Cadre Dan Skidmore (aka Cadre DS) was the cadre that ran our 2017 Santa Ruck Light in Seattle, WA. That event was incredible and Cadre DS really delivered an incredible and motivational event.
After that event I knew I had to have him on the podcast… the motivation and positive attitude he brought was absolutely infectious and that Light was one of the best events I’ve ever taken part in.
This interview is fairly conversational as we talk about how he found GORUCK, the Santa Ruck Light, a recent Spartan Race Cadre DS crushed in Iceland, and how to motivate yourself for a more difficult event.
- GORUCK & Rucking Glossary
- Evolution Athletics
- Evolution Athletics Facebook
- GORUCK Website
- Cadre DS Event Schedule
- Chris Way PaceLID Podcast
- Chris Way GORUCK Selection Podcast
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Brian: Today I’m chatting with Dan Skidmore, Cadre DS who is a cadre for GORUCK. I was fortunate enough to have him lead a recent event. It was actually the Santa Ruck Light in early December of 2017 in Seattle. After that event, I knew I needed to ask him if he’d be willing to be on the podcast. Cadre DS is the epitome of having the slogan; Attitude is everything. Keep yours positive.
He was thrown curved ball after curved ball leading up to our event in Seattle, and the way he handled everything and the way he ran the event was just truly amazing and awesome. So Dan, how is it going?
Cadre DS: Great, man. I appreciate you having me on, and that’s a hell of an intro.
Brian: You had a hell of a time coming out here.
Cadre DS: I did. I did for sure.
Brian: Before we get started, do you prefer to go by Dan, Cadre DS or something else?
Cadre DS: Dan is fine. During the event, Cadre DS, but any other times, it’s just Dan.
Brian: Perfect. I’m guessing that stems from the fact that there are a number of cadre at GORUCK with the name Dan or Daniel already.
Cadre DS: Yeah. I wasn’t the first and I probably won’t be the last. I’ve got to actually meet a couple of the other cadre Dans or Daniels or Dannys. Great guys, but DS for me, and I can just give you a little background on it. In the Air Force, being a combat controller, we go through air traffic control first and part of that school is basically getting your operating initials, and so if you do something dangerous or stupid or they’d get in trouble, like the pilot will ask for your initials, so mine are delta sierra, and so it only kind of made sense. Then when they came to picking my cadre name, it was a natural fit.
Brian: That’s perfect. You already had the initials going in. Excellent. How long have you been a cadre for GORUCK?
Cadre DS: I just actually started this last year, summer time or 2017.
Brian: That’s exciting. Fairly new into the GORUCK scene as a cadre. When did you first year about GORUCK?
Cadre DS: I heard about GORUCK a couple of years ago, probably like I want to say three or four years ago, but at the time I had very little interest in doing events myself. I don’t like getting smoked. I think most of the cadre probably say the same thing. We’ve lived that for so long. Who’d want to go and be tortured for a couple of hours or a night? But I think that that is kind of shortsighted by a lot of guys that don’t really even look into it anymore. Then when I started investigating into the company a little bit more, because I actually coached a couple of other cadre before and had that interaction with them and started learning more about the company, but when I initially find out about GORUCK, it wasn’t something I wanted to participate in myself until I started learning more about what everything is about.
Brian: That’s wild. That’s really cool. Knew about GORUCK for a couple of years before you decided to step in and try and be a cadre.
Cadre DS: Yeah, I can expand on that if you want me to.
Brian: Yeah, we’ll definitely get into that. Before we do, I’ve met you at an event. There are a number of listeners who have never met you before. You have talked about yourself a little bit. You’re a trained cadre. You’ve done some training. You’ve got an extensive military career. Could you briefly introduce yourself for our listeners?
Cadre DS: Yeah, absolutely. My name is Dan, I did nine years as an Air Force combat controller. With that, we’re basically in charge of all the air to ground interface and typically the one air force guy on the Special Forces team or the SEAL team, and we’ll catch the team leader’s hip-pocket and making everything, whether it’s infiltration, exfil, all the dropping bombs, runway operations, doing surveys, that kind of thing. All my training was geared towards that.
I did five combat deployments on humanitarian mission. Do a lot of different exercises and missions. Worked with the best guys on the planet, and had a heck of a time.
Then in 2012, I started a cross-fit gym in Fort Bragg, which has now evolved to evolution athletics. One of my really good friend I worked with for a long time in the military. He’s a medics, named Chris McNamara. Worked for the Rangers for a really long time and had this concept of evolution athletics. It’s more than just a regular cross-fit gym, but really a human performance and maximizing your potential, not just through cross-fit but through all the methodologies that we’ve experimented with that are on ourselves, we’ve seen other people do. So we changed our outlook from just a regular cross-fit gym to coaching people at evolution athletics and offering more services, more comprehensive. Whether it’s through our daily classes, individualized training, remote training, and then offering things like personal — Physical therapy. Then we have a registered dietician and nutritionist that help people with that side of things. It’s all about just helping people up. I really came into that in like early 2012, 2013 where I found myself wanting to coach people and just find a passion in that, and that’s kind of driven me all my actions since.
Brian: That’s awesome, and it’s through evolution athletics that you met some of the pervious GORUCK cadre?
Cadre DS: Yeah. Actually, we ended up working with a couple of guys. Cadre Feary, Tod is his name and he was actually involved in GORUCK and still is. Work and army life has called up. He’s paying a little bit more attention to that. A couple of other cadres as well over the last couple of years and just learning about the company and like the different events has definitely piqued my interest, because till about two years after I got out, I kind of was in the flow or coaching at the gym and being in Fayetteville, North Carolina and anybody that’s been in Fayetteville for an extended period of time eventually gets that itch of like, “Man! I need to do some traveling.” That was a main stay in my life through the whole time in the Air Force, is I’d be here and then go, temporary duty, whether it’s like training, to whatever kind of training, but everything is out of Fayetteville, North Carolina. It allowed me to travel a lot, and I definitely miss that side of getting out, experiencing new places, new cultures, new people. And so that’s been another awesome thing through GORUCK is like it’s allowed me to get out of my hometown and see other places, meet new people and just continue to mission of making yourself better every day. I think that GORUCK is a perfect vehicle for that. It really tied hand in hand.
Brian: That’s great, and it definitely seems like you get a ton of opportunity to travel, different cities, different events. Every event needs a cadre.
Cadre DS: Yup.
Brian: When you first heard about GORUCK — I’m really interested in this. You weren’t too keen on signing up for an event. A lot of cadre that I’ve talked to and a lot of people who I’ve talked to with military backgrounds aren’t too excited at first, because they’ve done the PT. They’ve done that once and gotten paid for it. So why would they do it again and have to pay for it? What was the turning point to get you to register for the first event?
Cadre DS: Well, that’s such a great question. What was the turning point to register for an event? When I initially heard about it, I wasn’t looking for another like a hobby or an outlet to go and go do this really tough training iteration, whether it’d be like starting a race. I had a lot of competitive backgrounds. I competed in cross-fit from 2011, and I still do local competitions through cross-fit, but I didn’t really feel that like a smoked session would be really my alley and I didn’t fully understand the other concepts behind what GORUCK does. It’s not just a long night of mission walking around through a city, but all the other intrinsic values that GORUCK and the events get off; mission-based training, doing some real-world, like, “Hey, I can learn about medical training, or I can learn about shooting or climbing,” and then also just becoming a better American and a better version of yourself. I didn’t really know about that, but when I first heard about the events, and from the outside looking in it was just like, “Oh! These are a bunch of people that just want to show up and get crushed like a selection day.”
Having already done that, I didn’t really feel an itch to do that. Then when I kind of started peeling back the layers of the onion, found a little bit more about what it was. My first event that I did was with Cadre Nick and it was in Riley, North Carolina. I showed up not really knowing that to expect like everybody else had and just everything that unfolded throughout the night was awesome. It reminded me of my hardest days of training in my selection processor and even assessment for some of the highest level.
That really worked my interest and I was like, “Man! This is pretty bad ass, that you can create this environment outside of military training,” and I think that’s one thing that GORUCK and the cadre solely do really well. It could be done really well and sometimes we miss the mark on it, but I think that being the intent for guys to get out there and create these environments, whether it’d be a light event or tough event where it’s like, “Man! This is a little taste of some of the hardest stuff you can put yourself through and come out way better and more confident on the other side.”
Brian: That’s great, and it’s awesome to see that transformation, especially during people’s first events where they’re putting themselves through something that they’ve possibly never done before and might not have been fully prepared for and seen them succeed and realize that they can do much more than they thought they could.
Cadre DS: Yes. Absolutely.
Brian: When you did that first event, it sounds like you weren’t planning on going into that being a GORUCK cadre.
Cadre DS: No, I was, and I already had the interest in becoming a GORUCK cadre, because I saw it as more like — It’s an instructor role, and I already had that background of being a coach at the gym, evolution athletics, and it’s my continuation of that, the GORUCK cadre thing kind of totally fell right in line with it. Throughout my time in the Air Force, I never go the opportunity to be an instructor. I was operational the entire time, and from a really early age, high school age, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher, and that’s kind of the direction that I feel like it’s taken with adult life now, is that I coach people in fitness and health. Then GORUCK has allowed me to instruct on this other level of, “Hey, these are kind of a military type training.” There are some different avenues there, but it’s given me that instructor role that I really like and it’s outside of just like fitness.
Brian: Yeah. Absolutely.
Cadre DS: I knew going into it, and I knew going into the Riley event, “Hey man, this is —” The way that I kind of went about it too is every day, for me anyways, is a selection process. I showed up to the Riley event like, “Hey, well I want to see what this whole GORUCK thing is about. I want to be able to have the opportunity to lead other people,” and I treated it basically like a job interview for myself. So the way that I went into the event was like, “All right. One, I know I’m a bad ass operator, and so I want to be that member on the team.” I showed up not really knowing what it was going to entail not having what the idea what the night was going to bring, but all I could do is show up at the right time, right place, right uniform and put out on the team. Going into it, like I had my goal outlined for me, but that’s how it unfolded.
Brian: How did that night go?
Cadre DS: Well, it started off with a normal GORUCK procedures and we started off a lot of lunges across the football field, basically like interlocked arms with each other. By that time once there was a couple of people that were ready to call it a night, we moved on and went to a couple of different objectives. It happened to be a Memorial Day event, so we, at the time, told some stories about military members. Then eventually picked up the big dummy that we used a lot in training and had a bunch of other heavy stuff that we’re trekking across town. It was painful, man. It was a lot of movement and I hadn’t really been ruck training that much, that I knew that like I had a solid fitness base.
But long, heavy, I saw the team dynamic and it was fun. A lot of the time, right in the middle of the suck, I looked around and there was a retired marine — Well, he was getting ready to retire as a marine. He was right next to me the whole time. As we were going through it together, it just reminded me of some of the toughest training that I had done and really like breaking it down. Really have to center your focus and complete an objective and be the best member of the team that you can be. It felt good and it reminded me of like the grind that you have to put yourself through, and I really enjoyed.
Brian: It sounds like a great first event.
Cadre DS: Yeah. It was well ran, and I think that most of the time that’s the intent. You never know what’s going to sign up for. I don’t know if you guys noticed, but that’s how we kind of — That’s the initiation process of a cadre and I think that’s one of the best things you can do. Like a lot of guys in the military and for all branches. You’d get your green beret or your red beret or your whatever That’s not permission to just like stop. It’s not permission to stop training really hard, and for a lot of guys, just kind of slack of and might get soft. Man! You wouldn’t make it through a GORUCK event, a hard GORUCK event, but if you stayed on it and you maintain your capacity and your level, you could be a great member of the team.
For me, that was a big push. Yeah, definitely a good event, eye-opening, and there are some lessons learned in there where like little team drama things that — Little things that happen and you have to problem solve them, and I think that that can only happen at that really stressed out level of like, “Hey, I’m carrying a couple of hundred pounds of this stuff and all these stuff that’s just really uncomfortable to carry,” and people’s tempers get up and they start looking at little problems differently, but you can’t really get to that point without all work that you put in beforehand. I felt that was pretty special.
Brian: It is. I’ve noticed that you problem solve a little bit different when you’ve got a giant log in your shoulder and you’re carrying a jerrycan in one hand or under a substantial amount of weight.
Cadre DS: Yup. That is definitely the case.
Brian: That’s awesome. For those who are listening, Cadre DS mentioned that to become a GORUCK cadre you have to at least go through one GORUCK event, and I think that’s really cool, that you have to take part in it before you lead it. So I’m glad that you had a great first event. Have you participated in any events since then?
Cadre DS: Well, besides the one that I’ve led, no. I actually do make it a point in my events. I won’t say. A point in my events that I lead is to get in with the team and like help carry the log, help move whatever that — If there’s a point where I can interject myself, I like to do that with the team and not just be like over the shoulder and yelling and just kind of, “Hey! Move this there,” but man, everybody else is doing it and I like to make it a point to get in there and help out where I can and be not just the cadre, but also a part of a team. For me, that keeps me on the same level and keeps my head straight. But I would totally do another event. I’d be up for the challenge. I’m not really got called out yet by anybody, so I could make it work something. When and if it does happen. Those days are upon us.
Brian: Absolutely, and I noticed that at our Santa Rock Light, when we were shouldering the log up that giant hill over by North Gate, looked over and saw you there and I had to do a double take, because I thought I was losing it, because I was like, “There’s no way that cadre is under the log with me right now,” but there you were.
Cadre DS: Is that not something that a lot of guys do?
Brian: It’s not too common.
Cadre DS: All right. Well, maybe we can change that paradigm a little bit.
Brian: Yeah. I’ve only shadowed a couple events to take pictures, but whenever I do, I always get jealous of the people in the event. That’s why I don’t shadow events, because when I figure I’m there already, I’m doing the miles. I want to be under the log and I want to be taking part in this. I always wondered for cadre, watching the team do this, if they ever got a little anxi and wanted to get under the log and carry some stuff too.
Cadre DS: I do. Personally for my own training, and I think that there’s huge value in just like you said, like looking over, and there’s a big different between like — We’ve all seen a picture of the guy that’s like leading the way or like the big king that’s like, “Hey, just go do this,” and then the guy that’s out there helping you move everything. Man! I would get to the point in my training where I’d be like, “Hey! All right, can you move this log? Can you push it back over your head?” Are you doing this work or are you just saying go?
In my events and hopefully it catches on where other guys are just like, “You still got to show up and put out.” For us, for my standard, I’d like to be able to do the work, but also be the leader and be able to teach and keep my mind about me when things are really tough. Maybe it catches on. Maybe it’s a cadre via special. I don’t know.
Brian: We will. I thought it was really nice especially for the type of event we were doing. So for those who are listening, we did the Santa Rock Light in Seattle and we had a giant slay which was our team weight of sorts. We actually had another team weight, it was like a 15-pound child dressed in a Ranger costume, which something I’ve never seen before. It was awesome. The kid was adorable, and he was very well-mannered. I was shocked, but we had this giant sleigh. It was filled with toys, and it was just awesome that you were under it with us for at least part of the time and it really cemented that we were there doing something greater than just ourselves. We were delivering all these toys to the Ronald McDonald house, which is an awesome place. It’s this house that has a ton of rooms of families can stay there. It’s next to Seattle Children’s Hospital. So specially that time of year, the holidays, the kids have a ton of appointments and it’s a place for the families to stay so they can be close to their kids and they can spend the holidays with them. We rucked a ton of miles to deliver these toys, and just having Cadre DS under that sleigh with us cemented that this was bigger than all of us. Thank you for that.
Cadre DS: Yeah, and if I could add on to that. Man, as I was getting to Seattle and it was a kind of a whirlwind trip as it was. It was kind of a last minute, “Hey DS, can you go and run this event.” To my best ability, I always take on the events. Like if I don’t have anything else going on, if I’m not with my daughter, man I’m there. I was looking at the map and I’ve been to Seattle one time before, but I wanted to make this event really badass and that’s been like a whole goal of my own, is to do something special at every single one.
When we initially looked at it, I was trying to brainstorm about how I could make this really special, and the point that we like pulled together to a public transportation. We loaded like 15 adults and 15 small children on to a bus. Drove across town, used your quitting money to buy more presents. All the little kids got to go in and pick a present that they wanted. They used all the money. It was already in the pot anyways, so you’ve already committed to it. But man, really filled up the sleigh. We went from like carrying 100 pounds in the sleigh to probably carrying close to 300 pounds. For the kids, they got to pick something that they wanted and then turn right around and give it somebody that really needed it. I thought that that was the biggest lessoned learned, because kids — Man, they might put it together, but doing something selfless like that really had a big impact on me and hopefully other people saw that as well. Just the hoops that we went through to accomplish that mission of getting the kids at the Ronald McDonald house and the families that are staying there in a really rough period in their lives, some more support, and that was — At the end of the day, that was the mission and the way that we accomplished it was by foot and carrying the sleigh. Man, that was probably one of my favorite events that I’ve run so far and each one stands out itself. That overall, making a good impact and teaching along the way of selfless acts of service and throwing the GORUCK spin on it. That was a great time.
Brian: Yeah. It was an absolutely incredible event, and it was phenomenal that you’re able to pull it off given your whirlwind tour of Seattle.
Cadre DS: Yeah.
Brian: We’ll get into your travel in a second. For those who are listening, Cadre DS did an incredible job at this event. We did things at this event that I’ve never done at a previous event. I think at this point done well over 30 GORUCK events and every time I do an event, there’s always something slightly new, slightly different that keeps me coming back. But Cadre DS really, really brought it.
We met in this park and the first thing we did after some warm ups was we took a bus across town, which is something I’ve never done at a GORUCK event. We took this bus across town. We spent our quitter cash, all the $20 bills that we all brought on toys. Like he mentioned, the kids were instructed. This was a custom light and so kids were allowed to come. There were a number of kids who were, I think, ranged from 5 to 16, 16, 17 and they were instructed to go with the quitters cash, buy a toy that they wanted. Something that if they were given, they would be very excited about.
They went and bought the toys and then we delivered them. We rucked them over to the Ronald McDonald house, which was about half way or three quarters of the way back from where this bus took us. Then we had to ruck back to the start point from there. No one’s got quitters cash. No one can quit. The best way to keep the team together, no one’s got money to get out of here anymore. It was awesome.
One last thing before I get back to Cadre DS’s travel plans, is he mentioned that he teaches a lot during his events and it was incredible. The lessons he brought out specially for the kids who were present. There was one point when we were buzzing over and I noticed that when these kids came on, they kind of bunched and the first one paid, and I think there were either two or three of them and either the second one just tried to slide by or the first one paid. Second one paid, and the third tried to whistle by so you didn’t have to pay for the bus fare, because apparently you didn’t have the money. The bus driver called them back and told them that, “Hey, if you just asked, if you had said, “I don’t have bus fare. I’m trying to get to this place with my friend,” that he would have just let him go. He was disrespectful trying to slip by, sneak on the bus.
When we got off the bus — I caught that when we were on the bus. So did Cadre DS. When we got off the bus, Cadre DS did just an amazing job distilling this into a very applicable life lesson for all the kids who were there at the event, and it was just awesome how he grabbed these small moments that happened at the event and turned them into giant teaching lessons. It was very cool.
Cadre DS: Man, I can’t believe you caught that. It’s given me goosebumps just thinking about it and like, “Hey, that’s crazy. That’s cool.
Brian: It was. I was just paying attention to who is getting on and getting off the bus where everyone — We had a ton of kids with us, so we wanted to make sure we had eyes on everything, but it was quite the moment. Thank you. Thank you for that. It’s just amazing what you brought to that event, especially the way you tailored it to the kids that were there and still made it amazing for the adults.
Cadre DS: I hope everybody had a good time. That’s the main goal, right?
Brian: Absolutely. Hopefully the way I’ve described this event, it makes you think that Cadre DS knew about this event well in advance. He had flown out to the city probably at least a day or two in advance to plan this out. I talked to him at the event, this was his second time in Seattle and we had a start point that was set. We rode public transportation from there. The Seattle bus system, it’s a very webbed system. It’s not like the Chicago train or anything like that where it all it makes sense. It’s a very interesting system. So for him to come in and pull these all together was amazing.
Do you want to talk a little bit about your travel experience?
Cadre DS: Yeah, absolutely. I’ll make it relatively quick. I found out about the event. It was kind of like a last minute thing. So I was looking at like a time sensitive target, and having the only other time being in Seattle, probably drank too many beers because I was out there doing a big mission with the Rangers and flying — Or well, picked the trip from McChord, the Air Force space there.
Going out, flying out of Riley, I knew it was going to be a cross country and I initially planned it out that I’d get to spend a decent amount of time in Seattle, because man I’m a huge coffee fan and just wanted to like check it out. I planned in a good amount of time on the ground. Well, in Riley, ended up having air craft issues after one, after another, and another, and another. Actually, loaded the plane like two times and they took everybody off. So I’m making all my coordinations with the GORUCK guys backside so that everybody would know, “Hey, we might have to delay the event a little bit.” Ended up finally getting to Denver. I had missed my connection flight. I had to spend the night in Denver. Woke up super early the next day, like 3:30 in the morning to get back to the airport and then have another — Once again, another delay. It was going to keep me from landing in Seattle till about an hour before the event started.
Finally made it. Talked to Molly who was the event point of contact, and we were totally on board with, “Hey, we’ll just get everybody there. I’m going to do everything I can to get there on time,” so just communicated. But I wasn’t going to quit and I wasn’t going to like turn around and that I wanted to run the event. I landed in Seattle, ran outside with everything that I had. Got in an Uber. Actually, like negotiated, taken a limo because I thought it would be a little bit quicker than an Uber. They ended up not working up. So took a Prius up there. But got into an Uber, jetted up to the start point, started the event and then had to immediately, after the event, go back to the airport and fly out. Over all, I think time on the ground was 9 hours in Seattle. That was kind of a whirlwind, but definitely made the most of it.
Brian: Yeah, I’d see you made the most it. That’s probably the best well-spent 9 hours in Seattle, but that also has to be the quickest turnaround for you, and that’s going to be some record, right?
Cadre DS: Oh, yeah. For sure. I don’t know, like cross-country travel. That was a tough one, but it’s what you got to do.
Cadre DS: That’s what the mission call for.
Brian: Easily more time in the air than on the ground.
Cadre DS: Yeah. Not ideal, but not all circumstances line up all the time, but we got it done.
Brian: Absolutely. It was an incredible event like I said.
Cadre DS: Thanks.
Brian: For those listening, find out where Cadre DS is going to be, and do an event with him. He makes it good.
You did an amazing job cadreying our event. How events have you run as a cadre so far?
Cadre DS: I think between 20 and 30. Somewhere in there.
Brian: That’s less than I expected, honestly. It makes sense, since you started in the summer, but the amount of professionalism and the way you run the events makes me feel at least that you had, I don’t know, 60, 70 under your belt already.
Cadre DS: Yeah, I’ve got that a couple of times, but with my background — Not everybody that comes into GORUCK has a background of like coaching and teaching already for a couple of years beforehand. So I think that that my prior experience has kind of accelerated a little bit, and then also we didn’t necessarily get to do this at the light event, but I’ve had some great mentors along the way. Gotten to do a couple of the other Ascent, like the GORUCK Ascent event. I don’t know if you guys are familiar with that, but I’d love to talk more about those type of events as well. I think the learning curve is it’s pretty easily to climb if you can manage it properly, and event talking to guys that have done hundreds of events over and over and over and learning who those guys are every event and then cornering them either in the backline as they’re taking off of the log and talking to people and finding out what makes GORUCK special and what they love about the event, what a bad event looks like. I try to really take that feedback and make the most badass experience that somebody can have, whether it’s a light or a tough or like spinning the whole bay, rucking around on a heavy, or even like the Ascent where we climb a mountain and learn about backpacking and rock climbing and repelling and doing some amazing other skill work. Man! If you can listen and apply the feedback that people are giving and just kind of like put your own personal spin on it, you can make it awesome.
Brian: I think Ascent this year is in August, end of August if I recall correctly. We’ll have to do another one of these, and we can have an entire episode about Ascent, because there’s just so much to talk about it sounds like with that event.
Cadre DS: Yeah. Really, whether it’s an Ascent or constellation or like a navigator or any of the other — Anything else besides light, tough, heavy, there are so much that everybody can learn outside of those events. I really hope that we see more of those on the schedule, and I think that it boils down to what people want. Americans are using their voice and saying, “Hey, who better than to teach them than special operations guys and with some help from guys like Chris Way,” who, man, if you haven’t met Chris or listen to him talk, do so. I think you guys have. Just saying like, “Hey man, if GORUCK will listen, I think.” Be verbal about what kind of other events and training opportunities we want to see. I think that could be really valuable.
Brian: Yeah. Chris Way has been on twice so far and he’s an awesome guy. I have not had the pleasure of meeting him in person yet, but it’s going to happen.
Cadre DS: Yeah. Well, sign up for an Ascent or go out to Boulder.
Brian: Yeah, he’s a very accommodating person. I would love to go out there and hangout with him sometime. It’s been great to see the GORUCK calendar expand, constellation 6, constellation 12. There’s just tons of events in 2018 to sign up for that are outside the realm of the traditional light, tough, heavy.
Cadre DS: Yup.
Brian: So it sounds like there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for people.
Cadre DS: Yeah, absolutely.
Brian: In terms of running events, what’s your favorite to run?
Cadre DS: If I had to say my favorite event so far, has been the Ascent event where we’re getting out and we’re doing some rock climbing and we’re getting in nature. Man, it’s unfair for me to pick a favorite. It’s like picking your favorite kid. But I’ve had light events that I’ve loved, tough events that I’ve loved and some that I’ve ran and I’ve just been like, “Oh man! That did not go the way that I would have wanted it to go.”
So I can’t pick a favorite style of event, just because they all have — They all have different value. I’ll tell you, the hardest for me personally to run is definitely the tough, and then running through the night and then starting up like a couple of hours later for a light. That’s definitely — It’s challenging for the cadre to stay like mentally checked in the whole time. My favorite event would be just getting out and doing stuff outside of cities.
Brian: Very cool. That’s got to be — Especially tough on the events you travel for, flying to a city, possible time zone change, run the tough through the night, run the light the following day and then fly back out. That’s got to be exhausting.
Cadre DS: Yeah. Hey, every day is a selection process, right?
Brian: Yeah, that’s a great way to look at it. I really liked what you said about the lights challenges and heavies, or I guess the lights, the toughs as they’re called now, and the heavies. You definitely get a different group of people at each of them all looking to achieve something different. Like the big goal for the people who are showing up for their first light is different than the goal for the people who are showing up for the tough or the heavy, and so you can probably bring a lot to that, because if you’re training background, you’ve been — You’re running your gym for 4, 5 years now, but being able to tune in to that, the need of the participant being different and unique is awesome.
Cadre DS: Yeah, and I think that’s the kind of the nature of the beast and an entire weekend of heavy, tough, and then a light. Well, the people that showed up for the heavy probably should have signed up for the tough, and the people that signed up for the tough could have definitely been more prepared for the heavy than anybody else. Or even the people that showed up for a tough and then like they just probably should have went with a light first, and then the crew that signed up for the light, they would have done much better with the heavy.
There’s no telling like who shows up at that time at that part with that gear what you’re going to get, and it’s part of the team dynamic, but also part of the cadre, like instinct and intuition and just like reading the people of, “Hey, how hard can we push this group and how much can we do?” It’s just more of like, “Do we need to scale back a little bit or just turn it in to like a bloodbath?” Well, I don’t necessarily enjoy the bloodbath that much. I just don’t. There’s a point where everybody’s got what they need out of it, and we talk a lot about minimum effect of dose at the gym. If the doctor says take this much, but if you take way more, it’s going to turn into a shit show. So I try to apply that to the GORUCK events too and not make it absolutely crazy, but meet the intent every time with who shows up, whether it’s 15 kids or a bunch of pipe hitters.
Brian: Yeah. It’s so true. So true. It’s like I said before, it’s just great that you’re able to acknowledge that and adjust accordingly, which probably goes back to your training background.
Cadre DS: Yeah.
Brian: I was going to ask what you bring to an event to make it unique, or like a Cadre DS event. But I think we covered that getting in with the team, getting under the log and shouldering some of that. I want to flip that question a little bit and ask what’s been the most interesting time or what’s been a really unique time that you interjected yourself into an event.
Cadre DS: Let’s see. I’ve done a bunch so far, and it’s always different. None of these — No event is anywhere near the same. Most of the time it’s been a different crew of people where you get — I’ve had a couple of guys do a couple of different events at this point. Man! I don’t know. I don’t have a great — I’ll give you that. I don’t know.
It’s been really fun. One memory that sticks out to me is — I always talk about it, is the Ascent that we did. There was — The plan was there was me, Chris Way and then Cadre Doug, Doug Doug, and I think Doug’s done a bunch of events over the years and has a great reputation as being a great dude. How it panned out was I was going to be out in front with the guys that wanted to go real fast and just make it up both mountains, and the plan was we were going to summit one fourteneer, and depending on the schedule and how fast they made it up, we were going to be able to summit two 14,000-foot peaks if the time allowed and we had the energy to do it and the weather was good.
We got going and a couple of guys really kept up with me and my girlfriend who was doing the event and kicked ass at it, but we made it up. Within five minutes or so of each other, and so there was me and about five other guys standing on the top of this mountain out-looking over everything, and then it kicked in of like, “Hey man, that was great. One mission is good.” I told them the story about Robert Ridge, and the Air Force combat controller, John Chatman, who basically went in after one of the SEALS had fallen out at the back of the helicopter on their infil. So Bill Roberts who’s one of the SEALS basically started taking contact, Neil Roberts falls out of the helicopter. They land, basically crash land. John Chatman, who is combat controller runs out, starts assaulting and basically up a snowy peak and eventually was shot and killed after a long battle. He’s actually getting looked at for the Medal of Honor upgrade from an Air Force Cross that he got.
Basically, pulled that story of that mission and everything that came out after it, because man it was a long day for a lot of guys, and so framed that scenario and then moved together as a team to conquer the second 14,000-foot peak. So just that changing the mindset of what we’re out there doing. We’re not just like hiking around, but man, like this is a mission. That’s kind of definitely been one of my favorite points that really stuck out to me. You can carry a lot all day, we know how that feels, but if you can change your mindset from just out on a casual Saturday hike, to we have to get this done in this amount of time with these people. This is a team. Let’s make it happen. That’s one thing I love about doing these events.
Brian: That’s awesome, and that’s definitely one of the things I think that makes doing Ascent and doing those GORUCK capstone classes or expeditions, I think they might be called, special. Going and doing that with the team at a GORUCK event versus going in and doing the 14,000 peak by yourself or with a smaller group.
Cadre DS: Yeah.
Brian: That’s awesome. Are you going to do ascent this year? Are you planning on that?
Cadre DS: I hope so. I want to do all the events that I can, and I really — Like I said. Every trip is different and every location, every team, every ruck club or whoever shows up to the event. You never know what’s going to happen. What I’ve tried to do is kind of form each one differently, and you can’t really set — You never know when the magic is going to happen, but it always does. Something badass always tends to happen and all we can do is get out there and keep doing stuff. I’m not going to hold back. If they call out, I’ll look at it as like a different mission for myself and go and show up and have a badass time and hope everybody else has a great time too.
Brian: That’s a great mindset. That’s an awesome mindset to have, and I think by — You probably know this, because you’re living it, but by being that open to those challenges or mission, the experiences that you probably get to travel to a lot more cities than people who — If it doesn’t fall in the schedule or if it doesn’t, if they hadn’t been planning it for months in advance, then it’s not going to happen.
Cadre DS: Yeah, totally. I hope that that keeps going. Got to factor in ops tempo and getting burned out on things. Man, I don’t think that — It’s how you attack life. Like you just got to put yourself out there and if you need a break, calm it down. If you’re going like making the best time that you possibly can. Even if it’s like, “Hey, I’m going to plan this. I’m going to plan this mission out on the way to this location.” You can plan it all day, but you get boots on the ground, it’s going to be different and you’re going to have to flex and you might have to take a metro or a bus or whatever it is and just go with it.
Brian: Absolutely. You might have to forgo the coffee experience in Seattle unfortunately.
Cadre DS: Yeah. That was a short trip.
Brian: Yeah. Maybe you’ll make it out here again. You can do the coffee tour, the roastery, the Starbucks roastery in Capital Hills is pretty cool from what I hear.
Cadre DS: I plan on it.
Brian: Speaking of unique towns, cities you’ve been to. Are there any other places that you haven’t been to yet that you’re hoping to get to through a GORUCK event?
Cadre DS: Miami. I haven’t done Miami yet. Phoenix, Arizona. I need to hit Arizona. I was actually just looking at a map last night. My daughter for Christmas, my daughter got this — She got a big map of the U.S. and I was looking at all the states, and I actually love taking her to all these states and then bringing her back something from every place that I go to.
We’re looking at it and like making all of our little memories of like, “Okay. Seattle, Portland, California. Check, check, check. Got them. That’s west coast stuff.” Utah, Colorado, right? Really, man I’m trying to knock out every state, and I don’t really care where it’s at and I’ll even do some off names in between. Yeah, it doesn’t really matter to me. I’ll go wherever.
Brian: That’s awesome. What a great Christmas gift too. You don’t hear about too many maps. That’s great.
Cadre DS: Yeah.
Brian: My foster son asked for a hammer, a screwdriver and a new pair of pliers for Christmas.
Cadre DS: Nice.
Cadre DS: Man stuff. I like it.
Brian: He’s 3-1/2, and in addition to that, he got a drill. He slept with it for the past two nights. He’s stoked.
Cadre DS: Power tools. Excellent. That’s one thing that a man now that I wish that I would have done more as a kid and even like learning that. It’s been a steep learning curve for myself of like putting stuff together, and now I love it, like building tables and benches and working with your hands and making something. I wish that I would have done that more as a kid. But that’s awesome. You guys are getting him into that.
Brian: Yeah. I don’t know if we’re getting him into it or if he’s getting me into it. That’s one of the things I wish I had done more too as a kid. Yeah, he just loves fixing things, building things, climbing ladders, playing with all the heavy stuff. Obviously, we’re talking about this. It’s slightly after Christmas. We’re talking about the gifts that our kids got. We’re going into the New Year. People are obviously goal-setting, planning for the future. A lot of the people who listen to this podcast have never done an event, and we’ve got another group that listen that they’ve done a couple of lights or they’ve done a couple of toughs, but they’re looking to push to that next light to tough event or going for the heavy.
What advice as either a trainer, a GORUCK cadre, do you have for people who are listening who’ve never signed up for an event before? They’re interested in rucking. They might have done a couple of rucks, but they haven’t committed to a GORUCK event. What advice do you have for those people?
Cadre DS: Well, I would say that one, what works for me is pick an event that you’re far enough out, that you can train for. Not too far that’s like, “Oh, it’s going to lost in the sauce.” Typically, like three or four months out and pick one that almost like scares you a little bit, and it should scare you. But then that should be what wakes you up and helps drive you every day.
If it’s in that range of, “All right, this is three, four months away. I’m going to have to wake up and go hard, and maybe I got to lose 15 pounds. Maybe I got to work through an injury and rehab up to this point of like capability.” What I would do is pick a spot, pick a location. Look at flights if you have to, but get outside of your comfort zone and maybe leave everything behind. If you know that you’re rucking right around the corner from your house, it’s going to be that much easier to say, “I don’t really want to be here anymore. I’m cold. I want to go inside.” But if you put yourself in a new environment and you just show and you know that you’ve put work that you can and you’ve done everything up to that point, those 12, 16 weeks of hard training, then you’re going to show up and you’re going to crush it.
If you don’t do that, then you’re going to get stuck in that cycle of self-doubt and not being able to get off the couch or not even be able to get started. It could be just as simple as like, “Hey, take 10 minutes in the morning and knock out as many pushups or as many burpees as you can or like do a workout.” It doesn’t have to be crazy, but just chipping away at it every day and building in those little life patterns that are going to help you achieve that goal. Or me, I just complete, and maybe this is a great time to talk about the Spartan race thing if you want to.
Cadre DS: For myself, I’m very goal-based and goal oriented, and so I found myself last September. Basically like I was getting into doing GORUCK events and knocking them out and traveling a bunch and having a great time and I saw my fitness program change from doing strongman competition. Probably posting up like 300-pound rocks, 300-pound stones and like kegs and big logs and lifting up cars and doing like crazy strongman stuff for the last year or so before I got into doing GORUCKs. That kind of drove my training, and that and cross-fit, and so doing local competitions.
Then picking up, doing other outdoor events. I just wanted to get outside and do some rock climbing and just be doing activities more than like competitions. Then one of my friends who runs events for Spartan race put out online that they needed — They were putting together these military teams and they wanted some volunteers.
I was in the Air Force, done one Spartan race before so I was like, “All right. Well, whatever. How bad it can be?” The race ended up being — That was the Ultra race, which is a new style format. It’s a 24 hours, get as far as you can. I’ve done some 24-hour events. Fitness is pretty good, but at the time I didn’t really have a goal that I was working towards and I was just kind of training just to train, just to maintain. I knew that it was going to be about three months out, and so I saw that and it kind of scared me a little bit. I wasn’t doing a lot of running. I was doing plenty of rucking with GORUCK and like knocking out 30 miles on a weekend. No big deal, right? We can knock that out.
I felt like I had that base already set, but I didn’t know how bad it was going to be and I had to spill the rest of my week of objective-based goals training that I could prep myself for for a middle of December event. That really led my training program and like what my focus was from just strength-based cross-fit style training to more endurance base. Still doing like plenty of powerlifting and gymnastics movement, but going for those longer domains.
I had my goal set, started training up and really like surrounded with great training partners doing some obstacle courses around Fort Bragg and like going to gyms. I was out there in Portland, Oregon. Ended up doing the Halloween events out there, ended up going to like an American Ninja training gym where they had all these obstacles set up and run through all those and like just testing myself in different ways. That’s part of what it’s all about, right? Learning new sports and being able to be good at them and like cross-training that.
Prepped myself as best as I could. Showed up to Iceland where the 24-hour event was and absolutely crushed it. I felt great. No body issues. Didn’t fail any of the obstacles. Ended up going close to 40 miles and had a great time. That was kind of the look from start of, “Hey, Dan is kind of training.” It was not a lot of without an objective in mind, and then taking almost like everything on me of, “Hey, this is a 24-hour event. I’ve never been to Iceland before. I want to go knock this out.” So setting that goal and then letting everything kind of drive that train and then being able to show up and absolutely crush it. You could make that correlation between the GORUCK event.
Man! If you’ve done a couple of lights, check it out. Sign up for a tough. Figure out where it’s going to be at and make it a trip. Show up a couple of days before and shout it out and maybe take a weekend off, but get outside of your own backyard and go an event. Then that can help drive your training, because if it scares you, if you’re nervous about it, you’re going to prep a little bit and then train that little bit much more intense that you might not if you’re just like, “Well, yeah this is what I do.” But if you’re looking at taking that step, you got to have some kind of motivation and I think fear — Maybe fear of failure for me is a big driving motivator, and people get scared of that kind of thing, but you’re going to embrace the unknown, but set you up that much better.
Brian: That’s just amazing advice, all around right there.
Cadre DS: Yeah. I kind of rambled on for a little bit, but man maybe you can take some stems on that.
Brian: Absolutely, and what a way to just embrace what you’re talking about too. You said that 24-hour event, you’ve only done one Spartan race in the past in Iceland. A place you mentioned you’ve never been to before.
Cadre DS: Yeah, it turns out it’s really ice there. I mean like it was just like a sheet of ice everywhere you went.
Brian: That must have made it really interesting. Really something, I’m sure.
Cadre DS: Yeah.
Brian: If I can just add one little bit about traveling for GORUCK events, one of the things that I think is really, really cool about traveling for GORUCK events is that it almost forces you to get more involved in the community, because if you’re not traveling with weight or if you’re not sure about the start point, you have to post out on the event page and you have to get tied in to whatever local ruck club or rucking groups are out there, and it’s just a great way to meet new people and get some extra roots out there.
Cadre DS: 100%. If I can go in a little tangent about that if you don’t mind.
Brian: Please do.
Cadre DS: One of the most badass thing that I’ve seen. So I do the event in October there in Portland, and then got scheduled for the Seattle event. Same neck of the woods, the travel squad. A little shout out real quick. They kind of reached out and one of the guys, we became Facebook friends. I hit him up and I was like, “Hey man, where’s a good spot to stay?” Usually I do like Airbnb for a night or whatever if I’m doing the event. But just reaching out and building that community and building that network of people is amazing.
I hit him up and I was like, “Hey, what’s a good spot to stay at? What’s close,” and just trying to build those relationships. He immediately hooked me up with one of the other dudes and I was like letting other people stay at your place or get on little tips of, “Hey, stay here. Don’t stay here. This is close. This is a good area.” That’s one thing that I thought was amazing with the Seattle crew, was just how open everybody was, just, “Hey, do you got a spare couch or a room at your place?” Like building that community.
Inside of GORUCK, there’s plenty of people, plenty of weirdos. Hopefully they’re not too weird, that you wouldn’t let them like crash in your couch or whatever. But if you’re going to do that and travel somewhere else, just getting tied in with like, “Hey, who’s in this area?” And so that’s one thing. You’re talking about networking and getting outside of your comfort zone and having to integrate into that other new community. That’s a great way to do it, and I think that’s a pretty cool way to travel to and you can meet some really awesome friends and people that you stay in contact with and see what their journey is all about.
Brian: Absolutely. If you have a couple of days on the tail end of your trip, you do the event and then you got to back and you get to see some of the spots that you hit during the event, but you get to see them during the day with actual people around, and it’s always a different view.
Cadre DS: Yeah, for sure. If you could walk, that is. You got to be able to crawl around and —
Brian: Absolutely. Yeah, considering that you haven’t wrecked yourself from the event, you can explore the city and have fun with that.
Cadre DS: Yeah.
Brian: Yeah, there’s just some great crews out there, some awesome communities and there’s almost no better way to get hooked up with them than to do an event with them in their neck of the woods.
Cadre DS: Yeah, absolutely.
Brian: So you’ve probably noticed that a lot traveling for different events. All the different crews come out and if Cadre DS says that they’re good, then there’s ruck clubs allover.
Cadre DS: That is cool interesting dynamic.
Brian: I didn’t realize that you’re out here for the Portland, the zombie events.
Cadre DS: Yup.
Brian: We’ll have to talk about those sometime too, because I’ve always been intrigued by the zombie events and what makes them special. So maybe we can do an episode on GORUCK zombie events.
Cadre DS: Yeah, I would absolutely love to. That would be super cool. I think that’s a part of GORUCK that you can — The zombie apocalypse, right? It could be anything from the walking dead to the walking hungry, or civil outburst of like civil disobedient or riots and how do you get inside of town to the outside. What are you looking at? I’ve done a couple of the zombie events so far, and they’re cool, man. I definitely recommend somebody that is just getting into it to check it out. Cool theme.
Brian: Absolutely. Before we wrap up, is there anything else that you want to talk about relating to your event schedule, what you do for fun, hobbies? Any events you’ve got coming up? Is there anything that you’ve got on your mind you want to talk about?
Cadre DS: I’ve got — The 2018 schedule just came out. I’m scheduled out through January, February, March. I know that I’m going to be in Washington, D.C. for Martin Luther King weekend. I got a couple of other really cool — Like I want to keep filling up my schedules as often as I can and hopefully it all packs in there and I can connect with as many folks as I can and just see America. Like I said, I don’t really care where I’m going. It’s going to be badass wherever we go.
Then I’m going to Missouri, going to Florida, Tampa for St. Patty’s day. It’s going to be a hell of a trip, I’m sure. But yeah, through the summer time, and I’m going to put myself out there as much as I can. Just keep posting those like trackers and hopefully we can all link up and have a great time and I will put out — This is the first time I’m making it public, is the Cadre DS patch, and I think some of the other cadre do this. Maybe like a couple of different criteria for it, and I’ve started doing this where basically like I did it for the Seattle event. You get my patch.
I always do this. I played high school sports, and I thought that was a big thing, is you get the game ball, right? If you’re the player of the game, you get my patch that I rucked around. Whether it might mean to some people, it might not to others, but it’s just that little bit extra respect of somebody that really pulled their way, whether it was in a leadership position. Mostly leadership, because I think that’s a great avenue that you can really step up inside of a GORUCK event, whether it’s a light or a tough or whatever it is. But there will be a Cadre DS patch, custom deal. Do you want to hear about the requirements?
Cadre DS: I’m going to put it out there. You got to do three events with me, one of which has to be tough that you have to — Three events, one has to be a tough. The other two, I don’t really care. You have to be able to at one time do something, some kind of skillset, like tying, knot tying, come up with something, like problem solving. You have to be a leader. You don’t necessarily have to be the team leader of the event or like any part of the event. But man, like your leadership and followership has to be on point, and then also you have to bring somebody into the fold. Bring a new member into the community, and that’s part of growing this network and continuing the community. You got to bring somebody new.
Brian: That’s awesome. Those are definitely unique criteria, and that’s great.
Cadre DS: Yup. I’ve got a couple of dudes that I’m connected with already that are already on — Actually, females as well. Not just — The ruckers and the ruckets, but man like that’s the criteria and it will be a badass patch.
Brian: Very cool. I’ll post a link of Cadre DS’s upcoming events so you can check them out. One tough, two other events, and bring someone to the fold and some skillset criteria, leadership. It’s going to be awesome. I really like where you’re going with this.
Cadre DS: I think it’s a small enough community. I know the guys and I know who showed up before, and so it’s keep connecting, letting everybody know. Man, I’m all about testing people too. I know who you are. You show up a couple of times: two, three, four. I’m going to put you in those positions and really get after it.
Brian: Awesome. Is there anything else that you want to promote or any other shout outs you want to give?
Cadre DS: Well, I think the community speaks for itself. Keep doing awesome things. Checking out everything — The entire network. I talked about Chris Way a little bit. Just getting out and doing stuff, and I think that one thing that he’s kind of like mentored me on is, man, just getting out and doing stuff. It doesn’t matter what it is, but keeping your life super entertaining and getting outside of your comfort zone. So keep doing that.
If you’re looking for programming or whatever, or ways to get stronger and healthier, we do that at our gym. You could check out evolutionathletics.com, on Instagram, Facebook. If you’re looking for places to get started, shoot us an email and we’ll can do it remote or you could come in if you’re local. But something as simple as like weight loss or strength training of whatever your goals are. We’ve got a coach that can help you out with it. that’s something we do at my gym. Shameless plug, Evolution Athletics.
Then, yeah just staying with it and seeing what else is in the community. There are awesome Americans doing badass stuff and the vehicle right now is GORUCK, and I think that that’s awesome, right. If you see somebody with a bag on, say what’s up. We’re a pretty small community. That’s a good thing.
Brian: Great advice. All around, and I’ll post links to everything. Instagram, Facebook site, website, contact info, hit up Cadre DS.
Cadre DS: Yeah, man. Please do.
Brian: Please do. Like you said, be open to new things this year. One of the things I always try and do is I try and do something new every year so that when I look back at previous years, I can say, “2016 was the year I did this, or 2017 was the year I did something else.” If I look back at years and they all mesh together and there’s nothing special that I did in any of them, then I just feel like that’s kind of time that could have been spent better or could have been continuous improvement, improving skills, improving something. Try and do something new in 2018. If you haven’t signed up for a GORUCK event, make 2018 that year. If you’ve done a number of toughs and lights and you’re on the fence about a heavy, make 2018 the year. There’s no better time than now to set those goals and do that.
Cadre DS: Yeah, and if you don’t know, reach out to somebody and find out, man. Sometimes we like the inspiration of what to do, and so having those conversations of what else is there. There’s plenty of creative ways that you can get with it. So yeah, I’m all about that.
Brian: Absolutely. Dan, thank you so much for taking nearly an hour and a half out of your day. Just so much time to talk with me about everything you got going on, your gym, your events, all the cool stuff that you’re bringing to the community and what’s important to you. This has been an absolute blast. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day for this.
Cadre DS: Yes, thanks for having me and hopefully maybe we can link up again and chat it out.
Brian: That will happen. Absolutely. Thank you.
Cadre DS: Yeah, thank you.