GORUCK Challenge Review

The GORUCK Challenge is a new and intense event designed to test the mettle of participants. It pits teams against each other in a head-to-head challenge, with different events based on their ability level. The full spectrum includes some grueling military training and endurance tests that will push your physical limits beyond what you can imagine.

The “goruck basic event review” is a blog post that reviews the GORUCK Challenge. The GORUCK Challenge is a basic event that is designed to help people learn how to survive in difficult situations.

Andy from Huckberry began it all with an email. They were working on a deal with a business named GORUCK that week. Andy was eager to introduce me to the company’s founder, Jason.

I’d heard of GORUCK previously and knew they had a fascinating backstory. Jason was a Green Beret in the Army and wants to provide people with the same sort of tough backpack he used in the military. The GORUCK Challenge was created by Jason as a means to field test his packs in a memorable and compelling manner, but it quickly grew in popularity and took on a life of its own.

The Challenge is a 9-13 hour team event in which you are accompanied on a 15-20 mile “guided tour” of your city by a Special Forces veteran known as a Cadre. It starts late at night and lasts till early the next morning. You participate in military-inspired activities and “missions” along the way, which involve basic training exercises, swimming, carrying logs (and each other), and a lot of marching. Oh, and you’re doing it all while carrying a backpack weighed down with 30 to 40 pounds of bricks and other gear. They advise you to pack $20 for a cab and that if you can’t make it, you’ll have to phone one to come get you. The GORUCK Challenge is meant to test an individual’s physical and mental limits while also encouraging collaboration and friendship among participants. It isn’t a competition. For first place, you do not get a medal. The purpose of the Challenge is to complete it, and to do it as a group. Jason refers to the whole experience as “good livin’,” as in “when life is genuinely challenging but you enjoy it, your attitude is excellent, and you grin.”

Isn’t it…interesting? As a result, when Jason encouraged me to participate in a Challenge, I gladly accepted. I did it partially out of curiosity and partly because I needed something to motivate me to grow as a guy.

I didn’t realize what I’d gotten myself into.

Full disclosure: Jason waived the entrance price for the Challenge, but I purchased the backpack on my own, and he didn’t even imply that he wanted me to write a review. I just wanted to write this up for those who are interested, and to urge people to participate since I believe it is beneficial.

What I Did to Prepare for the GORUCK Challenge

I began researching the Challenge as soon as I said yes: What’s it like? What kind of training should I do? What am I supposed to bring? Will I be able to make it?

I immediately noticed that information concerning the Challenge is scarce. The GORUCK team keeps the details of the Challenges under wraps. They don’t even tell you where your Challenge will begin until the day before the event. The GORUCK Challenge’s surprise and mystery are all part of the experience. Members of the GORUCK family — those who have completed a Challenge — play along with the shady atmosphere by keeping their blog entries about their experience cryptic.

 

According to the people at GORUCK, you don’t really need to train for it and that if you’re in reasonable condition, you’ll be OK. The Challenge, they contend, is more mental than physical. It’s also difficult to know precisely what to practice for since each Challenge is unique.

I have to agree with them after finishing the Challenge. I prepared for a GORUCK Challenge that was nothing like the one I actually participated in. I expected a lot of Indian Runs and city blocks worth of walking lunges and bear crawls based on my studies of prior Challenges. There were a few bear crawls at the beginning of my challenge, but no walking lunges or Indian Runs. Dang. Without my specific GORUCK training regimen, I’m very sure I could have finished the Challenge just fine.

That isn’t to suggest that my extensive preparation was in vain. My body and mind were pushed farther than they had been in a long time by the workouts I devised for myself, and I’m now in the greatest form of my life. The training helped me psychologically prepare for the arduous 9-hour endeavor. I have no regrets about the hours and sweat I spent into preparing for it.

If you’re interested in preparing for the GORUCK Challenge, I’ve included a sample of my weekly fitness regimen below. As previously said, I anticipated that the challenge would include a lot of windsprints, bear crawls, and lunges, so I built my training regimen around those exercises.

After my most severe exercises, I also took 15-minute ice baths. They were useful for a number of things: 1) You’re usually doused with cold water at the start of a task. I wanted to be prepared for it, 2) the ice baths helped with recuperation, and 3) they were part of a natural testosterone increase experiment I was doing (the results on that in the new year).

Brett’s GORUCK Training Program (Brett’s GORUCK Training Program)

This training program began in August of last year. I performed the running and lunges/bear crawls without the fully laden GORUCK GR1 for the first three weeks. Then, while carrying the brick-filled backpack, I did all of my conditioning routines. Regardless of how you prepare for the GORUCK, I strongly advise you to spend some time getting accustomed to carrying it about.

Monday Weightlifting Routine (55 Stronglifts)

Tuesday: Wind sprints of 50 x 40 yards with a loaded GORUCK pack (1-minute rest between each sprint). After your exercise, take a 15-minute cold bath.

Wednesday Weightlifting Routine (55 Stronglifts)

Thursday: 5K run with GORUCK pack loaded + 300-yard 75-pound sandbag carry After your exercise, take a 15-minute cold bath.

Friday: 720-yard bear crawls and 720-yard walking lunges with a heavy GORUCK pack alternated. After your exercise, take a 15-minute cold bath.

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

The night of the Challenge arrives after months of preparation. I double-checked my belongings, said my goodbyes to Kate and Gus, and drove out to OKC to pick up my brother. Our Challenge began in front of the downtown baseball stadium. We arrived just before 10 p.m. to discover 15 other folks anxiously waiting for our cadre to appear in front of a Mickey Mantle monument.

 

Our GORUCK class included people from all areas of life. Military veterans and active duty personnel, police officers, and ordinary citizens are all present. Our 17-person crew included two tough ladies.

GORUCK challenge class #335 at Oklahoma city.

Beaux, we’re showing our bricks to our Cadre.

Our cadre, Beaux, arrived at 10:15. Beaux is a Force Recon Marine who has served in Iraq on many occasions. He currently works for the Navy as a Special Ops trainer and enjoys leading GORUCK events on weekends. He’s a badass in every way. Beaux took a roll call, inquired about our brick load, and then set the ground rules. He told us that he had a PhD in pain, suffering, and dissatisfaction, and that we would be enrolling in the school of pain and suffering that evening. We began our 9 hours of Good Livin’ after the “pleasantries.”

I could go into great depth regarding the Challenge, but I’m not going to do that. I don’t want to spoil the experience for anyone interested in signing up, and there’s something unique about keeping just the GORUCK family informed about what’s going on. It’s similar to a fraternity.

With that in mind, I’ll give you a quick rundown of what Cadre Beaux served up to GORUCK Class #335.

The Welcome Reception

People doing pushups in their welcome party.

Push-ups, flutter kicks, and rolling about on the ground kicked off the evening.

Basic Training, dubbed “The Welcome Party” by Beaux, kicked off the evening. All while wearing our fully-loaded packs, we performed push-ups, flutter kicks, bear crawls, and rolled about on the ground. The Human Centipede was the most difficult workout. Our 17-member team had to lie down in a line on the ground, with our feet on the shoulders of the guy behind us and our faces as far up the behind of the person in front as possible. In this posture, we did push-ups and crawled about on the ground like inchworms.

Basic Training isn’t only about doing rigorous calisthenics. In the GORUCK Challenge, it’s essentially an introductory lesson on the value of collaboration. It took a while for us to realize this, but once we did, training got a lot simpler.

Beaux advised us to go dip ourselves in a freezing cold pond nearby after hitting us physically and emotionally for almost an hour and a half. I was accustomed to hanging out in cold water with my ice baths, so getting into the water wasn’t too difficult. Getting out, on the other hand, was a another story. It was 34 degrees and quite windy that night. Needless to say, the remainder of the night was unpleasant and a little depressing for all of us.

Defending Against Zombies

Man helping the people to carry a log.

I was assisting with a log carry.

That night, Beaux had prepared a series of assignments for us based on a Zombie Apocalypse plot. There was a time constraint on each task. We were penalized with “Fist Pumping” if we didn’t do it in time, which required pushing heavy items over our heads while Beaux played music from his SpongeBob SquarePants speakers.

 

A series of missions.

Throughout the night, Old Glory was proudly waved.

Two men are shooting the zombies.

My brother and I went out and started shooting zombies. All of them, I believe, were slain by us.

"Fist Pumps" as a punishment.

When we didn’t accomplish an assignment on time, we had to perform “Fist Pumps” as a penalty. “Fist Pumping” was jargon for repeatedly lifting large objects above your head.

We did a lot of low crawling and carried huge logs on our shoulders throughout the missions. For me, the most difficult aspect of the Challenge was transporting our colleagues two miles to “medical aid” after they were “bitten by zombies.” After that, my back and legs were completely smoked.

Men wearing a bag from back side.

“Embrace the suck,” says the narrator. You’re absolutely correct.

Men with beard wearing a bag from front side view.

Larry, my brother, with his beard.

Men carrying a segment of the challenge.

The buddy carry portion of the Challenge was perhaps the most difficult part of the evening.

Guys from Blue Line Tactical Fitness wear gas masks.

Throughout the Challenge, these Blue Line Tactical Fitness men donned gas masks. It was all part of a fundraising attempt for the Oklahoma Fallen Officer Foundation.

The need of working together was underlined throughout. Everything has to be done as a team. We marched as a unit, were disciplined as a unit, and carried heavy objects as a unit.

Our Challenge came to a close at 7:30 a.m. During the night, none of the members of Class #335 dropped out. We began as a group and ended as a group.

Man holding U.S.A flag with team.

people who successfully complete the GORUCK challenge.

At the OKC Bombing Memorial, Beaux presents our patches.

A GORUCK Tough patch is given to those who successfully complete a GORUCK Challenge. For the giving of patches, Beaux brought us to the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial. That location has a lot of value for those of us from the OKC region. Several of my classmates’ parents were slain in the terrorist attack that killed 162 people. However, the community came together to help the victims’ families and to rebuild. Beaux delivered a sad and uplifting statement about the GORUCK Challenge’s ideals and objectives, as well as what it means to be an American – the goal being to promote the same kind of togetherness and collaboration that the OKC community displayed in the wake of the attack.

GORUCK Tough patch on bag.

GORUCK TOUGH patch by me

Beaux handed us our patches one by one, shook our hands, and greeted us as members of the GORUCK family.

That was the end of my four-month trek to the GORUCK Challenge.

Team picture after the challenge.

GORUCK Challenge Class #335

Final Thoughts and Why You, Too, Should Take the GORUCK Challenge

I was in excruciating pain for the following week. My shoulders and back were scratched and bruised, but I considered them honorable scars. Overall, the GORUCK Challenge was a wonderfully rewarding experience for me.

Some people questioned why I would want to accomplish something like this when I was preparing for it. Things like the GORUCK Challenge, as well as obstacle and adventure events of all kinds, might seem ridiculous from the outside. It’s easy to say to yourself, “Gee, isn’t it awful that society has become so barren of challenge that individuals have to pay money to stay up all night lugging a knapsack full of bricks?” Maybe. However, the alternative is to do…nothing. And being a snobby reviewer from the comfort of one’s own home. The truth of contemporary life is that we no longer have things built into our society that encourage us to challenge ourselves; instead, we must actively seek out these experiences. The presence of a large number of past and current military personnel in my class demonstrates that everyone seeks, no, craves, that additional layer of difficulty in their life. Every man’s physical and mental skills should be stretched on a regular basis. 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 a lot of males who move to the suburbs, have a child, gain weight, and spend their evenings binge-watching Netflix. Dads from the suburbs who are soft. I’ve determined that I’m not going to allow this happen to me. And I’ve discovered that having training objectives — something to drive oneself to keep physically active and intellectually sharp — is critical. That, in my opinion, is the importance of a challenge like the GORUCK Challenge. I’m sure you’d like it as well.

Gentlemen, it’s been a good life.

 PS: It’s all come full circle now. Huckberry is offering a great discount on the GORUCK Challenge once again. You may enter a Challenge for free if you purchase a GORUCK pack. It’s pretty darn sweet. “This gift is like merging a Christmas present and a New Year’s resolution into one, and in the best/worst conceivable manner,” Huckberry says. “Without suffering, there is no gain.”

Thanks to Blue Line Tactical’s Ryan Long and his buddy George for sharing the event photos. 

 

 

The “gotham ruck challenge” is a style of physical training that was created by GORUCK. The goal of the program is to put together a team and complete an event, such as a hike or a race.

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