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GORUCK T/L Tough/Light AAR

The following is a brief AAR for my first back-to-back GORUCK events. In March 2016 I participated in the GORUCK Tough/Light in Richmond, VA run by Cadre Montreal.

Preparation

Having completed one GORUCK Tough, I was much more mentally prepared for what I was about to face. On top of my regular strength training, my gym became a Preferred GORUCK Training Partner and I was asked to create a weekly class that introduced people to rucking and GORUCK-like experiences. So, I started this class. Having more frequent exposure to fun things like coupons, team weights, and other Good Livin’, I felt much better physically prepared for these events.

Motivation

I was attempting my first T/L with one main objective: Find out if I can last through 24 hours of GORUCK love. The hope was that this would be the logical step towards attempting a GORUCK Heavy. If I completed the T/L and still felt good, then I would have a greater confidence to pull the trigger and go for a Heavy.

What I Packed

I previously wrote about my GORUCK Packing List for my very first event. My setup for this event was a little different:

What Went Down

More or less, the same thing that happens at every GORUCK event.

T/L Lessons Learned

This was my first “cold” event. When working and moving, it wasn’t too bad. When we stopped my temp dropped quick and it was not fun. My shell jacket provided just the right amount of warmth when I needed it, helping to retain the heat.

I felt really good at the end of the Tough. Went out with some team mates for breakfast and ate all the food and then some.

After breakfast we went back to the start point and chilled out in the car. I decided that I didn’t want to sleep and I think that was a good idea. I really feel like if I had gone to sleep, it would have really messed me up.

One really helpful thing that we did was go for a walk (no ruck) about an hour before the event. After eating and chilling for a couple hours, it really helped to knock off the cobwebs by just getting out and moving again.

Once the Light started, it was just more of the same. Grind it out and get it done.

What I learned about me

It was about 7am. It had been a long night and the morning was proving to be even longer. I was keenly aware of how far we were from the start point, so I knew the miles that lay in front of us. As a team we had a dummy in a stretcher. We’d had him all night and his 180 pounds of dead weight seemed to be getting heavier. However, with 4 people, he wasn’t too bad. Whenever we had 6-8 team members on a rotation, it was really manageable. But, every time we got a good rotation, team members would pull a Keyser Soze and just disappear. I was getting frustrated because the solution was simple. I decided I would “motivate” the team.

We had stopped at a corner and yelled my motivation at the team. I said (yelled) something along the line of “Look, we’re all in a ton of pain. We all need to suck this up and push to the end. So, let’s all get up here, get a rotation, and take this freaking thing home.”

As I wrapped up my great speech, I looked at my team. They were zombies. No one moved. Nothing changed.

Now, I stand by my observation that if we would simply get a good rotation on the stretcher, everyone would be in better shape. But, half the team was hanging on by a thread. And that’s where I learned my lesson. Sure, my solution might have been right, but it didn’t fully take in to consideration the condition of my team. The truth is, I was doing better than most of them at this point and grip strength and carrying crap is one of my better skill-sets. So, when others are weak and I’m strong, then my job is to carry more weight.

This impacted me in a big way and I’ve thought about it a lot since the event. I think the key for me is to stop saying “what can my team do better?” and maybe more quickly ask, “What I can do to serve my team right now?”

Now, that’s not to say it is all up to me or that my team doesn’t need to get their shit together… but, sometimes you just need to serve your team and not yell at them.

Conclusion

  • Being a leader isn’t always about what you say, but what you do.
  • I can do a T/L, so next step is a Heavy.
  • Lights aren’t super fun when only 7 people show up.
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