According to GORUCK, the beauty of the Challenge is that is not about you, it’s about the people by your side, the individuals that become your team. For many of us, this event started as a personal goal but throughout the 12+ hours, we learn that He is first, your team is second, and we are third (#Iamthird).
Tiger Rag: “It’s not how much strength you have, but how much you are willing to give. It’s not how much water you have, but how much you are willing to give. It’s not how much food you have, but how much you are willing to give.”
These are the accounts and experiences from F3 Nation’s Custom GORUCK Challenge and how 53 individuals came together as Class 707. A special thank you and t-claps to our shadow company (Little John, Moby, Reboot, and Cheesecurd) for the incredible photos and video. Their company throughout the event added another level of much needed motivation.
Training and Gear
Because there was a mix of GORUCK Tough alums and FNGs there were plenty of tips on training and gear. There would be a sequence of gear preparation that included buying bricks, wrapping bricks, ordering a GR1, stopping by Great Outdoor Provisioning Company (GOPC) for modifications, and the multiple stops to buy the right supplements. Then there was training with the exception of those we referred to as #Iverson. If you don’t know the references go YouTube “Iverson and Practice”. There were many training opportunities that included these formally organized events:
- Mix Master converted its boot camp format to become a ruck workout focused on high intensity exercises coupled with team movement. The goal of these 45 minute workouts was to prepare each individual for the physical and mental demands of the infamous Welcome Party.
- Freedom Park was a cadre style workout lead by alums focused on team work and simulation of a Challenge based on prior experiences.
- A Convergence that included a 2 hour simulation of the entire Challenge which involved a taste of the Welcome Party, carrying a log #foreshadowing, and partner carries into the home stretch. The objective was to teach us to fight through the WP and know the rest of the event will be more about being able to help the man next to you #IAmthird.
Seahawk: “Despite GRT alumni giving me the rundown and videos online, you can’t show nerves, excitement and the anxiety that builds waiting in formation for the challenge to begin. I attended Durango and Dredd’s training session and posted regularly over the 60 days leading up, but 40 pounds on your back just sucks regardless of what you’re doing”
Blue: “Repetition, repetition, repetition. Plank…plank some more. 100 merkins w/ ruck…do 100 more. Sniper drills, step ups and flutter kicks…work through the physical and mentally prove to yourself you can keep going…and going…and going.
Red Tornado: “At the pregame, RT: D’oh have you worked out with that pack? D’oh: I’ve worn it around the house once” #Iverson #Strong
Codename: “With almost 2 years of the F3 experience behind me I was ready for a challenge. I assumed this was the right one because those I knew who had done the early classes refused to repeat it with me; with the exception of Blue. There were references on the F3 camping weekend “that if you could pitch a tent you could do GORUCK”.
Ridgecrest: “Then in May I started hearing chatter about this thing called GORUCK and was intrigued by it. I liked the idea of a challenge that pushes you beyond your limits, but didn’t feel I was ready for it – after all I was still relatively new to F3, not in that great of shape, and didn’t know that many people here. But GOP told me he thought I could do it, so I naively believed him and signed up. I’m grateful to him and many others of you for seeing potential in me. It’s amazing the power some simple words can have.”
The stage was set as GORUCK announced our starting point to be no place other than the reflective sphere in Midtown Park otherwise known as “The Magic Hate Ball”. Once the location was announced, your very own Uncle almost fell out of his chair when hearing the news.
Uncle: “The starting point is the Tank?! Whaaat! Pretty much how my week started, that took it up a notch for me and a few others of my sharkmates.”
21:00 – As the pax started to assemble in the parking lot across, you could feel the energy in the air as we call this moment the calm before the storm. With F3 patches distributed as a reward for those who signed up, with the GORUCK TOUGH patches waiting us at the finish line. T-claps to F3 Nation for the epic send off as it was great to see all of the faces coming up to us and wishing us well.
21:30 – In F3 tradition, we huddled the Ball of Man with Dredd leading us through a prayer with what would be a spot on message and foreshadowing of what was to come. In the Ball of Man , Dredd asked God to forge the hearts of the 53 men who started GORUCK 707 into one, and to have us remember that we are Third. God is First, our families and each other are Second, and We are Third #IAmThird.
Winnebago: “The morning of for the first time since I signed up I thought maybe I couldn’t do it. But one of my favorite sayings is “what one man can do another can do.” I repeated it all day knowing that if any of the 53 men out there could do it so could I. But then the ball of man happened and it wasn’t about me anymore it was making sure 52 other men got through the night.”
The Welcome Party (22:00-01:30)
22:00 – As we awaited our cadres, we hear a call for “Lyell” aka our very own Dora. A little background, Dora poked the bear the night before on social media. Luckily, Dora did not have to face the folk lore of previous challengers talking trash and having to chow down a Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) prior to the Welcome Party. Instead they asked Dora to recon our coupons the cadres generously brought us which included ammo boxes (light prior to sand), water jugs, kit bags (35 lbs each), and a pain box (40 lbs). In addition, our team brought a 30lb Hyperwear Sandbell, a 25lb GORUCK sandbag, and of course the Shark Tank shovel flag.
When we were asked by GORUCK to change the start location and OBT suggested Midtown Park, all I could think about was water. The cadres did not disappoint as we immediately moved into Little Sugar Creek and the first exercise was 100 merkins with our heads in the water on the down movement. The second exercise was get on our backs and roll left, roll right, rinse and repeat. The next exercise was flutter kicks followed with water boarding your neighbor. We then proceeded to exit the creek and move into Pearl Street Park for the continuation of the Welcome Party. We split up into two groups to commence PT which included bear crawls, rucks over head, 8 count body builders, ruck squats, bear crawls while dragging your partner, wheel barrows, crowd surfing and the infamous Tunnel of Love. Imagine 53 men in a plank with rucks fully loaded, the man at the end of the line low crawls through, rinse and repeat until everyone gets through. My approximation is it took between 15-20 minutes to get everyone through. Of course we did not do it right and we had to repeat this 3 more times. We would exit the park and back into the creek where the beautiful words of “Congratulations Class 707, you have just passed The Welcome Party”. Then they tell us we would start our 20 mile ruck.
At several points during the Welcome Party, the cadres would ask us “who was first?”. They would remind us that if we put ourselves last, the whole night would be a lot easier. For many of us, it flashed back to the Ball of Man and Dredd’s message #IAmThird
Seahawk: “The Ghost Cadre popped up out of nowhere among a crowd of 50+ onlookers. I knew it was on. At one point a spotlight shown in my face and a blank stare from the cadre followed by “this is the first 30 minutes; if you are struggling now you’re not going to make it”. I can’t even recall what order the exercises were in. But when they circled our group back to the road, cadre kept strobing our faces asking if we’d drop. Honestly, I thought – I may not make it if they keep making me think about it. #mindtricks. I was ready for cadre Joe to start chucking smoke grenades and firing blanks over our heads. The hospital chopper must’ve flown over about four times during our welcome party, making things that much more authentic. I started to think the Facebook back talk would doom us for 12 hrs of the Tunnel of Love.
Uncle: “The beginning got real pretty quick, Cadres taking us directly into the creek to start humiliating us was awesome, also initially calling out Dora for his #CadreFBChatter was a good tone setter.”
Fonzie: “The Welcome Party was torturous. Luckily, the Cadre kept things moving with a good variety of exercises we’ve never done before… (As a matter of fact, I’m also going to boycott the Springstein song “Tunnel of Love”) No sound then was as beautiful as the phrase “You have completed the Welcome Party”. “
Little Sugar Creek (01:30-03:00)
After we completed the welcome party we grabbed our coupons and approximately 10-15 rocks from the bank and started our hike towards Freedom Park. None of us knew where they were taking us. Many had done this route so many times including WIB and GORUCK training on the Greenway, but I guess we didn’t think about doing the workouts in the water. The weight we were carrying was still fairly light but our teamwork began as we helped each other maneuver the slippery rocks, running water, and deep (for a dude like me). There was a lot of chatter and camaraderie as we were coming off an emotional high of completing the Welcome Party. This would also be a nature lesson for us took in the sights of beavers, snakes, and muskrats. For me there were many memories of chatting and laughing with my brothers to take my mind off of the grind. Many of us also took an opportunity at this point to eat and get some nutrition. Happy to report even without Purell, no one got sick picnicking in Little Sugar Creek.
Fonzie: “I don’t know that I’ve ever walked that long without solid footing. What seemed fun at first quickly became arduous. There were more odd angles and slippery surfaces than there were flat places, and I swear we were about to be attacked by rabid beavers at any moment. But, I feel that this was our first section where we began to function as a team. I don’t know how many times I went down, only to be picked up seconds later by the brother behind me. We scouted pitfalls ahead, and navigated as a whole, not as individuals.”
Seahawk: “Nothing felt better than to get props on finishing the welcome party. We were put back in place pretty quickly after going 20 yards the wrong way in the creek. I had the flag at this point and focused on one thing – not dropping it. The creek was deep in some parts, chest deep. We managed to piss a beaver off too- the damn thing brushed up on my leg and I think bit somebody’s shoe. This actually made me feel much better as it indicated another living thing could live in the creek despite the waste that’s present. How we made it over a mile without broken ankles or toes is a miracle. So much sand and gravel in my shoes that I had an extra two inches of arch support, at least. Slip, steady, drag your legs, trade coupons, duck under bridge, slip some more, watch helplessly as two brothers absolutely eat it. How Fishwrap got up from that spill is beyond me. We took turns on the flag. Finally, we reached Freedom under Dredds leadership. I still don’t know who told who we were going to Freedom, but we made it.”
The Closed Hand: “I never thought we would get out of that creek. It seemed that we walked forever in the wet and darkness. The cadre seemed to lull the group into a false sense of security and confidence up until we reached the park with the volleyball court.”
Going Stealth (03:00-05:00)
We finally exited Little Sugar Creek near the Nature Museum at Freedom Park to continue our long ruck. They took us through Dilworth with the directions of not speaking and staying quiet #ninjamode. We eventually stopped at the Exxon station at the intersection of Woodlawn and Park for a water refill and a 10 minute break. While a handful of guys went to purchase water, many were dumping sandcastles out of their shoes and socks from the hike through Little Sugar Creek. Little did we know we would see sand again. After we shared and refilled our water bladders (#IAmThird), we would proceed Park towards Park Road Park. Along the way, the cadres would kill members on our team which would mean that these people would have to be carried. Folks like me, Blue, Fish Taco would be the victims who were killed off.
Blue: “I remember comparing our ruck from Freedom to Park Rd Shopping Center to the ruck out to Panthers stadium during #SnoRuck and thinking how dialed in we were this time around. Dredd has us working like a well oiled machine…everyone was on their A-game and I know the Cadre took notice.”
Fonzie: “I was proud of the way we also made sure the water was shared equally before we emptied the remaining jugs. Team thinking was becoming second nature.” #IAmThird
Park Road Park (05:00-6:30)
I think everyone would agree that this is the moment in the evening when things got real. Once we arrived at Park Road Park they split the team up in half. This is the moment in previous challenges that I heard things “loosened up”. It went the opposite direction in this Challenge. The group that I was a part of started on what felt like an 7 minute mile pace with rucks across the park on a recon mission. At the edge of the park, cadre Mickey shined his flashlight on 4 logs, one of which was the awakening of the Kraken. For those that don’t know:
Kraken (/’kreiken or /kra:ken/) are legendary monster of giant proportions said to dwell off the coasts of Park Road Park. The legend may have originated from sightings of giant logs that are estimated to grow to 13–15 m (40–50 ft) in length, including the branches. The sheer size and fearsome appearance attributed to the kraken have made it a common GORUCK challenge only for custom F3 events.
The mission was to bring the four logs back to the front entrance of the park which was approximately 300-400 yards. Cadre Mickey asked for “8 big guys” to pick up the Kraken, while we split into equal height groups to pick up the other logs. You will see from the pictures and video, it would take more than “8 big guys”.
Once we arrived we see the second team covered in sand waiting in four columns. The cadres tell us to run to the pond and jump and make sure to get our head under water. For those that haven’t seen or smelled the pond, the water has not moved there for a decade and is covered in green algae. After the brisk dip in the water, we run to the volleyball court and proceed to low crawl across the sand. At this point, our arms were toast from the Tunnel of Love and the sand rubbing across it felt like a blow torch. I was fortunate enough to be next to cadre Joe who was constantly critiquing our form. After the low crawl and several other exercises, the next exercise is to sit back to back and on the count of “hang” grab a handful of sand. Then on the sign of “fire” toss it back on your buddy. This went on until all of us looked like we just exited a sandstorm. The cadre’s objective was to make us uncomfortable and mission was complete.
We quickly realize things were just getting started. Our mission was to take all four logs along with coupons now filled with sand to Veterans Park which was 8 miles away. Emotionally, this would prove to be the lowest point in the Challenge with the objective of the installment was to create doubt in our minds. But an amazing thing happen as everyone either got on the log or picked up a coupon (or two). GOP and others begin to rig straps from our GR1s to create handles for the logs and off we go #IAmThird.
Codename: “I joined the group of 25 of my brothers to go on what seemed like a jog…RT was convinced we were going to play a game…we ended up on the dark side of a parking lot and were instructed to grab some sticks to carry out. Much respect to the other 24 on that mission, As we are all aware of what it yielded. That was only to be followed by a swim in sewage and A very effective sand exchange on the volleyball court; Fyi triple claps to group two for clearing most of the algae from the point of entry to the pond.
Having carried the tree with 7 others to the parking lot I can’t express the defeat i felt when they announced we were taking it and the other 3 logs to Plaza Midwood. I actually thought it was a joke. Special bonus was realizing the coupons had been filled with sand while we were gone. By the time we reached Selwyn it was pretty clear they were serious. To be honest most of that walk was a complete blur. The team work was amazing despite the goal being seemingly ridiculous. The low point was having all coupons + 4 men killed going up the Selwyn hill.”
Fonzie: “The Park Rd. Park Lake was somebody’s sewer. I’m sure of it. Nothing else smells like that, and now, I’m sad to say, nothing else feels like that when you’re completely immersing yourself in it. Then, SAND happened.”
Uncle: “The log situation provides good symbolism for me; I was on the 25 man recon team which was then broken into the 8 “big guys” team to pull it out of the bushes. It was at that point where seeds of doubt about the rest of the challenge started to show and you can see it on our faces. We would drop the log and not care if it landed on anyone feet, we started complaining about it, worrying about the time, or how far we were from midtown. This is selfishness that would break us that was beginning to happen. How the hell we gonna carry this thing out of the park, this is stupid. #LowPoint The ‘feel sorry for yourself and hope the cadre doesn’t make us do it’ strategy was put to bed when he affirmed “It ain’t gonna change, you have too, it’s going 6 miles”. aye. get the straps, get the log moving, and we’ll figure it out on the way.” #IAmThird
Fonzie: “Once the logs showed up, tempers flared over the best way to get it moving, the Cadre was pushing and we listened to it. I think many of us had the “poor me” attitude. It’s easy to push and blame, and listen to & believe disparaging commentary when you’re at what seems to be your lowest point. But, we had a job to do, even if it was 10 feet at a time, and we moved the logs. I saw new people rise out of the smelly, sandy ashes of the old. I saw our team knit together, even if it was for spite of a Cadre. We had a common goal, and a common desire to make it happen. #IAmThird
Blue: “The long, heavy ruck back to the Hate Ball was no joke. We struggled as individuals…and came together as a good team does to get those logs moving. Knowing the neighborhoods we were in was both a blessing and a curse…so far to go as we made our way down Selwyn and Queens Rd West until hitting the greenway and knowing we were so close. The strength of F3 Nation really shone through during those final hours on Saturday morning.”
The Finish (06:30-10:00)
The long stretch home is when you really start to see the power of the Challenge. All men were carrying something beyond their 35 pound rucks, sand, and previous 10 hours of pain. Hands were full and more hands were needed. Great to see teamwork, heart, and leadership of guys start to stand out at this point showing the character of the men on the team. Had all of us decided to carry what we had home because we were too tired to help others, the logs would fall, the ammo cans would fall, and eventually the flag would fall and we would fail. Even when we had guys that at certain times were not able to carry anything and barely themselves, it was the responsibility of the stronger guys to keep the ball of man moving. There was no rest to be had, it was 10 seconds on a coupon and go relieve someone else. We saw a bunch of guys sacrifice their bodies and find some creative ways to get under a log.
Cadre started appointing the flag bearers leader throughout the final stretch and telling each of them to motivate the PAX spirits which provided some fun opportunities to hype up the PAX. It was not pretty, but in that chaos is where the real party of GRC lies.
As we approached Queens road from Selwyn, we took a left and we could tell we were headed back to our starting point. The bad news was it was still a long ways away. At one point, we put our rucks on the ground to fill them up and were punished by killing off the offender. That meant that we would have to carry them on a stretcher that was stored in the pain box. They also implemented a rule that nothing would touch the ground until we reached our final destination. There we would start seeing family and friends cheering us on where we were directed to dispose of the Kraken. The finale would be the completion of an exercise we had not done before…The Tunnel of Love.
Fonzie: “It was heartening to see friends and family at the end point, and equally frightening to walk right by them to keep going to the other park to deposit the logs. We weren’t done yet. It’s here, to my shame, that Young Love asked me if I had it in me to help the team get the log in that last little bit, and answering honestly, I said no. I was broken and depleted. By the time I tried to find someone to take the coupons I was carrying so I could get back in, you guys were dropping the log in the grass. I should’ve seen it through that last 15 feet just like you guys did.”
Uncle: “You have to become Class 707 during the challenge and you have to show off the power of Class 707 coming down the final homestretch. We did that, the final stretch then up the greenway until the final #TunnelofLove was a special moment. Everything it takes to get there is the necessary PAIN in hopes that each of us continually learns the hard but true lesson that you are third. Rinse and repeat. Aye. Tclaps #707”
The Closed Hand: “I was physically and emotionally drained at the end. I have no idea how I made it through the last tunnel of love. I was close to tears at that point. Once I got the patch I was so relieved I could hardly stand. Every part of my body was cramping. I could think or speak straight I just wanted to sit down. “
Bob the Builder: “Thanks to all of F3 Nation for being such a strong support structure for your brothers when they need it the most. We could not have finished this challenge without that brotherhood bonding us together.“
Mutiny: “The hangover I have is a 2ndF hangover. As most of you saw I was pretty ecstatic the whole time (despite being completely drained physically. Getting to hang out with everyone for 13 hours and seeing families come send us off and welcome us in, is why I did this GORUCK. We all suffered, but we suffered together and it brought spirits and mental fortitude up having all of our brothers in it together. There is something about going through an event so excruciating with people that you respect so much who you can trust to pick up the weight when you couldn’t. I had such a Fellowship injection that coming off of it is nearly depressing. It means so much to me to be able to share beers and war stories post challenge. I just hope that I had the impact on others that you all had on me, and I can’t wait for the next #CSAUP to share some suck again.Nothing I have done thus far sucks as bad as GORUCK, but that’s what makes sharing it with F3 so awesome. I will be back for more… My name is Mutiny, and I am addicted to Fellowship.“
Dolphin: “What really defines my experience with this GRC is the shear togetherness I felt with each participant. Maybe it was the smaller group, maybe it was Dredds’s prayer in BOM, maybe something else. Who knows? In my biggest struggles early Saturday morning while carrying those beastly logs, I thought not once about myself or my own pain, but rather how I refused to let my F3 brothers down by not pulling my weight. Even when I was smoked beyond measure, it was about YOU, not me. GRC 707 took me to the end of my limits where it is “natural” and easy to worry about “me” and forget everyone else. That didn’t happen! Yet another way that F3 is helping better shape my life. Thank you all for the camaraderie and accountability. I love you all as brothers. Aye!”
Seahawk: “To me the passing of the patch was almost anticlimactic. It seemed like a receipt, but I will keep it. Not because it looks badass (and it does), but because it will remind me of the fellowship and what an incredible experience that was. Thank you for the EH.
Early Bloomer: “The pain and the suck well sucked. But the soreness and subsequent immobility for the remainder of my weekend really allowed for some deeper introspection. I found myself struggling over and over about the word “I” and for those that know me well, know I rarely struggle with I. See, there were two battles being fought on Friday night into Saturday morning. One was the team battle (team first) but the other was a personal battle (I am third). The prayer kept resonating (though I’m not sure I really talked to God the rest of the night). Of course, like presumably everyone, there was a moment when the cadre was saying we paid for it so it’s going to be tough; where I thought it would be a nice donation but my bed would be better (especially when I could see my house as we walked past it on Montford and Park Road). But the larger goal of finishing was vastly more important. There was never a doubt that our team would finish, but I wanted to finish too. That was what got to me all weekend.”
C-Note: “It’s hard not to reiterate the things many have said in their reflections on becoming a part of GRC 707. For me, it started by putting that F3 patch on my ruck indicating my 1st GRC, beginning an event that most don’t even know about. There are few things in life that take you to that uncomfortable place simply to see how your mind and body will respond. GRC not only took you way past that uncomfortable place but then kicked you in the teeth and asked “what are you gonna do”? After receiving the GORCUK Tough patch, the wave of accomplishment that took hold when ripping off that F3 patch to slap the Tough patch on what now looks like a bag pulled from Charlotte’s finest waste management receptacle was amazing! But in doing so, I found myself not being able to put down our F3 patch. Seeing that “3” in front of me reminded me of Dredd’s send off prayer…”I am 3rd…I am 3rd”. I thought at that point how blessed we all are to have the physical ability to take on something as CSAUP as a GRC. We have the ability to put one foot in front of the other and to carry ridiculously heavy things as many people do not. We have the ability to roll in sand and scrap our arms and legs and are thankful for the fact that we can feel what’s happening to our bodies as many cannot. Proverbs 27:17 states “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend”. I am so incredibly blessed to be sharpened by the GRC and by the men of TheF3Nation.”