GORUCK Challenge Class 421

New pictures by TD and the video via Bunny added; this should be it!

Introductory Note

There are defining times in a man’s life. Sometimes they are mental, other times physical, spiritual, etc. And sometimes they are all these things.

When we finished this event not as three F3 teams but as one F3 team, I felt tears welling and a sense of peace, tranquility and love I can not describe. I have been blessed by being a part of this GORUCK group, by being a small part of F3, and this moment… a defining time for me and I hope others.

Many of you thanked me after and in your notes for the Backblast. I heard and am humbled by each one… it was you who carried me during 421.

Hope you enjoy this look back at what is truly an epic event. As anyone who is on the class 421 distribution list knows, there were some really long notes and personal tales of triumph. Between replies and notes sent to me personally, I got over 110.

I appreciated reading them all, and I’ve edited here for brevity and to try to weave the story like a conversation. (And yet if anyone makes it through all this BackBlast, that in itself is endurance reading.)

Contact me directly if you have questions or update suggestions.



Photos and Video

Full Video

The full video is at the page top — thank you Bunny (obviously the Bunny that was NOT doing the Challenge, since we have discovered we have two bunnies.)


Thank you for this trailer, Fonzie.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIknJyfI6oo&w=620&h=349]


Planning & Pre-Event

Class 421 - Photo by Gangsta

» full collection of pictures on flickr

Intro: Coordinating the three F3 teams required more spreadsheeting that I anticipated. We started with one team, then two, then added a third. Payments. Waivers. “Are you registered with GORUCK?” Oh, we can get free t-shirts? Don’t forget sizes! Email lists? Workout groups? Done, done, done, and done. All in, we would head to the starting line with 80.

  • AP — This event would not have gone nearly as well without the support of Class 193, including but not limited to OBT, Shore, Dredd, 5-0, Boone, Swamp Fox and more. All pitched in, held training sessions, and helped me wrangle this thing in different ways, especially OBT. The Q board, which sits behind and only participates as needed, helped as well. Fonzie, Gangsta and others for pics & videos. TD originated the patches. Then there was the trio of The Shore, Blue, and MiniMe who helped me with 1st F, 2nd F and 3rd F wrangling. There are more I’m forgetting — thank you all, brothers.
  • Halfpipe — All of the lobbying and recruiting that took place…. from the first “GORUCK TRAINING” session that was held last year and only attended by myself, Moby, Maybe and Swag Daddy to all of the hikes and training sessions (e.g. Crowder’s Mtn, Sunday morning beat downs by Durango, weekend “long hikes” with 2.0’s and dogs, Thursday morning pain sessions lead by Shore, etc. These were times where we formed bonds, built relationships and sharpened each other…. From the decision to  actually buying a ruck sack to the final day adjustments, I must have been to GOP and the Army/Navy store over ten times!  I know my wife was tired of me talking about gloves and socks on a daily basis!!
  • Blue — The training leading up to the GRC was awesome. Durango was a bastard but he nailed it and really felt confident going into the night.  That confidence was a huge boost for me. Gear wise… so thankful for all the knowledge shared from GOPC guys, Durango and Dredd. My gear performed flawlessly and sure I was cold but man, could have been so much worse if I hadn’t been prepared on my clothing and footwear.When the snow started to fall at 4 on Saturday afternoon, knew we were in for an #epic night
  • Boy Scout — I decided not to let a fairly severe groin pull/tear a couple weeks ago be an excuse, instead of a reason, to beg off the GORUCK. Even though I sought out advice from other F3 brothers on how to handle that decision, it came down to a individual gut feel, that this was an opportunity to get out and push the boundaries with a great crew of guys, and that I’d later regret not doing it more than I’d aggravate the damn groin. Looking back that must have been a God thing leading me to post — that still small voice was saying “Son, you don’t know what you’d be missing, get your butt out there.”  The injury didn’t turn out to be much of a factor.
  • Mountie — I was given the headlock to sign up for this by Titanium, one of my personal F3 recruits. I thought to myself that I can’t let him do this without me especially since I brought him to F3. Since many of you don’t know, Titanium, Biloxi and I are all Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers and are assigned to the same investigative unit. I certainly didn’t want to hear the conversations of how much fun they had after the event, so I decided to participate as well.
  • The Shore —  I too am thrilled we all did this together (NOTE: in a note to the 421 PAX, I mentioned that I’m happy the Cadres blew up our original planning of three teams and turned us into one). It is so cool that we had 80 of us working as a tight knit group. But I was also glad to train with my 1stF brothers. We bonded well during training and I am proud to know each of you a little better today for it. I had you all on my mind throughout the night on Saturday. I’m especially glad Schedule C joined us and I I certainly feel a special bond to the South Charlotte pax, having recruited most of you and trained a lot with you over the last couple months. Stone Cold and 49er are my closest friends and were the first to join me in the HC for this event. The bond that were formed though Saturday night should never be broken. Keep in mind that the 1stF team “plowed” the field for you all in the low crawl on the football field. We were the ones back there matting the snow.
  • Abel – Registration for the F3 Goruck team had been open for a few weeks and Swamp Fox had been encouraging me to join in after I had blown off the summer event with phrases like:  you’re crazy and that is not for me.  Luckily the first two teams for the February 16th event filled up quickly.  I thought I was safe. Denali had gotten the last spot on the second team.  And then AP opened up spots for a third team.
  • Dora — I came to F3 6 months ago solely to train for GORUCK; I guess you could say I EH’d myself. I learned of F3 through the GORUCK Challenge website as it was listed as a group to train with for the event. I’d known of the Challenge for at least 2 years but could not find anyone who would do it with me. You’ve likely already read the short story from Schedule C about how I tricked him into doing this with me when he thought all I needed was some yard work help. I finally had a friend to tackle this with, and within a week had found F3. Somehow I discovered that my friend Jason Silverstein (known to all you as AP) was involved; I contacted him about F3 (“Is this for real?” “Is it really free?” “It will prepare me for GORUCK?” “So I just show up?” “What do you mean I should call myself ‘FNG?'”). 8/18, Area 51, my first post, six months to train. They didn’t name me “Dora” for nothing…
  • Springfield — I had no plans of doing the GoRuck from the beginning. It really just didn’t sound fun at all. Leatherneck, now that’s fun. Going back to basic training (I went in the Army at 18), I’ve got nothing to prove and man it’s going to be cold in February. I remember Dredd sarcastically saying “you shouldn’t do it”, I’m doing it again but you shouldn’t do it”.
  • Schedule C — I started F3 for GORUCK. Dora (who I have known for years outside of all of this) wanted to know if “anyone had some spare time and a few bricks”. I thought he needed help in his yard. He wanted someone to do this with him and I said I would without REALLY understanding what I was getting into. This is what brought me to F3. That is a completely different story that I won’t go into here.
  • Shazam – As soon as I saw the backblast from class 193’s Challenge, I knew I was 100% in for the next one, F3 style.   I scoured the site looking for our next opportunity and couldn’t wait to jump in once AP’s announcement went out.  F3 and #CSAUP events have brought me to a healthier, better place than I’ve been in a long, long time.  Happily married to the best woman I know and with 2 great kids, I struggle like most men with a larger purpose and my place in the world outside of the “breadwinner” moniker.  As has been proven over and over and worded much more eloquently than I could ever say, I NEED F3 much more than it ever needs me.  I need to be pushed to be a better man, husband, father, leader, employee, etc.  This was just the next step in that process.
  • OBT — This map is what we sent GORUCK initially. You’ll see they used almost none of it… We thought they were going to split you guys into the three teams and take you three different directions, so we plotted the first 4-5 hours for the three teams and figured the cadre would freelance from there. They went a totally different direction — they seem to really like that hike up Morehead. This was the result of some planning I did with Swamp Fox and Dark Warrior. We had a larger group, but SF, DW and I dialed it back a bit.




AP — In a word, no. Look who’s coming:


Hour Leading Up to the Event

Class 421 - Photo by Gangsta

» full collection of pictures on flickr

Intro: We would meet at 2100 hours with the knowledge Ball of Man was 2145 and game time at 2200.

  • Uncle — The snow, the date, the scene, the brotherhood, the Ball of Man was all there — The F3 Nation always shows up when it counts…courage in our hearts. Clock struck we immediately get publicly undressed by the Cadre’s for all to see. Beautiful. Directly on AG football field, just straight blasted! Get your mind right — the CHALLENGE begins — it’s going to hurt, bad.
  • Durango — As a second timer to the Challenge, I knew we were in for a lot of pain and I had accepted that before we started. During Class 193, I spent a lot of time wondering what was next and not focusing on “being in the moment.” As we all saw this time, you just have to accept it and move on. No bargaining with yourself, no leaving anyone behind, no quitting.
  • Skipper — The setting: I had an idea that we would be getting cold and wet (Durango told me), but what could be more badass than snow? Thank you God! It sucked, but will make the stories and memories even more epic!
  • Abel – By 8:30pm, I was dressed and ready to go. I went back through my ruck one last time, checking all my gear. Checking all the ziplock bags that held extra socks, gloves, jacket and shirt — none of which I used. At 9:00pm, I was sweating and I put on the ruck and headed out into the cold. First stop was to get Hillary and then Girardi. Strangely, there were no big send offs at either house. I wouldn’t say we were solemn, but focused. Heat was blasting as we drove to AG.From 9:30pm to 10:00pm seemed to go by in a flash. I grabbed the boots from CR, laced up and the next thing I know I am in the ball of man. All the time that I had all day seemed to disappear. The best sight of the evening of was seeing Boy Scout. I heard he had injured himself and wasn’t going to complete the challenge and yet there he was with his ruck on the ground ready to be inspected. That was my first smile of the night.
  • AP — In hindsight, I wished I had planned clothing better… especially when I saw Dredd in full jacket & pants. I had become influenced by “go in cold” and didn’t trust my gut because I tricked myself into thinking I’d get overheated from the smokefest. I would start with a long-sleeve smart wool shirt and running vest, running shorts, and running smart wool… meaning a single layer between my knees, elbows and the frozen air & tundra. More on this later.
  • Springfield — I had butterflies in my stomach 2 hours before we started Saturday night. I was just ready to get started and see how bad this was going to be. My only fear was going in the water. I kept telling myself and anyone that asked me about GoRuck that they can’t kill us
  • Little John — Was I prepared? No. Honestly I was not. Despite wearing a ruck to many a workout leading up to the event, the physical toll of the activities exceeded greatly my expectations. Last Wednesday, at 2nd F’s Ruck-off, TD described the Welcome Party as something akin to several hours of the worst WIB workout ever multiplied by ten. That did not give come close to giving it justice.
  • Moby – So great to have the support of the guys I filmed in class 193. Thanks for coming out for the sendoff and the finish. You have no idea how huge that was and there was no way I was going to quit and do the walk of shame through them. Also, did someone shoot off fireworks in the Selwyn parking lot? Awesome.
  • Girardi — F3 Family, it was incredible to see the send off and welcome party. Talk about feeling like you are part of something much larger than yourself. Can’t wait to return the favor for the next class.








Welcome Party

Class 421 - Photo by Gangsta » full collection of pictures on flickr

Intro: Once we lined up for the first time, the Cadres threw the first surprise at us — we were not splitting up into the three teams AP had set up. And just like that, the SmokeFest was on… low crawls, planks, merkins, Jack Webbs, partner carries, etc. for two+ hours.

  • Moby – Uncle was standing beside me on the front row at the beginning and said “Aye” about 5 times after they told us not to. Just habit. I think they heard one and gave him a pass but I knew were going to pay. They never heard him again but of course we just paid for something else.
  • Uncle — No respect for our little fancy 1st F, 2nd F, 3rd F deal — we all went as one. Why wouldn’t we? Btw – Love how we split the teams in three because it still gave us a base of guys to go back too, team 2nd F formed something special over the last few months. #In30out30 #ThinPlaces #BasementCheck. The cadre’s brought the PAIN, me and my battle beast buddy Ice9 came in with clear hearts and a common goal to lead from the front with our heads on a swivel making sure everyone around us is taken care of. My man Ice9 does that in his sleep, I tried to make sure everyone knew why I was there — for them.
  • 49er — I had heard about how much the cadres would try and beat you down right off the bat. I had prepared myself that such a beat down, but I was not prepared for the snow. I hit an all time depression low at the very beginning and thought to myself “can I do this?”  I thought about which would be worse… quitting and feeling the the embarrassment the next time I posted at an F3 workout or crawling around in the snow and freezing for the next 12+ hours.  The thought of not letting my F3 brothers down made my decision quick and easy.  It was immediately after this decision that my turnaround moment hit.  It happened as I was carrying my war buddy Bugeater across the field and was also handed our team weight of 26lbs of change.  I am 5’10 weigh 155lbs and with my 35lb ruck on my back carried Bugeater (who happily told me that had lost several lbs training for the GoRuck to help me out) who weighs 175lbs plus his 35lb ruck plus 26lbs of change.  No one could see the grin on my face as I made to the other side of the field with Bugeater across my shoulders the weight in my left hand….ear to ear baby!
  • Shazam – Cadre Patrick during pushups — “Off your knees!  This isn’t 3rd grade girls gym class!” also “What is that?!? This isn’t yoga, there is no downward dog! Get in a push up position”. Cadre Patrick during anytime we weren’t up to standard.. so always — “Holy S#*!, what is wrong with you?”
  • GG — There comes a point in these types of challenges where the body starts whispering, “Listen to me. Just stop. It’s gonna feel so good. Let’s just ease on out of here…”. For GoRuck this little whisper starts, oh I don’t know, about 30 seconds into it? When I hit the front-leaning-rest position in the snow with that 35 lb ruck on my back I knew this was going to be a gut-check to end all gut-checks. Thus starts an all-night battle between body and soul… corpus v. animus.
  • Durango — Immediately regretting volunteering to lead Jack Webbs. I’m a big boy (weighed in at 281.3 lbs with my ruck on pre-Challenge) and I knew any reps past 5 I would have serious trouble completing. It makes a difference when your team is depending on you to lead. You feel bad about cheating and I knew the Cadre were watching me. I didn’t want us to get dinged for me being on my knees or not extending my arms overhead all the way. Most importantly, when I took a second to look up, I didn’t see a single one of our team cheating. Everyone pushed thru until they were totally smoked. I think the way we pushed through the first hour really set the tone for the whole night.
  • Mountie – I want to thank whoever helped us during the welcome party during the last of the fireman carries. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get Titanium onto my shoulders. Two unknown men (Ice 9 and Uncle, it turns out) stepped up without being asked for help and traded partners with us to help us get through it. That pretty much sums up how the night would go for our group especially after the “Morehead Street” beat down. Everyone was more than willing to help their fellow man survive the Goruck.
  • Boy Scout – During low crawls in the snow, there was a flash of “I’m a 53-year old lawyer, what the hell am I doing here?” but there was also matching up with Evinrude on the first partner fireman’s carry after the COP — when I collapsed to the snow twice underneath him after failing to hoist the man to my shoulders, he just flapjacked the flapjack and put me back up on his — how’s the Cadre going to know?  That selfless act was merely the first of many I watched over the next twelve hours.
  • Durango — Our first low crawl across the field in the snow reminded me of playing in the snow as a kid. Back in the day, I would have be ecstatic about 3 inches of snow on the ground. It made me smile. At one point during low crawls, I look back and PBo is behind me and only using his arms to crawl while dragging his legs behind him like 2 big dead fish. This made me laugh. PBo got a good upper body workout during that to say the least. Leg use was not restricted by the Cadre.
  • Friday – Shazam would not allow me to carry him across the field during the opening festivities’ fireman’s carry.  He said, “Save your back, it’s going to be a long night.”  I am thankful for his sacrifice because it gave me the strength to pull my weight, even at the expense of carrying the mammoths, Durango & Tractor.
  • Superman — I somehow thought it would be worse physically, but more organized. I’m not sure if was just the snow and the huge group, but it felt like utter chaos. Rarely have I been more miserable as I was on my knees (which was cheating) crawling in the mud and gravel on the Selwyn stairs with no end in sight. But… Frogger and Ballistic had parked their extra gear and keys in my car.  So I knew that even if I quit I’d have to make sure to get them their stuff (and face everyone who finished) or leave it at AG (not even an option).  They had burned the figurative ships that they came on and trusted me to make it. There is no motivation like the faith of others in you.
  • Schedule C – My first goal was to make it past the welcoming party. If I could do that, I was golden. There were SO many people there, there was so much going on and it was so cold and the ground was frozen and it was so dark that it was disorienting. I can’t stress how much Maybe helped me get through that portion. He kept telling me “You got this”, ‘You can do it”.
  • Girardi — Wow was that a beat down on the football field followed by the beat down on the #robertplant. I know that several thought about quitting right there (including me) but we didn’t. Alone, I would have. Together, we locked shields and won… as a unit.
  • Little John — You may recall about two hours in when Cadre Patrick started to mix in with the criticism the seductive tune of leaving the group, walking to the cars which were at this point only 100 yards away, and going back to the creature comforts of warmth and a soft bed for the evening. For a moment it sounded so reasonable, so logical that I found myself questioning why I was doing this? What did I have to prove? But then, just as quickly, the cadence I heard Dredd chant so many mornings during pre-dawn 6MOM sessions popped into my head “it’s supposed to hurt, do the best you can, this eventually must end, it’s the nature of time.” This simple cadence prodded me to go on. All of what we were experiencing eventually must end. And I needed to find that space to continue, since I was demoralized by being the person who was dead last in the group of 80 to low crawl sideline to sideline that night.





Selwyn Elementary

Class 421 - Photo by Fonzie

» full collection of pictures on flickr

Intro: Not much was posted in the email threads about this sidebar, but the continued movement up and down the stairs was a painful “break” right after the AG SmokeFest.

  • Superman — Finally reaching the door at Selwyn, standing up to turn around and expecting the person standing right in front of me to be a Cadre about to light into me – except it’s TD looking me dead in the eye and nodding.  Still not sure that I didn’t imagine that.
  • AP — Immediately upon arriving at Selwyn, I began the first of what would be two shaking episodes. Uncle provided his jacket as an additional layer and, with Mutiny’s help, gave much needed moral support as I “recovered while rucking.” Like I said earlier, poor, poor decision on clothing… thank you both and a few others who were checking on me… I honestly can’t remember who was there, my body was moving but brain cells were not.
  • Mutiny —The teamwork really started to shine through when AP started his pre-hypothermia. The PAX rallied around him and AP really pushed through the physical pain he was feeling. I was standing right next to him and the cold had him down to the bones – pushed through and sure as hell inspired me later on in the challenge when I needed it. In addition you could see the teamwork through all of the small things that kept us going. People sharing food, offering up glove warmers (which did NOTHING at all), and Happy Meal and I even sharing my source mouthpiece as his fell off 5 minutes into low crawls. Other classes likely help individuals know they can persevere adversity, and I feel as though I gained that from this as well, however it really helped me understand that people will be relying on me in the future as I will need to rely on them. Teamwork was impressive to me, in a way I havent experienced before personally.
  • Abel – The stairs at Selwyn were absolutely brutal. Carrying the ruck overhead was absolute pain. The wet and the mud quickly saturated my gloves during the bear crawls. I thought for a minute, I couldn’t feel my fingers. And just like that it was over and we started moving towards MPUMC. I felt then that I had made it or would make it. Even the jog along Selwyn felt liberating. My fingers started to warm. Our team was working together. Everything was in motion — we were going to get this done.
  • Little John — during the bear crawl-o-rama at the back of the school, I thought moments of reprieve could be had by crawling on hands and knees back by the doorway. No such luck. I felt rather than saw his cold glassy stare, I knew his beady eyes had locked into me like laser sights when I heard the distinctive voice of Cadre Patrick spitting the following, “You! GONADS! Off your knees! OFF YOUR KNEES!” Shamed and embarrassed to not be pulling my weight, I slowly resumed the bear crawl shuffle.
  • Schedule C – I think I mentally blacked out during bear crawls at the steps.
  • Blago – But you’ve already heard the story with AP and being a part of brothers coming together without discussion and taking care of business of getting him warm.  This is where it all began for me.  No longer was the focus just on me, my war buddy and Team 2ndF, it was the entire PAX.  We were beginning the formation of a Team, at least in my eyes. At this point the physical demands were taking over and the GORUCK mental state began to set in.  The worries of my war buddy or breakout into teams become less and less important, what was soon to become our mission… One team of brothers — Locked Shields forever.
  • AP — oh, one other thing… a Class of 193 alum who shall remain nameless saved a bunch of people some calories with his “cadre’s not looking, cadre’s looking” messages at certain pieces of the brutal Selwyn stair climbs. He knows who he is, and he knew the “if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying” piece already.



March to Queens & Queens, then up to Panther Stadium

» full collection of pictures on flickr

Intro: After the pain duo in Myers Park, the march to the “Gold Guy” statue was on. We were told only that another team was heading that way, and we better not lose. A quick break went bad briefly at MPUMC, and we were off up Morehead for what’s now being called the “Morehead St. Beatdown” aka “the Piss Party.”

  • Skipper — When Bulldog was leading the group and we had our first “killing” (Mutiny I think), Bulldog was trying to get volunteers to carry our fallen brother and he shouted, “Anybody fancy a dead guy?!”
  • The Shore – Bulldog did a fierce job and I can’t believe they made him lead for so long. So glad we changed his name about a month ago as Bulldog perfectly fit the effort he put forth that night.
  • Schedule C – Once we started moving after our first stop at he church, I’m not sure exactly how to describe it but there were periods of times where I mentally shut down. I can’t remember the exact path we took, lost track of time and to be honest didn’t want to think about what time it was. I turned my mind off and just did what had to be done. Help with the logs. Rest. Help with ammo cans. Rest. Fill in the gaps. Rest. Repeato, repeato, repeato, repeato. I did my best to stay moving forward because I didn’t want to be killed off because I didn’t want to be carried but at the same time I needed time away from the cans and logs to just shuffle and recover.
  • Shazam – Got to spend some QT with Dredd and Girardi on the water run where we came back empty… some good lines happened there as well courtesy of Dredd: “Always volunteer for the water run… bad things happen when you’re sitting around waiting” — nod to OBT and Class 193’s infamous shovel flag drop. Then, “Men, we’ve been out here long enough… I say we turn around and make it back in the 5 minutes they gave us. Better to be on time without water than late with it.” Turned out to be sage advice, especially when considering it gave us a longer reprieve from carrying the extra weight.
  • Superman – Watching the other team get a beat down at Myers Park Methodist, seeing someone with a ruck on, toss a water can on their neck and crank out one armed pushups…and then realize it was a woman.
  • Abel – Best moment of the night for me was holding the flag from MPUMC headed down Morehead to Panthers stadium.  Dino and I were in the lead and we traded off flags so we could ball our hands back into our gloves to keep our fingers warm.  There was a peacefulness for me at that point.  All the hustle was behind us and I could look around and enjoy the moment even if it was only short lived because there were logs to carry and ammo boxes and water jugs being traded back and forth.
  • Mutiny — Being dead sucks. First its painful to be carried for so long (I believe it was roughly 1.5-2 miles with my knowledge of morehead). The biggest reason it sucks is because I was watching my brothers do so much work around me and I felt helpless. The only thing I could do was yell (sorry guys) to get people to switch and try and organize subs for the dead guys. This is where I realized that one of my favorite Twain quotes applied so directly to F3Nation ALL of the time “…Really great make you feel that you, too, can become great”. Seeing others around you work so hard and dedicate so much dedication to one another makes you feel absolutely helpless when you cant relieve someone from the log, or one of the ammo cans that felt as though they were filled with concrete (probably were).
  • Girardi — Don’t Let Your Buddy Pee Alone – Probably a combination of over-hydration and that cup of coffee I had before I launched out of the house, but I think I pee’d more in 13 hours and 12 minutes than ever before.
  • Mountie —  We had just crossed Tryon Street and were starting down the hill towards the stadium when several guys split off to relieve themselves near the sidewalk. I heard the cadre state “Like this isn’t F***ing obvious! This is going to stop.” I thought to myself that what happens next is not going to be fun…it wasn’t, but I’m sure it could have been a lot worse. I have to think this would have happened though no matter what. We probably just sped up the process. Halfway though the night, I’m sure we were probably due for a dressing down to bring us together. Maybe it was the beat down, Dredd’s speech, or a combination of both, but it worked as you could definitely see a different group when we headed back up the street.
  • PBo – The low point of the night was definitely at the parking lot on Morehead, but strangely running didn’t feel that bad. It felt a lot better than doing anything with my chest or arms. Did anyone else feel that way?
  • Mutiny — The hardest part of this challenge for me was the pain by the stadium. I had lost all feeling in my feet and hands from lack of movement (being dead) and the PT was horrible. As we were doing the “protractor” I was next to RDub and my legs were all over the place. Cadre calls 90 degrees: Mutiny’s legs are in LBC position, RDub “Dude – he said 90 degrees”… Thanks Rdub… well aware of the angle however my body says not a chance in hell. Honestly – it was the comical relief I needed and RW had no idea that he helped build me back up and took the “QUIT” thoughts out of my mind immediately.
  • Uncle — we all wanted to quit when cadre Patrick was standing over us at morehead #LowPoint We made a comeback after the #PissPepTalk “My opinion is you guys are sucking too much water out of your Yitzak, I haven’t pissed yet.
  • Dredd — Well Brothers, I do believe that most of you over-hydrate. I think that’s a response to our current nanny-state crybaby culture. I drank one liter of water the entire time. It was more than enough. Why? Because it was 25 freaking degrees out there and I was not sweating. Last summer, I probably drank three liters of water–because it was 90 degrees and I was sweating. I know how much water to drink because I’ve learned how much I need for something like this over the years and I trust that knowledge more than some self-appointed health-expert who has never rucked ten feet… My point about a yitzak is not that it is a bad piece of equipment. I think it’s kind of cool and I use one on long runs and races. But it has a tendency to make you over-hydrate. Aye.
  • Blue – Every time I peeled off from the front of the line, totally spent and made my way back, was great to high five or fist bump the men I was passing… PT low point was in the parking lot near the stadium, ruck overhead and holding those low squats…complete failure for me.
  • Little John — And so, when we got to the parking lot of pain, although every muscle was screaming, my brain was locked in. Yes, it sucked. Yes, it hurt. Yes, the relentless dressing down was fatiguing. But was I going to give up? No. And after the pain session, Dredd’s focus on hydration, silly as it sounded at that moment, was the unintended comic relief that this group needed to gel together.
  • Springfield —My favorite part may have been when about 10 of us lined up and took a piss in the bushes as Dredd was giving his piss speech (which we missed) right after the beat down caused by guys pissing. Over-hydration definitely played a part. I drank 4 liters and peed 3.5. Is it possible to sweat much when it 22 degrees?
  • Friday – No doubt I will never forget Dredd’s pee pee speech.  I haven’t peed since…



March to Freedom Park


» full collection of pictures on flickr

Intro: We’d just been smoked and had a piss pep talk via Dredd, and yet it was very clear now no one was going to quit on anyone. But we still had miles to go, and a new leader emerged.

  • Little John — The silent march to Freedom Park showed us all that we could work together as a team. Would there be uncomfortable moments from that point on? Certainly. Would they be insurmountable? No. That’s all I needed to know. From that point on, the group was unstoppable.
  • The Shore – White Shoe set the tone, and for me set the example as to how to lead the huge group effectively. I think you’d all agree he did it with an amazing calm/patience/grace(?) that I could not match. It was beautiful.
  • Frogger — To those who took on the mantle of leadership under impossible circumstances – I am in awe of each of you, especially to White Shoe, who led us back from BoA stadium (who was that masked man?). Coming back from the thrashing near the stadium to FP in silence, we were working in perfect unity in no small part thanks to your incredibly sure hand (and Dredd’s comically fantastic “pep talk” about hydration). While didn’t even know your name until the whole thing was over, I’d follow you just about anywhere.
  • 9 lives — When we are left to our own thoughts and emotions just trying to make it through the next exercise, doubt creeps in and your mental switch becomes relevant. (Why are we doing this task?  Why am I here?  Why is it 19 degrees?  Why is this guy fainting beside me (hope you’re feeling better Bootstrap)?  Why aren’t we able to urinate when/where we want?  I thought this was 8-10 hours?
  • Tecumseh — Special T-claps to our brother from Raleigh who also did an outstanding job on leading the group of 80 men in the middle. His name is White-Shoe and he is now legend in my mind.
  • Girardi — It is very tough for a bunch of Type A’s to shut up but the transformation after the beat down at Panther Stadium was amazing. We definitely came together as a team in that section of the team event and it was so clear to me that it was because we all dug deeper, shut up, listened, helped each other and were for the first time, focused on the goal. One team, one goal.
  • PBo — I got a laugh as we were carrying Mutiny and Denali on the Morehead bridge going over South Blvd. I’d say they weren’t in grave danger of being dropped over the side at that point, but I did make a concerted effort to myself between them and the railing when I wasn’t doing the carrying.
  • GG — Sometimes the corpus sucker punches us. One brother went down with hypothermia. Notice I say “went down.” He never quit. On that particular night, at that particular place, the body quit with the whispering and said “I’m out” even as the soul said “I’m in”. Not what he wanted, but still a strategic victory for animus.
  • Bootstrap – The trek from the Stadium back down Morehead and East Blvd are very vague to me because I was slipping in and out of it. I remember running into the poor guy in front of me several times because I kept falling asleep while we were moving. To the poor guy in front of me I am sorry and I know it was annoying you because I could see it in your eyes when you turned around at one point and gave me a look like “what the hell bro, get your stuff together” even though you couldn’t say it I knew what you wanted to say (this was during the silent march). I knew something was off and just kept saying to myself…YOU CAN DO ALL THINGS…YOU CAN DO ALL THINGS…YOU CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH HIM WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH!!!! Suck it up and figure it out and press on.. just make it to the next break so you can get your coat out and get more food out of your Ruck. Unfortunately my body gave way before I could get to that break.
  • Abel – Man down. I couldn’t believe it didn’t happen sooner with temperatures in the 20s, but seeing Bootstrap go into pre-hypothermia was eye-opening. There was that sudden rush of sleep deprived panic of wanting to help him and get help that was coupled with the sweet realization that he was okay and that we were being offered a break.
  • The Shore –  We all know Boot Strap did not quit. His body definitely failed him that night. And from everything I’ve read about the Special Forces, they do not kick you out for that. In fact, they let you dust yourself off, and get back out there. I hope Boot Strap is out there at the next GRC to finish what he started. I know he can do it.
  • Shazam – We recovered on the way back to Freedom Park only to lose Bootstrap to hypothermia. I never considered quitting, but when we were stopped for so long and my body just started shaking uncontrollably, I wondered if I too would be sent home due to the weather.
  • Durango — Rolling up to Freedom with the sun coming up, the snow on the trees, and quietness of the morning created a very serene feeling. I knew daylight meant we were going to get totally smoked before heading home, but it was okay. Nature has always had a calming effect on me, and it was no different yesterday.


Freedom Park

GRC 421- Posted to Facebook by Chanelle

» full collection of pictures on flickr

Intro: One of the most familiar places and workout locations in Charlotte turned into five PAINstations, a rescue/recovery mission, snowmen, tree-hugging, and a dip into the cold.

  • GG — By the time we reached Freedom Park I suspect this internal battle was raging for every man out there. I know it was for me. Here’s one in particular battle I watched in awe: Strange Brew was next to me as we endured the round-robin of pain in the park. By that point I think his body was no longer whispering “No”, it was yelling loud and clear ” NO! STOP. YOU ARE DONE.” But I watched Strange Brew reject the “NO” and answer with “GO!” The man would not give in. He would not give up… I think he face-planted once or twice during push-ups. No problem. Just keep doing it. Animus 1 Corpus 0. All I can say is Aye to Strange Brew. Inspired me brother, eh.
  • Mutiny — 7am relief: Did anyone else notice that right before our 100 minute PT session how beautiful Freedom Park was? Uncle and I looked at each other and found just a temporary “Thin Place”. I was exhausted, it was cold, and just the 5 minutes we had prior to pain the park looked incredible and our 80 person CoP had just a few minutes to enjoy the place. I hope everyone else noticed that as uncle and I did. Its hard to explain the calm beauty…
  • Frogger — Mutiny- aye on the thin place. After we had finished the bear crawl and lunge circle in the FP Train lot and we were standing around in an oval waiting for whatever came next, I had the good fortune to facing east. Looking at the pre-dawn light in the sky over the creek, I realized that I could see the faces of the men of F3 who had thrown in to do this with me (or at least those whose faces weren’t covered by a kerfluffle). There were many knowing looks and nods exchanged, small (but HUGE) words of encouragement and fistbumps – human contact of affection and acknowledgment of the shared suffering that forges lasting bonds. And all the while, the sky grew lighter, a paler pink promise that the sun would soon be up to warm the air and our frozen bodies and to cast light to replace the gloomy dark and that all of this would soon be over (not quite as soon as I had thought, of course). And a gentle wind was blowing the snow off the trees so that it looked like a beautiful, light snowfall (instead of a sideways wind and a blizzard). The natural beauty surrounding us at that moment only reinforced for me the beauty of the moment on another level.
  • AP — I remember when I first figured out there were five cadres, 20 minutes of pain each. For some reason, that was a moment I thought of Dredd’s “that’s the nature of time.” And I laughed, and I paused, and for perhaps one of the only times all night, got some clarity. Whoever was next to me had to listen to me describe how odd it was that I all of a sudden saw the beauty of the morning and the frost on the trees. Then we were back in formation.
  • Little John — During the breakout PT sessions at Freedom Park, Cadre Patrick turned almost human with the “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down” drills and return to start point low crawls. Laughing and joking with us. He intoned us to hydrate, but the tube to my bladder had frozen many hours previously. At that point it didn’t matter. The end was near. As a team we would go on. That much was evident… My “thin space” experience came at the log station when we were doing flutter kicks with feet suspended over the logs. Seeing the snowflakes break from the tree above and fall erratically to earth was just surreal; a quiet moment of peace that seemed completely out of place given the events of the prior eight hours. I am grateful for participating and honored to have shared this experience with you.
  • Mutiny — Cadres during (Freedom Park) PT: Way cooler than our Cadres.
  • Dora – My squad found the dead pilot! Not like we did anything special or better, but we accomplished the mission without screwing up, and I enjoyed that mental boost. Log PT? Bring it! Ball dip? Please. The Shore dragged my sorry butt through McAlpine Creek in freezing weather for a good half hour.
  • Durango — At one point during Cadre Ben’s smokefest at Freedom, we are in 4-man pushups, face down in the snow, and I look over and see Blue grinning from ear to ear. I can only imagine what he was thinking. And… during the CoP at Freedom, someone calling for burpees as our next exercise. Seriously?
  • Blue – Durango and I smiling at each other, both faces buried in the snow, during Ben’s Freedom Park torture round. Enjoyed the opportunity to hear the Cadres talk about themselves during the Freedom rotations once they were done with us…think my group got quality time with all except Patrick.
  • Girardi — During log PT, Cadre Dan asked our favorite Brit, Bulldog about a town in England and apparently Bulldog gave him the right answer because Cadre Dan relieved Bulldog of his duties and the two of them ended up in a cigarette smoking, scotch drinking, back slapping love-fest, of which, we may never hear the details. However, inquiring minds want to know.
  • Bulldog — during the log pain station at Freedom with the smoking Cadre I was asked to do the count. Half way through the count he instructed me to stop and proceeded to ask where I was from. I said England and he asked me if I lived near Hereford where he had gone to school.I said “oh yeah Hereford is right around the corner!” With that he said “go take a seat as it pays to be America’s closest ally!” I sat there with the smoking Cadre for a good 10 minutes as the rest of the fellas continued the station and he paid them no attention. Haggis made a great point in that my town is nowhere near Hereford! It’s like saying Charlotte is close to Phoenix in English terms!!!
  • Pbo – I enjoyed seeing Gnarly Goat’s Clifford Huxtable sweater when it got light out and I appreciated the chuckle it gave me. It was a stark contrast to my battle buddy, Halfpipe, who was decked out in the finest collection of gear out there… looking back now I think a short conversation that Ice-9 and I had while making snowmen at 4am was funny. I found out he works at the Department of Justice and I was asking him a few things about work. I guess I was trying to bring some normalcy into a totally abnormal situation.
  • Girardi — Dino’s Girl- Yes, the winning snow creature. The unbeatable team of Paquiao and Dino brought their “A-Game”. Paquiao (aka Arizona) as the framer of the creation and Dino as the finish carpenter (and possible boy friend) of this lovely lady. The rest of us where simply carrying wheel barrels of snow and other materials. Nice job boys!
  • GG — A lasting, and somewhat disturbing, image in my mind is that of Bulldog mounted in a love embrace on a tree. I think he held on long enough to get us out of some pain. He earned his “tea time” with cadre. Aye!
  • Boy Scout — Aye, gotta give Ice 9 a shout out for tree hugging for our group. I think the tree got tired of it before he did. #Strong
  • Mutiny — Ha – we had the same thing with Blue. The weird thing was he looked REALLY comfortable on the tree.
  • Girardi — I think the overall lesson from this last exchange is… Never raise your hand to the question “Who is your fittest dude?” or similarly for life lesson purposes, the find and replace for the following: Who is your smartest dude? Who is your strongest dude? Who is your craziest dude? It never leads to a good place. In this case, spooning a tree…
  • Superman — Seeing Pomfret and PBR out for Ritchie and feeling we had some idea on time and that it might in fact be over soon. I figured 3 hours then, not 5.5.
  • Abel – I hope this moment is captured somewhere, but what I remember is Dredd approaching Cadre Patrick about being done and drinking a beer and the next thing I know my balls are touching the water in Sugar Creek. Finally, I was truly wet and cold.
  • Durango — Walking down to the creek at the greenway, I knew it was finally time to get wet. Thankfully the Cadre held up their end so my warnings about being cold and wet weren’t for nothing. I’m still regaining feeling in 6 of my fingers.
  • Schedule C – I was most worried about the water. That wound up being a non-issue. Many thanks to Floppy Disk for helping me through that. There was a face plant coming for sure.
  • Bulldog – I was behind Dredd when we got in the water at Freedom Park and the cadre said that he hadn’t gone low enough to get his balls wet. Me and a lad beside me informed the Cadre that Dredd had very old balls that hung around knee level so he had in fact performed what had been required of the task. Myself on the other hand had to go in neck deep as I think I am pretty sure that was where my bollocks had positioned themselves for most of the evening.
  • Springfield —Water fear was in full effect. I did not want to quit but I was not going in that creek when we walked to the back of the park and Patrick walked off with White Shoe. “Dredd do you think we’re going in?” Nah man I’d say the chances are low with a guy just falling out” Man I hoped he was right and he was. The cadre at Freedom Park rocked. The whole challenge turned a mental corner there once we found the pilot or maybe it was the tension being eased by the cadre laughing at that nasty snow banshee we made (go 3rdF). When the sun came out it turned another corner and you could taste the finish. They picked the perfect time to put us in the water. I’m really glad we went in so we didn’t have an asterisk by us as the class that didn’t get wet. Thanks for being my creek buddy Uncle.
  • AP — Coming out of the water, I thought I would be fine until Ballistic was right next to me putting hand warmers in my gloves. My lack of preparation in the clothing department bit me again after the cold dip. Problem is, the warmers weren’t working fast enough. So out of what seemed like nowhere on Queens, Slaughter has my pack off, we’re marching, and I now have his sweatshirt on. Not wanting to be seen by Cadre, I put my pack back quickly on but wondered inside if anyone had ever been pulled from a GORUCK (for shakes) this close to the end. I would not quit, and the group around me helped me prepare for Selwyn/Runnymeade, which I’ll add a note about further down…







March to AG

Class 421 - Photo by St. Paul » full collection of pictures on flickr

Intro: After a dip, the hike back to our original location seemed lighter in spirit for most. Charlotte was waking up, and our audience grew. Some PAX started having issues with the cold again while others started dying off (ok, GORUCK dying off).

  • Abel – Easiest part of the night for me was walking up Queens Road West.  F3 brethren in their cars all around watching us make the final push back towards AG. I was smiling, but there was still work to be done and that had to have been the longest stretch ever from Runnymede back to AG.  Was there anyone else alive?  Did I tell you I can’t do fireman carries — just ask Hillary. Luckily Arizona was killed off and I happened to be right there.
  • Skipper — I saw determination from all my F3 brothers all night long, but the biggest feats were on that last push to finish at AG. I was the 2nd person killed so all I could do was cheer and try to make my 6’2″ frame look skinny so someone would pick me up.Red Warrior, Ice-9, Stinger, and Gandolf each made it their mission to carry me home. As Mutiny mentioned, you feel helpless as a dead guy and wish you didn’t have to make your brothers work so hard on your behalf. There were times when I’d tell Ice-9 and Stinger to just walk next to me and cheat while the cadre weren’t looking, and they basically called BS on me and picked me up anyway #Strong.
  • Blue – all the guys that carried Durango back after he got killed.  BEAST!  Guys I know that shouldered the load were RW, Ice9, Stinger, Uncle…think PBo did too.  And props to all the guys that had to carry me back after I got killed.  Ice9, Stinger, PBo, Superman, RW, Blackjack…they were all machines!
  • Boy Scout – Runnymede: the heroes really came out amid the carnage on the final slog.  You guys know who you are and you inspired every man to suck it up and contribute whatever they could to get the team home.
  • AP — Having had to turn down a turn on carrying ammo coming up Queens Rd. due to the aforementioned shakes, I wanted to make up for it on Runnymeade. Once guys started dying off fast, I knew we were near the end based on past stories. I started lifting guys sometimes 40 pounds heavier, even if I could only go like 30-40 feet. (At the time, I also could hear my M in my head saying this was the one thing she didn’t want me to do — but I was feeling the euphoria of being near the end.) Then, out of nowhere, someone grabbed my RUCK, and I felt like I’d been lifted! Next, I grabbed The Shore and he asked how much I weighed, and we laughed that I could at least carry myself (and a tad more) after all we’d been through. I knew it was collective strength at that point. I even had enough energy to call out to the two guys who seemed too far ahead with our flags.
  • Freedom — Toward the end from Freedom Park to AG my legs were giving out and there was not much left in the tank and it showed. Thanks to all the guys trying to take my ruck, giving a fist pump, words of encouragement pushing me through the suck. The most amazing part was coming up to the parking lot to see all the families and friends cheering us on brought tears to my eyes and a sense of the bigger picture of life. I am honored to have been part of class 421.
  • The Shore — you may find it funny to know when I got “shot” down at the end, Durango comes to pick me up, and I remind him, “Durango, you need a new leader first!” to which Patrick shoots back at me, “We’ve heard enough from you Chatterbox! You’re dead! I don’t want to hear another word out of you!”
  • Shazam – Leaving Freedom Park and knowing where we had to go put things in perspective and I could really take stock of what happened… seeing people cheering us on from miles out and dangerously stopping cars in the middle of the road to take pictures and shout out words of encouragement was nothing short of amazing.  As hard as it was to continue carrying men and coupons up the hill to the finish, it could have been 10 miles longer and I know we would have done it.





The Finish

Class 421 - Photo by OBT

» full collection of pictures on flickr

Intro: The general consensus was the waiting crowd saved us from yet another SmokeFest, especially given we stopped only 50 yards short of AG and families were watching.

  • GG — The welcome home party. AWESOME! I cannot tell a lie here… those F3 brothers and M’s and 2.0’s and labrador retrievers brought me to tears. I’m tearing up as I write this recalling those 2.0’s hollering for their dads. That’s what it’s about. Digging deep for them and for our nation. And oh by the way, I’m convinced the welcome mob saved us from at least another half-hour of thrashing from cadre. They saw what they were up against and cut straight to Minnie Pearl’s catch phrase from the Hee Haw All Jug Band, “We’re through playing now!” Aye.
  • Abel – What a sight to see the welcoming committee back at AG.  I have to admit I teared up.  What was the BS call to get on the ground 50 yards from the entry to AG?  I have to wonder if there wasn’t some more planned for us on that football field.  The 2.0’s with the signs might have saved us.
  • Shazam — The cherry on top for me was seeing my wife and twin boys holding signs and cheering me home… I was welling up and didn’t care who saw it (as also mentioned before, I have no doubt that it saved us another solid 30 minutes of thrashing at the hands of the cadre with our families all waiting there). Patches were given out, hugs and tears were shared among men, many of whom I had never met before, but who are now inexorably linked in my life through this experience I’ll never forget.  Beer never tasted so good and coffee never was so hot and fresh as it was after we finished.
  • Superman — The biggest thing to me though was all of the support we got from our families and F3 brothers at launch and at the end.  Many people will show up to watch a spectacle like the welcome party.  But it’s something very different to track us all night, find us at Freedom in the morning, stop traffic to yell encouragement and take pictures while we made our way to AG, provide coffee and beer for everyone, and hang out to laugh and tell stories.
  • PBo — As many have said, I think our families totally shielded us from a final beat down at AG. At the time I was totally ecstatic, but now I am wondering if we didn’t need a few more minutes of pain. Nah, forget I even mentioned it…
  • Uncle — Fast forward 13 hours later… HangoverStyle. Pissed in Mike Tyson’s pool, went to a strip club, etc. One Big Ball of Man strolls back in where we started, like 15 guys dead at this point, Cadre thought about undressing us again, but knew we earned our patch. Do not get it twisted, we were an 80 man machine at that point and would have kept going. Still can’t not tell you how my body or yours withstood that onslaught – we all simply had a higher purpose. Only thing that comes to mind and something I constantly was repeating to myself as I was carrying Durango and stuck in this unending PAINbox was “No Weapon Formed against Me Shall Prosper”. Grateful to accomplish this with this group of men, one year to the day of moving to Charlotte not knowing one of you. Somehow I ended up carrying my best brother Slaughter across the finish line, it was meant to end like that. That is where we all sat in that #ThinPlace and shared that unforgettable moment. The journey to a moment like that must be that hard, go through the pain to get to the pleasure. On that note, I think Uncle Jesse is one and done — shit was crazy. #Class421
  • Mutiny — Budweiser… best tasting beer I have had since the first time I tasted it…. The walk back: seeing OBT and TD (I know there were others) following us back was awesome! I dont know why, but every time we came up to a car with one of our guys it helped push that much more. Brothers driving by, cheering and honking. This leads into my next note,,, Family: The send off crew and the welcome crew… How powerful. Unfortunately so powerful the flag bearer’s temporarily left the group and I was terrified we would have a smokeshow to end the trip in front of our families. My family could not be there – but my F3 Family was. You guys have had such a profound impact in such a short time with F3. I am generally regarded as the overenthusiastic hate/hate, but that is not without reason. No crazy story, just helped a guy in his quarter life crisis understand direction and purpose and to continue learning from those are are significantly smarter and more impressive than I am. F3 made me realize – there is greater purpose.
  • Pbo – Did anyone see Blue after we finished? Incredibly he didn’t have a speck of dirt on his clothes. Obviously he somehow levitated while doing army crawls at the beginning and he wasn’t cheating as much as I was on the push-ups since I basically wore holes in the knees of my new camo pants.
  • Frogger — Girardi, if I was a stronger man than I am, I would have let those tears just flow instead of fighting them back as I did. As we entered AG surrounded by brothers of F3 Nation and the wives and children of other members of Class 421 there to lift us up and see us across the finish line, all of us under more weight for longer than we believed possible, I felt such elation and relief that I wanted to hug the man next to me and weep for joy. Instead, I internalized it. Maybe next time.
  • The Shore — Strange Brew’s effort is now legendary but what you don’t know is that he has been putting forth just like that for at least 2 months to get to where he was on Saturday. He’s worked harder than all of us, and come farther. His effort was recognized by Cadre Patrick in the end as well, when giving Strange his patch. He said, “I thought for sure you’d quit. You dont see people push through like that very often.”
  • Durango — When Cadre Patrick handed me my patch, he said he remembered me from last summer’s class and knew then that I would be back for more. That one choked me up.
  • Girardi — Cadre Patrick – Quote from Cadre Dan (Green Beret, soon to be on his 5th (yes 5th) tour in Afghanistan – “Patrick is the most sadistic Cadre of all of us”. Thanks Cadre Dan, I believe you. No more discussion or debate required. I mapped our total marching mileage at 10. Of course we did more than that given all of the addition running but given that this event is promoted as 15-20 miles, it makes me think that we endured a little bit more beat down covering less ground and having to do more PT in between stops for #stupidshit.
  • Blue – Having my family at the finish line was HUGE.  Having my kids wave at me and then hugging them was unbelievable.  Then had a good laugh with them as we carried my ruck as a team back to my car… they were all in on the experience and wanted to be a part of it. Loved that.
  • Titanium – One of the guys mentioned in an earlier email about holding back tears. When we made it to AG and I saw all those people cheering us and waving, the kids, the support… it hit me hard. I was trying to hold it back because I honestly needed whatever strength I had left to keep my arms around the two guys that were carrying my shoulders. But I was crying!! We formed up and Cadre Patrick told us to ground our RUCKS… I was shaking!! The physical strain… over, the mental mind blender… finished, I stood there looking at all those people and just lost it!
  • Moby – So great to see the faces of accomplishment at the finish with guys I know well and guys I barely know. I had an up close view when I filmed 193 but it was nothing like being on the other side of the camera. I am glad I got back out there and sharpened my iron up again.
  • 49er – The Shore, Stone Cold and I are neighbors and have formed a strong friendship over the past several years.  We have trained for and completed marathons, adventure races and triathlons together and we know each other very well. They are the brothers that I never had. So after we received our patches I immediately looked for the two of them to celebrate.  After all it was The Shore who was relentless in his efforts to get us to do the GoRuck (he started right after he completed the July GoRuck).  I found Stone Cold first. We high fived and both said “never again” I told him that my GR1 will now be used as my carry-on luggage.  I then saw The Shore congratulating someone and I saw his exuberant facial expression and the tears in his eyes.  Knowing what he has gone through over the past month and half.  Loosing his dad suddenly to a very aggressive form of cancer just 17 days earlier and there he was… the happiest that I had ever seen him in the almost 9 years that we have been friends.  It was at the point that I knew that this was not my last GoRuck challenge.  Damnit Jon!
  • AP — Wow, the emotions. When we were told to ground our rucks vs. heading into another smokefest, I just started hugging guys. In May 2011, pre-F3, I was nowhere near the man I am today thanks to this group. When I found Tripp and OBT and Dredd, three guys who keep me grounded in much different ways, I didn’t want to let go. I still can’t believe I physically did this, but I knew I wasn’t freaking quitting. And we didn’t.






Post-Event: Other General Anecdotes & Shoutouts

GRC 421 - Photo by Austin Rape

» full collection of pictures on flickr

Intro: So many had positive things to share I had to create a section just for shoutouts.

  • Bootstrap – I think one of my most memorable moments for me post GoRuck was when Titanium came hobbling up to my house to give me my headlamp back. I really didn’t want to see or talk to anyone for just pure embarrassment of not finishing the challenge. He came in and gave me the biggest hug he could as if to say I know you didn’t quit and I hate you weren’t able to finish. I sat and listened to every detail I possibly could about what I had missed once I departed from the challenge. He filled me in on all that had transpired from the time I went down and how all that went down since I don’t remember ta lot of it. In the end, when he was leaving, he reached in his pocket and handed me his GoRuck Tough patch and I gave it back to him and said thanks but you earned and I will have another chance to earn mine as well. I know that the coveted patch is just a symbol of what was really accomplished but I will never be the same from this experience and wanted y’all to know that Titanium is 10 times the man I hope to be. A true inspiration through this challenge and in life. I salute you Brother.
  • Titanium – Bootstrap: I love this guy. He has more faith and spirit in him than I will ever have. I know how much it hurt to not finish with us. He hadhe metal state to finish; he has the physical ability to finish… that night his body would not let him finish. Sometimes that happens too. That’s why I offered him my patch… as far as I’m concerned he earned it. I know that’s not my call, but I wanted him toknow that not for one second do I think he quit or that he didn’t have what it took to make it. If he’s up to it and wants another shot I’m getting him a DAMN PATCH!
  • MiniMe – We were broken into teams (at the request of GRC staff), those teams worked, trained, and prepared together only loosely involving other teams….but in the end Cadre Patrick (weather he knew it or not) made all 3 teams become ONE….you see the analogy for me once you become involved in all F’s of F3Nation, they cannot be split apart because there’s a void if the others are missing….Glad to have all 3 F’s (team) together to overcome this chance and reveal to each other one cannot and will not exist without the other two.
  • Friday – Having played collegiate baseball, I have competed with many teams. However, I have never experienced nor witnessed the emotions and self sacrifice demonstrated those 13:15 hours! I loved every minute. I feel so blessed to be a part of something great.
  • Bugeater — This event had so many layers. Pain stacked on pain. In life when you look back you have memories of the big moments. This was a big moment. We kept pushing, we stood up and by each other through it all. Great leadership. Great team work. I learned a lot about myself and my limits and for this I thank F3 training and brothers Enjoyed sharing the pain and life moment with every one of you. We are all better for it.
  • Little John — it was a few simple words of encouragement at that point from numerous brothers in the dark that got me through that low point. If I tried to give credit to each of you who did so, I would inadvertently miss someone. So a resounding and sincere “thank you” to all who verbally voiced encouragement, gave a silent nod, or a simple fist bump during this evening. But it was at this point after being singled out that I resolved completely to finish. That I wasn’t going to give up. I realized that the team, as a whole, was greater than the individual. And all it took was a couple of words of encouragement from fellow brothers in the cold dark night to let me know that I was not alone.
  • White Shoe — Nothing about this challenge came easy to me. Nothing that matters ever does. I’ve tried to honestly reflect on what got me through the dark moments, and the same thought keeps coming to mind: love… I think this is a pretty fair description of what I saw class #421 become over the course of the evening: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” From where I’m standing, it seems that, in the end, all we have is our relationship with Him and the people He’s put in our lives. On Saturday night He provided us with each other, and for that, we are blessed.
  • 9 Lives — All this to say that I am deeply grateful to have been a part of this…not so much for myself, but because of all of you.  Some of you, I know well.  Some of you, I workout with regularly.  Some of you I only know by face-the guy wincing beside me in the snow.  One of you is my blood (Cousin Slaughter).  When I joined F3 last July, I had my reservations about being part of what I thought of as a “social group.”  Now I see that this group of men, locking shields is something that has changed me physically, mentally, emotionally and socially; that we stand together against any evil, including our inner-selves.  The GoRuck Challenge is a culmination of what the F3 nation stands for.  I am so glad to have done this challenge with other great men, and I am SO not doing it again.  I can’t remember who, but I did hear someone say, “It’s like asking your wife if she wants another child just after having given birth.”
  • Uncle — Tclaps to the men running point — tough job and you all did your best. We have a British bulldog in F3?! Name is strong and fitting. Point man number two – Free Pass? Nightmares of you bossing me around brother – Nice work! Uncle — Tclaps to my metro boys for pushing through Durango, FishWrap, Mutiny, Slaughter, Bunny, Maybe, Caesar. Uncle — Dredd, Red Warrior, Dino, Hilary, Girardi, Gnarley Goat — Old man strong, RESPECT — I look up to these guys a lot and was so happy they kept the teams together so I can experience this with you guys.
  • Skipper — T-Claps to all the men who stepped up when needed. Some were told to lead and did an awesome job, all others stepped up when necessary. Too many to name but the few that stuck out in my mind were Bulldog, Shazam, White Shoe, The Shore, and of course Dredd.
  • Mutiny — The pain: we all felt it. It sucked. I think the conditions changed their approach to the PT and the mileage. Im sure that we might have done less miles or PT than we would have at 40 degrees, but lets not trivialize that the weather itself was 13 hours and 15 minutes of PT in itself. F3Nation has terrible timing with GORUCK – 100 Degree start and a 25 degree start in the snow.
  • Frogger — All- it was an honor to face this with each of you. Every muscle in my body aches right now, but pain is temporary. What we did together – and the individual and group strength forged therefrom – will last much, much longer.
  • Durango — Very strong work by all, that was a very impressive group that really moved like a cohesive unit after a while. I hope to see each and every one of you out for our next GORUCK event. Team events like these really put things into perspective and give you time to reflect. Thanks to everyone for helping me through.
  • Girardi — I simply don’t know how Titanium and Strange Brew finished. Titanium with 8 hours on a blown out knee and Strange Brew’s right arm didn’t work for the last 3-4 hours of the event. Those guys never said quit. Never. Simply inspiring. During training, Dredd said told us that once you experience a tough situation (sleeping out in the cold), you have further appreciation of the good that surrounds you (warm bed at night). I walk away from this team event believing that if we as a team can accomplish what we did for 13 hours and 12 minutes in extreme conditions, we can accomplish anything. Few situations will seem tougher than what we overcame in this event. Class 421 and the guys in it will always mean something special to me.
  • Evinrude – I have no family that come and cheer me on during our csaup events, though I am constantly scanning the crowds, with the hope that one day that miracle will happen and hearts will soften and wounds will heal.   You, each of you goruckers and f3 brothers are angels sent here to lift and encourage the down trodden. You may be some of the ugliest and rough angles out there but if you were anything other than authentic caring individuals, you wouldn’t qualify for His work.
  • Tecumseh — Personally I have been through a lot in my life: Hard work, privation, suffering, joy, war and peace. This event really pushed me to the brink and I could not have done it without all of our F3 brethren. Reminds me when I was fighting in Iraq and the suck factor was huge BUT I had my buds and they sustained me and believed in me even when I sometimes doubted myself. Same thing for class421 aka F3 band of brothers. There were many times my body felt like quitting but the bond of men around me kept me strong.
  • Stinger — I am glad I experienced and really appreciate you leading the event and all the work you put into it. Definitely another successful F3 event!! We’ve got a great group of men surrounding us. Last thing — I was laying in bed early morning and just laughed out loud when I remembered Frogger saying at some ridiculous hour during the night that he was going to google Jack Webb and send that guy some anthrax. Still trying to process it all, but it was hands down the most grueling thing I’ve ever done.
  • Springfield —Shoutouts- Shazam you really did a fantastic job holding down all the action at the front of the formation through the whole 1st half. I’m convinced that’s why we didn’t get our 1st big smoking until the parking lot by the Morehead. As everyone else has said Bulldog, White Shoe, The Shore, props to you for working so hard to herd us. I saw many brothers pushing beyond their comfort zone and that builds character and it earns respect. You all have mine. Friday way to push through with a back that had been out of commission, you and Bogey were right there with Skipper and I every time. Dredd thanks for guarding the formation’s 6 for most of the night and you timely wisdom as always. Free-Pass and Uncle working overtime on the sniper spree in the last mile as did many others. AP for setting it up.












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Class 421 - Photo by Runstopper

» full collection of pictures on flickr

Intro: The BackBlast email thread got hijacked by Bunny and others getting ready for Heavy. I saw commits from Bogey, Ballistic, Evinrude, Durango, Caesar, Mutiny, Red Warrior, Ice9, Blue, and more were coming in. Good luck gents.

  • Dora — I’m going to do this again; Challenge, Heavy, Navigator…all of it. That was never a question in my mind of that. I knew if I could make it to the end, I’d be hooked; a certified GORUCK junkie. Only this time I will come back stronger, more humble, and hopefully with much less ugly pride and much more faith in my brothers. I learned so many things from the Cadre, but one thing shines brighter than the rest. The Cadre who led the team challenges in round-robin PT; the one from Texas who led one of the non-F3 classes…I forget his name…he said, (paraphrasing) “I don’t care how perfect your pushups are or how many you can do, or how far you can run, or that you can dead lift 550 lbs…if you aren’t using that TO HELP OTHERS, it means nothing”…and there are two sides to that coin.
  • Schedule C — The welcoming party back at AG was tremendous. I was overwhelmed that people were there. It was like instant energy. Once we lined up and Cadre Patrick told us we had finished I welled up with emotion I had only felt very few times before. I looked at Chopper as he was saying he was done. I agreed. But I agreed too soon. I’d do it again. If I did it once, I can do it again. And this time I can contribute more, help more and be more of an asset, not phoning it in.
  • Mutiny — Based on all of this, I absolutely retract my statement to Dredd and Uncle about not doing this again. I would do any event as long as I can lock shields with my brothers in F3. If F3 has a team in August I will be doing it. This is assuming I regain feeling in my right foot from the frosting!! “The good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It’s your mind you have to convince.” – Vince Lombardi Thank you guys. Until next CSAUP.


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Unbelievably beautiful, AP! Thanks again for taking the Q on the event and backblast… I had read every single email sent through and still have tears streaming down my face at reading them all together seeing the raw emotions and thoughts of my brothers… #lockedshields

Run Stopper

Great Job, AP! This was a great recap of all the chatter, I feel like im right back into the gloom snowplowing the football field at AG!


Nice work, AP! And brothers of Class 421! Aye! oops, I mean, Yes sir. #Ahoy!


Well Done AP! Rereading all the threads made me realize how blessed I am to have been part of something that can never really be explained unless you were there.

Even though days have passed since we crossed the finished line, beaten, broken and humbled I will carry this experience with me the rest of my life knowing that sometimes doing things with my F3 brothers that are truly CSAUP are what makes us better fathers, sons, husbands and just plain better men.

Mini Me

Great BB AP…you da man!

One other personal note that just came to me as I read through all this awesomeness again!

During the Ruck check, Cadre Rich (Mr. Jack Webb), checked my #BrickKilo on which I had made a copy of a Special Forces Vietnam Vet Patch, laminated it,
and taped it to the outside along with a note that said “In Honor of Dad: 1st Lieutenant SFG 1st/3rd/5th Vietnam Vet”…
Cadre Rich paused to read this, stood up, looked me square in the eye and outstretched his hand for a solid handshake….no words were spoken, but I knew
what he read and felt his appreciation for Dad….*chill bumps*….

Don’t remember who was beside me when he finally checked all rucks, but you tapped me and said, “What in the hell did you write on your bricks that deserved that?”


I saw Cadre Rich do that. I knew there was something cool in your Ruck!


If I would have written down all of the things I hoped to get out of F3 when I showed up to that first workout last May, I would have sold myself far far short. This challenge was nothing short of miraculous and life changing. And you did a perfect job of capturing it all in the BB. Thanks AP.

9 Lives

Way to pull all this together, AP. You earned a GoRuck Tough IT/Media Patch in my book. Great re-reading all the heart-felt pouring out of souls on this BB. #lumpinmythroat


AP, great post! Missing the first GoRuck was easy. I had knee surgery that morning. Still I awoke on pain meds wondering how the Pax were doing. This time was harder although the practical side of me knows my body cannot likely take the beating. It is hard to admit there are things you cannot do. The patch is not the prize but it is the opportunity to experience such an event with others. You have captured this beautifully in the BB. T-claps to all those who posted.


Free Pass

AP – Great BB and lead overall on this event. Slaughter and Bogey summed up my thoughts and feelings exactly with their comments. Thanks to all my F3 brothers for building strength in me I didn’t know I had. Because of you all I am better, stronger, and more complete man. Looking forward to the next CSAUP event.

Red Warrior

AP – fantastic work. My thoughts: That thing sucked and it was an awesome accomplishment by everyone. Borrowing a phrase from Zoot who borrowed a phrase from Apollo Creed – ain’t gonna be no rematch.

Gnarly Goat

Devastating and elevating. What a thing we did 421.

The Shore

Beautiful work AP! Thanks for all your hard work in leading us all.
One coupon that was carried all night was a 26 pound bag of change, equal to $250. All of it was donated to the victims’ families in Newton, CT.
Check out https://www.everribbon.com/ribbon/view/10076
where you can still see F3 Nation listed as a donor.


Awesome job on the video. Aye!


Great work on the video. Perfecto!!

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