Tuesday, September 24, 2019

GORUCK D-Day Tough - AAR

GORUCK D-Day Tough – Indianapolis, IN – AAR
Here we go again – another GORUCK event and my 3rd Tough. My two oldest kids and I drove over Saturday evening and parked close to the start point. We were slated to start at 10PM so were happy to be in place around 9 so get changed and geared up. This event was something we were looking forward to for multiple reasons. First, GORUCK events are fun so always something to anticipate. Second, this one is focused on D-Day and with 2019 being the 75th anniversary of it, we knew the event would be special. Finally, we were doing an event with Cadres Cleve and Belman, both of whom we’ve done events with in the past (Cleveland Mog Mile Light) and Cleve was also one of the cadres at the Double Heavy in Cleveland. We knew this would be an event worthy of the Tough moniker and boy was it!

We walked over to the start point, which was The Oval at White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis. We were happy to find the other GRTs hanging around and met quite a few familiar faces from previous events. There were a handful of people coming back from the Heavy which was great to see. Doing a HTL (Heavy, Tough and Light) is on my “to-do” list and by being fresh faces for the Tough, we were helping them get to their goal. We had watched some of the coverage from the Heavy and as usual, the cadre brought the work. The cadre rolled in right at 10 and we formed up and did the normal admin phase of roll call, gear check, medical issues, etc. Cadre Cleve was happy to see we “brought the family” to the event. The cadre took turns talking about D-Day and with Cadre Belman being a Ranger, D-Day holds a special meaning for him and in fact he had just returned from a trip to Normandy so his descriptions were very fresh and realistic. Cadre Cleve was quick to point out the role Marines played in D-Day as well which was good to know since you don’t normally hear much about them. It was a true team effort for the biggest military operation ever run.

Admin phase done and a quick background and history lesson, we were instructed to get in the water of the nearby canal. Well, that escalated quickly! To be fair, we expected it, but I didn’t think it’d be 10 minutes into the event. That’s why I love these events – so unpredictable! We were told to link arms and then as a team, get underwater for 5 seconds. We all did it and then were told to do it again. Now our rucks were good and soaked as well as the rest of us. We then put our hands on the edge of the canal and did some exercises where we squatted and then used our arms to push up until they were locked. This was challenging with the wet rucks but nothing compared to what our soldiers in the Higgins boats faced when the gate opened. We then did some flutter kicks before getting back in the water and doing a couple of laps running in the waist deep water. We were told to get out and do team lunges with our rucks pressed. Drain holes in my ruck is a note to myself as I was still having running water fall on me when my ruck was overhead. We didn’t do the lunges to the cadre’s satisfaction so we switched out to low crawls. Like, really, really low crawls. If you imagine hitting the beaches in Normandy it helps you get low. We then transitioned to “I’m up; he sees me; I’m down” where you run and when the cadre says “He sees me” you drop to the ground. We did this for the length of the field we were in with multiple ups and downs. One of our team members noticed that they lost the bite valve to their water bladder so cadre had us low crawl around to find it. Fortunately it was located in short order but we had to pay for leaving a threat indicator, signs that you have been in an area and in a real world scenario can be a big deal if the wrong people find it when you are trying to be stealthy. We did some buddy drags and I was unfortunately a casualty. The only saving grace was the wet ground and 2 strong dudes to drag me around. After the drags we gathered around Cadre Belman who shared some more details about D-Day and Normandy.

People frequently wonder why I enjoy these events so much. There are many reasons but certainly one that is unique to GORUCK is the access to the Cadres. Their stories and descriptions of events brings so much insight and detail that you just don’t find in anywhere else. After a few minutes, we topped off our water and prepared to move out. We broke down into three groups and our goal was to place a demolition charge on a pillbox ahead. We were given options as to how we wanted to move as a team and we had fun going back and forth with the other teams.  Once we finished this, we needed to move some serious distance so moved out with our Higgins Boat, coupons of sandbags and water.

We ground our way for a few miles up the White River trail and came close to where we did the Veteran’s Day event service projects with Cadres Shredder and DS but continued past them. It was neat to see the riverfront we cleared was still open and looked nice. We finally made it to Taggart Riverside Park and we headed towards the park building to look for a working water spigot as many were black on water and we had drained the water we were carrying. Unfortunately the doors were locked and no spigots were working. We moved a bit further north to a restroom that was open and we topped off water there. We had missed our time hack from Cadre Belman and when Cadre Cleve came on we talked about paying our penalty. After some calories and water we circled up in the field and did some PT including the newly monikered Brickyard Manmakers, mountain climbers and more. A quick note on the Brickyard Manmakers – they started here in Indianapolis, home of the Indianapolis 500, and for those that don’t know, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is called the Brickyard; thus the name. Even when he has you grinding your guts out, Cleve makes it fun and we saw the start of the morning while dropping with sweat, eating grass and bugs and smiling. That’s GORUCK for you.

We caught our breath, topped off water and geared up to move out. We rucked through the neighborhood as the city woke up and had a pretty good pattern of rotating coupons and making time. Cadre Cleve gave us a time hack and we worked like crazy to make it for fear of more Brickyard Manmakers. We were covering miles and making good time as it warmed up with the sun rising higher. We found an open spigot at a church and topped off water for the last time before our final push to endex. We made our way back towards the nice canal area and stopped at the USS Indianapolis memorial and took some pictures. After a brief stop, we moved out and made our way to the park where we started but we were not done yet. One of GORUCK’s Cadre, Cadre Rooney passed away from pancreatic cancer. During his fight with cancer, the Rooney workout of the day (WOD) was created so we did a round of it, +1 for the Ranger in the Sky. It was a fitting end to a great event.

We formed up, were patched and took plenty of pictures, said our goodbyes to our Team Ninja friends and headed towards the car for the drive home.  We would have loved to do the Light but alas, life calls and we needed to get home. As always, GORUCK events don’t disappoint and we really learned a lot about D-Day, Normandy and being able to share this with my two oldest kids was awesome. We covered almost 13 miles in a little over 12 hours and countless smiles.

Gear List:
  • GORUCK Desert Digital GR-2
  • Condor Battle Belt II Padded Hip Belt
  • 511 Tactical Coyote TDU 1.5” Belt
  • Camelback 3L Bladder
  • Nalgene 1 quart bottles (x2)
  • Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Mids
  • DryMax Knee High Hiking Socks
  • Woolx Merino Wool base uppers and lowers
  • Grunt Style Performance Long Sleeve T-Shirt
  • Russell Athletic Dri-Power Performance Crewneck Shirt
  • Columbia Silver Ridge Convertible Pants
  • Mechanix Covert Tactical Gloves
  • Vichelo V800 Headlamp
  • NUUN Electrolytes (I used 8 tablets in 4 quarts of water over the event)
  • Stinger Honey Waffles (x2)
  • CLIF BLOK Orange Energy Blocks (x2 – the caffeine helped)

Saturday, August 3, 2019

GORUCK Battle of Ramadi Light - AAR

We originally signed up for both the Tough and the Light for the Battle of Ramadi, but as the date drew closer, we received an email from GORUCK HQ that the Tough had been cancelled. Unfortunately there were not enough people signed up to run the event, which made me worry about the Light as well. Would there be enough to justify sending a cadre to Columbus for just a Light? The good news, there apparently was, otherwise this would be a very short AAR.

My oldest son and oldest daughter loaded our gear into the car and we made the trip to Scioto Audubon Metro Park. Even with this not being our first event, it was our first with Cadre Igor so there was a new variable and apprehension. We’ve seen a few other AARs and comments on the Tough page about him but beyond being a Ranger and smiling a lot, there wasn’t much to go on. Was he smiling because of the funishment he doled out or because he was having a great time with the class? We’d know soon enough.

We arrived early and enjoyed catching up with some friends from Southern Ohio Rucking and Endurance (SORE) as well as a former colleague who was there for his first event. I’ve written about it before but the community within GORUCK is phenomenal and having friendly faces around at an event is always an added bonus. Cadre Igor was sitting at the start point in his rental car with a large Ranger tab sitting next to him. We finished with final gear prep and restroom stops in time to line up in formation and get the fun started. We worked through the usual admin phase and it wasn’t long before we started some standard PT. Pushups, sit ups and the like. Cadre Igor was smiling the whole time and shared more details about his background while we warmed up.

Scioto Audubon has a nice obstacle course and after a few other GORUCK events where we didn’t use it, Cadre Igor had us put it to good use. We broke down into two teams and then carried some sandbags on litters through the course as a team. It started to sprinkle a little but fortunately didn’t last long. We worked our way across an A-Frame cargo net, over and under logs, over a wall, a jumble of logs and finally through some tire flipping. We did pretty well working together, communicating and getting it done and we were all plenty warmed up and dirty.

We shifted into rucking mode as Cadre Igor gave us a destination outside of the park, just up the river trail. We grabbed our coupons, flags, Ranger tab, litters and moved out. Our destination was Bicentennial Park so we headed north along the paved Scioto Trail. This weekend was Pride Weekend and Columbus has a pretty big celebration. As we rucked closer to the destination it became clear Bicentennial Park wasn’t going to work as it was jammed with people. What did Cadre Igor have us do? We rucked across the Rich St bridge, right through the crowds and eventually down to the riverfront where we navigated our way under the bridge through the concrete trusses. We drew plenty of interesting looks and comments from the crowds but nobody was rude or confrontational.

Our class all settled in under the bridge for a bit of history of the Middle East which is always helpful to provide context about the events that unfolded, motivations and people involved.  Cadre Igor clearly has a lot of depth and information in this area and had a great way of sharing it. Before we moved out, he asked a few trivia questions about the era we were discussing. We did well enough to lose a sandbag but not well enough to lose multiple. There are large concrete steps used for seats during events and we were challenged with litter carries as teams up and down the stairs. This will get your heart pumping and after 10 rounds we all were huffing.

We got a quick drink of water and then moved north through the crowds and behind a stage that had been setup for the weekend. While we were passing through, there were drag queens dancing and one had a wardrobe malfunction (wig flew off) much to the crowd’s delight. We worked our way through the crowd and eventually to the new Veteran’s Memorial on Broad Street.

We took the path up the spiral walkway to the roof garden/area where we settled in for some more learning while hydrating. It wasn’t long before a security guard came up and told us that the museum was closing soon and that we’d have to get off of the roof. It never fails, when we’ve come here we don’t get to stay long. We’ll have to come back and see it without an event happening some day. Haha.

We collected our gear and moved down the spiral, across the Broad St bridge and long the east side of the Scioto Trail. We made our way north and turned towards the Huntington ball park and then wove our way to a parking garage. Cadre Igor taught us how a unit clears stairwells and we practiced doing that up and down with finger guns and an air RPG. LOL.

We were having fun, learning and getting some exercise in all at the same time. After we secured the garage we rucked back to the main road and continued north to Goodale Park. Another bio break and some water before we stated some more trivia and PT.

Earlier in the event Cadre Igor had given us white strips of cloth and admonished us to not lose them. I had forgotten about them but now was the time to put them to use. We broke down into two teams and used the cloths to tie our legs together. Think of it like a giant 3 legged race but with a whole lot more people. We raced the other team and while it was close, we won. We really were doing pretty good with communication and team work. Cadre Igor also asked a trivia question from “Lord of the Rings” and I like to think I’m a pretty big Tolkien nerd, along with a few others on the team, we were all wrong. Bummer, no sandbag dumping here.

We moved south along High Street where a big gaming convention, Origins, was taking place. Downtown Columbus is hopping this weekend! We worked our way through the crowds, swapping coupons and making decent time south. At Nationwide and High we were offered more trivia and this time, we nailed it so were able to lose a sandbag. Woot! We packed up and headed south again and turned west on Broad St and then south on Marconi. We stopped at a gas station for endex supplies and picked up the river trail.

Cadre Igor had us stop along the route and we did some pushups in sequence as a team. We knocked out 244 in honor of the US Army’s birthday and when the US flag was created.

We also answered more trivia and lost some more weight. We were headed towards Scioto Audubon again and in the home stretch. We all had a good laugh about who was taking the sandbag we were using to carry the empty sandbags and fillers since it was the lightest coupon around.

We made our way back to Scioto Audubon and dumped the remaining sandbags back at the volleyball pits and then rucked back to the start point, where we lined up and were patched. Class 3137 was endexed.

Cadre Igor broke out some beer and Gatorade (for my kids) and we all enjoyed talking some more and having a good time. Unfortunately, the metro park police showed up and confiscated unopened beers and had us dump the open ones. They made a comment about how “You GORUCK people ruin things and take advantage of the park” which was weird. Apparently they have a no alcohol policy and previous events have not followed it as well. LOL. We all said our goodbyes, thanked Cadre Igor and hit the road. Overall it was a great event and we had a good time. We rucked 9 miles over the 6ish hours it ran and I look forward to doing more events with Cadre Igor.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

GORUCK Land Navigation Heavy - North AAR

Thursday morning came and it was time to load our gear into the car for the 1.5 hour drive north to Molon Labe crossfit gym in Macedonia, OH. My oldest two kids and I were excited to tackle a GORUCK Double Heavy. The first Heavy would be 24+hrs of Land Navigation with a few hour break and then a 24+hr Trek Heavy would start. It wasn’t our first GORUCK event by any stretch but the idea of two Heavies back to back was daunting. My daughter has done a few Lights and a Tough but no Heavy so this was really going to be new territory for her. We all talked about the event, the cadre leading it and stuff but as we got closer the car grew quiet as we all started to really think about the impending challenge.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

GORUCK Arnold Classic Light AAR

The alarm went off at 5:30AM and I had slept like crap. I was excited about the event and kept waking up to check the time and here it was – GO TIME. I made sure my oldest son and daughter were up and moving and got ready. We were headed to downtown Columbus to participate in the GORUCK Light custom event for the Arnold Classic Sports Festival. We had heard about this event when stomping through the mountains in California for the Land Navigation Heavy when it was just an idea. Fast forward 8 months and it was finally here! We had no expectations for this event other than it was going to be a “longer” Light. Everything else was just speculation so we arrived at the start point with an open mind.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

GORUCK Battle of the Bulge Tough and Light AAR

Friday January 18th rolled around and my son and I were driving to the start point for GORUCK’s Battle of the Bulge memorial Tough in Columbus, Ohio. We had signed up for both the Tough and the Light months ago when the events were announced. The opportunity to do an event in the winter and commemorate such a pivotal battle in WWII seemed perfect. We had been watching the weather all week before and the forecast had fluctuated from 12-18 inches of snow, to rain/snow mix to snow early Saturday AM.  As usual in Ohio, if you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes and it will change. We were prepared to stay in Columbus between the events if the weather turned bad so the trunk of the car was loaded with rucks, food and clothes.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

2019 Race and Event Schedule

2019 Race and Event Schedule

As I did in 2018, I wanted to keep a public schedule of my races and events. I think this year will include a lot more trail running, fewer OCRs and a handful of GORUCK Endurance events. The transition away from OCRs is a long story for another time but in short, I enjoy the other events more.  Here is a picture of my "home" trail system, Rocks and Roots north of Columbus, OH. Truly every time I run there, I leave with a smile.