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It’s a good metaphor for life. Carry heavy things, force yourself to see what you are made of (chances are, it’s more than you ever imagined). Almost two years ago I was introduced to the activity that is “carrying heavy things with strangers” in the form of a Spartan Hurricane Heat. HH016 to be exact, the one year anniversary of the very first hurricane heat.
(quick history lesson for those of you unaware: Hurricane Irene blew through New England in August 2011 and utterly destroyed the state of Vermont, among other things. Its approach resulted in the cancellation of the Sunday New England Spartan sprint, leaving thousands of racers out luck. Refusing to be defeated, Spartan founder Joe DeSena gathered 150 athletes and Spartan staffers at 5:30am on Saturday morning, handed them some sandbags, did a boatload of burpees, and proceeded to spend more than 3 hours covering less than 4 miles. And voila, the Hurricane Heat was born.)
About 4.5 hours of burpees, carrying heavy things and/or each other, and navigating obstacles as a team instead of individuals. It completely took the competitive “race” feel out of the equation (well, almost) and forced you to work very closely with people you have never met before. Though thoroughly exhausting, it was an awesome and rewarding experience, the type of experience I think every competitive and non-competitive athlete alike should take part in.
Now, the Spartan Hurricane Heat’s are certainly not the only place you can “carry heavy things with strangers.” For years I have not only heard of GORUCK* events, but have numerous friends who are very committed to the organization. I’ve always aspired to do a GORUCK challenge, but put it on the “someday” list, and didn’t think much of it. Then out of the blue I received an invite to become a GORUCK affiliate. After a good bit of research I accepted, with one condition: it was time for me to register for an event.
What is a GORUCK? From what I gather, it was an event that started merely as a product testing opportunity, that morphed into a series of life changing experiences for people. I don’t even feel remotely qualified to explain it in depth to you quite yet, so watch this video:
There are countless different types and distances of events offered by GORUCK, but I figured I’d start with the entry level option: a “GORUCK Light”. 4-5 hours, 7-10 miles. Now, GORUCK events, to me, have always been synonymous with bricks; even before I knew exactly what they were about, I knew you had to carry bricks. For the light: ” 2 bricks if you are under 150 pounds, 4 if you are over. Life isn’t fair. Each brick should weigh 4-6 pounds. Wrap your bricks with duct tape to protect your gear. ” (the number of bricks increases with each event)
Seems simple enough, right? So Geoff and I head off to the lawn and garden section of a local store and bring home 14 bricks total. 8 more bricks than we needed because we figured we’d train heavier than necessary, and truth be told we read the wrong packing list in the first place thinking we needed 10 total for the event. We’re off to a great start.
But since we have so many bricks, we might as well use them. 4-6 for me, 6-8 for Geoff. Turns out those suckers are way heavier than I imagined. Especially when jammed into an Osprey daypack designed for absolutely everything BUT carrying bricks. Regardless, being comfortable with being UNcomfortable is the name of the game, not just for the GORUCK but for other events we have coming up…and frankly, life in general. So with backpacks loaded with bricks, extra rocks in our arms (I’m remembering Killington) and for the mental portion of this challenge, a 5 year old talking my ear off while I’m sucking wind (did you know that a camel spider is NOT actually a camel?) we hit the local ski jump steps.
Hundreds of sucky steps. They hurt, it hurts, my lungs hurt, my heart pounded.
I loved every second of it.
I am absolutely looking forward to the teamwork/team building experience that comes with GORUCK, but I won’t lie…I’m also looking forward to getting to know these bricks. Training is half the fun.
Sometimes I wonder if I need new hobbies…
If you’ve ever wanted to do a GORUCK event, they are currently holding an amazing “Christmas in July” sale, with 50% off the Light and Challenge events, and 25% off of the Heavy. Click on the photo below to check it out:
*Affiliate links used in this post.