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Corey Modrowski joins us again for another AAR through one of his favorite GORUCK events. The GORUCK Tough Battle of Lake Erie – War of 1812 was the brainchild of Bryan Singlyn from CARC.
It’s always awesome to hear stories from GORUCK events that I haven’t done as some of these customs are truly unique. Hopefully you enjoy this episode as much as the previous episode we had Corey on… he’s a great storyteller and has experienced some amazing events so far!
- GORUCK & Rucking Glossary
- Corey Modrowski GORUCK Beached Tough/Light Beta AAR Podcast
- GORUCK CPL Klinger Custom Light (8/4/18)
- Cleveland Area Rucking Crew (CARC)
Podcast: Download (Duration: 1:03:36 — 58.6MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS | How to Subscribe
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Brian: I’m here talking with Cory Modrowski who you might remember from a previous podcast where we talked about GORUCK Beached Tough and GORUCK Beached Light which were both beta events. This time we’re talking about a custom event that Brian Singland who you might know as the head of CARC, the Cleveland Area Rucking Crew, spent over a year planning. It’s called the Battle of Lake Erie, War of 1812 Tough, and it sounds like it was quite the event. I’m really excited to have Cory back here because I want to know more about this event.
Cory, how are you doing?
Corey: Hi. I’m just doing fantastic fine sir.
Brian: Awesome. I cannot wait to hear about this. Brian, I know he pours his heart and soul onto everything he does. So if he was spending a year on this, I’m sure it’s quite the event. How did you get involved in this event and how did you find out about it?
Corey: I actually got added to the CARC Facebook page and I remember Brian saying how he’s organizing a custom event to take place at Put-in-Bay which is a little island right off the coast of Port Clinton which is halfway between Cleveland and Toledo on the map. So there’s a nice little island right there and probably its most notable thing is for having a billion bars.
Brian: That’s something that’s kind of nice to be notable for.
Corey: I think they call it the key west of Lake Erie.
Corey: That’s one name I heard.
Brian: This is sounding like an interesting place already.
Corey: If you remember anything after going there.
Brian: Yeah. That’s the issue, right? You might head out there, but not know what happens once you’re back.
Corey: I’ll tell you what this event — Last time when I talked to you about beached, I said that beached was in my top three. This event was number one. This is by far my most favorite event I have ever done. So I found out about it on the CARC page when Brian was like, “Hey, this is going to happen.” I was kind of like worried at that point too because I had done a Light in Cleveland for the 4th July and Jeff and Erin were the cadre and I think that Light ended up being like 6 to 8 hours. It was a longer Light and it was more like a Tough.
I was like like worried, because I know Brian and Jeff are pretty tight and I thought for sure that Jeff was going to be a cadre on that. So I started training over time for this event.
Brian: Yes. I see some of the similar workout set Brian and the CARC do, and they’re not easy.
Corey: He’s right in the middle of developing what’s called heavy drop, which is kind of a CARC training for Heavies, I guess.
Brian: Very cool. I’m excited to see what he brings with that.
Corey: Yeah. So I started training my butt off for this and actually I started forgetting about it when I was — Because I was so worried about beach. I remember talking to Brian at beached and I’m like, “Yeah, I got beach and then I got this event and then I got this event and I got et this,” and then he steps in, like, “1812. 1812.” I’m like, “What? Oh, yeah! I signed up for that.
Brian: That’s what happens when you’re signed up for so many events. I have run into that issue a couple times where you get the email from GORUCK a week before and you’re like, “Wait. I’m signed up for something?”
Brian: Oh, man! Signed up for a lot of events, signed up for 1812, and Brian, it sounds like he’s pretty excited about this.
Corey: Very, very. The guy was just bursting at the scenes ready for this. Before we even get into the start point of our meeting, I remember about a month out we started getting a message on the Facebook page for 1812 and it’s like, “All right. You guys need to organize yourselves in the boat cruise. Ld let me know who the captain is and then I’m sending out a gear list to the captain.”
One of the ships that was at the 1812 Battle, or I should say 1813 battle, because it’s a war or 1812, but the Lake Erie Battle didn’t happen till 1813, was the HMS Detroit. So you know all the D-squad guys are going to be on that ship.
Corey: So we ended up being the HMS Detroit and Captain Dean released the gear list. I remember thinking to myself, I’m like, “What did I get myself into?”
Brian: Let’s talk about the gear list a little bit. What’s going on with that?
Corey: Okay. So the gear list was something like you had to pick a boat color and you had to have been bandanas and you had to have all the same T-shirt and then you needed like a bunch of contractor bags, you wanted a bunch of paracord, you wanted like a standard rope. They wanted us to make flags, and then there’s talk of getting like PVC pipes, and they wanted us to make our own boat when we got there. I was like, “What?”
Brian: This is definitely not your typical GORUCK Tough event.
Corey: Right. I’m like, “I got to work. This is more than I planned on chewing.” But then we found out there were some logistical problems, like us trying to put all these gear on to the Jet Express, which is boat line that goes out of Port Clinton to Put-in-Bay and we found out that it’s going to be real hard for us to take whole boats on this ferryboat and go a mile and a half out to the island and then do more stuff out there.
They kind of nicked the boatbuilding thing and we ended up doing something different, but we’ll get to the end of that later.
Brian: Sounds good. So was this event after your beached Tough and beached Light?
Corey: I believe it was about month — A little more than a month after the beached events, I want to say. I could be wrong. It was about — Actually, beached was — It’s about two or three weeks after, come to think of it. It seemed like it was a lifetime.
Brian: Yeah, it happen sometimes.
Brian: That’s nice though, because Battle of Lake Erie, there’s going to be probably some water involved and you’ve just gotten probably 16 hours’ worth of water survival.
Corey: I’m pretty sure Brian took a lot of material from beached and added it to the 1812, because there’s stuff that kind of cropped up again.
Brian: Very nice. So it’s an interesting packing list. Everyone has to get themselves into these boat crews. How many boat crews were there?
Corey: Let me think. I know there’s Scorpion, Niagara, Detroit. I want to say there was about five boat crews, because I can’t think of the other two names. Yeah, about five of them, I thinking, and we had roughly about 8 to 10 people per boat crew. There is a lot of — At the last-minute, people dropping out and people subbing in. It was really kind of hard to keep track of everybody prior to the event start.
Brian: Yeah, it’s always tough. Tough when stuff like that happens.
Corey: Shredder just kind of basically came into the Facebook group and he’s like, “You better get your head straight. If you want a regular GORUCK event, get out of here. Go talk to HQ. Get them to transfer you get. Get your credit. But if you want something truly extraordinary, you just get together and show up on time.
Brian: Man! I’ve had shredder for one event, and he’s a very, very awesome cadre, so I’m glad he was out there for that.
Corey: It was no different this time around. He’s a cool dude and so is cadre Jody, who is the other guy that was there making sure everything went down right.
Brian: Did you have to take a ferry out to the starting point for this event?
Corey: Negative. What happened was it started in the area of Ohio called Catawba Island, which is actually a really nice park that’s real close to Port Clinton. We met up at a park — It’s probably a couple of miles from where the ferry is, but of course the ferry has free parking, so we parked over the ferry and the we had to walk into the park, and we showed up there, it’s like 9 o’clock at night. By this time of the year, it’s pretty dark around 9 o’clock, so we’re just kind of all milling around at the little shelter there getting our gear ready, checking everything, making sure we’re good to go. Then Shredder and Cody come rolling and tell us get in our lines, and that’s where it really started getting tense.
Brian: I bet. So what happened?
Corey: We were instructed to pull out our contractor bags, and from there we had to load all of our gear inside the contractor bags and he wanted us — Essentially, we were conscripted into the Union Army at that point, or not the Army, but the Navy. So we weren’t even technically seaman yet. We were just conscripts.
There was our kind of fitness test I guess or kind of our basic training where we had to run — I think it’s a mile and a half or two miles down the road to a nearby boat launch, and they said, “Get there any means possible, but you got to have all your gear inside that contractor bag.”
Brian: Wow! That’s quite the start to the event.
Corey: Have you ever lose your strap privileges?
Corey: Yes. Well, that’s it exactly like that, except you’re ruck is now covered in a giant slippery plastic casing too.
Corey: I had the poor judgment to also be carrying the team weight at the same time. So the HMS Detroit was what we lovingly referred to as the teabag, because we’re British and the British love tea. So we had a 25-pound bag of gravel in a GORUCK sandbag, and so I’m like, “Do I load this sandbag into the contractor bag or do I try to carry that separate?” I think I ended throwing it inside the contractor bag and halfway down the road I’m like, “There’s no way I can carry all these stuff.” So I ended up taking the gravel bag out and carried that on one shoulder and then slinging my ruck my contractor bag over the other shoulder and getting to the boat launch.
Brian: Trying to even that weight out just a little bit.
Corey: Yeah. I’m like, “If this is what the whole night is going to be like — Oh man!”
Brian: No kidding! For those who are listening and haven’t done a GORUCK event where you lose strap privileges, what that means is that you can no longer use the shoulder straps on your ruck. So you can carry it by any means necessary except for the way you’re supposed to carry a ruck, which is with the shoulder straps. It’s fun for 10 seconds, and then it’s terrible.
Corey: I think it’s even shorter than that, but to each their own.
Brian: Yeah. The novelty wears off quick. You get excited, you’re like, “Oh! We lost strap privileges at this event. I heard about this once,” and then it’s a real, real quick.
You guys get over to the ferry. You’re lugging all these stuff, your arms are probably smoked at this point. What happens next?
Corey: Okay. We go from the park to a boat launch. The ferry is not even in the picture. That doesn’t happen until tomorrow. We go to this boat launch and Shredder instructs us that at some point throughout the whole event we’re going to get 1812 reps in. It could be man makers. It could be burpies. It could be situps. It could be fluttered kicks. We’re just going to do 1812 of stuff.
I think we got down to the boat launch, we get lined in our boats and I think the first thing we did was like 60 burpees.
Brian: Ooh! I was going to say Shredder, he’d start either with burpees or 8 count bodybuilders.
Corey: I don’t remember seeing 8 counts in there, but it all kind of was a blur after a while.
Brian: Yeah. You have to make 1812 somehow. That is a ton of reps, and they probably didn’t buy the whole we’re one team, so all of our reps count individually. Updates in 12?
Corey: No. Definitely not. We were trying to lawyer that one because that just means we’re probably hurt more.
Brian: That usually just upset someone and you’ll just pay for it dearly later. So you’re starting off with 60 burpee.
Corey: That was rough, but it was doable. The people had sign up for this one were fairly athletic crowd and we are kind of hurting, but it was a good warm.
Brian: Yeah. What happened next there at the boat launch?
Corey: I think after that, it was time to go down to the beach. I don’t know what it’s like out where you guys are at. Usually when I see pictures of the Seattle and the West Coast, there’s these nice sandy beaches. The Great Lakes, the beaches are rocks. So it’s just like this whole beach. It’s nothing but real round hard freaking rocks. Immediately, they got us in the water doing a surf check.
Link arms, walk out there until you’re about waist-deep, turnaround. All right, get your heads under. We did that a couple of times. We did some surf PT laying on our backs trying to do — Trying to think of what the maneuver is where you try to almost do like a somersault backwards and touch yoru feet behind you and then come back up.
Brian: The rocking chair.
Corey: I forgot the name. Yes, that’s it. The rocking chair. How could I forget?
Brian: One of the worst exercises ever. How many reps did you have to get for the rocking chair?
Corey: I don’t even remember at this point. I was just like — I read the books, the endurance athlete books and I remember the one piece of advice was get one foot in front of the other. So at that point I was just like, “I don’t even care. Just keep doing reps until they say stop.”
Brian: Yeah. So for those who are listening and haven’t ever had to experience rocking chairs. The ones that I’ve had to do and it seems most cadre make you do is you sit down in the water, you all lineup, you lock arms and then they usually just ask for one rep. One rep for everyone and does it together. If you’ve been to a GORUCK event, you know that means more than one rep. That means you’re going to be in this like 10+ times.
Corey: I think we’re shooting for 10, maybe 20 at that point.
Brian: We’ve got some heavy hitters over there with the solid rucking crews out there.
Corey: Yeah, we still had to do it a couple of times.
Corey: You lock arms in the water and you’re sitting there and they say, “Go,” and you kick your feet up above your head and you kind of do like this reverse somersault thing where your feet go over your head and your feet have to touch the water, so your head is underwater in like this gravel. You’re trying to stay over for a couple of seconds, because everyone has to be doing this at the same time for it to count, and then you come back and you essentially mini-drown yourself multiple times.
It’s quite the way to start an event if you’re doing this. I mean this is probably what? Like an hour in?
Corey: Yeah, roughly. I think at that point — Yeah, I wasn’t keeping track, but I would have to say it’s probably 11 o’clock at night at that point maybe, maybe 10:30. Not sure. I need to learn how to read the stars like Crocodile Dundee or something.
Brian: Yeah. It might distract you little bit from the rocking chairs.
Corey: It’s beautiful. I didn’t realize how much starlight you could see when you get away from the city like that, because it is really nice. I realize I could see that nice of a view at the sky, I just get outside of Toledo.
Brian: What kind of a location are we at here? We’re at a boat launch. Are there small towns nearby? It sounds like there are any major cities if you’re missing all that city light.
Corey: Pretty much the biggest town nearby is Port Clinton, which is the main thing with Port Clinton is you got the ferries to go to Put-in-Bay where the bars are — Everything else, you got Camp Perry nearby, which is where they used to hold the NRA nationals every year, and then they’ve got Davis Besse, which is a nuclear power station nearby. Other than that, it’s pretty devoid of light pollution.
Brian: That’s nice. It’s really nice. You’re out there enjoying a nice night on the beach doing rocking chairs. What’s going on next?
Corey: From there it was time to break up into our boat cruise, and I think it was time for another swim assessment at that point. They wanted us to bring life preservers, and we did. So we had a body up and I think it was — Shredder cracked a couple of cam lights and whipped them out there pretty good and said, “All right. You and your body, swim around my cam lights and get back to the beach,”
Brian: How did everyone do with that? And did you get to bring your ruck with you?
Corey: Rucks I think stayed on land for that portion. One of our instructions I forgot to mention was that we had to make sure our rucks float. That’s a very important bullet point for later on in the event, and that’s going to be a great story that I don’t think enough people pupil heard about that one, but I’ll just tease you a little with that.
So we got our lifejackets on and my brother and I, we were big small boat sailors on Lake Erie. So I was able to grab his life preserver which is one of those ones where you just pull the ripcord and it inflates on its own, but I was like, “I’m not going to waste the CO2 cartridge. I’ll just leave it leave alone,” and I inflated it by mouth. I’m about probably halfway into the water initially and then I hear, “Pss!” and I do realize that my CO2 cartridges went off, so I’m like trying to hit the air release valve on my life preserver so that it doesn’t accidentally pop, and thank God it didn’t, because I needed that life preserver on this event.
Brian: That’s wild. Yeah, I’m glad it didn’t pop too.
Corey: Oh men! I would’ve been so screwed. We did the swim assessment. Got around with glow sticks and then I think it was time to form up as teams, and then it was another swim assessment. I think we had to swim a Budweiser line, which if you’ve never swam it. Basically, your whole team just grabs a hold of a rope. Sometimes you’ll have knots in it, sometime you won’t, but it kind of reminds you of like a six pack holder for beer cans. And so we were swimming as a group. We had to go swim to Shredder at a dock over there at the boat launch and then we had to turn around swim back to the team.
Brian: You’re spending a decent time in the water. What’s the water like?
Corey: Pretty cold. Not as bad as Traverse City, I think Traverse City helped me out there. I was feeling pretty good in that water, but there’s definitely some other people that were feeling the love.
Brian: I’m sure. There’s always someone there who hates the water.
Corey: Darn skinny folks.
Brian: Yup. No kidding. You’ve got this Budweiser line going. You’ve spent a decent amount of time in the water. How are you feeling?
Corey: Me? I’m feeling pretty good, but we’re all kind of checking on each other making sure no one is hyping out, and I know a couple of people were complaining of cramping up during the Budweiser line swim, so those people, you’r ejust like, “All right. Just try to relax and float.”
I remember being like the front of the line — There’s two fronts of the line. We swam one way and then all we did is we just did about-face and swam back to the beach. I was tailing it to swim to Shredder and I was leading it on the swim back from Shredder. I remember feeling my pec start to cramp up and I’d have to switch arms and kind of do a side stroke with my other side in order to get the job done.
Brian: Absolutely. And I hear those Budweiser lines, if you’re in the front, it’s a decent amount of work.
Corey: It’s not bad, could be worse.
Brian: It could always be worse.
Corey: After we got done with the Budweiser line, the Portland police showed up. I already gave you little teaser about what Put-in-Day like. So you’re just imagining the quality of people that those officers have to deal with on a daily basis, if not like at least a weekend basis. They get a lot of people enjoying their grandpa’s cough medicine a little too much and they got settle them down from time to time.
They see this big group of people standing in the water, they had backpacks, they got American flag shirts on and all sorts of weird stuff and they know this isn’t your average crew. Shredder kind of talks to them and tells them what we’re all about and comes back to us and he goes, “You know, those guys are really impressed with you, and now we’re going to start a different phase of the event. Basically, you’re going to do 10 minutes of silence in that water while treading it and these guys are going to watch.”
We get out to the point where we can’t touch and we got to treat water and we can’t be moaning and groaning. You know how it is when you’re in front leaning your ass. There’s always that, “Oh! Mmm! Aah!” noise going on and we couldn’t have any of that for 10 minutes in cold water while treading it.
Brian: Man! I bet there are some people who are not enjoying that.
Corey: There definitely were a few people, but they managed to do a great job of suffering in silence, because we got through that without a problem. The Port Clinton and police were just so impressed with us.
Brian: That’s great. Would you say that the beached, going back a little bit to the beach Tough, you had to tread water for half an hour to 45 minutes. Did that help you at all with this event?
Corey: You could say there was a little bit of muscle memory left over from that.
Brian: So what happened with the police that showed up?
Corey: They were real happy to see some people enjoying the beach in a different way and they pretty much said, “Don’t worry about a thing the rest of the night. We’ll keep anybody away from you,” and they kind of went on back to their patrolling, but the quality of people they usually see is not the GRT quality, So it was a treat for them to see us doing our thing and suffering in honor of something bigger than us.
Brian: I’m not quite sure what they were expecting when they showed up, but it’s probably not what they saw. So that’s really cool.
Corey: We got out of the water briefly to do a little bit of rehydration, grab some gear from the list, and from there we had to unload a U-haul van with lots of interesting looking PVC pipes and various implements, which brought us to our next phase where we broke out in our boat crews and we had to start constructing rafts out of PVC pipes and 550 cord.
Brian: Wow! So did you or anyone on your boat crew have any knowledge of how to construct a raft out of PVC and 550 before you started this?
Corey: I don’t want to brag, but man I know Capt. Dean, Dean Aiken, the guy who is running the Detroit HMS was very, very thankful for my knot tying skills because I still remember how to do my lashes from Boy Scouts. So I was able to go in there and just bang out a couple lashes, get those PVC pipes together.
I remember doing a clove hitch too and just having the hardest time because my hands were cold, but after getting a little light on there and taking a couple of deep breaths, I was able to get it started and then just lash that thing together like a rock star.
Brian: That’s amazing. That’s awesome that you had that prior knowledge, because I for one probably struggle a little bit, at least start getting that together.
Corey: I remember seeing other boat crews not quite sure how they were going to do it. I remember just seeing like two poles, you just lash it. We had one big lashing with paracord on one end and one big lash and a paracord on the other and we were ready to rock ‘n’ roll.
Brian: There you go. Did every boat crew have to make their own boat?
Corey: Essentially. We did some maneuvering with hat those there in the water. I think we had a race or two with those. You know how it is with races. It pays to be a winner.
Brian: It sure does.
Corey: I don’t remember if we are winners. I don’t remember. We probably were. So there was definitely some swimming and some repercussions with exercises for that. Then from there it took a very interesting turn, because these PVC pipes we had like rubber caps with, the device is a hose clamp around it. So these PVC pipes were waterproof and they tell us to drag it up on to the beach and pull one end of the caps off. I’m like, “Okay.”
One of those PVC pipes we had to fill with water. The other PVC pipe we had to fill with rocks from the beach. So then now we’ve got a giant like flush tube and we got a giant tube full of rocks and we’re told that boats had to carry provision, so one was your water in the other was your gunpowder.
From there we had to carry our PVC pipes as a team back to the park where we started, and I didn’t get a real good look at that park when we started, but there’s been a fairly sizable hill in it. I didn’t realize.
One of the things they had to do back in the day would be to ford boats over land and they would have to tie ropes to the boats and drag them across land to get to the next body of water. That was shredder’s next little fun activity for us. We were at the bottom of a hill. We had to drag our boats with — I think it was at least two members from our team on top of the PVC pipes plus rocks up that hill, go down the other side.
Brian: That must have been a fun surprise.
Corey: I can tell you from the HMS Detroit’s standpoint, we were killing it in the other areas and then we would miss in other areas. So this is where we really missed, because during the trip up the hill, one of those rubber caps came loose and we lost all our water. So that was a strike against us.
Then we finally got it up the hill, and then I think we’re going back down and one of our caps came loose and we lost our gunpowder. So we’re double screwed.
Brian: Did any other boat crews lose their water or their gunpowder?
Corey: As far as I know no. So yeah, we looked real bad at that point.
Brian: So what happened with that?
Corey: I think we had to add more people to the pipes at one point. It turned into a Charlie foxtrot. We were trying to push and pull this pipe up hill and it just wasn’t working for us, and I think it got to a point where Shredder just like took pity on us. He’s just like, “All right. Just get down the hell. Get in the front lead and rest,” because it was just taking so much time.
Then I think after that there came more PT. We did probably 120 reps of something. I can’t remember if it was burpees. I remember being on my back a lot, so maybe it was flutter kicks. I can remember because all I can remember seeing is this big long field that we’re in and it was foggy as I’ll get out. It was spooky as heck. I was just astounded at how much the landscape had changed from when we started, because it was probably about 2 o’clock in the morning when this all went down and it looked cool as heck, but at the same time it sucks like hell.
Brian: Oh, I bet. Probably wondering if you actually made it back to the same park you started in.
Corey: It gets better, because from there I think he had us load our stuff back up and go back to the beach, because we had to dump out the rocks and the water on to the beach, which obviously we didn’t have to do. Then we did another little jaunt from the beach that we were at to a park in the Catawba Island area. That’s where it got really interesting, because during this whole event we had to start using code terminologies. So if we’re going to move forward, we had to say make way. If you’re going to turn back, you had to say port. If you’re going to turn right, you had to say starboard.
At one point they took us to this park and we got in our boat teams, they made us put our rucks together in the center and we had to all face out. So we’re kind of this big like reverse group hug. One of the items we’re instructed to have was a bandanna, and we had to blindfold all the people on the boat crew, except the captain. The captain was in the center and it was up to the captain to basically guide us through a trail on this park and we all had to be blindfolded folded. So we had to trust our captain in the directions he was giving us.
Corey: I have no idea how long that was. I just remember taking forever, because I think either the cadre went in and put like a huge freaking log down in the trail or they just hadn’t taken care of the park if there was a huge log in the trail. So we ended up getting like lost in the dark and we had to re-circle around a couple of times, but apparently we’re doing better than the other boat crews, because we are one of the first to finish, I guess.
Brian: Wow! That must’ve been something.
Corey: You got to remember when you’re in a circle like that, not everybody — Nobody’s facing the same direction. So if you’re in the back of it or the stern of the boat, forward is your back and port is going to be your right. So when he calls port, you actually are going to go right, not left. It turns into a giant teamwork exercise.
Brian: Yeah. That’s a lot of stuff to consider, and you’re blindfold the whole time. So you got that going for you too.
Corey: Yeah. It definitely is interesting, because people are calling out about the terrain. I remember at one point being not on the trail and having my footing slipping and thinking, “God! If I go down, I’m taking the whole boat with me,” and I can let that happen.
Brian: Yeah. There’s a lot going on with that. You’re one of the first boats back.
Corey: Supposedly. I couldn’t see it with my own eyes, and I don’t know if they were just bolstering their ego, but I’m hoping that was true.
Brian: Yeah. I was going to say, it must’ve felt pretty good after you guys lost all the water and all the gunpowder previously.
Corey: It definitely gave us a new hope for not being the worst boat.
Brian: So how long did it take for all the other boats to get there? Were they taking different routes or was everyone on the same route?
Corey: I think they started half the group at one end of the trail and the other group at the other end. The trail kind of looped around and came back to itself. So at one point we would cross paths with the other boats and then we have to maneuver around them.
Brian: Oh, wow!
Corey: Then they’re calling out directions too. So you got to try not to listen to them. You’re trying to listen to your boat captain and not get tangled up with the other boat.
Brian: No kidding. That’s almost more difficult than a log.
Corey: It was more mentally taxing than a log I think.
Brian: Yeah. Yeah, I’m sure. So all the groups are finally back together. How’s everyone feeling? Were you able to take your blindfold off that point or were they still on?
Corey: No. Once we finish, we are able to take our blindfold off, get some water and just kind of chill for a few minutes while we waited for the other boats to get done. I think it was probably — We had a good 15 minutes maybe standing around before we headed back to that boat launch/beach for the next evolution, because I think at that point we’re starting to get a little bit of sunshine peaking in maybe or we were getting close to dawn. So that’s when we gotten to some more technical aspects of the event and where we get to probably my favorite story about this event.
Brian: I’m excited.
Corey: Earlier on I told you that one of the requirements was we had to figure out how to get our rucks to float, and this is with standard challenge weight. You got a 30-pound plate if you’re over 150 pounds and you got to figure out how to make that thing float. A couple of the guys on my boat came up with the bright idea, “Go over to Target. It’s the end of the season. They’re selling all their pool stuff. Get a couple of clearance kick boards,” and I think one guy was able to fit like three kick boards in his ruck to get it to float. I opted for cutting a noodle down the middle and hundred mile an hour tape in it to my plate and then just doing to kick boards, because I need a room for all the other junk, and that help float it pretty good. People on the other boats, their rucks didn’t float so good.
Brian: Oh! Let’s hear it.
Corey: We’ll just move ahead. The next evolution was learning how to take tarps and kind of burrito roll them into making rafts out of your rucks. So there is a couple of different ways you can do it. Luckily my know tying skills came in handy there, because you had to basically do another clove hitch and it really was like making a giant burrito.
We got that going and then we had to get in the water with these rafts that we made and maneuver with them. After a few maneuvers in the water you’re going around buoys or swimming here, swimming there. The quality that you put into your work started to show, because some people’s rats started kind of coming apart a little bit. Started taking on water.
One unfortunate individual whose name honestly lost me, otherwise I would name him. His ruck fell out of the raft, and he didn’t do a great job of making sure it floated. He did a great job of making sure it kind of floated. Well, he lost basically his GR1, his plate and everything that was inside it sunk to Davy Jones locker there in Lake Erie.
Corey: Yeah, that’s a huge, huge thing. Shredder pulled us all out of the water and had us to walk a police line and the beach, and we could not find that sucker.
Brian: Wow! That’s rough. That’s something.
Corey: Shredder kind of came out and he’s like, “Listen, We lost a ruck. We’re going to get with HQ. We’re going to make this right. It was but, but we’re going to make it right.” I got to believe at the end of the day they hooked him up real good, and it wasn’t a horrible loss, but man there might be some Lake Erie fishermen that comes across that ruck someday, like he’s got a whopper of a fish. He’s going to find out he’s got a little treasure trove.
Brian: That’s crazy.
Corey: At least that’s how I sleep at night.
Brian: Yeah. Someone will find it. So what happened with that individual?
Corey: He’s still stuck with us. It was just kind of like — I think they end up sticking with the team weight or something, because like, “Well, what do you do now? No ruck.” We just kind of continued on. I mean, we probably spent a good half an hour, 45 minutes trying to search that ruck and Davy Jones took it. So there’s nothing we could do at that point.
I think Shredder could see that morale got a little low at that point. So he had us pleased the beach for garbage and whatnot. We find a couple of gel wrappers or some power beans or whatever or whatever. The junk food that most GRTs pack in their rucks these days take long. He’s like, “Listen. In 1813, they didn’t have all these carbohydrate things. They crackers and they had sardines. So they come rolling out with a couple boxes of crackers and a couple of packs of sardines and they wanted us all to have a little bit of that.”
Brian: How did that go for you? Did you have any?
Corey: I couldn’t bring myself to watch the video that Cody shot, because I had to sound like the biggest nerd, because at one point I remember someone asking me, he’s like, “Hey, Cory. Get in there and get some sardine,” and I’m like stuttering, “I have a fish allergy,” so I must have sound like the biggest nerd, like, “I can’t. I have an allergy the sardines.” I think Cody was videoing the exact moment and I can’t even watch the video, just in case. I do look like the biggest nerd there standing like that.
They’re like, “Well, get the cracker.” I’m like, “No. I can’t eat the crackers man. I’m keto. I don’t eat gluten and definitely not carbs.” So I kind of sat back and fasted.
Brian: Yeah. That is too funny. Maybe I can dig up the video. No I won’t. Just kidding. I won’t dig it up.
Corey: Yeah, I’m sure it’s there. I haven’t watched it, so I don’t know if he stopped it and you don’t see there or what, but I’ve never had the stomach to watch it.
Brian: That happens to me too. The first time I ever I was an interviewee on a podcast, it took me like two weeks to listen to it, because I knew I sounded terrible. It’s like, “Man, I can’t even stomach this. I can’t stomach listing to this. Please, it’s going to be so bad.”
Corey: You’re never 100% perfect at whatever you do the first time. So you’ve only gotten better with time my friend.
Brian: Thank you. Thank you. I know that feeling all too well. They bring out these sardines and crackers. That must’ve been a surprise to everyone. What’s going on from there? It sounds like the sun at this point might’ve come up a little bit since it was peaking earlier?
Corey: It’s got to like seven, maybe 8 o’clock at that point. I think I want to say it’s seven. I can’t be 100% sure. We’re sitting around trying to chow down on these sardines and crackers. Some of the people are like — They’re trying not to blow chunks, because they had a squeamish box of sardines. Other people are just like, “Yeah, this is great. Can I have yours?” The typical trying to gross the squeamish guy out type of thing.
We just kind of sit around chilling, get some calories in us, getting some water in us, replenishing some the electrolytes and just to — You know that magical moment in the middle of a Tough where you’re all just sitting around sharing food. It’s that moment.
Corey: So snack times over and we’re behind schedule, because we spent so much time searching for this ruck. Basically what we got to do is we got to load all the gear into the U-haul van, and you got to remember at the same time this is happening. All the fishermen are trying to come down to the boat launch and drop their boats in the water. So we’ve got like hundreds of people just staring at us like, “What the heck are those weirdos doing?”
We carry PVC pipes up to the U-haul and we get them in the truck. Basically Shred is just like, “All right. We’re behind schedule, so we got to expedite this.” He just points to a boat team, “Get in the van and we’re going to take over to the ferry,” and then that’s kind of what they did, is we got in the van. They took one team to the ferry. The rest of us kind of sit and chill.
I remember during that point, I was getting a little sleepy at that point. So I remember Cody like peeking down, like getting his face near mine and I saw it out of the corner eye and I snapped out or I was just about to fall asleep and I could see that smile on his face, like, “I got you!” We just kind of sat and chilled.
Cody got a pretty good inspiration at one point. He’s looking over their and he’s like, “Hey, Detroit. Are those picnic tables?” We’re like, “Yeah. What are you thinking?” He’s like, “We’re going to send a little love message to Jesse Hein.” And we’re all like, “Heck, yeah.”
He tells us to get over on those picnic tables, hoist them above our head and he’s like — He just goes, “Who is this for?” And we all yelled, “Jesse Hein!” “Who is this for?” “Jesse Hein!” “Who is this for?” “Jesse Hein!” Then we’re done with that. I don’t know if Jesse ever got the video, but I hope the heck he did, because that just sounded cool us call getting out.
Brian: That’s awesome.
Corey: Fast forward. We load out into the van, get to the ferry point. So I think the ferry to get Put-in-Bay, it was like $12 maybe. Something like that. So they’re all like, “You brought your 20s, right?” Everyone is like, “Yeah, except for one guy.” We all get in line and we pay our soggy 20s to a lady and she gives us our ticket and then we’re just kind of milling around waiting for the boat to come in talking about this, that and the other thing, just kind of chilling.
I remember sitting there and like, “Man! How much longer is this going to go on?” Because I had — It was my on-call weekend for work and I’m like getting worried, because I got to go see patients this afternoon and I want to be somewhat coherent to treat my total hip and my lady with a fractured tibia. So I’m like getting a little nervous here, because it’s probably like getting closer to like nine, 10 o’clock.
Riding the ferry, and I remember there’s a great video of Captain Dean. He’s like nodding off on the ferry ride and he’s like drifting through his right I remember Cody was videoing that. It’s on the Tough page, I think. He’s like almost going to fall out of his feet on the ferry and then he snaps out of it at the last second. Sits up and he goes, “And that’s a hard starboard.” Without breaking face or anything. I remember when I got back and I saw that video I laughed so hard.
Brian: That’s amazing. I’m going to dig that up. I’m digging that one up for sure.
Corey: So we ride in the ferry and everyone’s kind of like nodding off. Some of them were talking. I remember, actually we’re sitting next to a couple and the husband had actually written a book on the war of 1812. So like Cody and Shred and I and Brian are currently sitting around listening to this guy talk, and then we finally get off the boat and we got to unloaded and we got ruck it to another beach.
The U-haul van goes ahead of us. Cody is with us and I’m like, “Hey Cody. Man, I’m going to work after this. How much longer we got?” He’s like, “Listen dude. I got a flight to catch out to Cleveland at like 3 o’clock. So I’m on the same boat with you.” But he’s assuring me, “No. You’re not getting fired today. We’re going to end this. It’s not too much longer.” “Okay. Cool.”
We ruck it a couple — I think it’s a mile or two from where the Put-in-Bay ferry puts in to another boat launch/park nearby where Shred takes and instructs us to build a raft out of the PVC that he brought in the U-haul, but we have to have our rucks attached to it. You know, this late in the game people ain’t thinking straight.
We came up with a great idea and like, “Just put your freaking backpack straps through the PVC pipes.” It was like, “Dant! You’re genius, man! So we do that and then we made a burrito out of a couple of rocks and do the whole raft thing again with that. That’s where it gets a little chaotic, because Brian come up to me and he’s like, “All right. It’s time to go. Oh, wait. No, we got a few minutes.” So we took our rafts and we loaded them into the water and we reenacted the Battle of 1813 Lake Erie, and this was so cool. This is probably the best part of the — This was the apex of the event, because what we had to do was we had to kind of mimic the movements of the boats during the war, and what we have to do is we come alongside, the long side of the boat is where the cans were. So whenever we got close enough to one of the other boats out there, the Niagara, or the scorpion, or the others, we would have to fire on them.
We came up with a great idea while firing the cans, mean we splash their asses. So just started splashing like crazy any boat they came close to us. So it was fun. It looked like fun. We had a good time.
Let me describe the situation at this beach. Some of the listeners might know about how the toxic algae blooms in Ohio, or I should say in Lake Erie. They actually get so bad at one point the city I live in, Toledo, the municipal water supply was actually tainted by the toxic algae because our water purification system couldn’t keep up with it. There’s like signs posted all over this beach about toxic algae blooms and how you should be aware. I’m still surprised I didn’t end up with any kind of enteric disease or anything because I know I got a good couple of mouthfuls of that water.
Brian: Yeah, that’s — I’m glad nothing bad happened. Did anyone get sick?
Corey: Not that I’m aware of. I think some people refer to it as ear herpes at some point, but I don’t know of any confirmed illnesses at this time.
Brian: That’s good. I’m glad everyone lucked out. We’ve got a popular start point for some of our Tough events, which is called Green Lake out by us, and they have three or four sensors on the lake on North, South, East and West, and it measures the amount of fecal matter in there. So it’s updated over the summer I think daily. And so whenever we have a start point, they’re always be posting screenshots of that, like, “Hey guys. There’s a bunch of crap in the water, so hopefully we don’t go in there.”
Corey: Oh! Green Lake. Why would they call it that?
Brian: I know, right? So thankfully we never really go in there, but I’m glad that no one got sick at your event.
Corey: Yeah, that we know of.
Brian: That we know of. Yup. That we know of.
Corey: I was like really worried too, because the shore over there was like kind of rocky and they made us —The pathfinder way choose the harder thing. We can go down the nicely made path. Shredder has put the boats over like this deep ends to get him in the water, and I remember cutting the palm of my hand on a rock and like, “Oh! I can put my gloves away now. Stupid me. I didn’t put my gloves on when we did that part and I get a cut on my hand.” I’m like, “Yeah, I’m getting something for sure now.”
Brian: Yeah, right before you get in the water, just some nice blood flow.
Corey: The toxic algae water.
Brian: Yeah. No kidding. Yeah, it sounds like your beaches are kind of like ours. We don’t have those nice sandy beaches. We just have rocks and gravel and pebbles and all that “good stuff”. Yeah, good stuff in quotes.
Corey: Makes it hard.
Brian: Yeah. You definitely earn it.
Corey: Then we have the naval battle. The apex of the naval battle was like — Shredder is like, “All right. You guys did it. You had the battle. There’s only one thing left to do. I need each boat to pick one person and you need to get that person up on your raft and they got to run the gauntlet.”
The gauntlet was that all the other ships got across from each other, and you had to have the person who is on top of the raft had to stand on top of it, Capt. Morgan style, and you had to maneuver the boat through the gauntlet while everybody splash you.
Corey: And it looks so awesome.
Brian: Who was chosen from your boat?
Corey: I honestly don’t remember. It had been whoever was one of the smaller people, because we wanted to get it done. Obviously the rafts were constructed hastily. We wanted to ensure success. So I think it was whoever the smallest person was at that time.
Brian: Yeah, it’s smart. You’re already what? Over 12 hours into the event?
Corey: I think at that point we’re pushing about 14. I did my math wrong when I was coming back on the ferry. I kept like telling everybody it was an 18-hour Tough.” I’m like, “No That doesn’t make any sense, because I’m not late for work yet.”
Brian: Still, that’s a long tough.
Corey: It was significant. Here’s the kicker. I know Captain Dean, who was a little sore on this. This is going on around the same time as I think the hurricanes were hitting Florida. So our patches didn’t get out of HQ in time. So we didn’t actually get patched on the island. We got all our patches in the mail like two weeks later after the Postal Service had resumed. It was so sweet.
I got a great picture on my Facebook. I was driving home from work and I could see that the envelope laying against my front porch with that big arrowhead sitting on it and I’m like, “It’s huge!” I pulled in my driveway and ran up the steps like a little kid on Christmas and tore that thing open.
Brian: That’s awesome. You have to send a picture of what the patches look like, because I’m sure they weren’t the traditional ones.
Corey: Oh, it’s cool. It’s got the — I think the Union Flat on it at the time with like — I think it’s got the arrowhead in the background with this gold lettering for GORUCK, and then a white letting for Battle of Lake Erie 1812, and then you got the silver Tough and it just looks so awesome. I loved it.
Brian: That is great. So do you think this events is going to come back again?
Corey: Oh, God. I hope so. I really, really hope so. This was so much fun.. I know Brian just announced that in January — I think it’s the 19th, they opened up a Battle of 1812 for New Orleans. He’s trying to turn this into a whole series with a special patch for completing all of them. So right now that’s the next one on the list, but I really, really hope they bring back the Lake Erie one so we can work the kinks out of it and make an even better event next year.
Brian: Absolutely. It sounds like it was incredible. There’s seriously unique stuff going on at this event.
Corey: One year of R&D and a lot of love. I got mad respect for Brian for putting this on, because every ounce of work shows.
Brian: Yeah. He is a very dedicated guy and really hard worker. So it’s awesome that it worked out, and I really hope it comes back too, because it sounds like it’s one of those events that people are going to hear about and they’re going to want to do, because there’s just such cool stuff happening there.
Corey: Yeah. Like I said at the beginning, I’m like, “What did I get myself into?” Because it just seemed it was more hassle, but after going through it, I’m so glad I did, because it was so much fun.
Brian: That’s great. What do you think the chances are that you’ll be down at the New Orleans event?
Corey: Like I said, my budget is maxed for this year. So a flight to New Orleans, plus whatever odds and ends we got to carry for that one. Not very likely at this time.
Brian: Yes. It’s the tough part about this traveling for events.
Corey: We just had a Halloween Heavy up here this past weekend. I don’t know we’re B. Yang is from, but he came for the event and I mean I don’t know how you just truck all your equipment across the country like that, because I have enough trouble just trying to get all my gear up to Detroit in one piece, let alone letting the TSA fiddle with my stuff.
Brian: Oh, yeah. I’ve got a hard enough time, give myself half an hour south to an event start. Yeah. I’ve travel a couple of times for events and it’s always, always stressful. Amazon Prime makes it a little bit easier, because if you forget stuff sometimes you can get it in real quick.
Corey: Yeah, I could see that.
Brian: it’s still tough.
Corey: My furthest event, if you don’t count the beach, was Winter Fad in Indie. That was my second distant event compared to beach, which was at 6-1/2 hour drive. Indi is like 3 1/2 hours from where I’m at, I think.
Brian: Very nice. You’ve got a great area it sounds like. A nice radius to get to some pretty awesome events. Corey: Like 2-1/2 hours from everything practically.
Brian: That’s perfect. Is there anything else you want to talk about for this custom Tough?
Corey: I know Shredder’s name is intimidating, but he is a standup fella. Before this event, I never — I didn’t know Cody. The only time I’d seen him was when he was doing the videos for the selection for the year previous to this one when he was talking about how the selection participants undercarriage was getting a little chafed, and that was the only experience I had with Cody up in those point, but when he came onto this event, he was kind of smooth operator and a cool dude and I can’t say enough nice things about either cadre.
Brian: That’s awesome. I’ve had the opportunity of doing an event with Shredder and hopefully sometime in the future I can do one with Cody, because it’s — You hear nothing but good things. Very nice.
Corey: Hoping Jeff can come back next year, and I can rid or some of these anxiety about being around him.
Brian: Yeah. Cory,thank you so much for taking over an hour running through this event. It sounds like it was truly something unique coming from Brian. It must have been really awesome, so I’m glad that we’re able to do this, because I’m excited. I would love to make it out to one of these events, because there’s just really cool stuff going on at it and it sounds like a really great group of people who showed up for it. So thank you again for just taking so much time out of your evening to talk about this. I truly appreciate it, Cory. Thank you.
Corey: No. Thank you my friend. You are my companion on these long days at work were I’m driving from place to place and I need my rucking fixed. So I’m happy to answer the narrative and support the GRT community, and I hope you can make it out here someday, because I know the Detoit squad would love to love to host and maybe we can even do a little show out here.
Brian: That’d be fun.
Corey: It’d be a good time.
Brian: I’ll check the Detroit calendar. Maybe you can send me over the list of events you’re doing for 2018 and maybe we can find something that will work out.
Corey: Right on. I could do it.
Brian: Awesome. Thank you so much again. I truly appreciate it, and this has been amazing. Thank you, Cory.
Corey: Thank you sir. You have yourself a good day now.
Brian: You too.
Really well done.
a couple updates…
No illness from the algae water, and HQ replaced the lost ruck and plate.
Brian Lohr says
Shredder! I hope all is going well. Glad no one got sick and even more awesome that HQ replaced that. Hope you had a great time in the PNW earlier this month and hopefully I’ll catch you at an event soon!