THE SCENE: Crisp and clear. Invigorating. I kept my worn-out Mechanix gloves under one leg as I drove to keep them warm. Bruce posted on Slack that he would be a couple minutes late. When I arrived at Startex, the posse was gearing up – Bookworm, Four Eyes, Shoestring, Daniel Tiger. Judah pulled up as I was taking my position in our soon-to-be-formed circle.
What time is it, Shoe?
My name is Soybean and I’ll be your Q for the next hour. I am not a professional, and you have not paid to be here. You are exercising at your own risk. Please push yourself, but modify as necessary. Rucks off.
Our objective for the day was to transport the team and our gear to Memorial Field, where we would record proof of life and submit that proof to Slack HQ. Unfortunately, there were a number of obstacles and hazardous terrain in our way. Fortunately, I had five men ready to tackle it together (and a sixth on the way).
To prepare for our journey, we need to get the blood flowing into our cold limbs. We took a quick lap around the lot, then carioca’d down and back. I thanked the Sky Q that dancing was not on our agenda this morning, because Daniel Tiger’s hips looked mighty stiff. Back at our circle, we did 10 merkins in cadence followed by 10 squats in cadence. Sufficiently warm and out of ideas, I glanced towards the horizon, hoping to see headlights rounding the corner onto Zach Curlin. No dice.
We turned towards our objective. I snatched up Shoestring’s 60# coyote sandbag and slung it on my back. Just then, I heard a distant rumbling. If there had been a single cloud in the sky, I would’ve assumed thunder.
Headlights. The Ruck Q has arrived.
Someone grab his sandbag and let’s go, I said. Bookworm and Four Eyes were on it. The sandbag had been sitting in Bruce’s truck bed for who knows how long. The bottom was permanently flattened, giving it the shape of a huge, mean Toblerone. It was also covered in frost, and Four Eyes was already cussing it as he tried to adjust under it.
We proceeded towards our objective. Our first obstacle was the Tower of Terror. Men have been known to scale her slopes on foot – sometimes backwards or sideways – but woe to the man who climbs her stairs under ruck. What other choice did we have? We approached from the front, then skirted to the southern stairwell. On the path outside we dropped the sandbags and did ten 8-count body builders in cadence. Loaded up the bags again and took the stairs.
The level where you enter the stairwell is kind of a basement, so you climb a flight and then see a sign that says Floor 1. Then when you feel like you’ve been climbing forever you see Floor 3 and realize you still have 2 more flights in front of you. All heavy breathing at the top.
Our group then had to slowly make our way from the south end of the top deck to the north end. We were not able to walk or run due to the high winds coming from the northwest. We sat down in a row and passed the sandbags to the left. The last man in line, upon receiving the sandbag, would then get up and run to the far end on the right. We slowly made our way across the deck like some kind of human tank tread. A couple of times, men nearly lost their hands as we pushed and pulled. Other times, the weight of the bag would hit you with such a force as to remind you that men weren’t created to be tank treads. Recovering, we made our way down the slopes.
We circled back around to the path near the stairwell, did another set of ten 8-count body builders, and proceeded up the stairs a second time. Standing between us and our objective was the Slough of Despond. We’d have to carefully wade through it in order to protect our cargo. Lining up on along the southern wall, holding our rucks over our heads, we trudged (lunge walked) through the bog to the other side. I thought our groaning would never cease, but we eventually made it. Back down the slopes.
What time is it, Shoe?
We had 24 minutes and I had choices to make.
Bruce, pick a number between one and five.
Shoestring asked if I even had a plan. What a question. Let it go.
Bruce picked five. “The lot is cast into the lap; but its every decision is from the LORD.”
We made our way towards Memorial Field, stopping at the launchpad to do ten more 8-count body builders. We dropped the sandbags and proceeded to our next obstacle.
The field was covered in frost – not a light frost that dissolves at first touch, but something heavier and more resilient. Lining up on one sideline, we had to get across. The team was disappointed to learn there was an (imaginary) ceiling above the field that would keep us from standing up. We bear crawled across the field, dragging our rucks between our legs. The frost ate away at our gloves’ effectiveness. What once was dry and warm was now wet and cold getting colder. In his haste, Bruce had left his gloves either at home or in his truck. This brought back fond memories of that time we bear crawled 200 yards in the ice and snow at the MLK Light event. Phat Pat (RIP) thought he only needed his mind and ended up with numb, cut-up hands. Bruce survived (we all did), but not without stopping here and there to curse himself.
When we got to the other side, we did fifteen overhead presses and went back the way we came, bear crawling again. Fifteen more presses back on the first side and we headed back to the launch pad to get the sandbags. We’re on the homestretch.
We made a lap.
Back at the launchpad, we completed twenty flutter kicks in cadence, holding our rucks over our heads. That was followed with ten “ruck-to-shoestrings” in cadence, which was accompanied by a chorus of midwife noises from the PAX.
We made another quick lap, no sandbags. Nearly there!
The final ascent to our objective was a quick sprint up a mountain. Did we have time?
What time is it, Shoe?
Six thirteen. No! Fourteen.
Twenty mountain climbers in cadence got us there, finally. We held a reverent plank for about half a minute, struck with the weight of joy at having reached our destination.
There was only one thing left to do – proof of life. I asked who among us had a camera.
Four Eyes answered in the affirmative. He unzipped the pocket on the right side of his $24.99 plus tax Wrangler pants from Target and pulled out his phone.
Not a scratch, he said. Suck it, GORUCK!
COUNT-OFF & NAME-O-RAMA
7 PAX – I might’ve sent FNGs to the Berm anyway. “This is not for you just now. All in due time.”
CIRCLE OF TRUST/BOM:
Admittedly, YHC had not really prepared a COT in advance. I did, however, see a news story about a man killed in Nashville when a piece of concrete was thrown from a bridge and struck his car. I’ve heard of that kind of thing happening before, and it’s something I always think about when passing under an overpass on road trips. It’s a reminder to me that the next moment is not promised to us, and tomorrow certainly isn’t either. I wonder what that man left undone or unsaid. If you have unrepentant sin, go to Jesus. If you have unresolved conflict, fix it. Tell your family you love them every day. Any conversation could be your last.
TCLAPs to Judah for jumping right in to F3 and rucking. TCLAPs to Brett Favre and Wrangler for designing tough, effective, and affordable pants.
Thanksgiving workouts at the Berm, the Bingo Hall, and Blazing Saddle. 2nd F event Friday at the Mothership.