Here is the second half of my ABSOC 001 AAR. If you’re looking for information on the gear that I brought to the event please check out the first half. I would like to give a big thank you to David Thomas for letting me use all of these amazing photographs… looking through them definitely helped fill some of the gaps in my memory.
ABSOC 001 Ruckoff
The ABSOC 001 ruckoff was a blast. It was at a bar located maybe one block away from the ABSOC start point which was incredibly convenient. The bar was nice enough to give us the entire top floor which was great because there were probably 100+ of us there. The wind and rain outside was insane but inside it was nice and warm… I tell you leaving that bar for the event was tough. As always it was an absolute blast seeing all the familiar TRVLSQD faces as well as meeting tons of new people California people. There was a slew of people who drove down from North Cal to round out the group as well.
About 40 minutes from the start of the event someone looked out one of the windows and noticed a ton of boats down on the beach. After seeing all those boats lined up I knew this event was going to be something special. Eventually the time came for us to leave the sanctuary of the bar and head down to the beach for the start of this crazy event. It was tougher to leave that bar then I thought it would be… cold beer and good food is hard to pass up.
ABSOC 001 Event
We hit the beach and got lined up in ~12 rows of ~14 people (I believe 168 people started the event). The Cadre did a relatively quick ruck check and ensured we had all of the required gear. The entire time this was happening there were huge waves crashing right behind us… which was a constant reminder of the impending doom the Cadre were going to crush us with.
Once that was done getting our minds right we were split into five or so groups to start this adventure. Each group was given at least one flag, a team weight, a few boats, some jugs of water, and a couple sandbags. We were tasked with heading towards a park with each group being directed by one of the five Cadre. Cadre John aka Big Daddy was leading us to the park where he lined us up with the other four groups. I didn’t know it at the time but they had originally wanted to trash us in the waves on the first beach. It turns out there’s some laws in San Diego that prevented that so the Cadre were trying to figure a new plan out. Apparently one of the ocean police (or whatever they’re called) told BD about a more secluded area they could operate at… one which wouldn’t draw the attention of the neighborhood watch.
BD was walking up and down our line talking trash when he stopped, turned, and stared right at me. He said “Brian? Is that you? If it is I’m going to crush your balls tonight” then continued on his way. BD and I go back a little… Heavy 009, Light 067, and Light 108 but the way he stopped, turned, and called me out definitely made me realize things were going to heat up shortly. Once the teams were together we left the park and headed straight for the secluded beach.
It was somewhere around here where we were tasked with coming up with a team name. Once we got the beach the five teams were officially named… there was Team One, Team Three, Team Four, Team Five, and Smurf Team. Makes total sense right? It was actually pretty convenient because I was on Smurf Team because we were the only non-numbered team which made remembering it easier. It should be noted that I’m 6’2″ so I’m not sure how I got on Smurf Team but that’s just the way it is sometimes.
We (all ~167 of us) were sent into the water… which was disgusting. The guy on my left told me that no matter what do not swallow any of the water because we were in a little bay and this was the first storm of the season. Apparently the first storm washes in all the garbage and dirty stuff so that’s essentially what we were in. I took his advice to heart and made sure not to get any water in my nose or mouth which I think may have saved me because roughly 10% of the people in the class got sick afterwards. I can’t remember everything we did in the water but just know it was a decent amount of workouts with lots of full face submersion. The Cadre walked up and down the line looking for anyone that wasn’t giving 100% effort. You can see the above picture one of the Cadre yelling at someone who wasn’t pulling their weight. They ensured there were no “grey men” in that water. Eventually we were pulled out of the water for the smoke session welcome party.
We were placed in a square (four sides each three rows deep) with the cadre in the center. This was one of the best and most unique welcome parties I’ve ever had the honor of being a part of.
We all copied the PT done by the Cadre in the center and randomly a Cadre would peel off one side of the square and send them to the water for extra PT there. We never knew which side would be peeled off, how many rows would be peeled, or when it would happen. The water was pretty disgusting so it definitely was not a place I wanted to be.
Eventually (after what felt like hours) we did an incredibly long conveyor belt/tunnel of love followed by some running and then we were heading off the beach.
Everything is a little fuzzy here but I know we carried the boats and all our extra gear long some roads we eventually got to a trail. My team was doing really well (in the lead) so I peeled off and went to the back to help out the team in last place. The Cadre were giving them a really hard time for not having their team right and I wanted to do anything I could to help. Lucky me… as soon as I got back there we were told we were racing the other teams. Surprise, surprise our last place team came in last which lead to some PT in these mud piles in front of the rest of the teams. I’m not sure what was worse… the physical beat down in the water or the emotional battery performed by the Cadre. They definitely know how to cut to the core when they’re not happy with something… and they were not happy with us in the least.
Once we had finished receiving our punishment we continued along the running/cycing trail, then along some roads, then made it to this dirt trail area. It was on the dirt trail that we found some huge railroad wood ties. Each team was given one and it took between 8 and 10 people to get one of those things moving. They were not light and due to their rectangle shape the pointy edges cut deep into the shoulder. After carrying those beasts for awhile we were finally allowed to set them down and head back to the entrance to the trail area. It was in the parking lot to the trail where we were given a nice rest to eat some food and sort our stuff out.
It was in this parking lot that we were given our next task… to head back to that beach we did all that amazingly fun PT at the night before. We were told that if we made it in time then we would be able to have some real fun there otherwise it would be pain. In these boats we had been carrying there were five or six life vests. We were instructed to put on all of the life vests in the boat on… which was absolutely horrible. They were stuffy and added this layer of bloat that made maneuvering that much more difficult. In addition to having to don these life jackets we needed to put one person (chosen by the team leader) in each boat. I was chosen for my boat which began a long (30+ minute) stint of being carried in a giant freaking boat.
Now some people may say being carried in a boat is a breeze and a luxury but I will tell you right now it isn’t. By this point I had been awake well over 24 hours so for one… staying awake in that boat was fought and two I really hate not participating towards the team effort. Many people know that I hate dragging down a team more than anything and being cooped up in that boat was killing me mentally. In addition to my body in the boat there was the body of one of the Cadre added weights… a ~180 lb. dummy. I was incredibly lucky because our boat crew was able to talk Cadre John into letting me off the boat because we had the only boat with added weight in it.
It was back to the grind and I couldn’t be happier… I wasn’t QUITE as happy as the guy above but close. There’s something about assisting the team and shouldering weight that I love and I was finally back to it. Our objective was still to get back to our initial beach and we hadn’t forgotten it. Remember that area with the puddles that I told you about? The one that the boat teams in last place got to have some amazingly fun PT?
Let me tell you a story about the return trip through that location. We get back to that exact spot and the Cadre give us a bathroom break. Well we all went to the bathroom… some in that awful puddle and others on the side of the trail. We ended up breaking out some food and taking a real break and that’s where one of the Cadre flipped the proverbial table. We were given a bathroom break… not a eat lunch and mingle break. To pay penance for our actions we were required to low crawl through that disgusting pebble mess we had done PT in earlier… this time, however, people had pissed in it not 2 minutes ago.
While crawling through this the Cadre were kicking water all over us… it was a mess. I did everything I could to prevent any water from getting in my mouth which I think helped me immensely.
I’m sure some of the people who got sick did so on account on this filthy piss-dirt water getting in their mouth.
This was also where Cadre John notified me that I had the absolute most f***ed up snorkel he’d ever seen. I’ll let you be the judge of that but my snorkel mouth piece fell off somewhere around minute 20 of the event and boy was it a cluster trying to do anything with the reminder it.
After all that it still took a couple hours but we finally got back to the bridge leading to the beach. This is where I screwed up and was incredibly disappointed with myself.
The rules were as follows… do not step over the line on the road or you will be a casualty. I followed this rule perfectly until the right side of our boat started having issues. We were at the point where there were zero substitutes available and everyone had to get their mind right and carry the load. The right side of our boat was literally yelling out (people on my boat team can attest to this) so I looked to my left, asked my teammate if he had our portion, then jumped to the right side to assist. During my movement to the right side I overstepped the line and up into a boat I went. Damn. It was tough finding an empty boat but I finally found one in back. Instead of getting into it I figured the Cadre would forget about me and let me be. I helped them out for a minute but they sure didn’t forget… they sent me right up into that one. My nightmare was complete… I was officially hindering the team and it was my fault.
Over the bridge we went and back to the beach. I was only on that dang boat for 10 minutes or so but it felt like an eternity. We were finally directed to drop boat and stand in formation. We made our time hack so now we got to have some fun. After carrying those heavy boats for 11+ hours we finally were able to use them. If you’ve seen any of the surviving the cut episodes where they do boat races it was something like that… but with less yelling. There was a close buoy and a far buoy… the objective was to pass the close buoy turn around at the second, and flip boat when passing the first on the home stretch. This was easily the most fun aspect of the entire event. There’s nothing like rafting in the morning and flipping a boat under pressure to bring a smile to the face on a nice Saturday morning.
We were split into three sections as there weren’t enough boats to go around. Section one was off to the races and we were left to wait for them to return. The wait would have been boring had we not had a great game to play with Cadre Bert. The game? Simon aka Bert aka the baseball bat signed by Bo Jason says. This was probably the least forgiving game I’ve ever played. The idea is that Bert does squats and while doing squats he does things with his arms. The people playing the game must mimic him perfectly or we start the squat count over. How many squats do we have to get to? 20. Seems pretty straightforward but in actuality getting ~100 people (50 or so were out on the boats) to do this together was near impossible. There was always one person who wouldn’t get it and Bert, like the hawk he is, would find that individual and single them out.
After squat games it was finally our turn to go out and complete the boat races. Like I’ve said a few times before… this was my absolute favorite part of this event and I truly hope it happens in the following ABSOC classes. I’m 99% sure we finished the boat races in first place… although we didn’t cross the finish line first we were the first team to properly secure their boat and be ready to be checked off. It didn’t really matter that we won but after being up for 28+ hours at this point anything and everything felt like an accomplishment.
We had a blast iwth some more PT and a fun thing called a submersion test. The submersion test was we all had to have our heads completely submerged (backwards) under water at the same time. This took more than one shot to get done right because I guess some people didn’t want to get their face wet :-/ Below is the picture of us finally getting it right.
After that we had an excellent visit from the nature patrol aka the sand cops who told BD that we could essentially never come back to that beach. No one really cared though as we had just completed ABSOC 001.
This was definitely one of the more difficult GORUCK events I’ve completed to date. I think half of that has to do with the fact that there were five Cadre there watching our every move and the other half that I flew in for ABSOC the morning of the event. Not only did I fly in but I woke up extra early to ensure I could get a half day of work in before I left. I think if I were to redo this I would take the day of the event off and fly in the night before but hindsight is always 20/20.
I hope this AAR gives you a little insight into what happened at the first GORUCK ABSOC event and hopefully gets you excited for the ABSOC events planned for the future. There are currently two set up… one on the east coast in a few months and one in the Northwest in September.