Like many people, I faked working in order to watch the first several hours of the GORUCK Selection live feed of the admin phase. After the briefing, the cadre ran the candidates through the usual, “Empty your ruck. Pack your ruck.” shenanigans. The activity is intended to add a little stress to the already stressful situation of starting Selection.
During this activity, candidate 020 caught my attention. As the live feed panned around at the chaos of people trying to pack their ruck in 60 seconds, candidate 020 zipped his ruck, slung it over his shoulder, looked around, and calmly took a sip of water.
This guy could finish.
Sure, it was a far cry from the full 48 hours. But, when the stress gets turned up, it is those who can slow down, keep cool, and move with efficiency that often come out on top.
I placed my money on #020.
My money is on 020. During the admin phase when they were dumping and picking their stuff, he packed his stuff, put on his ruck, and like a chill beast, opened his bottle and took a sip of water. Efficient movement and calm in the storm. #selection020 pic.twitter.com/w7hjrfXf89
— Ruck.Beer (@RuckDotBeer) September 21, 2018
Of course, we all know that there was only one finisher of Selection this year.
That said, I reached out to 020 (aka Scott Halbach) to see if he’d answer some questions and give us an idea of what Selection is like. He kindly obliged.
Can you tell us a little bit about your GORUCK background and when/why did you sign up for Selection?
So I started with the 991 challenge in Detroit(2014). My next event was an HCLS (005) also in Detroit(2015) with Jesse H and Aaron (by far my favorite event). I’ve done 4 heavies and about 6 or 7 challenges with a few lights thrown in. I’m not the type of person who keeps track of all of them nor do I have a patch board, just not my style.
I’ve also done The Midwest Suck. That is an amazing event that I recommend to all, super fun and a challenge.
I decided to do Selection about a year ago and started to ramp up my training. I already train at a CrossFit gym with a crew of real heavy hitters in this community. We have a ruck class on Saturday mornings for two hours, great stuff to be part of.
Once you decided you were going for it, what was your training like?
My training was pretty simple, maintain at least 50 miles a week running or rucking combined and hit at least 5-6 workouts a week.
Towards the last 8 weeks all of this was kicked up another notch. I had close friends come out and kick my teeth in at 4am before 7am ruck class. Those were awesome days.
I also programmed nasty 1-2 hour WOD’s to replicate the welcome party. My CrossFit WOD’s were all adjusted with sandbag work towards the end as well.
Side note my job also puts me on my feet 9-10 hours a day accumulating 8-11 miles a day (UPS delivery driver).
Walk us through the Selection day? What was going through your mind as you pulled up to the field?
This day actually started at about 4:30 am. I woke up with horrible cramping. I originally thought it was just nerves and maybe a little indigestion. Later that morning I came down with a pretty good bout of diarrhea. This went on until about 10.
I ran across the street from the hotel and grabbed a Gatorade and some Kaopectate.
Both of these seemed to help a lot.
The guys I came down with decided to go run a slow couple miles to get acclimated to the heat at 11. I actually felt pretty good on the run so I was feeling optimistic. We then headed over to the start point around 11:30.
At this time the adrenaline started to kick in and I was excited to get started. It was about as hot as it gets around these parts, supposedly 90 degrees with a heat index of 102, but no matter what it was time to get it on!
You caught my eye during the admin phase. There was the standard “dump your ruck and pack it again” shenanigans. As the camera panned around at the chaos it comes to you. Everyone else is still packing their ruck and you’re calm and cool, slinging it over your shoulder, eyes forward, taking a sip of water. I was like, “this dude is going to go the distance.” What was going through your mind during the admin phase? Were you as cool and calm as you looked?
So the reason for this (hahaha), so the whole event provokes many emotions in all the participants, as expected. Most of which are all in your own head, one of those being packing your ruck. I feel that most think that this will be your only chance to pack/fix your ruck. So if you watch the video people are packing those dry bags first (mistake 1). If anyone has ever packed a dry bag you know it holds air and is just a pain in the ass to smash down. So just throwing your stuff in your ruck outside of that dry bag is to your advantage.
The second mistake is trying to get your weight into the laptop slot, this is also just more than you need to worry about at this stage. Just get it in your ruck and fix it later.
The third mistake is having your bladder 100% full, that makes it very hard to pack. Cadre will not agree with this but if you have a full Nalgene this should get you through the admin phase.
The fourth mistake is opening your ruck all the way if you leave the zipper about 2 inches short of all the way it’s easier to start closing. That leads into the way I quick pack my ruck (GR2), in order, weight, water, anything else ridgid, then clothes and such. Get that compartment started as far as zipper, immediately start the other large pocket, start these zippers while sticking your knee into the top of your ruck, this should help get the zippers shut. Before closing all the way, check the ground for small things that could cost you another “DUMP IT” hahaha!!
I also put keyrings on my main compartment zippers which help tremendously.
What was it like waiting for you to be called for the PT tests? Seems like that took forever?
This actually wasn’t that bad, yes it was hot but as long as you kept drinking and being aware of your breathing you would be fine. The PT test is very time consuming but it’s better than doing burpees. I had failed the PT test in 2016 (sit-ups) so I was a little nervous but I knew I had fixed that. I got through that and was happy to go stand in the shade again.
You mentioned to me that the 5-miler was brutal. What was up with that?
It was super hot and zero shade, besides that there is no other way to explain this. I did train in the heat many times and did 5 miles in 90+ temps all of which I was under 40 minutes. Running comes naturally to me so I’ve never had a problem with this part. I was very surprised at how many people this took out.
There was a brief delay after the 5-miler because a couple guys had to be taken to the hospital. What was the mood like among the participants? What was going through your head?
This was unexpected but 100% the correct choice on their part “SAFETY IS THE STANDARD”. We all just laid there and caught some Z’s. I did some stretching as well to keep from cramping up after the run.
How was the 12-miler?
If anyone knows me they know I hate the 12-miler. I find it so boring it hurts. I knew my plan and I stuck to it. 16:30 pace and nothing more. My opinion is, why destroy yourself and run when you have plenty of time to do the 12?
After the 12-miler GORUCK did things a little different. Instead of the welcome party, there were some shenanigans in the field followed by a little Cadre Baseball. Unfortunately, this is where your Selection ended. What happened?
My voluntary withdrawal came a short time after the Cadre baseball started. As I’ll explain in the next question I was absolutely running on fumes and adrenaline. What’s crazy is this rotation was almost spot on to one of my long WOD’s I had done about 3 weeks ago.
So, diarrhea the morning of selection? What caused that?
So in checking the weather beforehand, I knew it was going to be hot as hell so I made a few mistakes and changed up what I did from day to day. Being I work outside in this heat all summer I should’ve just stuck with my normal routine, couple gallons of water 11 am Gatorade and 4 pm Gatorade. This has always kept me hydrated and kept me from overheating.
But because I knew I didn’t have access to Gatorade I thought I would hammer the salt and electrolytes Wednesday night and Thursday morning. This backfired on me very badly, hence the cramps and diarrhea Thursday morning.
You obviously didn’t sign up to not finish. What emotions did you feel when it was over?
This is a very real part of this event and it happens to the majority of those who attempt it. Anyone who goes into this event had better wrap their head around that before they start. Yes you want to finish, yes we all train really hard, yes we know the PT standards, it’s all very clear but sometimes stuff happens that is just out of your control.
Or in my case “shit happens” HAHAHAHA!!!!!
I was definitely upset with my results but I’m not saying I’m done either. Being 47 does limit my opportunity to keep trying but I’m in better shape in my late 40’s than I was in my late 30’s.
Will you attempt Selection again next year?
What advice do you have for people thinking about taking on Selection?
Find a crew of like-minded people and train your ass off.
Also, train alone with just you and your thoughts.
Ruck a shit ton!! Run a shit ton!!
Eat well, hydrate well, and just get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Train in the cold and the heat.
Learn to pack a ruck in a hurry 🙂
DO NOT CHANGE SHIT AT THE LAST MOMENT!!!!!
Thanks a ton to Roster 020 for this interview! If you think you have what it takes to finish Selection, sign up for class 021 today.