AAR/Backblast: GORUCK Light V-Day Massacre

At this point, neither of us had any idea what we were getting ourselves into

Basic Information

  • Cadre: Cody & Cody
  • Event Type: GORUCK Light
  • Location: Orlando, FL
  • Special Event: Valentine’s Day Massacre
  • Time: 5 Hours
  • Distance: 8.25 Miles

Packing List

GORUCK advises a specific packing list on the event page, and I pretty much stuck to that:

  • Backpack (GORUCK Rucker)
  • 20# in iron plates (2x5s and 1×10)
  • 3L Camelbak
  • 1L Nalgene
  • Pocket Knife (OKC Rat)
  • Headlamp (Black Diamond Ion)
  • Drybox (containing Phone, I.D., & $20)

Service Component

For every GORUCK event, your team is in charge of organizing a service component. This is usually done over the Facebook group ahead of time, and can include anything from donating money to a local charity to going out and lending a hand on a manual service project.

For our service component, someone set up a GoFundMe account for the local Boys and Girls Club, which we contributed to, while also bringing new or lightly use sports equipment to donate.

I would have liked to see a more tangible service contribution by our class, as there were 66 of us and a great opportunity to do some good. I had no problem, however, buying soccer and rugby balls to donate.

GORUCK Light: V-Day Massacre

Nearly every GORUCK event includes a history lesson or at least a story from the cadre’s military experience. This particular event was themed around the V-Day Massacre that occurred in Chicago during the Prohibition era. If you’re not familiar, you can read about it here, on the Wikipedia page. Most of the day’s PT was based off of numbers from the massacre, which explains what seems like arbitrary numbers you’ll hear about soon.

The Thang

We began by lining up in loose formation, unpacking our rucks for inspection, which was much less formal than I assumed it would be. Cadre Cody then introduced himself and our other cadre, also known as Cody. There was an additional cadre shadowing them as a cadre in training. We were instructed to put away all watches (which, knowing time pieces were generally not allowed, I had done earlier). Thus, I may be decently inaccurate with distances and time here.

After formalities and reading brief historical introduction to the V-Day massacre with a giant lake in the background as we listened, the cadre didn’t waste time in having us take a short swim in said lake. This was just a short dip where we were instructed to lock arms and, as a group, hold everything but our heads under water for 18 seconds (signifying the 1800s when the massacre occurred).

When we successfully completed the swim, Team Leaders were chosen, and we began our first movement. It’s important to mention that we had several team weights:

  • (2) 80ish pound sandbags
  • (1) 8 ft block log
  • (1) 60lb bag of rubber mulch
  • (1) 10lb sandbag

We navigated a few busy streets and neighborhoods for what seemed like 2 miles at a 20ish minute mile pace, and ended up at a park, nestled between two ball fields. Here, the cadres gave us another history lesson combined with some team-building PT designed to promote better structure and uniformity amongst our class. This included lunges in formation, a time trial sprint in formation, and circle of Ruck shoulder raises, amongst other exercises.

YoYoMa decided our battle buddy hand-in-hand skip to the water would look better if he was shirtless…also, that way, his shirt stayed dry.

After a quick bathroom and snack break, and change out of team leaders, we were on to our next movement. This movement seemed shorter, but there’s no telling by my calculations. Nonetheless, we ended up at another public park, on the bank of a lake. Of course, no cadre will pass up the opportunity to take a good swim make the class take a good swim. This time, the challenge was to pick and stick with our battle buddies better and keep bringing a good attitude. So, we skipped in formation down into the water while holding our battle buddies hand, dunked, and came back out. We had a brief continuation of the V-Day Massacre history and proceeded to our next movement.

This movement led us to an open field with a fountain, where we proceeded with some more history and PT. If our noise didn’t already let the folks doing yoga around the fountain know we were there, our barefoot march INTO the fountain for a group photo definitely did. They wanted to join us so bad…

Some more PT, then we chose another set of team leads and proceeded to our next movement. At this point, we had worked on meeting pace requirements, staying with our battle buddies, and keeping a smile on, so the cadre were clear that we had a time hack we had to make and that formation was to be kept. I will say, however, both cadres were incredibly cordial and made this much more fun than I imagined it would be. The camaraderie alone served for a great experience.

The last movement was the longest, I believe, and we functioned incredibly well compared to our first movement. When we finished back at our start point, we ended with more PT, consisting of burpees, squats, and windmills and another swim. Upon completion, the cadres finished the history of the V-Day Massacre and handed out patches and beer to celebrate!. All 66 who started finished, supporting the 100% finish rate GORUCK advertises for the Light events.

I’ve done quite a few endurance events, which were great, but completely on my own. Nothing makes you as proud as knowing you couldn’t have accomplished something without other people.

Final Words

Like I alluded to before, this particular Light event wasn’t as physical taxing as I had anticipated, but definitely wasn’t a walk in the park either. Something a member of our class mentioned in our last AAR before we finished was the need for some of us who were bulls in the group to back off and take the rear, letting others move up to carry team weights and lead during our movements. The following are two lessons I took from this experience:

  • The tendency for those of us who are more fit for the task or just downright determined is to lead from the front, and drag others behind us. But the real challenge when we near the finish is to know how to get behind others and move them into positions to be successful.
  • I’ve completed several triathlons, 5ks, 10ks, and a half marathon. I’ve competed in strength competitions, and pushed my body close to its max, but I’ve never completed an event that literally required other people to be successful. Unlike any other fitness challenge, GORUCK is designed to force you to learn how to construct and use a team to succeed. No matter how fit or determined you are, you cannot cross the finish line with the focus on yourself.