The GORUCK Challenge: A Review

by Brett on December 7, 2012 · 41 comments

in Health & Sports

It all started with an email from Andy at Huckberry. They were doing an offer that week with a company called GORUCK. Andy wanted to introduce me to Jason, its founder.

I’d read about GORUCK before, and knew they had a really cool story. Jason had served in the Army as a Green Beret and wanted to offer civilians the same type of rugged backpack that he used during his military service. Jason started the GORUCK Challenge as a way to field test his packs in a memorable and convincing way, but they became so popular that they took on a life of their own.

The Challenge is a 9-13 hour team event in which a Special Forces veteran — called a Cadre — leads you on a 15-20 mile “guided tour” of your city. It begins at night and runs until the morning. Along the way, you take part in military-inspired challenges and “missions,” which includes doing some basic training calisthenics, taking a little swim, carrying logs (and each other), and a lot of marching. Oh, and you do it all while wearing a backpack filled with 30 to 40 pounds of bricks and other equipment. They tell you to bring $20 for a taxi – if you can’t go on, you have to call one to pick you up. The GORUCK Challenge is designed to push the individual physically and mentally and build teamwork and camaraderie among those participating. It isn’t a race. You don’t get a medal for first prize. The goal of the Challenge is to finish it, and finish it as a team. “Good livin’” is what Jason calls the whole experience: “when life is actually tough but you love it, your attitude is great, and you smile.”

Sounds…interesting, right? So when Jason invited me to take part in a Challenge, I accepted. It was partly out of curiosity and partly because I wanted something to push me in becoming a better man.

I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.

Full disclosure: Jason waived the fee for my entry into the Challenge, but I bought the backpack myself, and he didn’t even so much as hint that he’d like me to do a review. I just wanted to write this up for those who are curious, and to encourage readers to do it, as I think it’s worthwhile.

How I Trained for the GORUCK Challenge

As soon as I said yes, I started to fanatically research the Challenge: What’s it like? How should I train? What should I bring? Will I survive?

I quickly discovered that details about the Challenge are hard to come by. The folks at GORUCK keep a pretty tight lid on what the Challenges entail. They don’t even let you know the start point of your Challenge until the day before the event. The surprise and intrigue are all part of the fun of the GORUCK Challenge. Members of the GORUCK family — individuals who have successfully completed a Challenge — play along with the clandestine vibe and keep blog posts about their experience pretty vague.

The guys at GORUCK say you really don’t need to train for it and that if you’re in pretty decent shape, you’ll get through it just fine. They argue that the Challenge is more mental than physical. Also, because every Challenge is different, it’s hard to know exactly what to train for.

After completing the Challenge, I have to agree with them. I trained for a GORUCK Challenge that was entirely different than the one I actually experienced. Based on my research of previous Challenges, I thought there was going to be lots of Indian Runs and city blocks-worth of walking lunges and bear crawls. My challenge had a few bear crawls at the beginning, but no walking lunges or Indian Runs at all. Dang. Honestly, I probably could have completed the Challenge just fine without my special GORUCK training program.

That isn’t to say that my intensive training went to waste. The drills I concocted for myself pushed my body and mind further than they had gone in a long time, and I’m now in the best shape of my life. The conditioning definitely mentally steeled me to complete the grueling 9-hour challenge. I don’t regret one bit of the hours and sweat I put into getting ready for it.

If you’re interested in training for the GORUCK Challenge, below I provide my weekly workout routine as an example. As mentioned above, I thought there would be lots of windsprints, bear crawls, and lunges during the challenge, so I designed my conditioning routine around those exercises.

I also took 15-minute ice baths after my most intense workouts. They served a few purposes: 1) you typically get dunked in cold water at the beginning of a challenge. I wanted to be ready for that, 2) the ice baths aided in recovery, and 3) they were part of an experiment I was doing on naturally increasing my testosterone (the results on that in the new year).

Brett’s GORUCK Training Program

I started this training program back in August. For the first three weeks, I did the running and the lunges/bear crawls without the fully loaded GORUCK GR1. After that, I completed all my conditioning workouts while wearing the brick-filled rucksack. However your train for the GORUCK, I definitely recommend spending time getting used to carrying that thing around.

Monday: 5×5 Stronglifts Weightlifting Routine

Tuesday: 50- x 40-yard windsprints with loaded GORUCK pack (1-minute rest between each sprint). 15-minute ice bath after workout

Wednesday: 5×5 Stronglifts Weightlifting Routine

Thursday: 5K run with loaded GORUCK pack + 300-yard 75-pound sandbag carry. 15-minute ice bath after workout.

Friday: Alternated between 720-yard bear crawls and 720-yard walking lunges with loaded GORUCK pack. 15-minute ice bath after workout.

GORUCK Challenge Class #335, Oklahoma City. November 24, 2012.

After months of training, the night of the Challenge arrived. I double-checked my gear, kissed Kate and Gus good-bye, and drove down to OKC to pick up my brother. The starting point of our Challenge was in front of the downtown baseball stadium. We arrived shortly before 10PM to find 15 other people standing around in front of a statue of Mickey Mantle, nervously waiting for our cadre to arrive.

Our GORUCK class had a great mix of folks from all walks of life. Military veterans and current servicemen, police officers, and just regular old civilians. Our team of 17 even had two hardy gals.

Showing our bricks to our Cadre, Beaux.

Around 10:15, our cadre, Beaux, rolled up. Beaux is a Force Recon Marine with multiple deployments in Iraq. He now works as a Special Ops trainer for the Navy and leads GORUCK challenges on the weekends for fun. He’s a badass. Beaux did a roll call, asked to see our load of bricks, and then established the ground rules. He informed us that he has his PhD in pain, suffering, and discontent, and that we’d be matriculating through the school of pain and suffering that evening. After the “pleasantries,” we started our 9 hours of Good Livin’.

I could go into detail about the Challenge, but I won’t. I don’t want to ruin the experience for folks wanting to sign-up, and there’s something special about keeping only the GORUCK family in the know about what goes on. It’s much like a fraternity.

With that said, I’ll briefly describe what Cadre Beaux dished out to GORUCK Class #335.

The Welcome Party

The evening started off with lots of push-ups, flutter kicks, and rolling around on the ground.

The evening began with Basic Training, or what Beaux called “The Welcome Party.” We did push-ups, flutter kicks, bear crawls, and rolled around on the ground, all while wearing our fully-loaded packs. The worst exercise was the Human Centipede. Our team of 17 people laid down in a line on the ground and we had to put our feet on the shoulders of the man behind us and put our face as far up the rear-end of the person in front as we could. We proceeded to do push-ups and crawl around like inchworms on the ground in this position.

The point of Basic Training isn’t simply to do difficult calisthenics. It’s actually an introductory lesson on the importance of teamwork in the GORUCK Challenge. It took us all a bit to figure that out, but as soon as we did, training became a lot easier.

After pounding us physically and mentally for about an hour and half, Beaux told us to go dunk ourselves in a freezing cold pond nearby. Getting into the water wasn’t that bad; I was used to hanging out in cold water with my ice baths. Getting out was a different story. It was 34 degrees that night and really windy. Needless to say, we were all uncomfortable and a bit miserable for the rest of the night.

Fighting Zombies

Me helping with a log carry.

Beaux had crafted a series of missions for us that night that followed a Zombie Apocalypse storyline. Every mission had a time limit. If we didn’t complete it in time we were punished with “Fist Pumping,” which involved pressing heavy objects above our head while Beaux blasted music from his SpongeBob SquarePants speakers.

Old Glory waved proudly the entire night.

My brother and I shooting zombies. I think we killed them all.

We had to do “Fist Pumps” as a punishment whenever we didn’t finish a mission in time. “Fist Pumping” was code for “lift heavy stuff over your head over and over again.”

The missions involved lots of low crawling and carrying giant logs on our shoulders. The hardest part of the Challenge for me was buddy-carrying our teammates two miles to “medical help” after they had been “bitten by zombies.” My back and legs were smoked after that.

“Embrace the suck.” Darn right.

My brother Larry and his beard.

The buddy carry segment of the Challenge was perhaps the toughest part of the night.

These guys from Blue Line Tactical Fitness wore gas masks the entire Challenge. It was part of an effort to raise money for the Oklahoma Fallen Officer Foundation.

Teamwork was emphasized throughout. You had to do everything as a team. We marched as a team, were punished as a team, and lifted heavy crap as a team.

Our Challenge ended at about 7:30AM. Not a single member of Class #335 dropped out during the night. We started as a team and we finished as a team.

Beaux presenting our patches at the OKC Bombing Memorial.

Individuals who successfully complete a GORUCK Challenge are awarded a GORUCK Tough patch for their bag. Beaux led us to the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial for the presentation of patches. For those of us from the OKC area, that place holds a lot of meaning. I had several school friends lose parents in the terrorist blast that killed 162 people. But the community rallied together to support the families of victims and rebuild. Beaux gave a solemn and inspiring speech about the values and mission of the GORUCK Challenge and what it means to be an American — it was to encourage that same sort of camaraderie and teamwork that the community of OKC demonstrated in the aftermath of the bombing.

My GORUCK Tough patch

Beaux presented us our patches one-by-one, shook our hands, and welcomed us to the GORUCK Family.

And with that, my four-month journey to the GORUCK Challenge was over.

GORUCK Challenge Class #335

Final Thoughts and Why You Should Do a GORUCK Challenge, Too

For the next week I was sore as all get out. My shoulders and back were scraped and bruised, but I saw them as badges of honor. All in all, I found the GORUCK Challenge to be a tremendously satisfying experience.

While I was training for it, some people asked me why I would want to do something like this. Looking at it from the outside, things like the GORUCK Challenge, and obstacle and adventure races of all sorts, can indeed seem kind of silly. Sure, it’s easy to think, “Gee, isn’t it sad that society has become so devoid of challenge that people have to pay money to stay up all night carrying around a rucksack full of bricks?” Maybe. But the alternative is doing…nothing. And being an armchair critic. The reality of living in the modern age is that there are no longer things built in to the culture that force us to push ourselves – we have to actively seek out these experiences ourselves. The fact that there were a good number of former and current military guys in my class shows that everyone is looking for, craving really, an extra layer of challenge in their lives. Every man should be regularly stretching both his physical and mental capabilities. We may not be under zombie attack (yet), but every man should know that he’s ready for anything, and feel confident in the knowledge that he’ll be able to perform when his limits are pushed.

I see guys all the time who settle down in the suburbs, have a kid, grow a gut, and spend their nights watching Netflix. Soft suburban dads. I’ve decided I won’t let this to happen to me. And I’ve found it’s important to have goals to train for — things to motivate myself to stay physically active and mentally sharp. That, to me, is the value of doing something like the GORUCK Challenge. I bet you’d find it worthwhile too.

Good Livin’ gentlemen.

 PS: Things have come full circle. Huckberry is once again offering a super deal on the GORUCK Challenge. If you buy a GORUCK rucksack, you get free entry into a Challenge. Pretty dang sweet. As Huckberry puts it, “This gift is sort of like combining a Christmas present and New Year’s resolution into one, and in the best/worst possible way. No pain, no gain.”

Thanks to Ryan Long from Blue Line Tactical and his friend George for providing the pictures of the event. 

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Charlie December 7, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Great write up, thanks! Makes me want to do another…

-Class 198

2 Brian December 7, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Interesting. I’d never heard of this program before. These kind of programs always remind me of my Outward Bound experience. I’d recommend Outward Bound for anyone interested in, among other things, being pushed the limit, learning leadership, and learning teamwork in an outdoor setting. I did a 22 day backpacking course when I was 15; I learned back packing, rock climbing, and wilderness survival. I experienced numerous bear encounters, getting caught in a lightening storm in high elevation, and saw the most beautiful wilderness that remains mostly untouched by man. It was 22 days without seeing a house, car, or television; so nice…

http://www.outwardbound.org/wilderness-expeditions/wilderness-courses/

3 Peter G. December 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm

GORUCK! I was fortunate enough to be part of Jason’s Class 137…good times.

4 Brandon December 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Did Beaux cry at the end of that one too?

5 Kyle Atkinson December 7, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Thank you for sharing your GORUCK experience. I have been curious about it since I saw it on Huckberry a while back. I have had reservations about doing a challenge until now.It sounds like a worthwhile experience for someone like me who is looking for a way to shake up the monotony of my daily routine.

6 Brad December 7, 2012 at 6:55 pm

I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now and would encourage every man to take the challenge. Is it physically tough? Yup, but you’ll learn a lot about yourself mentally. Welcome to the family Brett!

Class 202

7 Autumn December 7, 2012 at 7:33 pm

“But the alternative is doing…nothing”

This is exactly what inspired me to do Tough Mudder a few months ago, and now you’ve just inspired another challenge. Thanks!

(Good livin’ for women too)

8 neal December 7, 2012 at 7:34 pm

I’ve never really heard of this program, either, though it sounds like there are a lot of cool things about it. The boot-camp mentality probably isn’t up my alley, but there’s a lot to be said for building comaraderie, and that’s one quick way to do it.

When I was in ROTC in college, I felt uncomfortable with getting shouted at and always having to do things NowNowNow! I ended up giving up my military scholarship because of that.

Having said that, I’ve had friends who made it work beautifully for them. For myself, I do obstacle races and solo backpacking trips. I generally prefer the solitary personal challenge to group quests…but I’ve also had some group backpacking experiences that are some of the best memories of my life.

Anyway, this would be cool to do with a close friend, or maybe one of my brothers, like you did. Seems like having one or two people you already trust going into it could make all the difference for someone like me.

9 John Warbaby December 8, 2012 at 3:02 am

Glad to see a write up on my favorite company. I did class 001 back in 2010, followed by Ascent in 2011 and Selection in 2012. So I’ve met quite a few of the Cadre and Challenge takers, and if you want to up your manly game this is a good place to go. This is Alpha training.

10 Dan December 8, 2012 at 4:51 am

I did a Goruck challenge earlier this year, class 259. My cadre was also Beaux who was a pretty sound guy, I really enjoyed chatting with him over the course of it and it sounds like our challenge was very similar if not identical to yours.

I’m in pretty good shape and didn’t actually think the challenge was hard at all, there wasn’t any point where I considered giving up other than from the boredom of trekking round the city at a casual pace. We didn’t actually break into a run or even a fast ‘shuffle’ at any point other than the last 10 minutes, mostly because there were people in our group who couldn’t.

My challenge was in London, England, and we were a group about half English, a few Americans, and a couple of Swedes. It’s worth noting for any British or non Americans out there that the style of PT is very ‘American’ rather than British. By that I mean the exercises are american style, such as 8 count bodybuilder, flutter kicks etc, and there is very little running round trees, or buddy carry sprints etc. Also that rather than the British ‘it pays to be a winner’ style of PT ie. do more press ups than everyone else or finish the run first, it’s do everything as a team, so do press ups in time with everyone else, or get on the ground in time with everyone else. This is in keeping with the team building ethos of the challenge, but when you do everything together, inevitably you do it at the pace of the slowest, meaning it isn’t that challenging for the stronger, faster people.

These above were my main qualms with the challenge. Overall I’d say it is definitely worth doing, for the experience. However, my main issue is what it costs. I think I paid $140 which is about £80 for the experience, and can’t for the life of me, other than paying for the time and experience of the cadre, figure out where those costs come from. I don’t think they have any insurance to pay, they do death waivers. 10x$140 is a lot of money, and there were a lot more than 10 in our group and I imagine most groups. Fair enough, they are providing a service people are willing to pay for, and something Brett didn’t point out is that they give (I think) $10 from every purchase to the Green Beret foundation, which is very noble and a worthwhile cause. However, I would not do another challenge purely because of what it cost. £80 is a lot of money to me.
You could just as easily get a group of friends, or even organise something over facebook, do exactly the same thing for a total cost of $0.

11 Dave December 8, 2012 at 8:30 am

Reminds me of the good ole days in the military. WOC school was a fun experience as well, except for the part where they made us wear trucker hats and shorty military shorts…

“But the alternative is doing…nothing”….Glad you said those things man. I’ve been preaching that same thing for years to my family, friends and those I teach in church. Now with Hostess out of the loop, maybe there is hope for America.

Holding the torch…

12 Ryan December 8, 2012 at 8:37 am

Brett, it was an honor completing this challenge with you. I hope we get to do another some day.

-class 221,335

13 Evan December 8, 2012 at 10:36 am

That’s awesome, Brett. I just got a GR1 recently (primarily I use it as a get home back that I carry to work, but I also keep PT gear and such in it in the event that I feel motivated for a lunch run). I would love to do one of these events with my best friend (unfortunately I ordered my GR1 just before the Huckberry deal, I highly doubt I’ll be able to attend one before I leave for recruit training), and it’s definitely something on my bucket list. The trick will probably be convincing him to do it, haha.

Great insight as always. Keep up the good work.

14 Mike December 8, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Great write up. Welcome to the GORUCK family!
Class 177

15 Jose December 9, 2012 at 6:36 am

The year 2013 is the year of the Ironman, for me. I’ll be completing IM AZ, my first full iron distance triathlon. The year 2014, however, is for everything else. I’ll do a Goruck thanks to this article. Thanks.

16 John December 9, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Anybody know if the offer on the GR1′s extends to international events? I live in the UK and would be interested in this.

Cheers

17 Alex December 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Really cool challenge!

I like their gear but the prices they are charging are a bit ridiculous. $120 for a leather belt?? I’m all for spending money on quality but I can smell “trend” on this one; no disrespect intended.

18 Ert Nirp December 9, 2012 at 10:44 pm

FWIW, the Stronglifts 5×5 sounds like a rebranded version of the Starting Strength routine by Mark Rippetoe. Rippetoe’s book is worth looking into for anyone interested.

19 jason December 9, 2012 at 10:59 pm

brett – you forgot the part about how we at GORUCK are big fans of your site. Guess that was obvious. Few other points to address your readers/commenters: Dan – love ya man, glad you’re part of the GRT family, but part of what the Challenge is is personal and it is what you make of it. Put out more and you’ll be more sore because you’ve done more. It’s the same in Special Forces training. Side note: I’m leading Dublin in March – send us a note to info@goruckchallenge.com and we’ll put you on the list, on us. And yeah, training with friends is the shit and it costs nothing. Everyone should do more of that. Also, thanks for pointing out the GBF angle. We’ve raised as a company right at $500K at this point. It’s one of our proudest accomplishments. Alex – I get it. Like I said in a recent post, 5 years ago I never would have paid $295 for a ruck, and I can promise you I was not happy when I found out how much it cost us to make, and how much we were going to have to charge. But you get what you pay for in life sometimes. Including leather belts made in Montana with Montana leather. In the not so distant future we’ll be explaining our costs down to the dollar. People ask us this all the time, the least we can do is provide answers. And Brett – special thanks to Andy for the link-up. Good dude doin’ good things with good people livin’ up there in San Fran. I’ll find ya next time I’m driving through your neck of the woods. Brews on me.

20 Beaux December 10, 2012 at 6:57 am

@Dan I can honestly say that my London and Paris classes were not as difficult as other challenges I have led. There were a few factors that attributed to that but ultimately the real part’s of the challenge that people take away from is the family and teamwork.

21 Brandon Williams December 10, 2012 at 8:00 am

Great article! Welcome to the family Brett! I completed class 191 in Toronto last June and have another one booked for next year. I need to keep the Reaper on my back to keep my motivated in my workouts.

Dan – sorry your experience wasn’t as great as mine. For me it was the single hardest physical thing I’ve done….but as with most things YMMV.

Jason – The $295 I paid for my GR1 is some of the best money I’ve ever spent on anything. Period. The quality of the pack is second to none. Though I’m [sarcasm]STILL[/sarcasm] waiting on the multi-cam TAC hat……Thanks again to you and GR as a whole.

22 dogg December 10, 2012 at 8:48 am

The workout sounds great, but the way our country seems to be going, I’m not really thrilled about everything like this article taking on militarized flavor. We are headed for a police state, and I hate to see that happen.

23 George Tseng December 10, 2012 at 9:43 am

I think Jason needs to remind people that once completing a GRC and needing more of a challenge, there is the GORUCK Selection, and soon to be GORUCK Heavy. Or back to back GRCs. Just sayin’

24 william December 10, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Thanks for the write up.

-William; Class 078, 294

25 Ian December 10, 2012 at 3:01 pm

This sounds pretty hilarious and awesome. And it would be an excuse to buy one of those sweet bags. I will admit I’d need to triple the number of pushups I routinely do to survive.

26 Adam December 10, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I remember seeing this on Huckberry as well, I only really dug into what it was today. Definitely sounds like something I’d be interested in, I even talked to my buddy about doing it but we both agree we are currently in no shape to attempt this right now. That means we’re going to have to pick a time frame and say that we WILL be in shape to do it depending on the next time you have a Charleston event (so, not next week).

My only concern (personally) would be going hypoglycemic, but I’m hoping that if I take the time to get in shape for the event I can go back to not needing insulin to control my blood sugar any more.

27 Justin December 11, 2012 at 11:50 am

Welcome to the GRT Family!
Anyone who hasn’t done this, needs to! Great company…Good Livin’

-Class 185

28 Hugh December 12, 2012 at 11:31 am

I did the first Pittsburgh GoRuck back in August – in 5 finger shoes. i trained for it as a vegan, and doing P90X. Hard! Worth the effort! We embraced the suck in all three rivers, the drunken South Side, Mt. Washington and the bridges. Great cadre! Awesome hard-working team!

29 Steve December 12, 2012 at 8:17 pm

“The guys at GORUCK say you really don’t need to train for it and that if you’re in pretty decent shape, you’ll get through it just fine.”

I weigh 150 lbs, 6′ 2″. I try to do cardio/pushups/pullups and free weights at home working out, which I’ve been doing for about 6 months. I’m trying to figure out how in shape you really need to be, what is the way to test myself to know?

30 Sean December 13, 2012 at 11:47 am

ert nerp – and starting strength is a rebadging of Starr’s program, which is a rebadging of older programs, which is a…

Sounds like fun…if I can get my lazy butt of the couch a bit more, maybe I’ll take a stab at one.

31 Cyiza saint suraj December 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Realy cool for me. Its 1st time i heard but GORUCK i like it and i want to know more about it. So please help me to enjoy with you

32 EDER December 17, 2012 at 4:32 pm

“I see guys all the time who settle down in the suburbs, have a kid, grow a gut, and spend their nights watching Netflix. Soft suburban dads. I’ve decided I won’t let this to happen to me.”

Best quote that should motivate any man.

33 Jeffrey Vasquez December 27, 2012 at 5:15 pm

I was on the fence about doing a goruck up until I saw this write up. My coach/trainer is always talking about his experiences with goruck and he trains us as if we were going to do the challenge anyway so it just made sense for me to embrace the suck and sign up. My event isn’t until May 2013 but I’m already mentally and physically preparing myself for what is sure to be one the greatest experiences I can pass along to my sons and my students. Thank you Jason for putting this together!

34 Alonso January 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Sounds great! Too bad I can’t even go through P90X without injuring myself. But I would like to do the GORUCK challenge one day! Also… I am curious about those ice baths you mentioned, should make an article about it, sounds interesting.

35 Mark Edmead January 4, 2013 at 5:29 pm

I completed the challenge this past New Years Eve. Group 369.

As for myself I wanted to quit many times. I was the eldest of the group (53). The youngest was 20. Some of the activities were too much for me. My legs were giving out. I could barely walk. Many had to help me get up after doing an activity were I was on the ground (remember I had 45 lbs. on my back). One of my teammates actually carried me on his shoulder while I had on my backpack and he had on his! These men and women were freaking BEASTS!

So why did I do this? In early 2011 I was diagnosed and treated for stage 3 cancer. I underwent 8 weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. I had to be fed through a tube in my stomach. I lost over 75 lbs. The treatment was brutal. It was not only physically challenging but mentally challenging as well. I wanted to give up. Doing this challenge was for a challenge to myself to continue to grow and to stay strong. Not only physically but more mentally. In fact this challenge is 90% mental (although my body will tell you differently right now).

What an experience. Everyone pulled together as a team. I learned so much about myself and about being part of a team. This challenge is NOT a race but it is about teamwork. It is about helping each other out and helping EVERYONE compete the challenge. I could have not made without everyone in the group. I cried at the end. Yes I was in pain. But I also completed something amazing. I’m now an alumnus of a very small but special group. I’ve met some amazing new brothers and sisters.

At the end of the program one of the participants Matt said it was not about the patch you earn when you complete the program. And at first I thought it was about getting the patch. But I do believe now it is much more than that. It is about working together. It is about teamwork. It is about learning more about oneself and pushing yourself to limits you thought you could never reach. It is about realizing that it is OK to ask for help and to rely on others. It is an experience I will never forget. And the weird thing is that even after all of the physical pain, I want to do it again!

36 Evan O February 3, 2013 at 7:42 am

Just completed my first challenge–Class 400, Jax Beach. It was definitely an experience–20 (of our original 22) finished, and we had 8 tough females (some of them on their 3rd and 4th challenges–one who was battling cancer). I really had no idea what I was getting myself into, other than a whole lot of suck–but at the end it was worth it. It’s hard to describe how much pride goes into having that little TOUGH patch.

37 Kevin February 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Just completed the challenge this weekend. It was a humbling experience. I’m feeling every mile of it this week…

-Class 398

38 Markus April 11, 2013 at 1:02 pm

This is in reply to Dan above. A GRC is all about bridging gaps, of all sorts, between military and civilians, between ages, between sexes, between strangers. Yes, you can spend $0 with your friends, but you’d miss out on the bridging gaps portion of a GRC. And yes, you do have to slow your self down to the slowest member, least strongest member of the team….but that’s why a GRC is not a race….it’s a bit different, and a bit MORE than that, where the self take a back seat, and the whole is the point of the exercise. In GRC Class 433, we had a teammate, Andrew, who tweaked his ankle badly, and that was when we actually start to click as a team….when we had to carry him when it was necessary to meet a time hack, when we were actually told to race through an evolution where winners get to rest, the winners kept doing the evolution with Andrew in a show of solidarity. For that, a GRC will always be worth the cost for me.

39 Shawn Stanford April 18, 2013 at 10:22 am

I was part of the group ahead of you. It was even colder for us, but not windy.

You’re absolutely correct about the training: if you’re in reasonable shape – especially mentally – you can do this.

However, I’m almost 50 and I wasn’t willing to leave anything to chance, so in the weeks leading up to the GORUCK, several times a week I would run 4 miles with my bricks, stopping every mile to do 25 each of pushups, situps, squats, and lunges, using my bricks as weight. Other than smoking my arms with the log, I had no problems with the physical aspects. The biggest challenge for me was staying awake on the drive back to Ft Sill after it was over.

It was interesting and as good a way to kill a day as any, but I didn’t find it a life-altering experience. Everything I needed to complete the GORUCK I learned on Parris Island 30 years ago.

Parris Island: Now THAT was life-altering!

40 Brian June 24, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Great write up! Glad you had an awesome time in the Challenge. Now you just need to sing up for and review a Heavy!

41 Nate January 17, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Great write up. Welcome to the GORUCK family!
Class 112, 417

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