Well…it was inevitable. The zombie apocalypse reached San Diego last Saturday and I drove down to join the resistance. It was time for another Goruck Challenge led by Cadre Beaux. I was excited to be doing my fourth Challenge in a new city and ready for the Good Livin’ that was gonna come my way.
The Goruck Challenge is not a race but a team-building event. It is mentally demanding and physically difficult. Participants are pushed out of their comfort zones and beyond what they usually think is possible. Bricks in our rucks? Sure! Log carrying? Why not! Cold water? No question about it. Long distances? Yup. An experience you’ll never forget? Absolutely. Each Challenge is led by cadre who is a current or former special operations soldier in the U.S. military. Classes are capped at 30 participants. Each challenge taker carries a ruck sack loaded with 4-6 bricks plus any additional gear (food, water, extra clothing).
Even after having three Challenges under my belt I still had some butterflies in my stomach as I walked up to our designated start point – The Museum of Man in Balboa Park. This was a new city after all. I could not depend on familiar landmarks to gauge distance or street names to tell me where we were and where we might be going. Also, some of my buddies who had signed up for the challenge dropped out at the last minute due to injury. I had a few moments of second guessing my decision to do yet another challenge. I knew more or less what lay ahead for the next 12-16 hours. However, I quickly got my head straight and calmly awaited the arrival of our cadre for our 10pm go time.
Beaux rolled in shortly after 10pm and after some paperwork and business he ordered us into a line with our rucks on our backs and got busy putting Class 152 through our initial steps: push-ups, flutter kicks, rolling, up, down, up down. At one point, three police cruisers rolled up as we were in inchworm formation (push-up position with our ankles on he shoulder of the person behind us all the way down the line…)! After about an hour of this we graduated to actually moving and covering ground. It was at this point that we were informed of the zombie plague that had hit San Diego and given our first mission. Throughout the night we were given missions we had to accomplish and destination points we had to reach within set time limits. Failure to work as a team and not meet our hack times resulted in punishment in the form of PT. I won’t give away too many details…part of the fun of doing a challenge is not knowing what to expect. Let’s just say that the night involved locating canisters (ammo cans) loaded with serum ingredients (sand), discovering two victims infected with the virus and in need of medical attention at another destination point (i.e. two HUGE, heavy logs requiring 8-10 people to carry each one), disinfecting ourselves from possible contaminants (jumping in cold ocean water) and other forms of Good Livin’ as the good folks at Goruck headquarters like to say
I’m not sure of exact time or distances but at some point in the cold, drizzly morning we found ourselves on the sand at Mission Beach for some beach recon. With linked arms our class walked into the ocean, got plenty wet and then more wet before crawling out of the water on our stomachs and up the sandy embankment about 20 yards. Lying on the cold sand we covered each other in sand in order to blend in to our environment before getting up on our feet. It was here that Beaux attempted to mind-fuck us by telling us we had to take make our way BACK to Old Town San Diego…in other words, another 3-4 hours of rucking. I think many of us thought the beach was our final destination point and being told we had to go back to Old Town was like a punch to the gut. BUT Class 152 sucked it up, reload our rucks and ammo cans, got back in formation and began the long trek back to Old Town. No one quit, no one grumbled, although there were a few shell-shocked faces in the group.
It was a a few miles into our march back that Beaux decided to tell us that our true end point was only a few hundred yards away! He had tested us and we had hunkered down like champs. At the end, 25 men and women stood tired but proud as we each received our well-earned and much coveted Goruck Tough patch (the new version of the Tough patch, by the way!). We worked as a team and every member of Class 152 finished the challenge! Welcome to the Goruck family!
Ruck On. Stay Muddy.