. You'll now know what a GORUCK is when you see it, but the general population has no idea what to think about a squad of civilians carrying random things with an American Flag up front.

Remember how I keep mentioning it's in 80s? Well Cadre now brings us into the water. The nice cool, beautiful ocean...Hydro Burpees were introduced to me. Pretty fun actually, and not real easy when wearing a pack that has a highly buoyant yoga block in it. We may have done some flutter kicks here as well. We also played "Duck, duck, dolphin". This involved one poor sod staying underwater for the duration it took the rest of us to run out of the water, up the beach, around a water jug, and back to Cadre. I'm not a huge water guy, and thank christ I never had to be the dolphin. 
Myrtle Beach

Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines

Back on the beach.

We're given another rally point, 2 different leaders, another time cutoff, and an option. Fill one of our canvas duffles with beach sand (250+ lbs.), or take a casualty. 

Work smarter, not harder. And we were given the choice. And we had a few girls under 130lbs. So guess what we chose to do? Ya, we took a casualty.

One of the veteran badasses carrying my girl.

The scene we made with general population before? Well now we're doing that same thing except we're all taking turns doing the newly learned buddy carry down the beach. 

Our crew had some decent size dudes in it, and we took turns lumping a couple the girls down the beach like sacks of potatoes. Being the casualty is actually pretty damn painful, so big kudos to the gals that took one for the team here.

Making the rally with time to spare, Cadre has us sit in a semi circle. Of course I'm thinking it's about to get ugly. But instead, we got a GORUCK exclusive experience (O2X Summit Challenges offers another fantastic similar experience at their Base Camps). Cadre talks with us about his time in the Special Forces. He explains the importance of team work in day to day living, and how the ability to overcome problem A can often make overcoming problem B easier, even if in round about ways.

I mentioned earlier I am not a big Team guy, but if you wanna learn about Team Dynamics, learn from a Special Forces Vet. Damn right they know what they're talking about.


I would maybe guess we sat for 15min. So getting back up on freshly locked up muscles was interesting...Back down the beach we go. At this point the crowd on the beach is getting used to us. We here random shouts of  'Merica! or chants of "USA,USA,USA!"
We even have people approaching to ask us what we're doing. Strangely however, nobody wants to join us...

At our destination we have an interteam competition. 2 squads face off, no packs. We have 2 lines running parallel North/South to the beach facing each other. Everyone belly down in the sand. The plan here is to get the Southern most person to the Northern most point of the formation. But this person has to roll on their belly under the rest of them who are planning on doing a plyo pushup over the rolling person passing underneath. Pretty easy if there's only 3 of you, with 7 or 8, it becomes more of a mosh pit with arms, asses and elbows flying about everywhere. But it's still pretty fun, and physically taxing. Let alone all the lovely beach sand in your eyes.
Myrtle Beach

Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines

After this bit 'o fun, we're given our last rally point, but the caveat is we only have 7 minutes to cover a mile. Not an unimaginable feat solo, but again, we need to stay in formation, on a crowded beach, with weights and some participants are starting to feel the day. But this is a GORUCK, not a book club. So we start off.
Myrtle Beach

Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines

This is where my own feelings towards GORUCK get squirrely. If Cadre designates Platoon Leaders, it becomes their job of organizing the mob into formation and moving it along. But what often seemed to happen (at my 2 events at least), is you get some Alphas in the pack that start yelling "Go, go, go" because they can't see the poor folks struggling off the back, and they can't hear the PLs yelling "Slow up".  It quickly becomes a mess, any hint of a formation is gone, and we look like a random drunken beach party making our way along.
I really do appreciate the team aspect of GORUCK, but I'd think one of the first ideals of a team is no man left behind, right? 
It might be the only damn thing I remember from my time in the Army, but you keep the formation together until directly ordered not to. I'm a little surprised we didn't have hell to pay for this stretch.

After the 7min ruck we change things up a bit. Platoon Leaders are now carrying some Team Weights, everyone else pack off. This event is pretty hard to describe, but it involved the guy in the back of the line handing his bag forward, while everyone else also handed their bag forward, and the last place guy sprinting to the front. Then the whole thing starting again. This was an interesting way to get a feel for some of the other peoples packs. And damn, we had a couple hardcore sumbitches packing at least 40lbs for a Light (only 20lbs reqd if you weighed over 150lbs). 

Finally getting back to our start point. It's pretty warm out. I just felt my water bladder 86. Shit, now I need to drink my tepid backup bottles.

But wait, back into the water. This was a releif as we were starting to have some real casualties. We weren't asked to do anything to crazy, just link arms and fall back into the water.

I really love Myrtle Beach.

Cadre let us linger in the water long enough for team recovery, then brought us back on the beach for some

But it wasn't bad nasty burpee fun, it was plain simple fun. The kind of thing you may see 8yr olds doing.

We take our rucks and make a circle then march around them while Cadre plays another of my favorites, "Girls" by Beastie Boys. And we played Musical Rucks. March until the song is stopped, then dive onto a bag. If you don't get a bag, you're out. So grab a ruck then go to the "pit" and do the wave til everyone gets bumped. It was hilarious!

Then we were done!

What, done? But I was having fun man. It's only been about 4hrs, let's just go another 2hrs, this is the shit. Ok one more hour. Damn. 

Line up, two rows face to face. Cadre busts out the pack of patches and walks done the rows shaking each participants hand and offering a sincere word of congratulation to each of us while handing us our patch.

Look at that smile!

Three members of troop had already done 2 other events with Cadre Heath and they were issued his own personal patch. Pretty cool.

This was only my second GORUCK. I am not claiming to be a pro at this shit. There are alot of badasses out there that do these. And I've only done Lights. Although I personally do HIGHLY recommend everyone do a GORUCK, find some GORUCK vets and get their feed back. 
I can't honestly tell you when or what level GORUCK I will do next. I'll absolutely do the Myrtle Light if it comes back next year. But I really need to look into a ruck. 
Here are some more contrast pictures. Because you never know what you're going to get.
Myrtle Beach

Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines

Myrtle Beach

Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines

Myrtle Beach

Line up! Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines

Staying cool in Myrtle Beach

Staying warm, Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines

Heather enjoyed Myrtle Beach GORUCK

Portland Maine, Oct 4th 2014. Photo courtesy of Lauren Hines

On a comical (?) side note! My first ruck I mentioned, I had just started cyclocross training 2 weeks prior and had some saddle sores. No big, you get a saddle sore, you keep it clean and it goes away. BUT, if you get a saddle sore then spend 5hrs in the 50degree rain, in and out of the freezing Portaland ocean, you may end up with a thumb size abscess on your taint. Like I did. It hurt like hell, I couldn't walk and I had to have it surgically attended to. TMI?

Well a week after this GORUCK I am being treated for Lyme Disease. Ya, seriously.

These two ailments are in no way caused directly by the GORUCK, but whats going happen if I do a Tough? Leprosy?

Anyway. Start training and get out there and GORUCK. This link really does take you to GORUCK. I lied on the others because I can't stand country music or beastie boys.

MOG Mile Patch from Portland, Light Patch from Myrtle Beach. Now I need a Heavy?

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