This was my 5th GORUCK Challenge and my 4th Light, so I thought I was coming into this with a fair idea of what would happen. It turns out that there is always something new with each event.
Our Cadre posted specific instructions of how our gear was to be presented when he walked up to the formation, which none of my previous Cadre had done. We were also told to bring blankets that would be donated to a homeless shelter at some point during the night.
As the team members got set up at the start point, I did my best to get everyone into something resembling a formation and several others who had been through this before went around checking that everyone’s gear was laid out as required.
Cadre arrived, went through roll call and general administrative announcements, and started the event by telling us we had 30 seconds to run to a pylon under a nearby bridge and back. We all took off, and while I was near the back of the pack just by ability I stayed back enough to ensure that no one came back to the formation alone.
When I got back to formation, Cadre and many of the first to get back were already moving out, and our gear had been scattered around, forcing us to gather it up before we could move out. (Tip for next time: if you have to display your gear like this, make sure all pockets have been re-closed.)
We followed the rest of the gagglefu… er, um, formation to an open field where the welcome party started. Pushups, burpees, The tunnel of love, a buddy drag that I could barely do, wheelbarrow carries. Slowly we started moving less as individuals and more as a unit, but were still figuring it out when the welcome party ended.
We were then told to form two lines with all our gear (I was team-carrying one of the two bundles of blankets. Not all that heavy, but severely clumsy to carry) while volunteers went off to collect our log and two basketball-sized rocks. We were given a location to get to and a time hack, and moved out.
More than a few of the crew had done this before, and it made a difference. Trading out people under the log, switching out other weights, and especially figuring out where to put people of varying heights along the log went much faster than previous challenges.
We reached our destination, and started part two of the welcome party. Flutter kicks, more burpees, low crawls, etc. We were then told to find a partner that we could lift for buddy carries, and quickly irritated the Cadre by making it more complicated than it needed to be. I started out with someone who I could get up, but as he was much taller than me he couldn’t get low enough to lift me. We switched out hoping to find a better match, and I ended up as part of a pair where neither of us could lift the other. We were given wheelbarrow carries as an alternate. I grunted my way through that, and then had it pointed out that the only instructions given were to find someone you can carry, rather than to find two equally-matched people.
New team leaders, new destination, log up, go.
Made it to the next destination and divided up for a game of Red Rover. Positions were shifted around a bit to give us a chance to review names, and we were informed that the losing team would be punished, and anyone who forgot a name would be punished.
The game was interesting to say the least, and the losing team had to send two volunteers to eat a complete MRE in 5 minutes or less.
We were given a few minutes to rest and refuel, then new team leaders and new destination.
The next destination was particularly fun. It was a park with a large geodesic dome that we went over.
Log back up, move out.
We were allowed to ditch the log some distance later, and that increased our pace considerably. We moved on to the Battleship Memorial…
…where our limited knowledge of historical trivia and one of the team being caught with a watch earned us a PT session.
Back moving, more miles, fatigue setting in. Fewer people stepping up to carry extra weight, but some people showing remarkable resolve. Next destination, divided into two teams. A race to build pyramids from the park picnic tables, with the prize of Cadre buying donuts. Never underestimate the power of donuts for tired athletes.
Moved out to the donut shop, where winning and losing teams were treated to breakfast.
Next destination was the homeless mission, where we dropped off the two bundles of blankets that we had carried for the past 10 hours or so.
At this point, several of us were starting to think that this was going to be an easier-than-normal challenge. Then, just as we were moving out, seven teammates are designated casualties, and we were given a tight time hack to reach our extract point. A few minutes to take packs off the wounded and get someone to carry them, and off as fast as we could manage.
Movements with more than a few wounded flat-out suck, there is no way around it. People start to break down, it gets harder to find a volunteer to carry something/someone, and keeping in any sort of formation becomes difficult. In addition, tempers start flaring and it becomes more difficult to keep the team together.
We missed our time hack, and were given a new time hack to a new location. Cadre also admonished us to keep working as a team, because if we fall apart under pressure now we would be totally screwed.
We made our time hack, and with that the Challenge was complete. We ended with singing “God Bless the USA” and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, got our patches, and headed out to clean up and rest up before the Light.
The start of the Light we had to lay our gear out in formation much like at the start of the challenge, except rather than blankets for the homeless we brought Easter candy to distribute to children we ran into along the way. Rather than scattering our gear, we were given 30 seconds to pack up and ruck up. We all missed the time hack, were punished with pushups, and so began the welcome party.
There were some fun touches thrown into the Light. Singing “God Bless the USA” while squatting waist-deep in a duck pond. (Couldn’t find a shot of during the actual song, but this is just prior.)
Using a poleless litter to move our designated casualty.
A challenge to build something from straws and newspaper that would protect an egg being dropped from the tallest point of the playground equipment. My team tried to shape the newspaper aerodynamically to land on the heaviest padding, while the other team fashioned the newspaper into a parachute. Both ideas worked.
An egg toss competition, teams that broke their egg having to do flutter kicks until the last team broke theirs.
A new world record in the 2-GRT powdered donut eating challenge.
I was made one of the two team leaders for our last movement. We stopped for a photo in front of the falls…
… and moved out to meet our extract team. Something about the instructions we were given didn’t seem right, distance, time hack, how far the end point would be from the start point…
And then the reason became clear. Three wounded (leaving only seven to carry everything) new time hack, and our extract point was back at the start point.
This was one of the heaviest carries I have ever experienced. I either had my ruck and a casualty, or my ruck and two others. Very proud of how the team stuck together and kept working as a team through this.
Our team got cheers from the overlooking balconies as we headed across the last bridge to our end point. As we topped the last hill and entered the park, Cadre called out, “20 seconds!”
“Come on guys, 20 seconds, we got this!”
“20 seconds to get to where?”
“Doesn’t matter, just push like hell for the next 20 seconds!”
Cadre indicated where we were to form up, and announced we had made the time hack, mission complete. Ended with the Pledge of Allegiance and received our patches.
I feel like everyone dug deep and did well on this. There were a few that I had doubts about when I first met them, but they all more than proved themselves.
Notes for improvement: I can buddy carry when I need to, but have trouble keeping the pace under that much load. Something I need to work on for next time.