To say that April 18-19, 2015 were life-changing would be an understatement. Let’s just start at the beginning.
You’ve heard me talk about GORUCK before, including the one I took part in back in October. The event that was being held this weekend was a Gorevolution, the second of its kind. It was basically a GORUCK Heavy (24+ hour event), but with a historical twist – we would be following in the footsteps of our ancestors as we walked from Concord to Boston along the Battle Road Trail, Minute Man Bikeway and Freedom Trail.
When they tell you that the event starts at 4am, you get there early. We ended up going to bed later than I planned on Friday night (somewhere around 8:30-9:00?) and I set my alarm for midnight. I knew several people that were doing the event, but was there mainly in support of my friend, Amy. It was her first Heavy. Amy and I stayed at Julie and Dan’s house so we’d be closer to the start and wouldn’t have to drive so far so early in the morning. Once I was up and ready, Amy got up at 1:00 and started getting herself ready. We were out the door just past 2:00 and on our way! We arrived where we were told to park around 3:00 and there was a very nice guy everyone calls Jeans that hooked us up with a ride to the start (about a mile and a half away). We thought we’d have to walk to the start so this was a nice surprise. We were at the start by about 3:30 and just kind of hanging around with others that had arrived early.
All of a sudden, out of the pitch black walk the two Cadre – Andy and Logan. So begins the event. First things first, they lined up to have the roster checked. There were supposed to be 35 people there that had signed up, but only 23 were present. I don’t remember in what order the next two things occurred, but they had their bags inspected to ensure they had the correct weight, food, hydration and safety gear and then were read the rules and precautions to be taken during the event. Cadre Andy then took us shadows aside to advise us on how he wanted us to behave alongside the class.
Once everybody was situated and checked in, off we went. The beginning started out deceivingly simple – walk along a little bit, stop at a historical marker, Cadre would tell us a bit about it and then move on. No yelling, no PT yet. This lasted maybe a mile and a half or so as we made our way into Minute Man Historical Park.
See this picture below? That man in the black coat and evil grin? That would be Cadre Logan. He’s grinning because they are about to bring the suck. Once they got across that bridge, things would get much, much worse.
From here, they needed to get down on the ground to avoid “enemy fire”. They were told to low crawl, roll left, roll right, all while trying not to become a “casualty”. If you become one, you are no longer allowed to move under your own power. In this instance, they had to be dragged by other members of the class to get them to the tree line and cover.
Once they made it to the tree line, we walked over to the park path to get back to our trek. Not everyone was falling in line with what the Cadre were saying, so some PT needed to be done including up/down with their rucks as well as holding them overhead.
Some bear crawls, lunges and crab walks were next.
Once we rounded the corner after a quick jog, they got a small break while the Cadre spoke again.
Back to the road they went with some low crawls. I thought it was highly amusing watching the runners and bikers come through looking at them like they’re nuts. After that, they played a lovely game called “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down” where they had to get up, move for a second, then lay down all to the cadence of saying that phrase.
They went around another bend and had another quick refuel and then more crab walks, because it’s fun. After a little more walking, we came across a tunnel where they had to lay down and do 100 flutter kicks.
Once they walked a bit more on the trail, we came to Fiske Hill. Oh, Fiske Hill. They had some fun there. It started out with having to crawl down the embankment from the parking lot into what can only be described as disgusting. They then had to make their way up the hill, stopping here and there for PT and picking up various “weapons” to charge the hill.
Near the top of the hill were casualties, so there were lots of buddy carries through here up another short, steep hill.
After we left the park, we had a long, boring walk along the main streets until we reached the Lexington Common. We had just missed a re-enactment so we took a break to eat and check feet. We got to see just a bit of the next one starting, but had to keep moving on to stay on track.
From the Common, we entered the Minute Man Bikeway. There was a lot of just plain rucking on this portion. At times, Logan got them going at a very quick pace. I spent a lot of time shuffle running to keep up in the back. Along the way, they were told to pick up various items like aluminum fence posts and tire rims. Little did they know, they would soon be building “the apparatus”. They would have to use these pieces, along with whatever rope and straps they brought with them, to build some sort of method of transportation for an oil drum that was left on the side of the bikeway.
We rucked on the bikeway for a long time it seemed and then veered off for a bit to see a few areas of interest before joining back up with it.
It was nightfall by the time we reached Boston Common. We had another break for food and feet before walking along the Freedom Trail.
Once we were past the Old North Church (one if by land, two if by sea), it was time for some very difficult maneuvering. They were to pick up some items and move them to our next location, which was an extended break at a local gym frequented by ruckers.
Once we got there, they were able to leave those items behind. After our rest period to refuel and check feet, off we went to Fort Washington, where they would pick up more items to be carried all the way to the end in Dorchester Heights to build a “cannon”.
I have to say that I believe this was the most difficult part of the journey. It was a lot of walking through a closed city of Boston. They had to carry these really heavy items for miles with very few breaks because there weren’t enough people. You also have to remember we’ve passed 24 hours during this trek and everyone was exhausted. The smiles during the first few miles had long disappeared and I watched as zombies shuffled past me. I will admit that there are times I don’t remember getting from one block to the next. I could have been sleepwalking for all I know.
23 started, 21 finished with one voluntary withdrawal and one med drop (who pushed it so, so hard and should be proud). At the end, with the sun coming up, they were handed their patches. Tears flowed, cheers erupted and everyone squeezed each other tight. These are a few of my favorite shots from the end.
This is our GPS that I forgot to start at the very beginning, but that’s pretty close to the actual duration and distance.
What I witnessed was incredible. People pushing through immense pain, working together to get the tasks done. Tears, sure, but no quit. They didn’t know the meaning of the word. I am so, so proud of every member of that class and it was an honor to walk alongside them.