GORUCK Tough, Fort Lauderdale 7/29/16

The Ft. Lauderdale Tough wasn't the first GORUCK event I've done, but I'm pretty sure it was the best. Although, I'm not sure that's the truth. And that may be why it's taken me more than 2 full months to tell the story of this particular event.

Some races or events that I do are "one and done." Maybe the event is unique, under special circumstances for me or is especially meaningful. Some events I come back to again and again for various reasons. World's Toughest Mudder, for example is probably a "one and done" for me due to the expense of the event and travel and, to be perfectly transparent, the Cliff jump. Spartan is an event I'll do again and again because I'm so very competitive, and I'm always trying to best myself.

I thought GORUCK would be a "one and done." My first was a fairly miserable experience made amazing only because of the relationships that formed. I vividly remember making my friend Cindy promise me that she wouldn't allow me to ever do another one again. You can read my review, but I'll just say that there were hours of physical effort performed without much instruction. Our cadre seemed mostly bored with us and the whole event, but maybe he was just a laid back kind of guy.

Getting ready for the start.
A year and some time later, I found myself once again registering with Cindy for the first All Women's event-- a combo of a Challenge, Light and Scavenger. This time, the experience of the event matched the relationship building aspect. Our cadre poured into us from their life experiences. We learned almost as much as we worked. We sang, built friendships and shared stories of our journeys that led us to that place. And let me tell you, Cindy and I had THE BEST breakfast ever made as we rested from the 12 hour Challenge and prepared for the 6 hour Light. I had found a fondness for GORUCK.

This summer, GORUCK decided to thank public servants by offering a free event to teachers, police officers, firefighters and military service members. And this time I was the one convincing a friend of mine to join me.

Here's what makes GORUCK great-- you have a group of 20-or-so mostly strangers from a variety of backgrounds who come together for a night of physical training, heavy rucking (walking with a weighted back pack), and various challenges that must be overcome (for example, get to point A by a cutoff time; care for and carry a casualty or multiple casualties). By the end of 12-ish hours, you pretty much will do anything for the good of the people standing next to you, even if it means you have to buddy carry them and their weighted pack.

 For the Ft. Lauderdale Tough, we were assigned Cadre Machin. From the start he had us working on relationship building-- we introduced ourselves while doing some PT, and it wasn't long before we headed to the beach for a vast amount of buddy carries. (I really had no idea there were so many ways to carry a human.) He taught the pros and cons of the different ways to carry a casualty, and how to construct a stretcher using old t-shirts. It was tiring, but overall an awesome learning experience. From there we seemed to walk for hours. Mercifully, we were given a few breaks, and there were more moments of teaching. We climbed a tower. We debated Pokemon Go (I could not even believe the large number of people out on their phones collecting Poke-whatevers.) Leaders were chosen to keep the team working as a unit and making good time. At one point we surrendered our rucks and did a "2 mile" run (that many agreed was more like 4 or 5 miles).
We hiked for what seemed like days. We stopped for breaks and PT ("kettlebell" swings, overhead presses, squats and even biceps curls with our rucks).  There may or may not have been a Starbucks stop. We did some work with ropes, learning how to effectively tie a rope for a traverse and then did the traverse using carabiners.

Overall, I think this really was my favorite GORUCK for the quality of the event. It wasn't a beatdown. It wasn't a "let's pretend we're really Special Forces" role play. It was challenging. And fun. I built relationships with friends and made new ones. And after this, I'm a huge fan of GORUCK.


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