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In the twelfth episode of the All Day Ruckoff Podcast I am very excited to interview fellow GRT Eric Kling about his GORUCK Selection event. We talk about how he found GORUCK, why he signed up for GORUCK Selection, and he gives some amazing advice to those currently registered for GORUCK Selection.
During the interview we talk about the moment that Kling was the last remaining participant of GORUCK Selection class 002. The video below is of when that happened and you can see that Kling is pretty out of it.
Podcast: Download (Duration: 38:13 — 35.4MB)
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Not everyone likes listening to audio… we get that. For those that don’t here’s a transcript of our interview.
Kling: What’s up man?
Brian: Hey, how’s it going?
Kling: Doing well. How about you?
Brian: Not too bad.
Kling: Cool. Cool.
Brian: Thanks so much for taking the time.
Kling: Yeah, for sure man.
Brian: So let’s talk about your first GORUCK event.
Kling: Yeah, my first one was Class 074 with Dan Plants who was the cadre for it. It was down in Savannah, and this is back when it was just a challenge Friday night and then a challenge Saturday night. The guys … Actually, Kovak was there. He did my Selection class too, but he was there the night before for Class 073 and he, a few of the other guys showed up to show us off. It was in Savannah, so they ended up meeting up with us down on River Street and started yelling stuff at us. We’re like, “Who the hell are these guys? Why are they yelling at us? And how do they know what GORUCK is?” Like nobody knew what it was back then-
Brian: No one.
Kling: We crushed it man. I think we only had 14 people in our class and five or six of us all showed up together as a group, that were stupid and listened to me, when I said we should sign up for this event. But a lot of them were there for my first Tough Mudder, which is where I heard about it. I saw about it on there, on the Tough Mudder website. It was, I think it was going to be in February in Georgia, late February. And also I was looking at the GORUCK and I clicked the link and followed it and saw what it was, but it was two weeks before the Tough Mudder and I mean to be honest … I think the Tough Mudder was the first big thing, I had ever done. So I was practicing on a mountain biking trail here, that’s about eight miles long. And the Tough Mudder was supposed to only be 10 miles, but it ended up being just over 16 miles long, which was stupid.
But yeah, I was training, you know running for that, doing trail runs and stuff. And I was like, “Yeah, I’ll try that GORUCK thing next time.” And then actually saw some dudes on the Tough Mudder trail and talked to them and offered to get them a beer at the end. So I was like, “What you guys do is bad ass.” And the guy goes, “You don’t have to wait till the end, here.” I said… “What do you, what do you mean?” Because I started jogging off and he just like, “Yeah, drink’s in my bag and grab a, grab a beer.” I was like, “There’s no way you have beer in there?” And he’s like, “Yeah, just- just reach in and grab one.” Like he almost had to talk me into it. And I grabbed one and he allowed me to grab one for each of the friends that was with me and so they jogged on and we walked and drank our beer. And I was like, “That’s something I need to be a part of. This is one of the best beers I’ve ever had.”
Brian: That’s awesome.
Kling: Met up with them at their tent, after the event and hung out with them and stuff and drank more beer. And that’s when I was like, “Yeah, this is what I need to be a part of.”
Brian: So that’s when you decided it was time to sign up for an event?
Kling: Yep. Found the next one that was coming to Georgia and then signed up for it. And we had no idea, the website told you-
Kling: Nothing at all about what to expect. There was I think one YouTube video and the guy in it, said that the event was in New York. And he’s like, “This was harder than the Crucible which is the culmination of the Marine Corps training.” And I was like, “What the hell am I getting myself into? This is dumb.” But we all signed up and showed up anyway and ended up doing really well.
Brian: That’s awesome. So did you have a good time during it?
Kling: At the end, yeah. During it, I mean I guess because I didn’t know what I was getting into. And didn’t really know how to train. During the event, parts of it was, were cool, and then other parts I was just like, what the hell did I sign up for? This is nuts.
Brian: Yeah, I think a lot of people feel that way.
Kling: Yeah, especially the people that were in like the under 100 and then like the 100-ish classes-
Kling: Just because there wasn’t a lot. You know like you guys? What was your first one?
Brian: The running joke during our class was that we would’ve all quit, but we didn’t know where the hell we were, so-
Kling: (laughs) Yeah.
Brian: We wouldn’t be able to get back to our cars, even if we tried.
Kling: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, we were in Savannah, I don’t even remember everywhere we went. We went places in Savannah that I had never been before. Go to Savannah, decent amount it’s right down, it’s about two and a half hours away from me, so it’s fun. We got friends that live down there. You know I’ve been there a few times, but I … Yeah, I had no idea where we were for part of the events.
Brian: Yeah. That was a trip back then.
Kling: (laughs) For sure.
Brian: We started off our event sprinting, we were doing Indian runs trying to catch up with the cadre. And I just remember thinking, if the entire event is just sprinting with weight around Seattle, this is going to be a nightmare.
Kling: Right? My third event was like that. It was back with Cadre Dan again. I did 074 and then 106 and then I think 130-something. I might have them backwards. No, I think Patrick was second and then Dan was third again. And it was in Atlanta. They were working on some stuff for Trek, on how to move heavy weight over distance, and like if it could be done. And then Dan said that, he was talking to the other cadre about it and was like, “Oh, shit. I’ve got Atlanta coming up. You know, I’ve got those guys that are coming up for my Savannah group.” He’s like, “Nah, I got this.” And he just loaded us down with shit to carry. Like it was one of those, the first events where like he just showed up with a truck full of stuff and you’re like, “What is happening right now? That’s a lot of stuff.” And then yeah, it was 10 miles of Indian sprints.
Brian: That’s brutal.
Kling: Yeah, I had friends that came with me that actually never did an event again. They were like, “Nope, that’s cool. I got my one patch and I’m done.” It was just crazy man because even … It was to the point like I had … That was my third event. So like I knew kind of what was going on by now. And I was even to the point of like, “God damn, like are we still doing this?” Turns out that when he had like looked on the map, he didn’t realize how far out the starting point was, from the one part that he wanted to everybody to meet at, to the one we were going to. So he actually adjusted it for the next class and brought them like five miles closer to it.
And when we met up with him the next night, we’re like, “Dude, what the hell? We were at the start point, there’s nothing there.” He goes, “Oh, yeah. So that was a rookie mistake. I shouldn’t have done that you guys. So I moved it for these guys.” And we’re like, “Dan, what the hell dude? That’s not cool. Like you fucked us man.” But looking back now, I mean that’s one of the things in the challenges that’s really cool about the cadre is … and you know this already, but the fact that they can adjust on the fly what needs to be done. Like if we’re taking too long or something and that was just a, it was a smart move to make because they would’ve just taken way too long. Plus, I didn’t have to carry half the stuff we did either. He really was just using this as guinea pigs.
Brian: And you got a good story out of it.
Brian: Probably didn’t feel so good at the time.
Kling: Man, sitting in that park. It was one of those, you know you’re not supposed to be in there after dark. And so we’re doing all this PT stuff and the ground’s frozen. There’s icicles on the grass and there’s a bunch of people from my gym. And like it was one of those, all of us were like, I’ll never forget that sunrise in that park. Just watching the sun finally creep up over the Atlanta skyline.
Brian: Such a good feeling.
Kling: Ah, man. Dude sunrise is the best, isn’t it?
Brian: Yeah, it’s probably one of best beers you ever had at the end of that event too.
Kling: Yeah, that was a good one. That was definitely a good one. I remember … Yeah, Selection was sunrise. Dude, I was just sitting there, after that first night, just looking, there’s still a couple of us left. And I remember just looking at the sun, just like trying to will it to move up. Like please, hurry up. Hurry up, I’m so cold and miserable right now. Like if I can just get some sunshine on my face, I’ll be happier.
Brian: Yeah, that sun’s a game changer.
Kling: Ah, for sure.
Brian: So speaking about Selection, how did you first hear about Selection and what made you want to sign up for it?
Kling: I actually knew some of the guys that were doing the Selection screener because one of the guys, Carey was up, near Atlanta. And then Christian was doing it, and then a couple … I knew a couple of the people that were doing it, but for some reason like I hadn’t been training a lot or a think I traveled. I went up and did a workout at their CrossFit gym, up near Atlanta. And we were talking about it, and I was like, “Nah, you know I’m not physically ready.” It was like in a week. And they’re like, “Yeah, man. You know just email headquarters. I’m sure they’ll let you come down,” because you had to … for the screener you had to apply for it.
Kling: And I was like, “No, I … There’s no way I can train in a week to get ready for this 48 hour event that I have no, that I know nothing about.” And then afterwards, you heard about the people that passed and the people that didn’t a little bit, but they wouldn’t say anything, except for you know sign up and do it. So I was like, “All right, I’ll give it a try.” I was never one of the people that did the back-to-back challenges. Like I would do a challenge and legitimately be tired. I never understood, how somebody could do a 12 hour, 13 hour event and then pop back up, and want to go do it again. And I’m not trying to like say anything bad about anybody sandbagging or anything, but I just never had the drive. I get done with one event, I was like, “Fuck yeah, man. I’m done.”
That’s how Selection came about, was all those people talking trash on the Tough page, like, “Oh, I’ve done so many back-to-back events. I’m awesome.” I was never one of those people. I was like nope, I did my 12 hours, I am good. So I don’t know why I did it, looking back, but I guess it was like I done … I think at that point, I had done three challenges. And then I did a fourth one, right before or you know a little bit before Selection, during my training for it. But I guess it was one of those like, well I’ve done two events with Dan and he didn’t kill me. I did an event with Cadre Patrick, who Darth Vader has nightmares about, and he didn’t kill me. So let’s see what’s going to make me quit. And so I signed up for it.
Brian: Back then, I mean I think we mentioned it, it was just the GORUCK challenge. There was one event-
Brian: And I think the Screener came out even before Heavy did.
Kling: It did.
Brian: So you had the options of the GORUCK challenge or you had Selection. Those were the only two ways-
Kling: That was it. Yeah-
Brian: Yeah, that was it. So there was no Heavy, no HTL, HCL. No other way to test yourself. You’ve done the challenge, the only other thing you can do is Selection.
Kling: Correct. Yeah, man. Because I remember after I did it, and they had come out with the Heavy, I remember thinking like, would I have done a Heavy first, just to see what I could do for 24 hours? And I wonder how that would’ve affected my thoughts on it, but kind of glad they didn’t. It was just, you know screw it. If you’re going to go hard, go hard.
Brian: Yeah, and it was interesting back then because it was shrouded in so much mystery. Like no one knew what was going on-
Kling: Super secret. Yeah. Now they’ve got the Outside TV did a special on it. And you know they do all the Facebook Live videos for it. Like hell, everybody knows what it’s going to be for the most part.
Brian: Yeah. Yeah, it was different.
Kling: It’s still fun.
Brian: Yeah, it’s definitely still fun. It was just different back then. I think that’s why a lot of people signed up for it. There was nothing coming out, after the events of what happened. So if you wanted to know what happened at Selection, you had to be there.
Kling: Yeah, exactly.
Brian: And I think the people who are curious enough to want to, you know really know what happens there, are the same people who would sign up anyways so.
Kling: True. They’re the ones that are like, “Yeah, screw it. Let’s go give it a try.”
Brian: Yeah, why not? I don’t need this weekend.
Kling: Yeah (laughs).
Brian: So leading into the event, was there any time, you know going weeks up into the event, where you were thinking, “Man, I really shouldn’t have signed up for this?”
Kling: I don’t remember thinking that. For me it was a lot of mental training because I knew I never done anything that hard. And I don’t know if this was an intentional part of my training, but it was. It was just a mental thing like, first thing every morning … So quick step back. I bartend, and as such, like there aren’t many grooming or you know the grooming requirements are a little looser for like facial hair. So I can grow a beard when I want to, when I’m bartending because that’s all I do. So anytime I would get ready for a Tough Mudder or a GORUCK challenge or something, I would always start growing my beard out. And we jokingly called it, “my tactical beard.” You know totally as a joke.
So one of the things I did to get ready, I was … and it was, started off as a joke too was, I was like, if I’m gonna do the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I’m gonna have to grow the biggest beard I’ve ever had. And so like I grew out a beard for the five months of training. And when I showed up, I had this big scraggly beard, but because of that, you know you wake up, brush your teeth … I’d look in the mirror and there’s my face with this beard that I normally don’t have. And I was like, “All right, you got a fucking thing coming up. You got to train for it. So today is your day to train and every day.” And I’d go to bed, brush my teeth, and look at myself like, “All right, you got a thing coming up.” And so it was always, every time I looked in the mirror, there’s that visual reminder of … Hey, you’re doing something. You need to focus on it. And so that really kept me mentally focused.
Brian: That’s smart. That makes a lot of sense. I saw the pictures of you in a, the GORUCK blog Selection 002 post, and that’s quite the beard.
Kling: Yeah (laughs). One of the ladies, that I work with at a different place. When I was at the Ronald McDonald House, she would always give me a little bit of hell for it. She’s like, “You look like you live under a bridge. You need to go shave that thing.” And looking back at it now, it was pretty rough-looking.
Brian: It was, but the event’s rough so. I think it works out.
Kling: Yeah, and it helped. The whole mental focus, I think a lot of people put too much on just the physical and they don’t mentally prepare themselves, for what it is they’re getting into. Like this isn’t just a double heavy. This is 48 hours of the cadre, as a pack of wolves, doing anything they can to get in your head and crush your spirit to make you quit.
Brian: Yeah, and it makes sense. I mean for a number of reasons. So I can’t … I don’t know if GORUCK still does it, but back when you completed Selection, there was the Selection bonus, right? Where if you completed Selection during your year, then you got free entry into a number of events for the rest of your life?
Kling: They haven’t told me, no yet. And I’m not gonna ask them about it, as long as they keep letting me show up at places and do challenges and lights and stuff like that. But yeah, the Selection Sweetner, the bonus was really nice.
Brian: That was it, Selection Sweetner. And so I mean not only the cadre, you know grilling you and that’s their job, but GORUCK’s got some money riding on this. For everyone who finishes, they’re basically promising unlimited events, or at least at the time, for the rest of your life so. If that’s not motivation to try and make everyone quit-
Kling: Yeah, for sure. I mean that was a big thing for them, because especially when you look at events like you know Ascent or Beached or Trek or Navigator, none of those events were cheap.
Brian: No, they were all like 1,000 bucks.
Kling: For what they are, they’re a good deal. But yeah, they were … Yeah, they’re definitely up there.
Brian: Especially back in, whenever this was 2013-
Brian: 2012, 2013 when the prices were different than they are now. And they were quite a bit higher, I believe.
Kling: I think so too. Yeah, I think they were … Especially yeah, Beached and stuff. I was really looking forward to Beached, but it was, I think two weeks after Selection. And there was just no way I was going to be able to do that. So that’s when Beached was in the Keys at the Special Forces dive school.
Brian: Yeah, it was different back then. So you’ve got this beard. You’re reminding yourself every day that you’ve got this event coming up. It’s finally time, so where was your GORUCK Selection at?
Kling: I was in Jacksonville Beach.
Brian: That’s what it looked like from the pictures, Jacksonville Beach. So you’re traveling out there. You’re bringing all your gear with you. What was it like at the start?
Kling: Well thing is, I read the website wrong and I thought it started Friday morning and not Thursday night. It was a little hectic for me. Because I thought that I had plenty of time because thankfully, I live within driving distance. I live in Macon, Georgia, so it’s not far away. But I was actually texting some of the other people that were down there, and I was telling them what my day was going to be. And she goes, “Are you gonna make it here on time?” And I was like, “Yeah, no big deal.” And then I was like, “Wait. Oh, shit. What do you mean am I gonna make it?” And I pulled up my phone and pulled up the website and I was like, “Oh my god. It starts today.” And (laughs) yeah.
Brian: (laughs). Oh.
Kling: I was like shit, this is not good. I thought I was going to have time to get down to Jacksonville. Like I just tossed my stuff in my bags and was going to get down to Jacks, have a good dinner, get a good night sleep, repack all my stuff so it was spot on and perfect, and all those plans went straight out the window. I just … I got on the gas, I called in a favor to let them know that I was on the way, that I was running late. I was flying down I-75 South. I had eye contact with a Georgia state trooper. And I don’t know how or why he did not pull me over.
But dude, the travel gods or somebody was on my side that day. And yeah, like I brought some snacks with me, but it was just like, oh, I had some carrots left over in the fridge. And I was like, I’m going to be gone for the weekend, I’ll take them with me. So I’m eating everything that I can find in my truck that would give me any kind of, you know anything. So I was like, shit, I’m not going to have time for dinner. I’m not gonna have time for anything. I was like, how did I mess up this bad?
Brian: And that’s such a mental disaster too.
Kling: Oh yeah, dude. Yeah, I was stressed the whole drive down there.
Brian: So what time did you get down there?
Kling: Right at the start. I got there and everybody else had finished weighing their bags. I was like, I parked my car and the guy goes, “Are you here for Selection?” I was like, “Yeah.” I don’t even remember who it was. He goes, “It’s over there.” And grabbed my shit and ran over and they were like, “Give us your food. Weigh your ruck. Go get in the water.” So like I was skin of my teeth, made it.
Brian: That is … That’s insane.
Kling: Yeah (laughs). Talk about being stressed and showing up to an event and just … Yeah.
Brian: Well it’s quite the start. I mean I guess it’s a good thing that they dump all your shit out and make you repack it like six times-
Brian: Because all of your stuff was a mess to begin with.
Kling: It definitely wasn’t how I wanted to start the event. You know relatively empty stomach. Not enough sleep. Not packed correctly, but I don’t know man, it worked out.
Brian: And you finished. Incredibly non-ideal situations like, literally the worst situations starting this event. Short of like forgetting your ruck at home.
Kling: I couldn’t think of it being much worse, you’re right. Except for forgetting your ruck, but yeah, somehow it worked.
Brian: Ah, it’s wild.
Kling: I don’t … If anybody’s listening to this, don’t do what I did, all right? Get sleep, get dinner, don’t show up late.
Brian: Double check the start time. Maybe triple check it who knows?
Kling: Yeah, for sure. Man, there was that one guy that showed up for one of the Selections in Jacksonville, we called him Jesus. He like bicycles down the coast from New York and went to headquarters I think, didn’t come to the start point, was just hanging out at headquarters. And then I guess realized that nobody was there, that he might be in the wrong place. And in fact, like looked it up online and found out where he was supposed to be. Don’t do that either. Don’t bicycle down the East Coast to come to your event. That was terrible idea.
Brian: I can’t even imagine. Your legs would be smoked. It’s not like there’s any-
Brian: Walking in Selection. You don’t really ruck during that event, do you?
Kling: No, not at all. There’s no long walks or anything like that.
Brian: So your event, you were the only person left … was it after 24 hours, just about?
Kling: Roughly, yeah. Yeah, about 24 hours. I don’t know the exact time, but I know that it was night time.
Brian: So before the second sunrise.
Kling: Oh yeah, way before. It was right after sunset, I think. I know it was dark when the last person dropped because it’s … I mean I remember being confused as to where he went and then there’s that video that GORUCK has that shows Cadre Chris being like, “What is that?” And I’m so confused, because I’m like, “Where the hell did this dude just go? Like I thought we were good to go on this.” And then he’s gone.
Brian: That’s a good video. I’m gonna link it from the page, so everyone can see it, but it’s … That’s classic GORUCK footage, right there.
Kling: Yeah, I am so out of it too. I look back and I’m like, good God, look at me, I look terrible.
Brian: So looking back … I’m watching that video. Do you remember that happening? Or were you in kind of a daze at that point?
Kling: I remember it, but I was also, you know there’s so much going on. And it’s such a, just such a extreme event where I don’t … there’s a lot of things I don’t remember from it. There’s quite a few I do, but yeah, I remember that. We had paddled a leaking zodiac through the Intercoastal’s and made our time hack by seconds to get back to where we were supposed to be. And then they did the Midway AARs with us. And then we were rucking back to the beach and that’s when there were three of us left.
And like I remember Cadre Garrett was trucking in front of us, because he’s a madman and he was doing it barefoot. He’s like way in front of us. And we’re struggling to keep up with him, but you know there were three of us left and I remember that three people passed the DC Selection. That was a month before mine. And I was like, “Guys, there’s three of us left. We can do this.” We all were in high spirits at that point. And like yeah, we can do this. We’ve only got another … You know half of it is almost done. We’re almost good. But you know, plans and reality are two totally different things.
Kling: So it sucks. I was looking forward to finishing with the two guys. I mean I know it’s not a team event. And we knew it wasn’t a team event and we weren’t going to do anything like it was a team event, but still just to have somebody else there with you-
Brian: Just to draw eyes, right?
Kling: Well that and maybe just the fact that they’re suffering with you. I guess at that point, it was more so just that. Like hey, I’ve got … Even though we can’t talk, there’s a little bit of camaraderie there. But I guess I didn’t realize that it would’ve also been beneficial to have somebody else there, taking some attention off of me.
Brian: Yeah, you know you can look over at them and say, “Hey someone else is doing this. So if they can do it, obviously I can do it too.”
Brian: When you’re the only one left, it’s all in your head.
Kling: (laughs) Yeah, for sure.
Brian: Is there anything else, you know memorable from the first half that you want to toss out there? I mean the leaky zo- How did that happen? Did they give you a leaky zodiac and tell you to paddle?
Kling: I guess they didn’t expect for there to only be three of us left at this point, because we’re with Cadre Carlos and we were somewhere in the Intercoastal’s and we had to take a zodiac and carry it, just the three of us, and our rucks and Carlos’ ruck. Carry it from the trailer, down the trail, into the water, and then paddle it. And so we’re like, “All right, cool. You know it’s no big deal.” And then we found out almost immediately, “Oh shit, this thing’s leaking. Like come on man.” So two of us would paddle and one person would bail water. And it was just kind of how we did it. And nobody knew where we were going because none of us lived there. So we had to rely on the cadre and then the cadre got us to one bridge. And he’s like, “Oh hey, this isn’t the bridge, it’s the other bridge.”
And so of course we went 180° the wrong way. And so I had to paddle back to the other bridge and then get out. Yeah, that was … I was like come on, man. Like nothing, obviously nothing’s easy at Selection, but a leaking zodiac? That just sucked.
Brian: That’s wild. And you have to wonder if they, you know poked a nice hole in it for you in advance.
Kling: Yeah, you know I wonder if it was that way or like maybe it got a leak and they’re like ah, screw it. Don’t patch it till after the event. Or if they even knew, I don’t know.
Brian: That’s wild.
Kling: Yeah, I think I was thinking it was other things at that point. Not exactly wild, but-
Brian: It’s pretty jacked up.
Kling: Yeah, right?
Brian: So second half of the event, you’re the only one left. I mean that’s got to be something. Was it tough staying relatively sane throughout? I mean I’m guessing your mind’s playing tricks on you.
Kling: Yeah, it’s definitely mentally tough being the only person. I can only imagine what it was like for Paige, when Paige did her Selection, I think everybody else quit before the 24 hour mark. I think she was by herself for 30 hours. So she’s tough as anything. She’s awesome too. But yeah man, it’s tough being by yourself. And you know the cadre aren’t there to entertain you, they’re just there to give you directions. So there’s no one to talk to. There’s nothing really positive going on in your life at that point. You just got to do this, all the work, and nothing you do is good enough. So there’s … It’s yeah, it just sucks. You know nothing’s good enough. You’re not fast enough. You’re by yourself.
Brian: I mean your body’s in a state of decay at this point.
Kling: Ah, dude. I lost 10 pounds in 48 hours.
Brian: So not only are you disappointing the cadre … Well they’re probably not truly disappointing you, but they’re telling you that they’re incredibly disappointed in all of your actions.
Brian: But every single thing you’re doing with your body is suboptimal compared to what you would normally do during a workout. So the amount your, you know your ruck, pushing it over your head is way harder. You can get way less reps. Push-ups are probably near impossible. So just that whole mental thing like I can’t even do this and I normally can, that’s got to be tough.
Kling: Plus, you’re coated in sand because it’s Jacksonville Beach. And you just been rolling around, you’re in and out of the water, you’re coated in sand.
Brian: That’s a real beach too.
Kling: Dude, I got out of there and I kept finding sand on my body. I don’t know how many days after the event. I was like, I’ve taken multiple showers every day and I’m still finding sand. Like where is this coming from? Yeah, that sand was no fun.
Brian: So was there ever a point in the event when you didn’t think you were gonna make it?
Kling: There were many points during the event where I wanted to stop, but I knew that I couldn’t. Like I just, I wasn’t allowed to quit. One of the times, I was doing a … I was supposed to be running down the beach. It was just one of those, “Hey, run down the beach, report to cadre. Don’t go in the water. Don’t go off the berm. Don’t do anything.” Middle of the night, I have no idea what’s going on. I just know that I’m supposed to run and like I just kept going and I’d fallen sleep while walking. I had turned 90° and I don’t even remember how far I walked, but I was getting close to the water. And when I snapped open my eyes and I was like … Oh, shit. What is going on right now? And it’s just like, all right, got to keep going. So I turned right and headed back down the beach to wherever the cadre was supposed to be and just kept going.
Brian: That’s insane.
Kling: Yeah, I mean it’s those times where you’re like, I don’t want to say you doubt yourself, but you’re like, dude like what am I even doing right now?
Brian: No kidding. On the flip-side, was there a point during the event when you knew that you were going to finish?
Kling: Yes, and I was wrong. I was so wrong. It was so disappointing because I built it up in my head. It was towards the end of the long walk and we’re heading back down, I guess it was Atlantic Beach, heading towards Jacksonville Beach. And you know I’ve been rucking for 40-something hours. And the sun’s starting to go down and it’s starting to get late in the day. And then all the way down the beach, I see like five dudes. And they’re holding paddles and they’re like in a line facing me, and I was like, “Oh, yes. It’s almost over. I’m gonna get to have food and I’m gonna get to have a beer. Ah, I can’t wait.” Like and all I would fantasize about for the rest of the walking down the beach was just getting dinner and having a beer. And I was like … Yes, finally. It’s over with. I was wrong.
Brian: That was not the end?
Kling: That was nothing close to the end. That’s when they just took turns beating the brakes off of me.
Brian: Oh, that’s gotta be just a mental catastrophe.
Kling: Horribly … Horribly demoralizing.
Brian: So what were your thoughts during that? I’m guessing it was a ton of PT.
Kling: Oh yeah, it was … They would take turns like five minutes at a time. Like during Selection they would sometimes be with you for an hour or two at a time doing whatever evolution they wanted you to do. But they would just five minutes of this, and then the next guy would come in and start screaming at you from the other side. And you’re like, oh shit, what’s going on now? And then you got to start listening to him. And then he has you do something completely different. And Jason even jumped in. And then God, if anybody’s ever done an event with Jason, you know how much of a madman he is.
Brian: The guy’s crazy.
Kling: Just insane. Lou was there. Jason was there. Garrett was there. Dan. Dan had been with me, I think for the whole second 24 hours. It was-
Brian: That’s nuts.
Kling: Yeah, it was just insane.
Brian: So how did it end?
Kling: I was low crawling and they were like, “Low crawl this way. Low crawl this way. Follow my voice. Get your face in the sand,” kind of thing. And so I’m just low crawling with my ruck and then I knew where we were because I had seen the cadre, but at this point, I wasn’t sure where we were going or what was happening. And we crawled over the berm that takes you to the team house, low crawling, and then all of the sudden they’re like, “Come here. Congratulations.” And I was like, “Oh, shit. I’m done. This is great.” But I think they just … That last hour plus was so crazy for me that I just was like … Oh shit, man. I think I was just kind of out of it at that point.
You know I mean they, you know they took my ruck off me and they’re like, “Hey, cool. Congratulations. You finished.” There was a flag there. Other Selection finishers from the Screener and from Class 001 that were there and it was cool, like everybody’s happy. And I was like, “God, I just want a beer right now.” And then somebody handed me a beer and it wasn’t really cold and I was like, “Can I get a cold one?” And they still haven’t stopped giving me shit for that. Every opportunity they’re like, “Wait, Kling needs a beer. Make sure it’s cold.”
Brian: That’s awesome. So that was probably a good tasting beer.
Kling: Yeah, when I finally got a cold one it was. I was like damn dude. I nearly lost my life out there, just give me a cold beer.
Brian: So you finished GORUCK Selection. I’m guessing the recovery process and that was pretty brutal.
Kling: Yeah, I ate a lot and drank a lot for like the next week or two. And then the next week for sure, I just ate everything I could.
Brian: That’s what you got to do. You lost 10 pounds.
Kling: Yeah, I didn’t realize I lost so much weight either, but I definitely, definitely lost weight.
Brian: So if you had known everything that you had to do during this event, would you still signed up for it?
Kling: No, I don’t know man. It’s a good question. I think maybe so. Even if I had known, because at that point having done handful of challenges and a handful of other things. Like I wanted at that point, I was like, well what’s going to stop me? That’s why I signed up for it. So even knowing what it is now, I think I probably still would have back then.
Brian: So do you ever head down for the Selection events to hang out at the end?
Kling: Ah man, I tried to get to every one that I can. I was up in Ohio last year, that was a great one to be at. When it’s down in Jacksonville, I’ll take off that weekend from work and head down and hang out. And we kind of have like a little Selection reunion most of the time. Whoever can come to it, does. We’d hang out and we’ll drink a few beers and watch the shit show take place and-
Brian: So do you have any will to sign up for another one?
Kling: (laughs) No. No way. Even Dan, after that event goes, “You ever think about doing this again, you call me first.”
Brian: So is there anything else you want to talk about?
Kling: It was really good afterwards and somebody made me a bunch of brownies and whoever you are, thank you very much, because I will never forget those brownies either.
Brian: Whoever made the brownies, thank you.
Kling: Oh, for sure man. I got done and it was beer and brownies and beer and brownies. And then we grilled out and they made me a giant steak. Java was there, wanted some of it. And Jason was like, “Come over here.” It was a lot of fun man. Well looking back at it now, like being done with it. It was good. I’m glad I did it, but doing it again? Yeah, that’s … I don’t know about that. You got to have really strong reasons to do it, to begin with. Then you got to have really strong reasons to continue, to not quit. That’s the part that, I wonder if people have. Like I had … When I did it, and all those times where it got really dark and I had to go into my own head and give myself reasons not to quit. It was the reasons from home. It was the guys at my gym.
I trained at an MMA gym at the time or I still do, but at the time, our fighters had gone two years without losing and like I couldn’t just imagine the idea of going back. And they’d go, “All right, Kling, how was it? Did you pass?” And I’m like, “No, I got cold.” Like how do you go back to a gym full of winners and you’re not one? So I just … I can’t go home without this patch. Like I got to finish. I’m already here. Like if it was 24 plus hours where I was, how would I come back and do it again? That would suck because I mean I just wasted the last 24 hours. So I was like, I’m already invested this deep in it. I might as well and stay and just grid it out until the sun goes down again.
Brian: You know when you say it like that, any excuse to quit, sounds pretty bad.
Kling: Right? I invested five months of training. I had to change my whole life. I was a bartender. You know we like to go out, we like to drink, we like to have a good time. And I changed everything for that. Like I don’t understand how I would sign up again, change my life again, invest another five months or more of training to come back and have to do that again. Like I’m already there, I already took off work for the weekend.
Brian: You already paid the money.
Kling: Yeah, I’ve already given up enough. I’m not going to come back and have to do it again.
Brian: Makes sense.
Kling: So I just kept walking.
Brian: Good advice. So Selection’s coming up again in September.
Kling: People will be winding up their training. Yeah, they’ll have what? Maybe another week or so of training, lightish, nothing crazy. Taper down that last week, so you’re not abusing your body and you got time to be 100%.
Brian: So for anyone listening, who signed up for this coming Selection. Do you have any words of encouragement or thoughts for them?
Kling: It’s been really cool at some of the Selections, seeing people with my DFQ patches and at different events, I see them. And that’s it, man. Like Dan told me, because I was asking him for advice. And he gave me the whole knife-end, he’s like, “Just don’t fucking quit.” Those are easy words to say, but dude those resonated with me, like no other, when I was doing the event. Like that’s it, when it comes time and you think it’s, you’re down and you’re dirty and you’re miserable and you’re cold and you can’t get your ruck up anymore. The sun’s going to come up or go down, depending on what time it starts. The event’s going to end at some point, like nothing last forever. So as long as you don’t quit, you’re gonna be okay.
Brian: There you have it. Just don’t quit.
Kling: All those people are there for a reason. You don’t sign up for Selection without having some sort of reason, like a deep reason. You don’t just sign up for that as something to do that weekend. You like you got to find out what that reason is and keep it right there. Find your motivation and keep it. And just think about that, whatever it is. Whether it’s you, whether it’s your gym, whether it’s I didn’t want to come back to customers at my bar, because like I said, they ask me all the time, “Hey, what are you growing out your beard out for?” I didn’t want to come back and be like, “Ah man, I got you know tired. I was really tired, so I quit.” Like how do you come back and tell people that? You spent so much time and money. Like you’re invested in this one event. This is something serious. There’s no reason whatsoever to quit.
Brian: That’s powerful.
Kling: I hope that helps man. We’ll find out in three weeks.
Brian: Yeah, I hope for anyone listening, signed up for the event. I hope that helps.
Kling: Yeah, you’re a bunch of tough people. Whoever signs up for it man, you’re already tough to dive into something like this. So I just hope they remember how tough they really are. We always have high hopes for people. Like we don’t like it when there’s a black class, nobody does.
Brian: I’d imagine, the cadre did a ton of work, planning out 48 hours and for a number of those hours, not to be seen by anyone. It’s got to be a little disappointing.
Kling: Yeah, it definitely is.
Brian: Well thank you so much again, for taking the time to chat with me. I truly appreciate it.
Kling: My pleasure man. It was hopefully … Hopefully, people get something good out of it. And even if not, go drink a beer, enjoy your life.
Brian: Good advice. Even if you don’t enjoy this podcast. Drink a beer, enjoy your life. That’s Kling.
Kling: (laughs). Yes.
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