A huge thank you to Randy (F3_Bartman) for sending this AAR over. It’s always interesting to read about GORUCK’s Special Events to see what the Cadre bring to truly make them unique. In addition to being a 9/11 memorial event this Tough featured two Cadre which always brings a special spin. One thing to note is that Bartman uses the word PAX which is F3 Nation lingo for a member of F3 Nation. In this context it means someone who is participating in the event.
-Brian, All Day Ruckoff Founder
GORUCK Tough AAR
The event started out with typical administrative roll call at Cumberland Park. Ruck check, one pax showed up late…and Cadre Belman tipped his glasses and said…’you realize this is a GORUCK event and you have to be on time.’
Because of the late attendee, we stopped everything and had to do 30 ruck on Burpees.
After the administrative portion and Burpees were complete…TL named…organize into 2 ranks…and quick. Did it like 4 times. We absolutely sucked at this…which was surprising considering half the pax had completed at least one challenge before. I was doing the challenge with 10 other of my F3 brothers from Franklin and Nashville.
2 ranks then split up, one started PT with Jake, the others went to parking lot to get coupons with Belman. Coupons consisted of 2 large telephone poles (4 on the large, 3 on the smaller), 6 sandbags of varying weight. Orange Home Depot buckets, 2 logs (trees), 2 large water tanks. Belman was only gonna have us do the smaller of the two poles, but some jabroni decided to go ahead and start getting out the large one and he was like ‘ah hell why not’.
Group that was with jake then had to proceed with filling the sandbags and arranging in certain order while group that was with Belman started log PT. Log pt had groups on the logs while pax not on logs were doing various other exercises, like 8 count body builders, squats, etc. We also had to to do low crawls keeping a line with partner on top of us…yes, partner straddling our back as we moved across the field.
Now came the moment that defined the night most for me. Cadre Jake had taken my group over and had us circled up. Started with some good old ruck pt…flutter kicks, Ruck squats, and overhead ruck holds. He then asked several of the pax, who they were memorializing…lots of blank stares. He then asked how many pax came prepared with a name of someone they were memorializing…couple handfuls of folks, including myself (Firefighter, Paul Gill) raised their hand. It was then Jake told everyone we had 3 minutes to get our shit together and for the folks who didn’t have a name to get a name. Couple of the guys pulled out phones and started googling names, etc. finally all in order, we circled back up for more ruck PT. As we held rucks overhead, Cadre Jake advised us yell out our name and the name of who we were memorializing when we had to rest (lower the ruck), that we were failing and remembering that. As we continued with rucks raised, names were being blurted out, one after the other, Cadre Jake made his way around the circle staring all in the eyes, talking to some, heckling others, names continuing to just be blurted out. Cadre Jake then stopped us and told us, we were going to do it again, but this time… respect each other and those who we were memorializing… meaning, if we felt the urge to rest, hold on 5 more seconds to allow another person to call theirs out. It took us a couple of times…but we got it… it was amazing. It was then I had so much clarity, understanding, everything.
We finished this PT up and started to form 2 columns to start our first movement. However, prior to moving out, we had to memorize the set up of the coupons… because every time we stopped we had to put the coupons back in the exact order. The first movement wasn’t very far at all…right down to opposite end of the park…but damn it felt like it took eternity as we moved those two large telephone poles. We certainly weren’t out there to break a land speed record. We were split into two groups again…group with Cadre Jake to do some water PT and other with Cadre Belman to do some relay races. I was in the first group with Cadre Jake. We lined up in a single rank facing the water. The bank was unique as it it very defined square pavers. We were instructed by Cadre Jake to move along these pavers only and only in the steps & directions he told us. We took to the water moving forward, arms linked. We got to about waist high water and began doing squats, still arms linked, as Cadre Jake barked ‘up/down’. To make it more fun… Cadre Jake instructed us to shout ‘I Love Water!!’ as we were going up/down. After the squats, we moved into plank, then doing a push up, then moving a paved forward, etc… all the way to the water. After their water PT, Cadre Jake advised us on how Selection was for Israeli special Forces. One item he mentioned was they would do these coupon races. We did probably 3 or 4 of these races before switching back up to Cadre Belman.
We moved over to Cadre Belman and we’re immediately greeted by the two telephone poles. It was our turn for the relay race. First up, we had to get the pole up the hill without picking off the ground and the pax had to have at least 3 points of contact on the ground. Having learned from previous challenges, I brought some extra rope and some extra carabiners. So we used the hook at the end of pole, ran the rope through, and tied the other ends to the extra carabiners and latched those to rucks. Then our team proceeded to bear crawl up the hill dragging the pole. We smoked the other team. As soon as they got to the top, the next individual had to push, pull, whatever means necessary to get the 5 gallon jug up the hill… without it leaving the ground. I opted for the push… pushing it on the ground with both hands on it driving with my legs. After all pax completed the jug, exercise complete.
Next up, we were off to Centennial Park… decent mileage to it… carrying every coupon still. Under the covered sitting area we were able to have a breather but more importantly hearing some stories about where folks were at when 9/11 happened. Cadre Jake, being part of the Israeli special forces, brought a unique perspective. Several of the pax got up and talked about who they were honoring, myself included. I was honoring Firefight Paul Gill. He was 34 years old, and one of the first firehouses to respond to the attack and he and his entire crew perished that day. Sobering moment for all at this point.
It was now time for the next movement. However, one small change… we now had to connect all of the coupons together. The two telephone poles and logs had to be chained together and the sandbags had to be chained together. Ladies and gentlemen… we had formed two of the biggest pain trains (pictures do exist, just ask Belman or Jake). Once we got all of that set, we set off for our next movement. We moved and undisclosed distance, probably no more than 2 miles to a lawn near the capitol building. Here we did some low crawl movements across the lawn. Once the low crawl movements were complete we made our way over to the fountains where we got to ‘shower all the grass off’. Then we were off to the 2 inch pools of water that were nearby. There was 4 pools in total, each about 15 yards long. With rucks off, we lined up and had to crab walk across the pools all the way across. Once we got all across, we had to go back. Despite absolutely despising crab walks, and scooting on my ass most of the time, it was quite fun… we had a good time with it.
Rucks back on, coupons in tact, we started our next movement back to one of the parks near the river. When we arrived at the park, we had to make stretchers out of the 2x4s and extra t-shirts we brought. Once we figured it out, we then had to place the sandbags on the stretcher and we divided into two teams. This was a terraced park… with 5 or so levels. Then, as a whole, we had to get the stretcher up to the top of the park. We did this a few times and at the end, disassembled the stretcher. All was done without dropping the casualties. Time to move out again… but not before one of the pax led us in some Yoga… yep, Yoga. Sucked to start with, but felt pretty good the more I got stretched out. Yoga done and time for next movement.
Next up was making our way over to the Firehouse for our service project. Day was breaking… this was about the only time I knew about what time it was. Of course all coupons still all intact. I’ve got to tell you… there was a certain group of us that stayed on the telephone poles… rotating from the large one to the small one and vice versa. There were several gray men and other slackers who either didn’t carry shit, or stayed on the same 40 lb bag the whole time. I hate calling people out, but some folks just don’t understand team work. On our way to the firehouse, I had just come off the big telephone pole and immediately jumped on the team weight, a sandbag, and one of the Home Depot buckets…only to have the ATL come back and ask me if I could get back on the pole. Just like many of the other team players I obliged and got right back on. We arrived at the firehouse and were immediately greeted by the on duty firefighters.
On our way over to the firehouse the Cadre needed a Starbucks so we obliged and continued on as they disappeared into the night. We trudged through coupons and all on the way to the firehouse.
Our service project was to clean out the bays and also wash the firetrucks. We divided into teams and got this project taken care of. Lots of smiling and laughing going on. Got to chat quite a bit with the firefighters… extremely grateful for them and their sacrifice. As I was walking out to the parking lot, I overheard Cadre Belman talking to Cadre Jake and him say…’I’d be a damn shame if those water cannons didn’t come on’ 😁 So, as a ‘treat’, we grouped up and the firefighters sprayed the water Cannon up in the air as we stood underneath. One of my F3 brothers immediately started a cadence call and we did jumping jacks in the spray. Good times!! Time to say our goodbyes to the fighters, ‘get our shit’ as Cadre Jake would say, and head out for our next movement. Some of those coupons felt heavier… come to find out… they were being drenched with water while we cleaned!
Time to move out again, for what would be our final movement. We headed back over towards Cumberland Park where the challenge began. This was a long movement and still carrying all coupons. As we made our way back over there, we came across the Dragon Boat races… we passed right through this… in front of the announcers stage. We nearly knocked over the mascot because dude thought it was a good idea to stand in the way of ragged and weary ruckers carrying heavy stuff. We got called out by the DJ… for some reason he thought he’d be funny drawing more attention to us. He quickly changed his tune as he saw us trudging by with all the coupons.
We finally ended up near where the challenge started… but what greeted us first was a 5 story set of stairs. We huddled around the base of the stairs as Cadre Jake and Cadre Belman advised us we had a choice to make… we could either go up all flights of stairs with rucks and all coupons 3 times… or, we could bear crawl backwards without rucks up all flights of stairs. After some intense discussion, we opted for the bear crawl backwards up the flights of stairs.
Since bear crawling and bear crawling backwards has become a staple at our local F3 workouts… we took off up the stairs as the remainder of the pax looked on and all slowly filed in. Few times I looked back to Cadre Jake and Cadre Belman… half the time they looked as if they were rooting us on… the other half the time they appeared to be laughing. I hit the first two flights hard, but the metal stairwell really started to take their tolls. The group did great… although it was evident that at some point, all had wished we went up the stairs with the coupons.
It was then Cadre Jake and Cadre Belman made their way up to the top and told us to stop (about 3 floors in) and bear crawl the remainder of the way and to group up on the pedestrian bridge. Ladies and gents… we had reached endex!! We all stood there ragged but excited because we had completed the challenge, didn’t lose anyone, and got the coveted 9/11 Tough patch.
Much respect and appreciation to Cadre Belman and Cadre Jake. Both brought a lot of passion, enthusiasm and teaching to the challenge. I had heard awesome things about Cadre Belman and Cadre Jake before, and what I had heard was so true!
I am grateful for both of their service and for their involvement in GORUCK. This was my 3rd Challenge and certainly will not be my last.