Written by Patrick McCullagh
My dad and I went to Hawaii to do the GORUCK Tough Challenge! After a year of training he conquered the 12 hour event carrying a 30+lbs rucksack and adding extra weight to support the team. Nineteen of us started, nineteen of us worked together to achieve common goals and nineteen of us crossed the finished line.
Read Patrick's interview of his dad after the event.
Q- So it has been a few days since the event, how do you feel physically?
A - My shoulders were a little sore but that was it really.
Q - Were you surprised that you didn’t hurt more?
A - Yes. I thought my legs would be more tired.
Q - How long have you been training for this event?
A - 12 months of personal training. Yes I did feel that it was enough training for the event. If I didn’t loose my current state, it wouldn’t take me 12 months to train for the next one.
- Jim training in the spring rain
Q - Is there anything else you would have done differently in your training?
A - Not in terms of my exercises in my training but I might of focused more on shoulder carries and increased the weight on the farmer carries.
Q - Tell us some of the things you’ve done to prepare yourself before the event.
A - I did a lot of reading on training philosophies, mental activities that stemmed from watching the Navy Seal training. I was also adding in protein shakes to my workout and adding BCAAs during my workout.
To train my aerobics, I started to do 5 km runs, then 5 km rucks, and then just walked everywhere with the ruck. Once springtime arived, then I started running with my ruck up steep hills 1-2 times a week. Then a 10 km run with my ruck. I also stepped in the river, rolled in the sand to simiulate the conditions of the event.
Then I did a readiness assessment. I went for a 26 km ruck to see if I could do the distance of the event. Then I did a 12 hour ruck to see if I could handle carrying the ruck for that long.
Q - What happened the morning of the event? What were some of the feelings you had the first 30 minutes in the event?
A - The initial feelings I had was fear because I didn’t really know what would happen in the event. I looked around at the age of everyone and noticed that I was the oldest by about 35 years. I always began to doubt my abilities to do the event.
Then when we started the welcome party, I felt alright and my confidence came back.
Q - The first hour or two, known as the welcome party, has the reputation to make people quit. During the first two hours, did you have any self doubt that you could not complete the event?
A - We were made to go up a high ropes course at the beginning of the event. I had a small scare at the top of the course that made me think I wasn’t going to complete that challenge. I had to kick it out of my head, breath and focus at the task at hand.
- high ropes course at YMCA Camp Erdman, Hawaii
It was more a fear of not knowing if I could complete the task and not so much the event.
Q - What were some other hardships you experienced during the event?
A - There was a period the team was in radio silence and I got a cramp in my left leg but the Assistant Team Leader gave me some electrolytes and it disappeared and I was fine after that.
The reason I was able to keep going was because I knew that the entire team to help each other to get to the end.
- carrying the log for 12+ miles, team work at its best
Q - What hardships did the team face, and what did the group do to overcome them?
A - The largest challenge for the team was when a couple of the team members became dehydrated and became ill. During that period, the team supported those individuals by taking their rucks, giving them first aid and giving them first aid until they recovered.
This was more of challenge not a hardship. The biggest challenges we faced was carrying heavy weight for long distances. These included, sandbags, water, a log, team members. The team had to devise a number of strategies to carry these weights, evaluate and reassess the method to improve the process in which we carried the weights.
Q - When the event ended, what was going through your head?
A - I was very pleased that I lasted the event, and pleased that everyone completed the event. But I also felt that I would have like to have done more to help the team.
- group photo after the high ropes course, 10 more hours to go!
Q - DO you still feel like you should have done more to help the team.
A - No I feel satisfied with my contribution to the team. Even though I didn’t carry the heavy log on my shoulder, I was able to find other things to do to help the team. We all had a role to contribute.
Q - What were some of your take-aways from the event?
A - That we can accomplish more with a team. Effective communicate within a team is important. I like that we had after action reviews (which assesses the methods of the challenge to improve the process next time.) I was very impressed with Cadre Ricky V who was constantly evaluating the entire team. Behind the scenes he was making decisions to help the team succeed.
As a leader, you don’t pull your punches. The leader is willing to give frank and honest feedback so that as a team we improve.
Q - What did Cadre RickyV teach you the most?
A - “Don’t ask the team to do anything you can’t do yourself” and the way he impelented that phialsphy in the event. Also the amount of pre-planning he did and the contingency plans he had in case the event had hiccups along the way.
- Cadre Ricky V, from GORUCK
Q - Was there another participant that inspired you during the event. Who and Why?
A - Austin. I was impressed that this fellow under the age of 24 step up and be the leader for the last hard push and he was able to improve the process of the method we were doing, His friends were leading by example by taking more weight and he brought a positive enthusiasm to the team.
Q - Who would you recommend this event to?
A - I would recommend it to anyone who likes a challenge and who wants to learn team dynamics.
- Jim enjoying a beer and holding his well earned GORUCK patch after the event.
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