The new kid on the block for 2018 was definitely the Constellation line of events. There were Constellation 12 events run across the country but only one Constellation 24 event which occurred on the east coast. To get into the Constellation 24 event one must have completed a Constellation 12 event in advance.
Steven Maske completed a Constellation 12 event, showed up for and completed the Constellation 24 event, then took the time to chat with us about his experience at that event. Just a warning: if you are planning on signing up for Constellation 24 and want to be completely surprised at what goes at during that event then maybe skip this episode. Although Steven keeps a lot of it secret there is still a good deal of information in this AAR.
From what we hear GORUCK is planning on updating their Constellation line of events so watch out for those in the future!
- GORUCK & Rucking Glossary
- GORUCK Constellation
- GORUCK Constellation AAR Directory
- ADR GORUCK Constellation AAR
- GORUCK Constellation Training
- GORUCK Trek
Thanks so much for listening! If you missed any of our earlier episodes you can give them a listen right now. Hopefully you enjoyed the podcast and are excited about the next one. This is very new to us so we would appreciate it if you would cut us some slack as we work on perfecting our methodologies. Did you enjoy the podcast? We’d love a review on iTunes or even our Facebook Page! Didn’t enjoy it? Leave a comment here in the show notes and let us know what we can do better!
Brian Lohr: I’m here talking with Stephen Mask about the Constellation 24 event that he completed on November 4th, 2017. Constellation 24 is the 24-hour advanced version of GORUCK’s brand new, for this year, Constellation 12 event, which focuses on survival during a disaster.
In order to participate in the Constellation 24 event, one must have already completed at least one Constellation 12. I wasn’t able to attend Constellation 24 unfortunately, so I am incredibly excited that Stephen’s here to chat with me today about Constellation 24.
Stephen, how is it going?
Steven Maske: I’m doing great. I’m glad to be here.
Brian Lohr: Awesome. I’m really excited to have you here. As you know, we’ve talked about Constellation a bit back and forth and I was super excited that they decided to do 24, and I’m very jealous that you were able to go.
Steven Maske: Yeah. I’m glad I was able to make it. I wasn’t sure if I was going to. It’s a bit of a haul for me up in New Hampshire and to being about a 10-hour drive, a little longer than I expected, but I’m glad I did it.
Brian Lohr: Yeah, that’s quite the trip there, but it sounds like it was worth it.
Steven Maske: Yes, absolutely.
Brian Lohr: Very cool. Before we get into Constellation 12 and 24, let’s start out with your involvement in the GORUCK community. How did you even stumble upon GORUCK as a company?
Steven Maske: It was about four years ago. I was actually just looking for a bag. I’m kind of active on Twitter. There are a lot of people — I work in information security and there’re a lot of info sec people there and I was just poking around seeing what other people were doing, and a handful of people mentioned this thing called GORUCK. Shortly thereafter, I ended up picking up a Radio Ruck and that led to a GR-0, which led to a sandbag, which led to a Bullet Ruck, which led to a kit bag, and then you know how that goes.
Brian Lohr: Absolutely. I know all too well how that GORUCK gear rabbit hole winds up.
Steven Maske: Of course, events come along with that. I had a friend about a year after I bought the Radio Ruck finally talk me into an event that worked on my schedule. We did a Light. About a year later, did a Tough. I have been trying to get another Tough in, but the schedule hasn’t really worked, but I did make it to War Stories and then the 12 and 24-hour Constellations.
Brian Lohr: Very cool. That’s awesome that you’re able to get both a Light and a Tough in before you went to Constellation 12 and 24, because I feel like GORUCK has been running those events for years, so they have them down pat on what they’re trying to do. So when you go to some of these newer events, it’s not always as smooth as one would expect. So that’s great that you had that reference there to fall back on.
When you heard about GORUCK Constellation, were you originally excited? You mentioned you were in information security, and so I know a number of people from that community and all seemed like they were pretty excited by GORUCK moving into this type of an event.
Steven Maske: Yeah. I had actually been holding my breath for Trek to come back, and when Constellation showed up, I figured this will probably be the closest thing that’d get to it.
Brian Lohr: Yeah. I think we’re all holding our breath for Trek to come back.
Steven Maske: It never happened, right?
Brian Lohr: The event that never happened. Yeah. Yeah, the event that never happened, the series of events that never happened.
Steven Maske: Yup.
Brian Lohr: For your first Constellation event, which city was that in and do you remember what class number that was?
Steven Maske: Yup. I was in Boston and it was class number 8.
Brian Lohr: Awesome. I know that the first few events they’re running were a little hit or miss on the Constellation series, but I think at least certainly by my class, they had really gotten to a solid grove and I know they’ve been improving it since. How did your Constellation 12 event go?
Steven Maske: The event was great. They changed the packing list on us a couple of times just by the week leading up to it. They kept tweaking it, but I think they’d learned a lot from the previous events. It was great overall. It was more or less — You’ve done them before. You sit down, you learn something and you get to practice it. I was really surprised, we had about 100 people. I would say about 40% of the people there had never done a GORUCK event before, which really kind of shocked me.
Brian Lohr: Is that amazing? I thought for sure that it would be like a GRT reunion type of event where everyone who shows up has already done at least one other GORUCK event. It was the same experience in Seattle. Just tons of people who had never done a GORUCK event before.
Steven Maske: Yup, and a lot of them were people who are dragged along with other people saying, “Here. Come see what this is like. If you do this, I’ll probably tuck you into a Light later,” seemed to be a lot of the people who are there.
Brian Lohr: Yeah. It seems like a great segue to that first Light or Tough event. For those who are listening and haven’t done a GORUCK Constellation 12 event or looked too much into it, do you want to briefly go through what happened at your event?
Steven Maske: Sure. Yeah. Ours, I don’t know how much they varied, but ours was in a gym in the next town over from Boston in Warehouse District. We’re just at a gym where the cadre would go over different skills and lessons and then they would kick us out. We’d go out into the city and we’d enact what we learned and they give us a time hack on getting back. Although nobody ever got in trouble for missing the time back. So it’s just a little different, I’ve got that Tough event.
Brian Lohr: Yeah. It’s definitely different than the standard GORUCK challenge type event because it was very low on PT. There wasn’t really much pressure to movement. You were instilling pressure on your own team. For those who are listening who haven’t taken part, everyone who shows up, it kinds of like a Scavenger event where you’re broken up into teams. Everyone’s got their individual pods and you learn the lesson, you go out, you work on the lesson and you’re trying to avoid other pods or sneak up on other groups. It’s definitely an interesting event and it’s run overnight, just like the Tough events are. So it’s fun to be out there stalking other groups in the wee hours of the morning.
Steven Maske: Yeah.
Brian Lohr: How soon after you completed Constellation 12 did you decided that you wanted to register for Constellation 24?
Steven Maske: I wanted to do it right away. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make the timing work. So it took me about a month to square things away with my schedule so that I could actually make it down there. I ended up having to kind of close. I took the day off before. I drove down, did the event, and as soon as the event completed, I actually drove home. It was a little rough there, a little hairy with the lack of sleep, but it was something that I definitely — It was on my bucket list. As soon as I heard about, whether I was able to make it this year or if I wasn’t, I was going to definitely do it next year, but I was very happy to make it work.
Brian Lohr: That’s wild. The 24 in Constellation 24 stands for 24 hours, right? So this is a full start to finish event lasting an entire day. So 10-hour day.
Steven Maske: In true GORUCK style, it lasted more than 24 hours. It was about 26 and a half when we’re all set and done.
Brian Lohr: That’s wild. Definitely cutting down that time you have to drive back home. So the Constellation events, I mean they have an interesting packing list. You mentioned that your envent they modified it a couple of times, and by the time they got to our event, it was pretty set and they had cut a lot of gear off of the list. Was there anything unique to the Constellation 24 that either gave you pause or think, “What are going to be using this for?”
Steven Maske: No. the packing list was actually surprisingly very similar and very close to the 12-hour. So I was wondering if we were going to go over some of the same stuff. We ended up using some of the things in different ways. But they also had a large section of optional packing list items. We did for the 12-hour as well, but it was like additional medical gears. If you had lock picks, they encouraged you to bring them, “Let’s see. Was there anything else?” There was a handful of things, like extra duct tape and I think extra socks were on there, which is always good for a GORUCK event.
Brian Lohr: Yeah, specially a 24-hour event. It’s nice to get that fresh pair of socks in there.
Steven Maske: Yeah, especially since it rained the entire time.
Brian Lohr: Oh, lucky you.
Steven Maske: Oh yeah. We were drenched.
Brian Lohr: You mentioned that your GORUCK Constellation 12 event took place in a gym and then you would leave and explore the city. Ours did as well. It was in a cross-fit gym in Belleview. Where did the Constellation 24 event take place?
Steven Maske: I’m not surely sure what the park was. It was like a park pavilion that had a bunch of classrooms. This was actually a lot better for me. I like actually sit down in a chair and was like a real classroom style. A couple of them they took out the chairs, because we needed the space to move, but a lot of it was in like more traditional classroom. They actually had a projector with slides for some of it. We would learn and then we’d practice those.
Brian Lohr: That’s very cool. Yeah, our Constellation 12 event, everyone’s sitting on the floor and it gets rough when you’re getting in the five in the morning doing a half an hour learning session sitting on the floor. You can get tired.
I think I had a harder time possibly staying awake at a Constellation 12 event than at a typical GORUCK Tough event, because you’re putting out so much effort the entire time. It’s not too often that you’re sitting in and trying to listen for a set period of time. It’s definitely interesting.
Steven Maske: Yeah. I actually had less problems with that in the 24 event. The first 12 hours was very similar to the 12-hour event, the first 12 hours of the 24, because we had the same kind of format, but it was more compact. It was much more fire hose. We learned so much more in the first 12 hours of the 24 than we did in the 12 hours. But then the second half of the 24 is actually applying everything you learned in the first 12 in mission styles.
More or less what they did is they told us, “Effectively, you’re in Puerto Rico right now with everything that’s going on there.” You’re going to go through real-world scenarios using everything you learned in the first half of Constellation 24.”
Brian Lohr: That’s very cool. What time did this event start at?
Steven Maske: 8 a.m.
Brian Lohr: That’s a surprisingly nice start time. You have your first 12 hours are kind of the fire hose recap, I guess you could call it, of Constellation 12, because everyone who showed up at the 24 should have done a 12 in advance, and then you’re at 8 p.m., so it’s getting dark out and in time to go start applying everything you learned.
Steven Maske: Right. The first 12 hours of the 24 built up a lot of what we learned in the 12-hour. So the medical stuff, we took a step further. We did practiced like doing sutures on like banana peels and we upgraded our gasmasks. Actually, they told us to bring the gasmask that we made in the 12-hour to upgrade the, and if you didn’t have them, just bring the materials to remake it. We actually upgraded them to include a charcoal element and all sorts of different…
Brian Lohr: Really?
Steven Maske: Yeah.
Brian Lohr: That is awesome. Yes. I still have got my gasmask in the All Day Ruckoff office. It’s about 20 feet away from me, and building that was quite the experience.
Steven Maske: Yup. I still have mine, and I made sure before I packed it that it was clean with any leftover pepper spray, but this time it had to survive teargas.
Brian Lohr: Really?
Steven Maske: Yeah.
Brian Lohr: That’s quite the upgrade from getting pepper sprayed in the face.
Steven Maske: Yeah. Not everybody did so good of a job making theirs second time around.
Brian Lohr: Oh, boy! Whenever anyone asks for advice for Constellation 12, the one piece I always give first is any spare or downtime you have, work on your gas mask and work on making sure that seal is perfect.
Steven Maske: Yeah. Take your time.
Brian Lohr: Mm-hmm. That is not something you want skimp on.
So GORUCK kept their lips pretty tight about what was going to happen at this event. I had asked some cadre and I had even talked to Jason about it and no one was saying anything. How are you feeling leading up to the event?
Steven Maske: I really had no idea what was going to happen. I more or less figured it would be more of what the 12 was, just additional type of information. If figured it would be in the same vein. I figured maybe they’d be something — Some of the cadres had their certain pieces that they don’t want us to talk about, because there was some overlap at the Trek, but overall they just mentioned certain pieces that we couldn’t talk about.
Brian Lohr: Got you. Yeah, I don’t know how I would have felt. I’ve seen some of the pictures from Trek and that was quite the event they’ve put on, and Constellation 24 seems like the closest thing they have now. So I probably would have been a little nervous.
When I was at my Constellation 12 start point, it was pretty fun. Everyone was having a good time chatting. It was kind of like a GRT get together, because we had read about the previous events and we knew there wasn’t going to be too much PTU. It’s going to be a lot of fun stuff and a lot of learning. No one really had the pre-event jitters that you see at a Light, a Tough or a heavy. What was the feeling like at the start of Constellation 24?
Steven Maske: During 24, we had instructions that we had to have our teams established before we arrived. Everybody had to volunteer on Facebook, you needed nine teams. So we had the first nine people to speak up team names. Everybody had two team names. There’s a color and whatever you wanted to call it. We were team orange, also team hue. Then during some parts that they gave us numbers as well.
We had to have those established. So we actually met up. Our team met up in the lobby of the hotel where most people stayed, so we get to introduce ourselves and meet each other. Then we went to the start point.
Brian Lohr: That’s nice. When we started Constellation 12, there was probably about a half an hour or 45 minutes of admin at least at our event getting the teams established, getting everything handed out and making sure everyone knew what team they’re on and what was happening. Getting that stuff out of the way in advance seems like a pretty smart use of time.
Steven Maske: Yeah, that way the team leads went up and they checked everybody in. You didn’t have to wait for your name to be called. There’s very little admin required.
Brian Lohr: Awesome. You met your team in advance, which is probably a really smart thing to do at the hotel. Then you guys all head out to the place where you’ll be learning at the — Was it like a recreational center or like a classroom style area?
Steven Maske: Yeah. It almost felt like a YMCA, but without the gym part. It was just largely classrooms. It was just a big, like community center kind of deal.
Brian Lohr: Very cool. Did you spend the first 12 hours in that room or did you head out and explored the city a little bit?
Steven Maske: We didn’t do any city exploring. There was a couple of different rooms where we rotated. Each team was in a different room. Some of it was outside, and we learned what we’re going to learn. We’ve got to practice it most of the time. It was right then and there with the cadre. Then we rotated.
Brian Lohr: Awesome. What was the first module that you started with?
Steven Maske: I think the very first one we did was surveillance, where there was a library across the street and we had a task to find out information about someone we didn’t know. We had description of who they were and who they were meeting and we were supposed to get information from them, information about them to report back. We needed to get information about the building itself. Were there cameras? How many lights were there? Were there lights in the parking lot? Lights on the building?
The cadre intentionally spouted off — I don’t know, probably 20 or 30 different things that he wanted us to find, and he intentionally did it too fast for us to write it all down. It was try and get us to absorb as much information as possible. Go and bring that information back.
Brian Lohr: Very cool. Dis every group have to survey the same scene?
Steven Maske: Yup. Yeah. We all did it separately. We knew what the mission was, but then the next team didn’t know. The people who we ended up surveilling came in after, and one of them was a cadre. Who was the other person? I don’t recall who the other person was. They told us whether or not they could see us and what information that we could have gotten that we didn’t get. One of the people hid something in the magazine that they were reading. If we’d actually gone up and looked at the magazine, then we could have actually gotten something that would have helped us later, but I don’t think any of the teams thought that far ahead.
Brian Lohr: That’s wild, and that’s quite the attention to detail on just the first module that you all started with.
Steven Maske: Yeah.
Brian Lohr: Very cool. From surveillance, where did you go to next?
Steven Maske: I think the next one was additional medical, where we just learned some additional, first aid. We had actual filament and needles to stitch up and just practice basic surgical stitching in the field. We were told to cut a banana and then basically saw it back together.
Brian Lohr: Nice. That’s not something that I’ve ever done or would have thought to try in a banana. Very interesting.
Steven Maske: The next is the banana has like the different layers that they showed on the screen, like the different layers of the skin, and you more or less mimic that in the banana. It was much easier to look at it and see where you’re supposed to saw.
Brian Lohr: That makes sense. I eat a banana every day and I never really thought of it that way, but I’m guessing I’ll be thinking about that tomorrow. That’s wild.
Okay. We started with surveillance, and then we improved upon the medical skills we learned at Constellation 12. Did every group start with surveillance, or did everyone start in a different position and then you kind of round robin through these different modules?
Steven Maske: Exactly. Everybody started with a different cadre on a different module and then we just rotated through.
Brian Lohr: Very cool. There’s a chance that maybe some of the other groups who had been doing this longer when they got to surveillance, they might have thought about the magazine.
Steven Maske: Maybe, but you learned the thing in a smaller classroom and then you went and did it. Nobody had more time to think about it than anybody else.
Brian Lohr: Got you.
Steven Maske: We weren’t all together at the lessons.
Brian Lohr: From medical, where did you go next?
Steven Maske: I think we went to tying improvised repelling of harnesses.
Brian Lohr: That’s something I did not expect to hear really. Improved repelling harnesses?
Steven Maske: Yup. Basically, they gave us a 10-foot piece of rope and then showed us how to tie it so we could essentially use to repel. Later, in the mission part of it, we would use real equipment, but we actually got to repel off of a three-story garage.
Brian Lohr: That’s wild. Did you get to try out your improvised harnesses on like a four-foot wall or something like that?
Steven Maske: We didn’t. They kind of split that piece of the training into two pieces. They showed us the different types of knots you would tie and they tied it to these concrete pillars and basically we did it horizontally instead of vertically so you could kind of lean back and see where the tension would be, and then had us show how to tie the harnesses themselves and we never hooked them up or anything. I think that was more of a safety concern and insurance.
Brian Lohr: Yeah. I was going to say I’m not sure how you get insurance for that. Trying to explain that to the person you’re buying the event insurance from, that people will be making their own harnesses and repelling.
Steven Maske: Yup.
Brian Lohr: That’s wild that you actually got to repel off a building. I’m excited to get to that part, because that is really cool. From this improvised repelling devices, what did you go to next?
Steven Maske: The next thing, they had a beater of a van that they bought off of Craigslist where we did a bunch of practice on. We practiced picking the lock, the door lock. A couple of different ways of doing that. We effectively hot-wired the vehicle and then we also siphoned gas out of it.
Brian Lohr: That’s awesome, and those are both very useful tasks to have in a situation that you’re kind of prepping for at one of these events.
Steven Maske: Yeah.
Brian Lohr: Very cool. I’m guessing that’s probably smart that they bought it off Craigslist instead of using a rental.
Steven Maske: Yeah. I imagine that it’s pretty destructive getting the car to run. That’s not something that I’m sure your rental insurance would cover.
Brian Lohr: Yeah, probably not. Hot-wiring your car, siphoning gas. Did you say that you’ve learned how to break into a car or was that not taught?
Steven Maske: Yeah. We worked on a couple of different ways to bypass the door locks with your traditional movie Slim Jim that you see. We used a couple of shims for other ways to pop it enough to hook the door.
Brian Lohr: Very cool.
Steven Maske: I think there was a third one. I don’t recall what it was. It was a very big fire hose kind of day.
Brian Lohr: Oh, yeah. I mean that already seems like a ton of information and we’ve only made it through four modules, which isn’t even half of the event. Going from there, what they have you do next?
Steven Maske: I think our next one was lock picking.
Brian Lohr: That’s cool. Did you practice on — Was it padlocks? Door locks?
Steven Maske: They mostly had padlocks, but somebody had made a contraption that had a whole bunch of different locks in it, and fortunately lock picking is something that I have some experience with just being in security, but whatever reason every single security conference has a lock pick village for just practicing. So I brought my own set of lock picks and I didn’t have to wait to share.
Brian Lohr: Isn’t that interesting? That even in computer security, there’s still a lock pick village or something along those lines that are at conferences.
Steven Maske: Sure. You get into the red teaming portion of it. There’s a logical piece to a lot of your offense of security too. So you might need to break into a server room to be able to perform your function.
Brian Lohr: Absolutely. Moving from lock picking, what did you guys get into next?
Steven Maske: The next one we can’t talk about. That was the one that they said was a no go. Anybody who’s done Trek might be able to guess what it was, but —
Brian Lohr: There you have it. If you want to know what this module is, you have to sign up for Constellation 24 when it comes back probably in 2018. So going from the module we can’t talk about, what was after that?
Steven Maske: I think the last one was more like disaster recovery prep. What would you do in a — This one was more just educational. There wasn’t anything to practice with this one. It was what you do. Actually, maybe this is earlier on than — I might be getting the order out of line, but there was a lot of what would you do in a hurricane situation. What do you pack? What do you have on hand? What do you do if you stay? What do you need to do if you go, if you decide to evacuate?
Brian Lohr: That’s awesome. That is very cool. It’s fine if you get them out of order, because the only people who own that were people who were there. So don’t worry about it.
Steven Maske: Great.
Brian Lohr: Moving form that, was there another module after that one?
Steven Maske: There had to have been. I want to say there were two more, but I’m kind of blanking. We had a training on different type of formations on movement, and those were more — Didn’t really apply to the class, but if we were in a situation where we had people that we were protecting and we have the team more armed, what types of formations we have best to protect the ace in our person and what type of movement would be best to protect the group as a whole.
Brian Lohr: That’s interesting. Those would be super interesting lessons. Have we made it through all of the modules?
Steven Maske: I think so. I may have missed one or two here or there, but I think that was the majority of them.
Brian Lohr: Awesome. That was the first half of Constellation 24, was just a ton of training it sounds like. What did they do after that? Did they group you altogether to start the second half?
Steven Maske: The second half, they had us go to another location and then they had all of us. It was around 8:00. We were told at that point we would not have access to our vehicles for any reason. Some people would ran out for snacks and that sort of thing, and drop off things as we were done using them.
Once we went to the second location, we were all piled in the back of a white panel van. I think there were 96 of us. They just drove us somewhere. They just dropped us off somewhere in Virginia.
Brian Lohr: That’s wild. I guess two factors. I didn’t realize there were 96 people who signed up for Constellation 24.
Steven Maske: Yup.
Brian Lohr: That seems like a solid turnout for a capstone style event like that.
Steven Maske: Yeah. I was surprised with that too, especially how many people flew.
Brian Lohr: Yeah. I was just about to ask. Did a lot of people fly in for it?
Steven Maske: Yeah. It seemed that about — My team didn’t have so many people, but I would guess at least a third of people flew in for this.
Brian Lohr: Very cool. That is awesome. They shove you on to a giant fan, drive you out — Was it the middle of nowhere or was it a small town? What did you see when they dropped you off?
Steven Maske: We were next to a field off of just some road and all the team leads had maps and we each had a different mission, each team, and then we were told to accomplish our mission and effectively we were told that imagine that you’re in Puerto Rico that’s everything that’s going on there with lack of energy, lack of necessary medical supplies in some cases. Just before we got in the van, they also took all of our nutrition. So any CLIF bar and gels and jerkies. They took all those from us saying that we’d have to earn them back later.
Brian Lohr: It sounds like a Heavy.
Steven Maske: I haven’t had the pleasure yet.
Brian Lohr: That’s wild. So hopefully everyone eat something before they got in that van, because all the food was taken when you were dropped off. The mission you’re given, everyone had a different mission it sounded like. Did they all playoff of a skill you had learned in the previous 12 hours?
Steven Maske: Yeah. We had to use all those skills in different ways throughout the night.
Brian Lohr: Very cool. Your first mission, I don’t know if you can get in detail on it, but how long did it last at least?
Steven Maske: All the missions lasted anywhere from — We were told that my team did very, very well on all the time hacks. We got to a lot of places a lot faster. We actually surprised a couple of cadre because they weren’t expecting us, because we got there, the movements were faster than expected. Once you got there — Between rucking and the mission itself, they lasted anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour.
Brian Lohr: Nice. A decent chunk of time then.
Steven Maske: Yeah.
Brian Lohr: Were there any teams that were unreasonably late?
Steven Maske: I heard there was one that struggled with getting places and the cadre weren’t aware of their location at one point.
Brian Lohr: That can always be tricky in an event like that. At least with Constellation 12, you have the home-base and everyone who went out and then came back to that, but it sounds like here you’re just dropped off and you’re probably making your way back to where you started or back to a certain location instead of just heading back to your drop off point.
Steven Maske: Yeah. We had a map and we ended up in the original location before they picked us up.
Brian Lohr: Very nice. Which are the missions would you say resonated with you the most or was one of your favorite things?
Steven Maske: Most memorable one was where we’re told that we were supposed to meet some people in a cemetery and that there had been an event where they were casualties or injuries and they played it up rather well. They have people there who were essentially acting roles. Once we arrived, there were two people who were on the ground. They had very convincing looking fake wounds that we had to treat and address. One of the cadre kept spraying fake blood everywhere, and I didn’t realize it at first, because it was really dark at that point and there’s no lighting in the cemetery, so we’ve got our red lids and I didn’t realize until after we got the street lights. From the knees down, I was covered in fake blood. I was curious if we were going to blow up any law enforcement or just people out in the street and wondering what was going on.
Brian Lohr: Yeah, that might attack a little bit of attention.
Steven Maske: Yeah.
Brian Lohr: That is awesome though. Very cool. Were all the groups together in the cemetery for that or was it similar to the first 12 where the groups kind of rolled through one after the other?
Steven Maske: Yeah. We rotated different missions. Just as we were leaving that particular one, one of the few times that we saw another team was just as were leaving that when we saw them coming up behind us to do the same thing. I think that one took a little bit longer than most of the others, at least for us for some reason. Because the two people we had to treat, and then they also had just some more or less quartered there for us to actually stitch up as well, and we had to improvise a gurney.
Brian Lohr: That’s wild. One of the things that was interesting with the Constellation 12 events, I think they started to add into later numbers, teams were hunting teams. So it sounds like there wasn’t too much of that in the Constellation 24 event. It was more about survival.
Steven Maske: Yup. Yeah, at no point did we hunt any other teams. We did have to survey some additional cadre later on. At one point we were set up to do a mission that ended up being something without giving too much away. We were told to go something, and the situation was not what we were told it was where it had been with every other mission, and we ended up getting captured by a cadre and handcuffed.
Brian Lohr: That’s wild.
Steven Maske: Yeah.
Brian Lohr: At our Constellation 12 event, it was one of the last missions, but the cadre were rolling around in their car capturing anyone they can find. That’s interesting that they kind of expanded on that with 24.
Steven Maske: Yeah.
Brian Lohr: Very cool. At what point did the repelling come in?
Steven Maske: That was about three-quarters away through the night, maybe closer towards the end. I don’t remember what the particular scenario was. You know what? There was a mob coming to clash with police, I think, and we were stuck in a building and we had to go through the third floor of this garage and the only way out was to repel down the building.
Brian Lohr: That’s awesome.
Steven Maske: They had a cadre there to hook us up and do everything right. They’d literally just — They anchored us to a vehicle and we just went over the side one at a time.
Brian Lohr: That’s wild. This is, you said about, two-third, three-quarters of the way through the event portion, so that’s probably nearing the end of it. Everyone’s probably pretty tired. How did you feel during that?
Steven Maske: I think we’re all amped up, because we were constantly moving. Everything we were doing required a degree of attention. We had earned our food back at that point, but halfway through we had the mission, we had to go pick up some supplies and we went to pick up the supplies, they turned out to be in a locked box that we had to pick, and when you pick the lock and open it up, the supplies was actually our food.
Brian Lohr: That is really cool. A great way to get you to use those learned lock picking skills.
Steven Maske: Yeah. It was a lot of fun.
Brian Lohr: Were there any other — Without giving too much away on Constellation 24, were there any other memorable events or missions that you took part in?
Steven Maske: Oh, let’s see. There was one point where we had to use what we learned about the car. They moved the same car and actually put it on the street. This was one of the places where there was one possible physical piece of it. We had to pick the lock on the car, start the car and siphon gas out of it without being seen by any other vehicle on the street. We had a station lookout and they had red lights that they would flash at us, and if they flash the lights, we had to cover and not be seen by the vehicle. If we were seen the vehicle, we’d have to hold the rucks above our head for a minute and every time we were seen, it was an additional minute. First time is one minute. Second time is two minutes. Third time is three minutes.
Brian Lohr: Ouch! Maintaining an overhead press for minutes is a — That’s not fun.
Steven Maske: We didn’t have a problem with that, because we had looked outs and you just pay attention to your lookouts while you’re working. We were able to do that without any issues.
Brian Lohr: Do you know if there are any other teams that got caught in that?
Steven Maske: I don’t know. I didn’t hear if anybody did or not.
Brian Lohr: You probably would have heard if there was some team that was doing five minutes of overhead presses after doing four and three and two and one.
Steven Maske: Probably.
Brian Lohr: That’s one of the stories that usually makes it out.
Steven Maske: Yup.
Brian Lohr: That’s wild. Everyone their different missions and they all go and do them, and so you kind of rotate missions like you’re rotating learning experiences at the beginning in the classroom. When everyone finished their missions, was there kind of a culminating exercise at the end that everyone did together or did it just kind of turned into the patch ceremony?
Steven Maske: At the very end, we had a meet up, which is outside that initial library that we talked about. We met there once. Everybody was there. We thought we’re pretty much done. They told us we were going to hop back in the van and we thought at that point they were taking us back to our vehicles and we’re going to do the patch ceremony there. Instead, they took us to a paintball field.
Brian Lohr: That’s a surprise, I’m guessing.
Steven Maske: Yeah. I was not expecting that, because at that point were like half an hour — We’re about 24-1/2 hours, so we figured we’re pretty much done, but we get to this paintball field which I think it felt like a long drive. I didn’t have my watch on, so I felt like it was at least half an hour in the back of that vehicle, 24 people who had been doing things for 24 hours.
Brian Lohr: Yeah. It’s probably not the best smelling environment.
Steven Maske: Yeah. Honestly, that was the hardest part of the night for me. It was more the motion sickness of moving and bumping, because nobody is sitting. Everybody was standing too. Of course, the cadre being cadre would occasionally break hard or make a hard right or hard left and bounce us around a little bit just for fun. I think that was honestly the hardest piece of the entire night was being a little woozy getting out of that.
Brian Lohr: Oh, wow!
Steven Maske: At the field itself, we practiced a little bit of what everybody else had learned. We had somebody actually in the paintball field who was injured and it was the responsibility of the team to get in there, get the person and get them out while cadre are hunting you.
Brian Lohr: Yeah, I was going to say. So you’re at a paintball field, so I’m guessing the cadre have paintball guns.
Steven Maske: Yes. Everybody had, I think, 200, 250 rounds both cadre and participants.
Brian Lohr: At least you guys had something too. If I were Rooney, I probably would have just given you guys the pistols and give the cadre the actual guns.
Steven Maske: Yeah, and that’s where the formation piece of the training came in.
Brian Lohr: Very cool. What a fun way to practice that final piece there with the formation and the moving as a group. So from the paintball field, did all the teams have to individually go in one at a time and rescue the person?
Steven Maske: They more or less all went in roughly the same time and got different people out.
Brian Lohr: Okay. There are a number of people in there and then?
Steven Maske: Yeah. That whole mission piece beginning to end was about an hour. There was a little bit of the admin there, because everybody had to sign a form. It’s just your basic paintball waiver that you release the paintball place of any liability. There was a little briefing on the equipment.
Brian Lohr: Yeah. You probably signed a worse waiver getting into this event.
Steven Maske: Yeah, right. At one point the cadre were talking about us using our masks that we had made in there, but that didn’t fly with the owner.
Brian Lohr: Yeah. He’s probably a little if-y on the situation already. So homemade masks probably wouldn’t made him very happy.
Steven Maske: He seems like a good guy, I have to understand, he’s got insurance too.
Brian Lohr: Yup. He’ll have to explain that to someone why he let people with homemade masks play on his field. That’s quite the way to end the event. It’s probably a shock with the false finish kind of like when you’re 12 hours into a GORUCK Tough event or something and you run past the start point and you’re like, “But isn’t that it right there?”
Steven Maske: Yup.
Brian Lohr: But that sounds like a really fun time.
Steven Maske: Yeah. I really enjoyed it. I had enjoyed 24 more than I enjoyed 12.
Brian Lohr: It’s good to know, because it sounds like you enjoyed 12 quite a bit.
Steven Maske: Yeah.
Brian Lohr: Would you sign up for another Constellation 24 event or is it one of those events where you do it once and then you’re pretty good?
Steven Maske: I guess it depends on how much they plan on changing it from year-to-year. It’s not like a Tough where you get different cadre who do different welcome parties, you take different routes in different cities. If they plan on teaching the same thing every year, then I don’t know. The missions I imagine could change, but a lot of the skills wouldn’t, so I don’t know if I would need the first 12 hours of the 24. I did overhear that there might be a — There might be something else to follow at 24 later on. I don’t think I was supposed to hear that, but I overheard a couple of cadre talking about another event that might be along the same veins of this. We’ll see if that materializes or not.
Brian Lohr: Maybe bring Trek back.
Steven Maske: It could be a Constellation 48.
Brian Lohr: Yeah. I mean that that second half might turn into what part of Trek was like. That could be really interesting.
Steven Maske: Yeah, or they could just bring back Trek. I’d be happy with that.
Brian Lohr: Yup. I think a lot of people would be. It was one of those events that fizzled out pretty quickly. There are less than 10 of them as far as I know. It’d be nice to bring that back. Is there anything else about Constellation 24 that you want to talk or mention that anything that we might have skipped over?
Steven Maske: You know what? I think that’s about it. There a couple of more missions in there we got to practice, but it more or less mirrored the lessons we learned along the way.
Brian Lohr: Very nice. Was everyone pretty excited at the patch ceremony at the end? It sounded like it was quite the event in terms of length.
Steven Maske: Yeah. It was a lot of fun. I think having a paintball shot at you wakes you up even if you are a little tired.
Brian Lohr: Yeah. It probably helped for your drive home, right?
Steven Maske: Five-hour energy was plenty to get me going.
Brian Lohr: Very nice. Was that a 10-hour drive back as well?
Steven Maske: Yeah. Both times Google said it was going to be eight, so that’s why I did it and be, “Hey, no problem at eight hours. I can do that.” Yeah, each time, it ended up being 10 instead. Yeah, what are you going to do?
Brian Lohr: Yeah. That’s traffic. Overall, was it all worth it?
Steven Maske: Yeah. I would definitely do it again. Well, I’m definitely glad I’m signed up. If they do change it from year to year, I’ll definitely signup for another one.
Brian Lohr: Awesome. You could definitely make the same decision to go for the first time.
Steven Maske: Yeah, definitely.
Brian Lohr: Very cool. Man! It sounds like such an awesome event. That’s how I felt when Constellation 12 ended. I was like, “Oh! This was really cool, but I want to keep doing the real-world scenario. It sounds like they really step the game up with Constellation 24. That’s also nice to hear them talk about possibly expanding it with a Constellation, who knows, 36 or 48, because if they’re thinking forward, that means at the very least, they’re probably be keeping Constellation 24 around for people like myself who weren’t able to make it out.
Steven Maske: Yeah. It’s a good point.
Brian Lohr: I know they haven’t added it to the calendar for 2018 yet, but here’s to hoping there’s another Constellation 24 or 2.
Steven Maske: There was not a lot of the special events. I don’t see any beached or accent or navigator is really on there either.
Brian Lohr: Yeah. I think they’re still getting around to them. They just added an accent on August 23rd, I think. They’re coming out with them, but I think they’re still trying to finalize cadre schedules.
Steven Maske: Sure. That make sense.
Brian Lohr: Or at least it’s what I’m telling myself, because I want there to more of those events.
Steven Maske: Yeah. Definitely. If they do a navigator, like the Adirondack Mountains, I’ll definitely be doing that next year.
Brian Lohr: That would be great. I would love to get out to a navigator. That’s the thing with these capstone GORUCK events now, is that there’s so many different styles of them. It would make sense that you’d want to explore one of those instead of doing Constellation 24 again.
Steven Maske: Yeah.
Brian Lohr: Very cool. Before we get going, are there any shout outs you want to give or is there anything else you want to talk about?
Steven Maske: I had a great team. Team Orange, Team Hue was just amazing. Everybody on my team was awesome. We all worked really well together. We got props from the cadres along the way on how well we were doing specifically, which was really nice to hear, because we had no idea how everybody else was doing. Awesome team all around. The cadre were great. They had just amazing information to impart to us. It wasn’t a beat down like a regular Light or a Tough, but they had just a lot of great information to give us and it was really, really cool.
Special thanks to my wife for putting up with me with this weird strange hobby and just for being awesome all around in general.
Brian Lohr: That’s great. That’s awesome. I guess just to finalize, for someone who completed Constellation 12 and is worried that Constellation 24 might have like too bit of a beat down or too much more endurance required of them, would you say that in terms of physical exertion and activity, was it along the same lines as Constellation 12?
Steven Maske: Yeah. If you can stay up for 24 hours and, in that time, walk 10 to 15 miles, I think — We had a couple with GPS running and it was somewhere around 12 miles total for the entire 24 hours. It’s not hard at all. The ruck is lighter than — Your hydration bladder is your heaviest thing. If you can walk, you can do this.
Brian Lohr: There you have it. You don’t even need to carry your own food, right? Because they take it from you.
Steven Maske: Well, yeah. We didn’t have our food for half of it.
Brian Lohr: So the ruck is even lighter. So if you’re worried about the weight of your ruck, don’t worry, you won’t have to carry your own food, because you won’t get it.
Awesome, Stephen. Thank you so much for taking an hour out of your day to talk to me about this. I was really excited to hear that you’re able to make it out to Constellation 24 and I’m just so glad we’re able to touch base and talk about it because it seemed it was truly an amazing event. I was definitely jealous on November — I think it was 5th when all the Instagram and Twitter pictures started coming through showing the Red Constellation patch, because I knew the event was over. So very cool. Thank you so much. I truly appreciate this.
Steven Maske: It was my pleasure.