Interviews

Meet the GRT – Shannon Bass

Here is our next installment in Derek’s “Meet the GRT” series, taking a look at the life and times of the ruckers in our community.

Meet Shannon Bass

Tell us a little about yourself to get us started. (Name, Age, Location, Family, work, things you enjoy, whatever you want to tell the community)

I’m Shannon Bass, 46 years old, and live in Charlotte, North Carolina, although I am originally from Texas and will always consider myself a Texan.

I have two teenage sons, who unfortunately consider themselves North Carolinians!

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I’ve been married for 21 years and am happy that all four members of my family have their own ruck, and have either done GORUCK events or completed PATHFINDER classes.

Where did your GORUCK journey start? What was your first event? What stands out from that event?

I walked into work one day and a co-worker was wearing a backpack in the middle of her shift. I laughed and asked if she was planning on running out at any moment. Turns out she was training for a GORUCK event. She did the event and came back on the Monday after with pictures and stories. I told her she was crazy.

She did a second event and came back with more pictures and stories. Now I was intrigued, and she talked me into a Light.

In April 2015 I did a Light in Greenville, South Carolina with Cadre Daniel.

We carried a metal sled of round weight plates through a creek, loudly dragged the sled down the streets of downtown Greenville, and lugged the plates past prom bound teenagers on the beautiful bridge over the river. As soon as the event was over, I was looking to sign up for another.

What was your most recent event or events. What would you like to tell us about it / them?

I just finished my first HTL, back again in Greenville, South Carolina, at the Hard Hitter events in November 2019. I told many people I would never do an HTL, as honestly, it’s a crazy thing to do. But I saw the team that was forming for this event, the awesome Cadre line-up, the location that was close to Charlotte, the lack of 2020 HTLs, and I made the decision to jump in.

Favorite Ruck?

For events, my 20L Rucker 2.0. I did Bragg Heavy with it, and the whole HTL, both in cold conditions. People who say you can’t do a Heavy with a Rucker are wrong! For work travel, since I take a laptop everywhere, the GR1 can’t be beat.

Proudest accomplishment as a GRT?

The HTL for sure. It’s a true endurance event as you have the choice to come back, or not, for each stage. I had a great group of GRTs by my side. By this, I mean a hotel room full of smelly people, shredded candy wrappers, soiled band aids, and seriously foul shoes. We kept each other eating, packing, moving, and ultimately finishing

6. How many events have you done? What’s your favorite event or type of event? Why?

Way too many if you ask my husband, who mainly starts to do the dollar math!

59 total events including Bragg Heavy, Land Nav Heavy, the HTL, two 50 mile Star Courses, nine Tough/Lights, Jedburgh, Constellation, Expedition, Immersion, and the rest a combination of Toughs and Lights.

While I love the Heavy for the time it provides for lessons and evolutions, and the Tough for the reasonable amount of time to form a team and start to function well, the challenge of the Star Course is likely the most intriguing to me at this point.

Why do you continue to do events? What keeps you coming back?

I learn something every single time I step off with a ruck on my back. Sometimes I learn about patience. Sometimes I learn about leadership. Sometimes I learn about my perceived limits. Often I learn to shut up and do the work. Many times I make a new friend.

How do you train for events?

I log many ruck miles, but mostly in small chunks of 2-4 miles. This allows me to build a strong rucking foundation without injury.

Of course, I populate this with longer distances every couple of weeks. I also swim 1-2 times a week, which is really helpful for full-body cross-training that is not load-bearing.

I do a lot of yoga, and cannot emphasize enough how helpful this has been for flexibility, mobility, and mental training.

I round all of this out with ruck PT and a focus on core strength.

I am currently the Course Director for PATHFINDER Horizon, which is a Star Course training program. We focus on not just the physical aspects of Star Course training, but the planning, navigation, and teamwork components as well. As we continue to develop this program, creating original content and workouts takes up some of my training time.

Best Rucking and / or GORUCK event advice you have gotten?

One evolution at a time. This applies to events of all types, as well as my regular life. Humans can get very caught up in the past as well as the future, letting our minds run away with fears and negative thoughts. Staying in the present, dealing with the situation at hand, is always the best course of action.

A Heavy or HTL is a great teacher of this concept. You are in one evolution that is very challenging, you are exhausted and cannot imagine doing this for the many hours left in the event. It’s the forecasting of the future that dooms you, not the task at hand. If you push through that moment, you learn more about operating in the present. You can then take that lesson and apply it elsewhere in your life.

Other than packing list items, what is a must-have in your ruck for events?

Bacon. I am known for bringing a pound of cooked bacon to every event! Protein, fat, salt, great taste, shelf-stable, instant pick-me-up…can you ask for anything more?

A book or a few that have impacted your life? Why?

I read a lot, so this is a hard question to answer. After the all women’s event in Sept 2019 I was introduced to the book Ashley’s War about 1st Lt. Ashley White, who was killed in combat operations in Afghanistan in 2011. I so admire her strength, commitment, and courage.

Many GORUCK women have since read the book, thanks to Cadre Belman for introducing us to her story, and been impacted by her spirit.

12. What other hobbies do you have?

I am a yoga teacher, and the 200-hour journey to that certification profoundly affected me. I was starting with GORUCK events during my teacher training, and it was interesting to meld the two things. I am not currently teaching, which is why I guess I classify it as a hobby right now, but it remains a strong influence.

What’s the best purchase under $100 you’ve made in the past 12 months.

Smartwool base layer tights on Sierra Trading Post. For events, everything touching my skin is wool and it’s awesome but expensive. I stalk the sales.

How has rucking changed or improved your life?

I really dislike running, so rucking has provided similar or better fitness, with an awesome community. I have met so many people through PATHFINDER, Ruck Clubs, and events who I truly call friends. The relationships are the thing I am most thankful for.

How do you recruit new people to ruck, or do events with you?

I have convinced so many people to do events with me! Most of my siblings have done events, and my dad is an awesome shadow. My sister-in-law is about to do a second 50 mile Star with me, despite horrific blisters the first time. My neighbor is currently borrowing a ruck, and I’ve started the slow process of convincing her.

Mostly it’s easy, since I talk about it all the time, to start people slow and draw them in. I think the key is to not let them start with too much weight, which makes them painful and discouraged.

Best Beer to drink after a ruck?

Bud Heavy, no question. Otherwise, you will not catch me drinking a beer you can see through.

Advice you would give to someone before their 1st Light?

Stop thinking so much about it and just do it. There will be moments that suck, and moments of triumph. You just have to go for it.

Advice you’d give to someone before their 1st Tough?

Wear your ruck a lot. Wear it for actual rucking, but also wear it while cooking dinner, folding laundry, doing yard work, and watching your kid play soccer. The ruck on your back has to become something you don’t think about. Also, if you have kids, stop sitting when you take them places. Sports practice is a time to ruck miles around the field, hold the ruck overhead for one minute every 10 minutes, etc. Don’t say you don’t have time. You do. Make the time. When the other parents look at you funny, tell yourself they are just jealous of your commitment, they do not think you are crazy.

If you get overwhelmed during an event how do you refocus on the task at hand?

One of my favorite things during low moments at events is The Poll. At 4am, when everyone is tired and thinking about themselves, poll the class. When you go to breakfast after this Tough, what will you order? What is your Super Power? Who made you sign up for this?

I know if I am overwhelmed, others are too. We need to refocus.

What’s the next event or events on your calendar?

Bragg Heavy. But, if it’s raining, I’m out. After 2019 Bragg Heavy when it was 40 something degrees and raining for 18 hours, I really do not want to do that again. I have no shame in saying this, and am seriously attending based on the weather!

After that, NOLA 50 mile Star Course with my fabulous all-female team, Sisters of Steel. 21.

Any parting shots? Things the community needs to know?

Train hard, but make sure you get good rest. Lift heavy, and do yoga. Plan a workout calendar, including rest days and sleeping late. You don’t get something for nothing, so identify clear goals, map out a plan, then adapt and overcome any obstacles in your path.

Pack bacon.


Meet the GRT is put together by Derek. Derek is an average joe who enjoys exercise as a hobby. He lives and rucks in Mayberry (really) with his wife and newborn son. He works for a national nonprofit in finance and coaches functional fitness for 55+ year old folks. He writes at hilledit.com and you can find him at @dhill37. Reach out to him if you think you know a GRT he should feature next!

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