Friday, November 25, 2011

Green Berets, GORUCK, and proceeds from the sales of my book

If you aren't already aware, I will be donating the proceeds from initial sales of Number 181 to the Green Beret Foundation (see the link on this page to buy the book). My ties to the military go way back, but I've become more involved with the GBF in recent months thanks to my experiences with the GORUCK Challenge. The GORUCK is a difficult thing to describe to others. It's part survival training and part obstacle course, part endurance race and part mental punishment.

Led by an active-duty Green Beret, the GORUCK is designed to build leadership skills and foster teamwork. I participated in the Savannah, GA challenge in October 2011.

26 members
20 miles
13 hours

We waded through the Savannah River. We waded through disgusting lakes. We carried each other, literally and figuratively, for 20 miles through the Savannah night, and it was one of the most challenging, most rewarding things I have ever done. I've run marathons and slogged through years at the gym, but the GORUCK is all about taking yourself to the limits and pushing through them with the help of friends, whether you knew them before that night or not.

Each class is different. Each cadre (the active duty Green Beret leading) is different. About 20 of my group were active-duty or retired military. All were good people.

Check it out. Sign up. And, grab a rucksack full of bricks. Oh, did I forget to mention you have to carry along all your equipment...?

We had to carry a telephone pole.

For 6 miles.

Seriously, it's fun! I swear!

We started at 1am in one of the nondescript squares in downtown Savannah. I met the 25 other poor decision-makers for the first time the night before at the RuckOff, an informal event designed to tempt the participants with alcohol mere hours before the event (fight the urge!). There was a group of about a dozen that had come together from a gym in Lakeland. Note: There is a definite benefit to knowing your classmates beforehand, but it's not necessary. It was here that we gained our coupons, the items we would have to carry in addition to our brick-filled rucks. Five 5-gallon fuel tanks of water. A 25-foot coil of rope. A case full of straps, 'biners, and sapper manuals. Six cases of beer. Two telephone poles.... hang on, we'll get there.

We started off toward the bar district for some "Good Livin'" down the riverfront in full view of drunk revelers (part one of the GORUCK requirement: Bar District). We spent hours here burning through lunges, squats, and push-ups. Three hours in, we had gone about a mile. After being routinely harried by Georgians (I think, they slurred so badly we couldn't tell), we headed into the Savannah countryside, jogging miles into the dark without the calming knowledge offered by a watch or GPS. Dan, our cadre, did his best to entertain us with periodic stops for brutal training: bear crawls, crab walks, crossfit squats.

Unexpected entertainment came in the form of two cordoned off intersections where local law enforcement had established crime scenes (two scenes for three homicides total... Who had three murders in the office pool?).

After a short stop to select the two telephone poles we would be forced to lug around a lake (part two of the GORUCK requirement: Carry a log), we carted the logs and our coupons on our shoulders around an unnamed lake for a mile. Once the loop was completed, we proceeded to do pyramids with the poles (10 presses/curls/push-ups/flutter kicks, 9 presses/curls/push-ups/flutter kicks, 8...).

After setting up a observation post and as the sun began to rise, we proceeded to numb our now-aching bodies with beers (finally, we could lighten the loads we carried). Twenty blessed minutes of bonding and drinking later, we picked up our coupons (log included) and plunged into the lake (part three of the GORUCK requirement: You're gonna get wet. Wading into the Savannah River at the riverfront doesn't count). Up to our necks in pond scum, we waded a hundred yards to the other side, squats and overhead presses along the way.

Once clear of the lake, our plan had us on a return trip to Savannah. Six miles. With the telephone pole. By now, the early morning joggers and dog-walkers were awake and offering looks that were part sympathy and part I'm-Calling-The-Police. After a six-mile trudge through suburban Georgia, with a freaking telephone pole, we were tasked with one last action: carrying each other a mile to an 'evac site.'

A 3-mile jog later, we neared our finish point. But first, Dan sat us down in a very crowded and 'curious onlooker'-filled park and explained to us the role the Green Berets play in the defense of our nation and the importance of teamwork and brotherhood (Note: We did have two kick-ass females in our group). Buddy carries back to the square we started at 13 hours prior, and we were done...

... minus a terrorist threat that was caused by the discarding of our bricks in a crowded downtown area and calls to local police and the FBI after we had left. But, that's a story for another post...
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