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GORUCK Challenge Toronto 2012 - Part 1

After the gym and a long nap, we finished packing.

Six bricks – check. Water, gels, bars and mini-potatoes for fuel – check. Salt pills, ibuprofen and duct tape (you never know when you will need duct tape) – check.

The American flag was, of course, to be replaced with a Canadian flag, and someone on the team was bringing one. As it later turned out, on a hockey stick, instead of a pole. How fitting!

Holy moly, the backpacks were heavy. It was hard to imagine that these babies will live on our backs for the next ten hours. The scale reported 36lb for my pack, and 41lb for Mike’s.

Goruck was to begin at 1am on Saturday – so late Friday night. We set up a randevu with Boss, our unofficial photographer, and Captain C, who signed up for the challenge the night before. The meeting place was Nathan Phillips square downtown Toronto, and we spotted a couple of our future teammates as we were walking towards the reflective pool – they were geared up with backpacks.

We start few minutes after 1am. Cadre Beaux, our training officer for tonight, gathers the group around in a circle. There are 14 of us, 2 women. Age ranges from early 20s to late 40s.

From the plethora of body shapes and sizes, I guess that some are runners, some are CrossFitters, some lift heavy. Jokes and pokes are flying around, cadre tries to look away as he smiles, and the whole atmosphere resembles that of a locker room. I will fit in just fine…

We sign the consent forms. I’m pretty sure they have the word “death” in them at least once. This seems to be a theme of my fitness events lately.

Backpacks are on, and they are to stay on our back or someone else’s back for the rest of the night (morning, day). Cadre promises us 60-90 minutes of hell before we even leave Nathan Phillips square. The good news is that no one has ever quit on him AFTER the initial hour. Reassuring…

We are in line. We are in plank. We are doing push-ups. Face down. Up. Face down. Up. On your feet. Get down. Push-ups. More push-ups. Flutter kicks. Face down. Cadre is calm as he showers us with profanities. I find the whole thing incredibly entertaining…

[note the 25lb team weight that we had to lug around in addition to all the backpacks]. One of the team members made (!) it himself… Stony, you are so cool!

The task for the next hour is to figure out how to do whatever he asks AS A TEAM. “This is not a race”, he keeps repeating. “As we begin, you are a group of 14 individuals. As the night goes on, I will make you into ONE team.”

Face down. On your feet. No. Again. Eventually we catch on, and start glancing at each other in an effort to function a little bit more team like. Face down. We are lying face down on the pavement, backpacks pressing us further into the ground. “Guys,” I yell, “shoulder to shoulder”. We crawl towards each other and align the shoulders. Cadre seems pleased.

For the next half an hour, we overthink every single thing that cadre asks us to do. “Take four steps.” “Wait!”, someone screams. “On a count of three, one, two, three – STEP!”. At this point, I’m pretty sure all the spectators are in psychological pain.

As we are rolling around, my backpack starts to leak. I panic, thinking it’s my hydration bladder, but no – one of my water bottles filled with electrolytes bursts. Well, there goes 500ml of hydration…

As one, we get up. As one, we get into the fountain. As one, we sit down… in fountain… Flutter kicks…

Finally, cadre is content. Or at least, bored. “Form two lines”, he directs. And we are off… About 8.5 hours to go…




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