September 4, 2015
I have a GORUCK Challenge tonight. I haven’t done one in over a year, when I completed a Heavy, Light, Scavenger and Firearms Day in a weekend. That said, I am fitter, stronger, harder than I ever have been. I will complete it. I will not fail. I will not quit.
September 5, 2015
I was pretty nervous getting started. I hadn’t felt that nervous feeling in a while. In fact, the thought of quitting kept going through my head before getting started. Out in the middle of nowhere of Goshen, VT, getting beat down, a 12+ hour day and many miles to go…all of it seemed scary.
About 10 minutes before starting, the class was doing its final preparations. It looked like we’d have a small class of around 7 people in Goshen. Then, a rag tag group of 6 young guys, no age greater than about 20 years old, showed up in mismatched shorts, and crazy Walmart t-shirts, and a mix of 5.11 gear and army-issued Alice packs. They had never done a GORUCK event before.
The original 7 of us, all GORUCK veterans, were nervous. These guys did not look like they were ready for a Challenge. Until…until they told us they were all future officers of the Army, Marine Corps and Navy. They were students at Norwich University, and rucking was a way of life for them. They were fired up, squared away, and came just to have a change of scenery.
We were warned this would be a very different GORUCK event. We would be moving very long distances, quickly, in darkness, up a mountain, in pretty rugged terrain.
Most of the Tough all you could do was put one step in front of the other on as we climbed our way up a 3,300 foot mountain in near total darkness. I was in my element – I do this on a regular basis on even rougher terrain in the mountains of New Hampshire. I served as team leader for a long, multi-hour movement up the mountain. You always learn little leadership lessons as team leader. Leaving no man behind, how to approach different situations, and not rushing to failure. The art of the tactical pause.
We hiked all night to the top of the mountain. We reached a beautiful view from the top of a ski lift, as the intense red sunrise crested over the dew-filled mountains. All we could see is a pillow of clouds covering the homes below. It was unreal.
We descended the side of a ski slope rapidly. We saw a black bear. It appeared and left us along within seconds, but seeing a bear in the wild is exhilarating. Cadre Bill, upon seeing the bear, got into a knife fighting stance from muscle memory. He is a well-trained warrior.
We rucked, did a few challenges and rucked some more and made it home. In short, we had an awesome class – one of the best that we possibly could have. The challenge was very difficult, but I was in my element. I left satisfied, and really happy. Happy, because despite feeling like shit, I had more energy left in the tank and could have done another 12 hours. I would not want to…but I could. My mental and physical strength was there. Cadre Bill and Challenge Class 1637, thank you.