You call this a party? GORUCK Challenge pushes participants to limit

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Paul Issler
  • 412th Test Management Division
Editor's Note: The GORUCK Challenge is advertised as 15- to 20-mile, eight- to 10-hour event held in major cities around the country, like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Denver. The challenge has been inspired by similar training offered to Special Forces soldiers. Two members of Team Edwards participated in the Los Angeles GORUCK Challenge in late spring. Following is a personal account from 1st Lt. Paul Issler, 412th Test Management Division and 1st Lt. Erin Wallace, 773rd Test Squadron. This event covered a slightly greater distance and took a little longer to complete than the standard challenge.

At 12:30 a.m. the Green Beret cadre showed up. We signed "death" waivers, were distributed packs and began packing our rucksacks.

Our load consisted of four bricks and personal items such as food and clothing, totaling about 25 pounds. The class was tasked to bring a 25 pound weight - we used a kettle bell - and a bunch of ice and beer which was divvied up, thrown into a pelican case and brought along for the ride. I was given the "party pack," a class nemesis at all challenges that contains four sets of bricks weighing about 70 pounds.

By 1 a.m. we arrived at the Venice Beach Pier where we clicked on headlamps and headed for the ocean. Unity was stressed, including how we stood up and which way we turned.

Linking arms and walking into the ocean surf in the dead of night, getting barraged by waves, we did pushups, flutter-kicks, squat thrusts and rolled around in the surf.

It goes on from there. We moved from the surf to the hard packed sand where we spent about three hours doing lunges, crabwalks, low crawls, moving north up the beach. Our rucksacks were never allowed to touch the ground. When any mistakes were made we went back into the ocean to do a little remedial PT or we were sent back to the start.

We finally made our way to the Santa Monica Pier. With about a quarter mile left, we unfortunately had some members of the team "get killed by enemy fire" and we had to body drag them through the sand over a jetty.

Upon arriving at the pier, we were rewarded with elevated push-ups while wearing rucksacks. We received more remedial exercise with flutter-kicks and squats until we could finally do all the exercises together. We moved out to the Santa Monica Promenade, where we began buddy carries. If the loading and unloading was not done simultaneously, we were punished.

We did a "tour" of the promenade and started working toward Santa Monica Boulevard, first buddy carrying and later running "Indian" sprints. After three miles we were told that our rucksack shoulder straps had "disappeared" and we should find a new way to carry them, but could not stop the Indian sprints. However, those sprinting to the front of the line could not hold a rucksack, which resulted in every person carrying two, one in each hand. Dropping a rucksack or tripping meant squats while holding the bags over our heads.

Sometime during this haze of emotion the sun came up, and although it was masked by the rain clouds, we could finally see without our headlamps.

Our shoulder straps finally "returned" and we moved east, still Indian sprinting, enjoying the scenery and the rain. We noticed people going to work but couldn't pinpoint an exact time. We wound up in Beverly Hills still covered in a nice coat of sand. We continued to Bel Air and then began buddy carrying down Rodeo Drive, where we were told we weren't working as a team and needed to go back to the beginning to get it right. A mile of carrying people, wasted.

We worked our way to the Avenue of the Stars, down Wilshire Boulevard, past Grauman's Chinese Theater and the Hollywood Walk of Fame with tourists looking in awe at the huge group of mud covered morons running with rucksacks.

We continued to Runyon Canyon Park, where we were told that if we could run up a steep street without anyone stopping, we wouldn't be punished. That was the longest three city blocks I have ever run, but no one stopped.

After entering the park, we find the Green Beret cadre sitting on logs and my stomach dropped as we were told that we had to move the log to the top of the park.

After what seemed like forever we arrived at the most wicked looking set of stairs - about three feet wide and made of wood nailed into the side of a hill. The team got the log up the canyon and just like in the movies the rain stopped, the sun came out and we were told that we were done.

We moved for 12-and-a-half hours and hoofed it 22 to 24 miles.

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