On June 4th, 2016 I took part in the Rucking University event put on by GORUCK in Seattle, Washington. Rucking University was part of GORUCK’s “Bridging the Gap Weekend” which they have been hosting in different cities across the country. The Rucking University course I took part in was class 004 which means it was the 4th class GORUCK has put on.
- Updated with Jason’s response to Ruck Plates in the laptop compartment of the GR1.
Rucking University started at 10:30 am at Kinetic Sports in Seattle. I’m not used to events starting that late in the morning but it gave me enough time to eat a decent breakfast, pack my ruck, and do some yoga. I arrived at the start point 20 minutes or so before the actual start time as Green Lake is notorious for difficult parking. In the end I only had to park about a third of a mile from the start point which isn’t terrible. The weather was beautiful so it made for an enjoyable walk before the inside classroom time.
Cadre Garrett taught the first three lessons at Rucking University with Cadre Daniel (Danny) teaching alongside Garrett for the fourth (and final) classroom course. Although I did take some good notes, and remember the courses well, I’m going to do my best to provide highlights instead of reciting the entire class. If you want all the information from the classes then you should do your best to sign up for a Rucking University course in a city near you.
Rucking as Social Fitness
The first class of the day was an “intro to rucking” course which went over the popularity of rucking, the health benefits, and the definition of the word “ruck.” Ruck can be either a noun or a verb and Garrett made sure we knew the proper use-cases. Garrett also introduced us to a new word “rucklete” which always made me chuckle… whenever I hear it I think of mathlete.
Garrett called this a “fluff” course but I thought it was pretty interesting especially for people who are new to rucking. I’ve read on Facebook so many times it hurts that people are going to GORUCK. Garrett reiterated a few times that you are going to take your ruck on a ruck at a GORUCK event.
The History of Rucking course was a fun, lighthearted take on rucking through the ages. We learned about the Furca which was a Roman hobo-stick-backpack and the murdersack which was, apparently, one of the worst backpacks ever designed. When it was handed out people preferred their Roman hobo-stick-backpacks… which really tells you something about the murdersack. Also, the fact that they nicknamed it murdersack probably tells you something about it as well…
Rucking Hydration and Nutrition
The hydration and nutrition course was easily one of the best courses of the day. It was co-written by the Cadre and a GRT who is also a nutritionist and a doctor. So much valuable information on water consumption, when to eat, how to determine if someone is dehydrated, etc. I will definitely be using the information learned from here to build out the Training portion of All Day Ruckoff. It pains me to see people showing up to events who haven’t drank enough water or chose to eat poor foods. The quality of the food matters… it really does.
One of the more interesting, less scientific, portions of this was when people were discussing their pre-event meals. Before a GORUCK Challenge (Tough) I’ll usually eat some chicken, rice (or potatoes), and a vegetable. I always go light on the seasoning and never anything greasy. I don’t have the best stomach in the world unfortunately so I usually play it pretty safe. It sounded like a lot of other people were in the same boat and went with blander foods to avoid making their stomach monster angry.
How to Choose, Size and Pack Your Ruck
This course started out with Garrett showing us some of his favorite ruck modifications which included the Ruck Handle. He went through proper places to store the weight (laptop compartment is no longer a recommended area for ruck plates) and what he prefers for storing water. The laptop compartment was an interesting one as apparently GORUCK has had issues with zippers busting from weight being store there. My recommendation is still to store the weight in the pack and as high up as possible. Jason has commented on this on Reddit which you can see below:
Issues with the Ruck Plates in the laptop compartment are exclusive to the GORUCK Challenge. “Just” rucking – it’s fine, works great. If you do a Challenge, wrap the Ruck Plate in foam or something like that, it’ll be OK. If you don’t and you drop the ruck upside down and the Ruck Plate smashes the zipper, the Scars team will repair it, but they’ll do that by closing the zippered compartment permanently. The rest of the ruck will still work great. That said, best thing to do is just to pad the Ruck Plate for use during a Challenge.
Danny covered the versatility of GORUCK packs and how he has used his GR2 for pretty much everything.
He is currently riding his bike across the country with the same pack he has scaled mountains with. His current plan is to take it up Rainier (if the beast permits) this summer.
This course ended with everyone taking some time to pack their rucks and head outside for the GORUCK Light.
Determining Team Leader
Cadre Garrett appointed a team leader (aka TL) and an assistant team leader (aka ATL) from the group. To determine TL/ATL he asked everyone to raise their hand if they had never done an event before. That was perfect. I don’t mind being TL but honestly I’d rather carry heavy stuff. I’ve been TL so many times that I probably wouldn’t get as much out of the experience as someone who has never done a GORUCK event before. I always do my best to not “rob” the GORUCK experience from someone who has never done one before. Or at least that’s what I tell myself… maybe I just hate being TL.
After TL was decided we headed down to the parking garage with our team weight (pictured above) and grabbed three logs, a few sandbags, some chains, and a weighted sled. From there we rucked over to Green Lake park and began a 30 minute AMRAP (as many reps as possible) welcome party. We were split up into four groups with five workout stations being created as follows:
- Ten squat thrusters
- Five push ups
- Ten squats
- Thirty flutter kicks
- 400m ruck with various coupons
The weather was incredible and actually made the welcome party pretty enjoyable. Throughout the workouts the cadre would join the different groups and give some advice on proper form and how to be a team. Afterwards we had a mini AAR where we discussed what a GORUCK challenge welcome party is like, what went well during the exercise, and what people would have done differently.
We were given a mission, a time hack, and told to head out. Our mission was to bring three cannons to the other side of the lake to replace three broken ones. We took the walking trail that surrounds Green Lake which was a little tricky as half the trail is for walkers and the other is for cyclists. The plan was to take the three logs single-file and the ATL was careful to make sure we all stayed on our side of the path. We somehow made our time hack which was a bit of a surprise to me… but it was a welcome relief to the team as that made for less PT. Once we hit our destination we grounded the logs and prepared for some water fun.
Green Lake has two popular water entries and we were situated perfectly at the west water entrance. Our goal was to get over to the one of the floating docks, completely submerge ourselves, then climb up and line up on the edge. On the dock we were tasked with completing a movement as a team from one edge, to the other, and back. Doesn’t sound that bad… but I’m pretty sure there was more goose poop on that dock than actual dock. Thankfully it was only one trip there and back before we could hop off the dock and head back to shore. I spent an extra 30 seconds in the water on the way back making sure any goose poop that stuck on to me was off.
We headed back to the logs and went through two more Rucking University curses. The first was a “how to ruck” course which focused on rucking safely. The best part was Garrett moving back and forth showing us that you can move fast safely. You don’t need to walk when rucking… but you shouldn’t run. There’s this in between shuffle you can do that brings speed, intensity, and purpose. It was a weird eye-opener for some people who have the concepts of running and walking… but not speed-walking aka the GORUCK shuffle. It definitely helped the team out and throughout the remainder of the event we were definitely moving at a better pace.
Log PT Course
The second course performed in this area was one on log PT and proper ways to do log work. There’s not much worse than carrying a log with someone who both doesn’t know what they’re doing and doesn’t realize that there are safety concerns when trading places or lifting/lowering the log. After being shown how to properly work the log it was our chance to take it and shine. It was nice because there were three people per log and the logs were around 100 lbs, or a little less. You really had the opportunity to make sure you were doing everything properly as it was fairly easy to control the log.
Mission Two & Final Course
Once done with our courses we grabbed our logs, team weight, and extra coupons and hit the trail again. Something clicked during this movement and everyone seemed to really pull together and figure things out. One of the logs needed to be carried at waist height and someone brought extra straps so we ended up weaving them back and forth and carrying the log with them. I wasn’t on that log (the shorter people were up there) but it seemed to work well. It reminded me of my first GORUCK class (053) where we ended up using our rucks under the log to carry it when we lost both strap privileges and the privilege of carrying a log on our shoulders.
We were moving out at a good pace and were eventually told that if we could make a certain time hack then the waist level log could be raised and the two logs that were chained together could be unchained. It was awesome to see everyone work together to really haul to make that happen.
Shortly afterwards we had a final course on foot care and how to manage blisters both during and after (or between) events. As most people know time is of the essence during GORUCK events which usually means foot care takes a back seat to speed. It was nice getting some quick tips on how to manage feet when you only have a few minutes to spare. In addition, for people who are either attempting a back-to-back or a HCL (HTL) this course was great because foot care for those is crucial. It was a little unfortunate that we were running low on time at this point because foot care is a very important topic.
From the foot care course we quickly rucked out to the location that the welcome party was held at. When we got back we were told to drop the weights and form up… which brought our GORUCK Light to a close.
For completing the GORUCK Light event we earned our 2016 GORUCK Light patch.
For completing Rucking University we received a Rucking University patch and certificate of completion. I guess it’s time to update the LinkedIn profile!
Rucking University was an awesome event. It was a long day but we learned a lot, got to hang out with some amazing people, and complete a GORUCK Light. I bought my registration during one of the previous 60/40/20 sales so I truly made out like a bandit.
If you’re someone who doesn’t know much about rucking and wants to learn more then sign up for a Rucking University course… you won’t regret it. If you’re someone who is an experienced rucker then read the AAR (and search for others) to see if it’s something you want to do. You’ll be doing this event with a lot of beginners which I know some experienced people don’t always like. For me… I love doing events with newbies because I get to vicariously live through them. Honestly, if Rucking University comes through Seattle again I’d definitely consider signing up for another one.
Bridging The Gap Weekend
This event was part of GORUCK’s Bridging The Gap weekend in Seattle, WA. If you are curious about different portions of that event then read our AARs. We have AARs from this weekend for the following events…
- War Stories AAR (GORUCK Page)
- Rucking University AAR (includes the GORUCK Light) (GORUCK Page)
- Kill That 5K (GORUCK Page)
- Bridging The Gap Weekend (GORUCK Page)
Hopefully you enjoy these AARs and get a better feel for what comes along with GORUCK’s Bridging The Gap weekend!