I was excited for this event, both because it would be my tenth GORUCK Tough and because of the effort that my fellow GRTs had put in to bring GORUCK and Cadre Rick back to South Dakota.
Shortly before the start time, I was asked to get the team into some sort of formation to make things easier when Cadre got there. Cadre appeared just as I was getting everyone’s attention, but still had me continue getting everyone assembled. The event started with the usual roll call and explanation from the Cadre of what to expect and what would be expected of us.
When we got to checking required gear, we were given 50 seconds to empty our rucks and any smaller bags that we might have in our rucks. We failed, were given pushups, 50 seconds to get everything back in the rucks. Fail again, flutter kicks, 45 seconds to unload everything. This cycle continued until we figured out just to cram everything in any way it would fit and then to help anyone around us who was not done yet. (This is causing me to greatly re-think how I pack, as all the effort I had put into waterproofing my gear was undone by the time we were through it, and throwing the water bladder in and out so many times had pushed the slide off just enough to make it leak. Having one dry bag for all my water-sensitive gear would have helped greatly.)
Cadre had announced during this process that this was not the welcome party, this is what we needed to get through to get to the welcome party. Team lead was assigned, and we moved out to a park where the actual welcome party started.
Pushups, bear crawls, flutter kicks, T bones. I started out with the team weight (a ruck filled with baby formula to be donated, since it was Mother’s day weekend) and got the two rucks tangled when transitioning between exercises. The person next to me got me untangled and took the extra ruck for the rest of the welcome party. The next step was buddy carries, 6 minutes to get across the park with everyone being carried one direction or the other.
We missed that time hack and lost one of the team who damaged his knee during the buddy carries. We then started a movement that Cadre referred to as “Pails of Pain.” No ruck straps, hand-carrying our rucks and carrying ten 5-gallon buckets of river water. This started off sucking as much as one would expect, but we soon got a good system established to switch out buckets among the team.
The next thing that sticks out in memory is the log. This log:
(The crew putting it back where we got it decided to use more advanced techniques after seeing us struggle moving it.) I have moved a lot of heavy and strange items in the events that I have done, but even I had a “holy crap” moment when I saw what we were being asked to move. We initially shoulder-carried it, but found that we couldn’t get people of the right height where we needed them and the weight was crushing the tall guys. Someone suggested carrying it by having two ranks holding hands underneath it, and while it still sucked a lot it made changing out people carrying a lot easier.
After a long slow trudge with the log, we were allowed to drop it and rest for a few minutes. The next movement was with only our normal gear, to give us a break between heavy carries. When we reached our objective at a local museum, we were divided into teams, and told that our next mission was to recover three Sandman bombs (400 pound sandbags) and that we would need to be on the lookout for anything that we could use to improvise a better way of carrying them. We found two old tires and tried rigging a way to roll the sandbags, but this didn’t pan out. We also scavenged two beat-up pieces of lumber that worked much better.
The path we happened to be on lead past some of the team’s homes. They brought out wheelbarrows, and to our surprise Cadre let us use them.
When we reached the pickup point for the third bomb, we were given a change in plans:
“The contact who was supposed to take the bombs from us has been discovered by the enemy and killed. We found someone to diffuse one of them, but that cost us one wheelbarrow. We have to transport the other two and sink them in Lion’s Lake.”
We moved out with one bomb in the wheelbarrow and one carried on 2x6s. By this time we had gotten the system of rotating people under the load down and were able to shift out people on the fly, although we were getting tired and most of us looked like this when we rotated out:
We made it to the lake to find that we had to do 20 hydroburpees in order to dispose of the bombs. One of the new GRTs next to me (for whom it was obvious that this stopped being fun several miles ago) visibly wavered and muttered “Is this day ever going to get better?” As close as I could come to a pep talk was “We’re almost home. You can’t get through one of these without getting wet, and we’ve already come this far.”
Holy. Crap. That water was cold. Somewhere around the second burpee I gave up on counting and just kept pace with everyone else. Back to the shore, ruck up, back to the start point, and the Tough was done.
I hit a friend’s house for a quick shower and nap, then back for the Light. After the usual administration and welcome party, we were given the most interesting mission briefing I have ever heard:
“The Big Chief of the Watertown Revolutionary Forces (WRF) is at the old rec center. They have been oppressed by the Sioux Falls Militia. He requires us to bring him a bathtub full of water from Lion’s Lake so that he can wash the oppression off of his children. Do you have any questions?”
Team leader: No.
Peanut gallery: So many questions, actually…
Me: How are we to transport this water?
To all of our amazement, Cadre pulled a plastic kiddie pool out of his ruck and announced that this is what we were using to transport the bath water to Big Chief’s children.
Move out, reach the lake, honor the lake spirits by doing pushups in the water, fill up the pool and try to carry it away. While it may be stable on a solid surface, it was indescribably floppy trying to lift and carry it while it was full. We sprung a leak from the bottom dragging before we had gone 100 yards. Cadre produced a backup pool from his ruck. Part of the team filled the new one while the rest of us located the 2x6s that we had previously used to carry the sandbags. The boards under it made it at least possible to carry, but still very clumsy until a couple blocks later when some of our team scavenged a wooden pallet that we carried the pool on from then on.
At some point we spilled and it was determined that we did not have enough water to bathe Big Chief’s children. However, Big Chief is a big fan of mud pies, so if we bring him those he will still be happy with us. We added dirt to the pool to make a huge mud pie then continued movement.
“I just got a phone call from Big Chief’s second baby mamma. Things are hot there and enemy snipers have been reported in the area. Big Chief cannot wait there for much longer.” For the next stretch we had to locate traffic cones and call out “Sniper” before Cadre could call them out, or one of the team would be wounded and have to carry their ruck held overhead.
We got to the rec center having only taken one casualty, but missed the time hack by 10 seconds. Big Chief is gone, so we have to meet him at another location to deliver his mud pies. Since we failed to meet him here on time, we should show some respect for his culture to restore his trust in us. His culture likes mud pie war paint and sharing songs…
Still carrying this pool of mud pie, wearing mud war paint, we moved to an outdoor bar where we sang “God Bless the USA” to the confused bar patrons.
Cadre: I just got a phone call from Big Chief’s third baby mamma’s sister.
Peanut gallery: Now you’re just making stuff up…
Cadre: Big Chief is happy about the love we have shown his culture, but the heat is really on and he could not meet us here. He will meet us in the lot behind the fire department…
Mud pies back on the move, still on the lookout for orange cone snipers, get to the fire department.
Big Chief was arrested while we were on the way here.
Peanut gallery: Dammit.
But his son is here to accept our gift of the mud pies…
*Peanut gallery rejoices*
Now rest up for a few minutes, then we have to go break Big Chief out of the Barefoot Fitness Jail.
We made good time getting to Barefoot Fitness, then simulated pulling the bars out of the window with a prowler sled race.
Big Chief is injured, and we have to carry him to the extract point.
Okay, where is Big Chief?
He’s that 350# tire you are sitting on.
If anything, carrying a tractor tire is worse than carrying a log of similar weight. Heavy, clumsy, hard to fit more people under.
I had a little moment of victory right at the end. I have a habit of getting under the load for the last 100 yards, flagging and having to call someone else in for the last 50. This one I kept repeating “I can make it” until I reached the end.
Back in formation, receive our patches, thank Cadre Rick for coming back to SD, and the event was done.
This was my third or fourth T/L back-to-back, which I had always intended as a stepping stone toward a Heavy, whenever I felt like I could complete one. As of writing this, that Heavy is in 6 weeks.