Italian Job recently had the pleasure to speak with Spur from F3 Alamo (San Antonio) about his experience at GrowRuck 20. Take the time to read about the event and why you should consider attending a GrowRuck weekend.
IJ: How many GrowRuck events have you participated in?
S: GrowRuck Alamo was my 2nd GrowRuck event. The first one was in Houston in 2018. I was wide-eyed and naïve and definitely not prepared for the slap in the face a GrowRuck weekend can give a man. This time I was ready and excited to take in all the events.
IJ: What was your biggest takeaway from the weekend?
S: Just one? Can I mention three?
One of the biggest takeaways was reinforcement of teamwork to accomplish big things. To carry a log 5.5 miles takes incredible collaboration, communication, and grit. To put on a successful event, you need many men contributing. From cleanup crews, to coupon Qs, to sag wagon Qs – it takes a village.
Another takeaway was how physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding this event was on men. To some, this was the hardest event they have ever completed. When you plan these events, you only dream that your hard work creates a great experience for others. We definitely accomplished that goal and then some.
Lastly, because of the mental demand, how long this event takes to process. I heard stories of guys going to workplaces just so they could talk about their experience with other men who experienced the same event. I’ve heard several men are still processing what they learned that weekend. GrowRuck Alamo will stick with men for a long time.
IJ: Would you recommend this event for all PAX?
S: I wish all men could participate in a GrowRuck event.
For the PAX who participated, it was a shared experience of pain, memories, and teamwork. It’s the nod of acknowledgment you give a brother in the gloom that instantly makes you share a closer bond.
To the PAX who did not participate, you wish you had that same connection with them. It’s like having a family member that could not participate in a family vacation to Europe. They are still your family member, they just don’t have some of the same memories.
For all men, I think it’s important that we push ourselves to our physical and mental limits so we can see two things: 1) that our personal limits are higher than we thought they were and, 2) that, with teamwork, you push your limits further than you can imagine.
IJ: What was the most challenging part for you?
S: We all have those dark moments during a GrowRuck event, even if you know they are coming.
Around 2am I was challenged mentally. We had been carrying sandbags since 9 or 10pm, and I kept getting stuck with the 60 or 80lb sandbag. It was miserable. I was praying to get relieved.
Every time I had a free moment with no 60 or 80lb sandbag, I heard another PAX say they needed relief. Like Pavlov’s dog, I volunteered to take on the work. Why? Because I knew what it was like to need help, and I wanted to be the relief for that man.
And then, like clockwork, I cursed myself (and the event coordinator – me) for subjecting myself to the pain. This cycle repeated for several hours, a mental anguish of battling me versus we.
IJ: On a scale from 1-10 (1 being broga and 10 being hardest thing ever), how difficult was the event?
S: 8, with the most difficult part being mental.
The previous rucking events I’ve been part of were more physically demanding because I was not properly trained. This time, I was prepared through a ruck and sandbag training program I’ve participated in since September. TClaps to the F3 Houston’s Anvil program!
IJ: What advice would you give to men who are on the fence about attending a GrowRuck event?
S: Just do it. You are right to hesitate. It’s hard. But the memories you will create, the lessons you learn, and the friendships you will forge far outweigh the FOMO you will feel sitting out.
IJ: What did this mean to your home region as the host?
S: The planning process actually started in January 2020, and the original date for GrowRuck Alamo was September 2020. Due to COVID, our event happened in April 2021. So that means we planned this event for 16 months. As Gobbler likes to say, that’s almost 2 pregnancies!
The biggest benefit to this long planning process was developing relationships with some of the other regions. Monthly planning calls and periodic check-ins built strong bonds across Texas. Now, I’m on text threads with all the F3 Texas Nant’ans. I even recently attended an AO launch in F3 Katy where I was reunited with many GrowRuck attendees and greeted with hugs and shared memories.
We’ve built a stronger bond in Texas that will benefit the men in our communities for years to come. The fact that an event in San Antonio will be the genesis of our relationships, the future HIMs, is something I take great pride in.
IJ: Are there any interesting stories that came out of the weekend?
S: Of course! You don’t spend three days with all those HIMs and not have good stories. Here were a few highlights:
- The boys like to party. Sodfather and Soprano rewarded the PAX with well-crafted margaritas. Plus, we had over 35 cases of beer donated by local breweries – including Alamo, Freetail, and Shiner, and an excellent dinner available at The Rally fellowship event. This led to a handful of PAX jumping into the pool in the middle of the night and some wild, fun pictures.
- Prior to the Kingbuilder workout on Saturday morning, and 12 hours before we stepped off for the all-night ruck, 26 PAX thought it was a good idea to have a pre-run of three miles along the Olmos Basin Dam. We even threw in six stops along the way to get in 25 merkins – 150 in total. Looking back, this was probably not our smartest move.
- 2.5 hours before we stepped off for the ruck, the Cadres told us to meet at a different location. We were being tested before the test began! So instead of getting a nap, several of us were calling and texting other PAX to inform them of the change of location. It caused us to not have a flag present when we stepped off, which cadres already knew was going to happen. They smiled as they gave us four concrete filled buckets with a flag attached. We had to carry them all night. Fun times.
- The heroes of the night were the Sag Wagon crew. They supplied peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, water, and even mints as the PAX rucked through the night. We were so grateful for their efforts. And then, when everyone departed, the Sag Wagons were the ones who helped our Coupon Q load his trailer with the telephone poles and other coupons used throughout the night. Cheers to the Sag Wagons!
- At one point in the night, the Cadres had us in the River Walk water where PAX were greeted by two diamondback snakes as they completed PT. As we reflected on the situation later the next morning, one of the PAX said “I was ready to suck the poison out of someone’s leg!” That’s brotherhood right there.
- The PT test was fun since we finally got to take our rucksacks off. 100 burpees, followed by one mile, followed by 50 burpees, then half a mile. All under 32 minutes. Two Platoons tied for total PAX passing the PT test, so we had a run off. We each chose one PAX to represent us in a 0.25 mile run. We probably woke up the south side of San Antonio with how much we yelled during that race.
- At the closing ceremony, a high school band member played the “Star Spangled Banner” with a trumpet. Several PAX said they cried, taking it in as a spiritual moment. They just completed one of the hardest events they’ve ever experienced. There was pride in our Nation. It was a beautiful moment.
As mentioned earlier, it takes a village to put in a fantastic event. Thank you to Tuba, our GrowRuck Alamo Q. Thank you to Mulch, our Coupon Q. Thank you to Paperboi, our Sag Wagon Q.
These men had several PAX assist and really helped show our brothers across F3 Nation the San Antonio hospitality.