My Journey from Spartan Races to GORUCK Challanges

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.

I’ve now completed multiple GORUCK events including the GORUCK Light, GORUCK Tough, GORUCK Heavy, and GORUCK HTL.

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.

Hard Work

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.

Lessons Learned

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 race and haven’t given GORUCK a try, today is as good-a-day as any to give it a try. Find an event near you.

If you’re a Spartan racer considering your first GORUCK, let me know if you have any question in the comments below.

11 Replies to My Journey from Spartan Races to GORUCK Challanges

  1. Sounds like my transition as well. I have run over 30 OCR races and, even won a few in my age bracket. The past 2 years I’ve done 20 GORUCK events and 2 HTL’s. Truly a difference. Neither better than the other but definitely different.

  2. Sounds like you need to check out F3 if you haven’t yet http://f3nation.com

    Great article

    Similar experience with running that led me to rucking. I run because it sucks but rucking and GoRuck is a whole different level. AYE

  3. this is awesome! i just discovered goruck and i signed up on a whim…im all in, i bought the darn bag and everything…i have done one spartan super, on ma way to do the sprint and beast as well. wish me luck, this is such a good read.

      1. I’m signed up for two light events in south texas: Mogadishu mile in houston and a custom event in South Padre Island for a brand new ruck club.

  4. I’ll be doing my 1st GORUCK event in July, Tampa Operation Red Wing GORUCK Heavy, very thankful for this website and all the knowledge you pour out, it has helped me prepare and train for this being my first event. Thank you.

  5. I’ll be doing my 1st GORUCK event in July, Tampa Operation Red Wing GORUCK Heavy, very thankful for this website and all the knowledge you pour out, it has helped me prepare and train. Thank you.

  6. I, like yourself, have done a few Spartan races and heard of Go Ruck and thought hmmm maybe I can try this!! And well signed up on a whim. I will be doing my first GO Ruck event (Vietnam Tough) in Syracuse NY in exactly 14 days and I am freaking out … lol. See what happens in 2 weeks …. ohhh!!! Thanks for all your info on your site … appreciate all that you have out there!!

  7. I did a Google search on Spartan vs goruck and your blog came up! I am a Spartan Racer, but haven’t been surrounded by a military boyfriend who was trained by special ops, i’ve been craving the teamwork beat down seen in BUDS, ranger school and others. And then I found goruck. I sign up for my first event, a 12 hour event in December! I’m excited/nervous. It’ll be the longest event I have ever done! Any recommendations for training to prepare? I stopped my current spartan training program to train more sport specific, mainly rucking and adding some strength specific movements for preparing for log PT etc. But any advice appreciated!

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