In March 2014, I ran my first Spartan Race. It was the Charlotte Sprint. I registered on a whim. Crossing the finish line, I was hooked.
I went home and registered for 3 more events. I eventually earned my first trifecta which included the notorious Wintergreen Super.
While not the most amazing guy on the course, I loved the physical challenge and pushing myself outside my comfort zone. The pain and adversity kept me coming back for more. Usually, I managed to find myself in the top 10% of finishers.
The enjoyment of Spartan races spread to my entire family.
Then, it happened.
I was at the gym one morning and the discussion came around to Spartan races. During the conversation, someone asked if I had ever heard of GORUCK.
The person didn’t go into much detail except to say I should check it out.
Later that day I ended up on GORUCK.com.
What. The. Heck. Is. This?!?!
I was intrigued.
Over the next month, I would go back to the site. I would watch videos on YouTube. I couldn’t decide if GORUCK was stupid, crazy, or awesome.
Eventually, I found that a GORUCK event was going to be in my town. I signed up.
Every day the event got closer I regretted my decision.
As a Spartan Racer, here’s what impresses me the most about GORUCK events.
I’m not in control of the pain
When I was out on the Spartan courses, the amount of pain I was in was totally up to me. If I was cramping or the hill was too steep, I just adjusted however I wanted. The only thing compelling me with the clock. There wasn’t anyone on the course telling me what to do. I was in control.
At the GORUCK event, it was completely different. The leader of the event (either a current or former Special Forces Cadre) was in charge and when he said go, you went. When he said do push-ups, you did it until he said stop.
Being pushed physically by someone outside of myself was a new experience. I was forced to adapt and overcome the challenge in the moment. There was no hiding. There was no taking a break.
Team over Self
When I’m on the Spartan course, it is just me. Sure, I’ll give a quick hand to someone at an obstacle. But, for the most part, it is me against the course and the clock.
When doing a GORUCK event, everyone who shows up is now a “team.” The 20-50 of you now have one goal and that is for all of you to survive until the Cadre says the event is over.
Throughout the night the Cadre will give your team a number of missions and objectives. You will have to complete them according to the standard or pay the price for failure, as a team.
While I have learned a lot about myself during my Spartan races, it has been during GORUCK events that I’ve learned things about myself as a leader and team member that have made their way into my everyday life.
A Great Community
What I love about the GORUCK community is that you actually have time to create connections with people. At the Spartan races, I’d show up, run, and go home. Sure, people were nice and I could strike up a conversation with any Spartan and immediately bond over our suffering. But, GORUCK is different because for the entirety of the event (6-24 hours depending on which event you sign up for) you have time to talk to and get to know the people around you.
The people are one of the best parts of GORUCK and one of the reasons I come back time and time again.
I love hard work. That’s why I ran Spartan races. I love pushing myself to do harder things. The Wintergreen Super was the hardest thing I had ever done. The course punished me.
However, my definition of adversity was dramatically changed after my first GORUCK. Wintergreen was a walk in the park compared to the 12 hours we spent around Richmond that night.
There is no doubt that the physical challenge of the GORUCK events was greater than any of my Spartan races. As someone who loves to work hard, GORUCK delivers.
The GORUCK Cadre are there to do more than deliver a beat down. As special forces operators, they have a wealth of information on leadership, teamwork, and communication. During our brief breaks, the cadre shares important lessons they learned in their years of service. The lessons are practical, applicable, and always seasoned with a crazy awesome story.
Apples and Oranges
GORUCK and Spartan are different beasts. It is like comparing apples and oranges.
Spartan is an obstacle course race. GORUCK is an endurance event.
I love them both.
If you’re a Spartan racer considering your first GORUCK, let me know if you have any question in the comments below.