Up next in our coffee with a BEAST is an interview between Gregg McLeod (GM) from Green Beret Fitness (GBF) and Derek Hill (DH).
DH: Congrats on the recently completed compilation event, Cerberus, where Green Beret Fitness collaborated with Heavy Drop Training (HDT) and Castleman Events (CE). Will you give us a few thoughts about that event?
GM: I thought it went really well. If I’m being honest, I’m a little surprised at how well it did go being a first time event and first time collaboration. It was a great event and everyone who passed was really deserving. There was no friction between Bryan (HDT), Michael (CE), and I. Our styles are different but they complimented each other very well. The participants had a glimpse of what each company does, and how we do it. I think the transition between each of us was seamless.
I think we could have potentially done a better job about communication to the competitors on what kit should be brought and recommendations on how to pack it; but I take responsibility on that because I wasn’t aware what they [competitors] didn’t know.
I believe we taught some good lessons as well. Something I learned in the British Military was that if you have time to stop for a break, or for sleep, take out your dry clothes, put them on. When that break is over, get uncomfortable and put your wet clothes back on. I noticed that participants weren’t doing that. Maybe they just weren’t ever taught. It was a good lesson to share.
DH: So we’ve all heard by now there was some gut wrenching time hacks missed by 10 seconds. Tell us more about that.
GM: I understand that there are communities that might not understand that part of an event. Let me try to explain it. We have open ended time hacks. (DH – In the first Coffee with a BEAST Bryan explained to us that for about 2/3 of the event that everyone at Cerberus got to put in the work, then the time hacks and performance expectations started). Think about this. If you set a known distance and give a time. The fastest guy may cover the same distance, but he certainly won’t put out the same level of effort. If you have 2 participants. One guy completing an evolution at 1:59:59 but was pretty easy for him, while a less-fit guy might have to crush himself to finish at 1:59:59. If we give a known distance but unknown time goal, everyone has to give their best effort. Everyone has to go hard. You get exertion out of the entire participant group.
DH: GBF awards Dog Tags. Tell us about that.
GM: First and foremost, I’m British and proud of it. We don’t have as many moral patches as Americans. Secondly, I wanted to do something different than what currently occurs in our space. In all honesty it was my wife’s idea. She had the idea to do dog tags and they will look different from what most readers expect. The UK dog tags are round, not oval shaped like the US dog tags. In a happy coincidence the designer working on the logo had also loosely based the round logo with the star where the hole was.
Tell us more about GBF Events.
GM: We have 2 main types of events.
The GBF Urban events are in cities and open to any fitness level. You can push as hard as you want. They are navigation based but it’s about the fun. Stops at breweries, famous landmarks and places like that. Get the miles in and have fun. You can team up on these events.
The GBF Rural events are in nature. Mountains. Desserts. We’ve got events in North Carolina coming up next year and are adding Texas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, and others. They are normally individual events. Adding a competitive element really changes how you approach something like a ruck / hike in the mountains of North Carolina. These events are you versus the distance and the terrain, and the clock.
DH: How do you set the time limits. I see there’s a time limit to complete and a faster time limit to earn the dog tags.
GM: I first tackle the route myself. I add or take a bit off based on my thoughts during it and take others thoughts into consideration as well. I have to consider routes that are relatively close to population centers so that people are willing to attend.
DH: Operation STIRLING. The pinnacle of GBF events. What would you like to tell us about it?
GM: Op STIRLING is the closest representation to the UK Special Forces Selection. 5 consecutive days of rucking in the mountains. The mileage increases as does the weight. Pack weight climbs from 25-50 pounds. The mileage climbs from around 10 mountainous miles on day one to over 25 mountainous miles on day 5. Plus, you carry a replica weapon.
This simulates 5 days of the 4-week selection. There are no push ups or PT. You start the event. Go hard and cross the line giving your best effort. Operation STIRLING is scheduled for September 2022. We had originally planed on 2021, but we had 7 candidates ask to defer after they realized how hard it was going to be. We had 2 others that we encouraged to keep training and be ready. This isn’t rucking through a city. The candidates have to understand how the terrain and altitude will affect you. Currently (Aug 2021) we have 14 signed up for next year and I would like everyone to pass, but that’s not going to happen. I want the participants to be ready and push themselves to new limits and pass. People failing isn’t a good thing for us; it means we accepted people who aren’t ready. I’d strongly recommend that participants test out some of the routes during the spring/summer. We are hosting individual events of all 5 routes over that time period and people can get an idea of where there training is.
DH: What sets GBF events apart from other events in the space?
GM: Something I even told those who were at Cerberus. I am not a fan of screaming and shouting. That’s not how the British military works after initial training (Boot Camp). After that, and especially in the Special Forces world, we assume you want to be there. I take the same approach to my events. You showed up here. You said you want to be here. Prove it to me. If I need to shout at you to motivate you, you’ve already failed.
Perhaps our biggest difference is most of our events are individual. I’ve only been out of the military for a few years and I still have more of that mindset. I believe if you can’t pass an event, then you dodn’t deserve to pass it.
There are other events in the rucking space for people that want to show up and work as a team but those events don’t necessarily reward individuals for pushing themselves; they reward the team. You versus the mountains for XX miles. You have to push hard and you can’t just get an uber if you want. There’s a little more danger, a little more isolation. You can’t just sit in the back of a group if you’re tired. You need to be ready to show up and work.
For example. We had an event in February, Operation OCALA. 65+ miles. 24 hours to complete. We had 40 sign ups. 31 started and only 3 completed the event. I think many who failed the event will be back to work towards redemption in January 2022. Mountain rucking and off-road rucking is far different than rucking for miles through an urban environment.
I understand that Green Beret Fitness isn’t for everyone. We seek the top 10-30% of people for our Rural Events. People that want to push themselves and see what they are capable of. More of a real military feel. Military operations don’t take place walking through the city. These events are as close to my military career as possible.
DH: Would you offer custom events.
GM: I’d entertain the idea. I’d be interested in what people were looking for. Urban or Mountains and how many people they thought would do it. I’ve done corporate team building in my past so that’s something else I can do.
DH: I see that you’ve got some virtual events. It looks really challenging, but also fun. Is this something that you’ll continue to do?
GM: We will continue to do them. We’ve discovered that first and foremost we’ve got to have a sexy patch. Then we’ve got to do something that isn’t too hard for people to complete. But staying true to our roots, we decided to have 2 levels in our virtual events. Commando is the harder version. You’ll have to really work hard to complete that. Civilian is more doable for the masses. Easier for groups to get together and do it and this level.
The current virtual event is Operation Virtual Six.
6 miles, stop every 6 minutes to complete a set of exercises.
- Civilian: 6 thrusters / 6 sit ups / 6 thrusters
- Commando: 18 thrusters/12 sit ups/6 thrusters
We’ve got 3 other events lined up at this time. The next one is coming in mid to late September.
DH: Gregg, I really appreciate your time. You’ve told us a lot about Green Beret Fitness and I think you’re going to have a lot of people interested in pushing themselves to new limits.