Throughout 70’s Big’s history, we’ve put an emphasis on entering and training for competitions (1, 2, 3, etc.). Today’s world is one where a person can wiggle through life without any real confrontation, any real challenge. The biggest challenge they face may be waking up on time in the morning or where to eat for lunch. Men and women of today may never subject themselves to something that really tests their mettle.
Signing up for a competition — whether it’s powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, CrossFit, strongman, highland games, judo, mountain bike racing, or whatever — forces a person into an uncomfortable situation. Not only will they be graded with a very specific standard, but they will be in direct competition with other people. Many people immediately think, “I’m not good enough to compete,” and “I’m not gonna win, why bother?” These comments usually arise because of fear; the fear of failure and the fear to put oneself in a vulnerable position. This would be enough of a reason to compete; it forces a person to confront their fear.
Yet competition inherently teaches many lessons; in essence it builds “character”. Character isn’t something your grandpa rambled about, but the foundation of what makes a person. Competition is comprised of victory and success, but also can be riddled with defeat and failure. It helps a person enter a realm of competitiveness, a place where people are actively trying to do better than others. It even allows situations where they can win in sloth, or lose with intensity. The competitive arena knows no bounds, and it asks the competitor: can you perform to your maximum potential today? That is why we urge you to compete; you’ll never achieve your full potential training alone.
Despite the benefit in most sport competitions available to us, there’s not anything that truly tests the potential of the mind. Yes, anxiety builds before hitting your opening snatch in weightlifting, but that’s very different than finding the will to continue when the body simply wants to sit down and have a nap. Enter the GoRuck Challenge.
The GoRuck Challenge was created by former Army Special Forces soldiers and is a team event that includes carrying a pack mixed with other, uh, festivities that lasts at least 10 hours and covers at least 15 miles. The cadre for the challenges consist of various SOF personnel, and the training is said to be similar to a day in Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS). It’s not exactly a “road march” in the classical sense, but partipants carry a ruck that weighs 30 to 35 pounds of bricks (not counting water or snacks). Sounds fun, eh?
To most civilians, it may sound insane and unnecessary. But today’s warriors not only must be able to endure physical pain and stress, but they also must endure copious amounts of mental stress (which is no doubt exacerbated by the physical stress). Completing a GoRuck Challenge isn’t merely a physical obstacle to overcome; it’s a lesson in mental toughness. And that’s why it’s good for you. No where else in your life will you subject yourself to getting wet, muddy, and tired for several hours, and then consciously decide to keep doing it for several more hours. Running marathons or sitting on a bike can’t replicate the feeling of 40 pounds straining on your back; that weight is a constant reminder that each step you take is a victory. Note that the GoRuck Challenge isn’t designed to weed people out and make them quit, but instead aims for the team to work together to complete the course. The GoRuck Challenge is a fantastic way to test your mettle.
The coolest thing about the GoRuck Challenge is its location; they are held in most major cities in the U.S. and are now creeping out internationally. The original location was Washington D.C., and the challenge took participants through downtown and past all of the U.S.’s famous monuments. The constant reminder of American sacrifice in the American Revoulution, American Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, and current wars is an inspiration as participants pay tribute to each monumnet. In other cities, participants will visit major landmarks or monuments during their quest through the night (most challenges start at 9:00 PM and end in the early morning).
A rucking challenge wouldn’t be complete without a ruck, and GoRuck specializes in tested, life-time guarantee rucks. These rucks were designed by SOF personnel for SOF personnel and are being used around the world this very second. Note that these are un-framed rucks, and are more like assault packs instead of ALICE or MOLLE frames (and you can get one that is “book bag” sized for every day carry).
Jeremy and I are signed up for the GoRuck Challenge that starts on Friday, June 15th at 9:00 PM. I’m told that this date is special because all of the cadre are being brought in for the weekend (that’s probably both a good and bad thing for us). In any case, I encourage anyone in the region to join us that weekend as it’ll be a joyous jaunt through D.C.’s monuments followed by copious ale consumption (beer is the official GoRuck beverage). If you’re looking for a unique physical and mental challenge, then this is for you.
If you’re interested, then check out the GoRuck Challenge website. If you have questions, you can, of course, ask them here, but the folks at GoRuck are really nice and will help you out (but search their site first). They have some other cool events, like this mountaineering course (pre-req is to complete a standard GoRuck Challenge). Check the shop to see all of their gear.