GORUCK Heavy: The after action report of D-Day 2018, in Chicago with Cadre Shredder. Water, Mosquito's and endless physical training

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This is the AAR for the GoRuck Heavy D-Day memorial that I had the privilege to be a part of on June 1, 2018. Before this event I had only participated in one other GoRuck event which was a custom GrowRuck Tough associated with F3. I knew this would be a significant undertaking however I had no idea just what this amazing event would entail.

The cadre assigned to the Heavy were Cadre Shredder, KD, and Doug. All three were professional, prepared, and gave us there all. Cadre Shredder was involved in the previous event I had participated in and when I was thinking about doing a Heavy and saw that he was the lead cadre for this Chicago event, I knew this was the one I wanted to do. He is demanding, intense, and you can’t help but want to run through a brick wall for the man.

Before I get into the event itself I will give a brief overview of my preparation beforehand and what I chose to pack and wear.

Before I signed up I was in pretty good physical shape but understood that the miles under ruck would be way higher than anything I had ever done before. I found a rucking plan from 2013 posted by Cadre Bert for people preparing for Selection. It seemed reasonable, so I started at week 4 of the 12 week plan since this was my time frame before my event. The normal week looked something along the lines of this, Monday- Run 4 miles at 8 minute pace, Tuesday- 1 hour ruck march with 65lb, Wednesday- Run 4 by 400 Meters in 90 seconds, Thursday- Run 2 miles in 14 minutes, Friday- abs and core, Saturday- 10 mile ruck with 50lb, Sunday- Abs and core.

 

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As the weeks went on the times got faster and the weight got heavier. I don’t think I missed more than a couple days in the entire 2 months leading up to it and I will give all that credit to my wife. She was totally on board with me attempting this and was gracious enough to give me the time to get my workouts in.

By the last week I was able to run 5 miles at a 7:00 pace, ruck an hour with any weight I could fit in my bag, run 4 by 400 at a consistent 70 seconds each, run 2 miles in 13:00, and ruck 16 miles without being dead tired. I could tell my legs had gotten stronger over the weeks and I could recover from high intensity exercise quickly. I felt great. I had worked hard to get myself ready and I don’t know how much more I could have done without drastically cutting out other parts of my life. On shorter running days and ab/core days I would lift weights focusing on shoulder stability movements and chest strength.

On to what I packed and what I wore. For clothing, I wore my favorite hat a Patagonia trucker hat ( I had my oldest son write the names of all the kids on my hat. I can’t tell you how many times I looked at those names when I was struggling), Reebok tech shirt, Goruck Simple Pants with belt ( they loosen up in the waist when they get worked in, many of my teammates had pants falling down their butts by the end of the event. This would be my only complaint about the pants. Other than that they are amazing and held up perfectly) , loose cotton underwear ( I had read compression shorts can be terrible when sand gets in and starts to chaff…) Darn Tough mid-calf socks, and Rocky CT4 boots size 9 ( again, more on that later).

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My pack Is a GR1 26L. I packed a 3L low profile Source bladder with upgraded mouth piece, 30lb expert ruck plate lifted by a yoga block piece in laptop compartment, Nalgene with Gatorade inside, Large dry bag containing Windbreaker from Costco ( I have had this thing for years and it is incredible. My only complaint is I should have bought two, I can’t find them anymore), An extra compression shirt from Marmot, A Reebok light sweatshirt ( I hate being cold….more on that to follow) extra pair of Darn Tough Socks, small drybag with RWB Pelican case holding ID, $20 quitter cash, headlamp, extra batteries, and small roll of gorilla tape. Food was all together in a large Ziploc bag- 3 Clif Bars, 2 packs of Beef jerky crammed into one package, one package of Gatorade brand gummy chews, and 10 individual packets of Propel powder sport drink. Final weight of pack was 47.7 lbs.

My brother was gracious enough to take a half day from work Friday and be my driver to and from the event. I live West of Toledo, OH and therefore had a 4.5 hour drive to the event start point on the NW side of Chicago, Vernon Hills. I’ll spare you the drive, due to traffic it turned into 5.5 hours… but we still made it with two hours to spare. As the team rolled into the parking lot we gathered about, used the restroom in the CrossFit gym that represented the starting point, and waited in anticipation. At 1800 Shredder and KD arrived and quickly ordered all to fall in on the concrete parking lot. After a few inspiring words from Shredder we were told to move to the grass across the parking lot for the admin. Portion. We ran, got back into formation, and were ordered to put our faces in the grass. Shredder walked amongst us speaking about D-day and the preparation that the men and women went through to be ready for that fateful day. He played a sound bite from Youtube about D-Day but I can’t remember what it was. All I know is I was pumped up and ready to work. As Shredder read your name aloud you were told to jump to your feet and begin running toward whatever land mark KD told you to go towards.

In a few moments the whole class was running all over the place back and forth from their pack to the landmark assigned. Shredder began explaining that he was watching each and every one of us and was figuring out who had prepared and who had not. I ran my tail off. I wanted to pass as many people as I could. The vets of GoRuck probably were laughing at me as I sprinted by but I didn’t care, I was here to work every movement with everything I had. Soon, we were lunging back and forth, crabwalking, and bearcrawling. The sweat was pouring and we were all breathing hard.

We returned to our packs and had inspection. It was quick and painless except for one guy who couldn’t seem to repack all of his stuff back into the bag. I turned around and tried to help him zip it up but we ran out of time and consequently paid the price with more PT. One of the teammates led a series of PT, I can’t remember all we did, and that concluded our mini welcome party. It wasn’t as long as I expected as I had heard horror stories online of hours of PT right off the bat, but we were all sweating and nice and warmed up none the less. We then moved across the parking lot to a set of landscape boulders around 50 yards long with around 5 feet in between them. In a single file line we zig zagged through the boulders in several laps rolling, bear crawling, and walking over.

We moved over to the parking lot in formation and Shredder asked for a team leader. No one volunteered for a second or two so I pushed my way through and ran up to Shredder’s side. He was unhappy with the delay in a volunteer and let me know I better get this group together quickly or it would be a long 24 hours. I was instructed to get the team to fill all of the sandbags sitting by the gym entrance and then return to formation. I don’t remember how many bags there were, probably around 12 varying from 60, 80, and two 100 lb’ers. We filled them as a team and then lined back up. A climbing rope was laid across the ground and the team stood in front of it as Shredder gave instructions. He showed the team how to tie a butterfly knot and told us to tie one knot for every two persons on the team. I was lucky enough to have had some rope training a few weeks previous for my job back home and remembered the butterfly knot well. I ran up and down the line making sure we all had our knots dressed and ready.

We then connected to the rope using our personal carabiners like a sled dog team side by side, loaded up the sand bags and began to ruck away from the starting point. I stayed disconnected from the line and walked up and down making sure that the bags were passed fairly and everyone’s needs were taken care of. I should explain that every movement has a time hack. Sometimes you are told how fast you must make it to the next objective and sometimes you aren’t. You aren’t allowed to have a watch anyway so it really doesn’t matter but it’s all designed to keep you moving with a purpose.

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We rucked maybe a mile into a park and were instructed to crawl under and over a series of picnic tables spread around a field. The catch was we were still all connected together… while dragging the sandbags with us, this was a difficult task. Also keep in mind the man eating mosquitos. Throughout essentially the entire event we were destroyed by mosquitos. They were bgtfv ad. Very bad. As we struggled to get through the picnic tables Shredder saw that this was going to take a while and decided to let us bearcrawl to the end of the field skipping over the last half of the picnic tables.

At the opposite end was a playground which we were instructed to get all people and equipment over the monkey bars, around the top of the playground set and down the other side. This again was a team building type movement stretching us strangers to form into a cohesive unit. At the conclusion of the playground it was now dark. We were given our first bathroom break and dumped the sandbags into a Jeep from one of the Shadows ( a few friends/family of some of the team members followed in certain sections taking pictures and such. They would be critical later in the event, more later.)

We reconnected to the rope and started off into the woods nearby. As we came to an intersection in the path, Shredder instructed that we would not be doing a typical PT test as most Heavy’s entail, instead, we would be doing a 10 mile ruck tied together on the rope two by two in a time hack of three hours. Individually this is not a big deal, I’m sure all of us had prepared for such a time hack, but tied together?!?! Oh man.

We assigned two of the more experienced Ruckers to pace as the lead dogs and set off. We started with a 200 step walking 100 step shuffle run rhythm. It worked well. We ironed out some kinks along the way as some dogs pulled and some were getting pulled. After a few miles we fell into a rhythm and the team began to gel. About this time is when I started to hear someone dry heaving about halfway back in the line. The first couple times I ignored it thinking they swallowed a mosquito or something but after it became more sustained and the order of “STOP!” was heard from the back, I unhooked myself and walked back to see what was up.

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One of the team had unhooked from the line and was doubled over heaving along the path. His friends who he had started with were attending to him but to no avail. He told the group he was done, he said he had done these events before and he would do them again but tonight wasn’t his night. We all pleaded with him to keep going, offers to carry his ruck while he recovered were numerous. I honestly couldn’t believe the determination of the fledgling group to get this guy to keep going. It was inspiring. Unfortunately he knew his body was done and he decided to stop. Shredder stayed with him and told the rest of us to keep going. We wished him well and kept moving.

We made it to a tunnel in the path that went under a road and this was our first stopping point. Shredder addressed the group and said we made our time hack by ten minutes. The team was pumped and hooted and hollered as the tunnel echoed. Shredder gave the group a chance to give me an AAR about my performance and I was humbled by the response of the group. They all said I did an excellent job leading and my instructions were clear and concise. I think the only negative stated was to not be afraid to be more stern, I chuckled at that one. Just not my style, but I get it. We were led by a team member in the Star Spangled Banner, which we all screamed, and Shredder bid us farewell till the morning. We refilled our water, took a short food break, and rucked up.

Cadre Doug took over and a new TL was chosen. His first instruction was to pile everyones food into one spot and that we would not be getting it back…..wait what??? He was taking our food. As this command had no sooner been spoken in the tunnel, another team member declared, “ I’m out” and quit. We were all kind of surprised and tried to talk him out of it but he grabbed his stuff and was gone up to the road before half the team knew what was going on. Now I’m not trying to dog anybody, truly I’m not. But this was the same guy I watched slam a liter of Coke right before we started. And no, I’m not making a “Super Troopers” joke, the dude had a Liter of Coca-Cola and smashed it right there in the parking lot as I laced up my boots.

We formed up into two lines and were instructed by the TL (Team Leader) that Cadre Doug had no voice from an illness and would not be speaking to us directly. All communications would be through hand signals and from our TL. We started off on the path and after an undisclosed distance approached a bridge. As we went across, a guy was leaning over the side of the bridge, in the complete darkness, and was looking into the water below. We shined our lights on the guy wondering what the heck was going on, and it was the first team member who had the stomach issues on the 10 mile ruck. He staggered back and just about fell over.

His friends ran over and started to talk to him and he was completely delirious. He didn’t know where he was or what was going on, and was completely lost. This was kinda freaky. I am guessing that Shredder had told him to follow the path back to the parking lot and was so dehydrated he took a wrong turn and got lost. We just so happened to run across him the middle of who knows where in the woods. I don’t even want to think about what would have happened had we not found him. It could have been really bad. Doug allowed his two buddies to take him back to the road and call an UBER. We continued on.

We got to a lake in the middle of a park and began to do PT in formation. After a few sets we were instructed to bearcrawl through the weeds into the water….here we go. Once in the water, we had to barrel roll, flutter kick, lock arms with the team and do squats, over and over. Then, bearcrawl back out, rinse and repeat.

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I think we were in and out of the water five times. In between each crawl through the weeds we did PT, soaking wet, sometimes in the sand. By the last time I was freezing. At the previous stop I had put on my windbreaker knowing the overnight temperature was going to be in the low 50’s. My windbreaker was now soaked, and the breeze around the lake was miserable. This went on for a few hours I am guessing, and then we took off on a path into the woods once more. We then stopped for a water break and I couldn’t stop shaking. The cold is the one thing I told my wife beforehand that would get me to think about quitting. I hate being cold. Hate it. And at that moment, I had the deep shakes of cold and wet.

This was my low point in the whole event. I looked at the moon and realized it wasn’t even midnight yet. I had so far to go. I was laying on my pack shivering, slapping mosquitos as they devoured me, miserable. As others refilled there water bladders I just sat there. I was done. I picked up my pack and prepared to walk over to Doug to quit. I took two steps and stopped. I just couldn’t do it. I wanted it to end. I wanted to go to a hotel and take a hot shower and just forget the whole thing. I hated every second in that moment. But for some reason I didn’t step any further.

Now you may not be the religious type and that’s perfectly fine with me. But I am. I had a lot of people praying for me that I would make it through this event ( you know who you are) and I firmly believe that those prayers stopped me from taking any more steps towards quitting. As I stood there my feet wouldn’t step any closer to quitting. I simply couldn’t move.

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The command to ruck up came from the TL and I swung around and got into formation. What was I doing? This sucked! We walked for awhile and returned to the lake that we had gone in and out of a few hours previous. We kneeled down as instructed by the TL and I said to the guy next to me, “Dude, if he makes us get back in the water I’m done.” Again, if you’re not religious disregard, but what happened next was an act of God. My teammate who I didn’t even know laid his hand on my shoulder and said, “ Holy Spirit, give this man the strength he needs to continue”. I still get goosebumps even thinking about it. I thanked him and realized, I had a long way to go before I was done.

We didn’t get back into the water, and the next hours throughout the night are fuzzy. I know we rucked far. We had the sandbags and myself and two other guys rotated the 100lb’er for hours upon hours. I was feeling strong, the weight on my shoulders felt good and my body began to warm back up as my clothes dried. Before we knew it the sun was coming up and we all began to have a hop in our step again. We reached an old run down baseball field as the sun was fully up and this movement was over. Doug’s portion was over and a well-rested Shredder was there awaiting our team. He was fired up and began to spit venom immediately.

“ Don’t drop my sand bags! Those are property of the United States Army!” “ Your hungry?!?! You’ve only been at this for 12 hours and your hungry!?! That’s the first thing I hear you need this morning is food??” “ You should expect to eat nothing the rest of the time and be happy with it!”

We were in trouble…

Shredder gave 10 minutes to eat, bathroom, and attend to needs. After the break we fell into formation and dropped our rucks. What a relief. Or so we thought…

 

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We ran over to a sand volleyball court and began our “Airborne” PT. Jumping Jacks, mountain climbers, flutter kicks, push-ups, bearcrawl forward, crawl-bear backward, squatting position roll left, squatting position roll right, rinse repeat rinse repeat. This is probably the most winded I was in the whole thing. I was in the front row so I didn’t see how the team was holding up but I gave it my all and tried to keep form in every movement. I held tough till the very end when my shoulders began to fail. Shredder then lined us up in a simulated airplane and we had a lesson in jumping and proper landing technique. This was fun! We all had a good laugh and our spirits were aroused once again.

From there rucked up and began another series of short group movements. All had time hacks from checkpoint to checkpoint. We were in the city by now and im sure looked pretty terrible to the passing cars. Sandbags were back and by this time team members were beginning to waiver. A few had to dump rucks to others due to exhaustion. The fresher team members stepped up and helped the weary flawlessly. It made me proud to be part of such a team that didn’t whine or complain about the strengths or weaknesses of others, they just did what was needed to get everyone through.

Miraculously we made every time hack, some included sprints at the end to make it in time, but none the less, the threat of burpees from Shredder kept us moving with a purpose. I wish I had mileages and real time blocks to better explain but with the “ no watches” rule I don’t. Oh well. You get the idea.

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We reached the shores of Lake Michigan for our invasion of Normandy Beach. I guess I forgot to mention this at the top. This event was a memorial to D-Day, the entire thing was framed masterfully by Shredder with facts about the invasion and the tremendous loss of life by the United States. He did a tremendous job making every movement mean something. Everything had a theme and purpose. We never were just working just to work. It was incredibly inspiring.

When we reached the shore, we had a speech from Shredder and began the invasion. We jumped in the water up to our waists, dragged casualties up the beach and out of the enemies fire, all while the Cadre yelled and screamed “ Enemy Fire! Man Down!” Move, Move Move!” …..it was exhausting…..and awesome. Wet, we crawled in the sand, dragged each other through the sand, and got wet some more. Tunnel of love made an appearance for my group ending into the waves crashing onto the beach. More dragging of casualties, more crawling. It was crazy.

Once we had sufficiently stormed the beach to Shredders content, we sprinted across the bluffs up and down hitting the ground and crawling every time Shredder’s whistle pierced the air. If you didn’t hit the ground fast enough, you were dead, and your teammates had to drag you through the weeds. We eventually all made it to the parking lot on the other side and were given a break. This is where the Shadow Angels, as I will now refer to them, graced us with their presents. And yes I mean presents, not just presence.  Shredder must have had a good night sleep or a nice conversation with his lady the night before because he allowed the Shadow Angels to buy us donuts and coffee. Not kidding. The whole team, covered in sand from head to toe, smashed donuts and passed around four large coffees gulping as fast as we could as we passed the cup. It was heavenly.

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As Shredder passed command to Cadre KD, he bid us farewell and said he would see us at the end. We rucked up with donuts in our bellies and caffeine pulsing through our veins and were ready to finish strong. As I stood and looked down the line of our team one guy wasn’t standing. He had ignored the command to ruck up and was sitting with his knees to his chest looking at the ground. He was pale, dry heaving, and looked downright destroyed. I asked him if he was ok, he said he wasn’t. He said he couldn’t stop shaking and was horribly cold. The team rallied around and picked up his ruck for him telling him that he didn’t need to carry it, we had it, he just needed to get up and get moving. He reluctantly agreed and stood up and started moving. This dude wasn’t giving up. I won’t lie to you he looked terrible, but he got up and put one foot in front of the other.

Maybe a half mile away from the beach we stopped by a fence and received instructions from KD. He said the next movement was a long one. 12 miles…..with the sandbags….

At this point we were smoked. The sugar from the doughnut had quickly worn off and we were sick and tired of carrying the sand bags. The guy who had gotten sick stood up and declared himself out. He knew he was sick and honestly I don’t blame him for quitting. I wish he could have kept going but he was pale, shaking, and dry heaving. He needed to be done. We tried to convince him once more to continue but he was adamant. We left him there and started the long movement. We slung the sandbags on our shoulders and formed up. Just then the Shadow Angels pulled up in their Jeep and KD ordered everyone to stop. He looked at us all and asked if we wanted to drop the sandbags. We yelled “YES!!!” with pure elation and he smiled and said in his southern twang, “Then put em in the Jeep”.

Jubilation. Pure unadulterated Jubilation.

We took off. Around 3 miles in we were given a break to eat, bathroom, and change clothes if needed. I decided at this point that it was safe to change my socks since I figured we wouldn’t be in the water anymore. Up to this point my body felt great. At times I started to have some cramps in my quads and calves but I downed Gatorade or Propel at the next stop and never had a serious problem. My feet felt great despite my wet boots and socks which was a surprise to me. When I had purchased my boots I was in-between sizes and decided to go with the smaller of the two. It hadn’t been a huge problem in my training, some small blistering on my little toe on each foot but nothing crazy. This would prove to be a rookie mistake…

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I changed my socks, shirt, and ate a bunch of my jerky and propel. I was ready to roll. We rucked up and started moving. The pace was slow but given the miles we had put in it felt like all we could handle at this point. KD told us that we had a time hack of 28 minute miles to make it to our next destination and in the first couple we were averaging 22. We felt good about that but all wondered if we could keep it up the whole time. It was about this time I noticed my feet starting to bark at me. First they felt a little cramped, then my pinky toes started to burn, then the balls of my feet began to burn. Uh oh…. I was in trouble. A few miles later I began to have an intimate knowledge of the term “hot spots” when referring to feet. Every step I took felt like stepping on a burning skillet. The entirety of my foot from mid-foot forward was on fire. I could not believe how fast it had happened. Up to that point my feet felt perfect. I hadn’t even thought about them yet that’s how good they had felt. But now, after that sock change, I was hurtin.

We rucked, and we rucked more, and we rucked some more. We were on a bike path that was essentially a straight line for miles and miles and miles. Every team member was hurting. We all had heads down looking at the ruck in front of us with feet moving back and forth back and forth. We were getting cranky too. Words had sharpened tones and the politeness of the team was left behind with every mile we covered. A few team members were breaking down fast. Their pace struggled to keep up with the team and we had to keep stopping the leaders to wait for those falling behind. A few had rucks taken for them by other team members. It was the only way they would have made it.

Up to this point, I was eager to take extra weight, jump into a rotation on a sandbag or ruck, but now, I was dead. I would take an extra ruck and a few short minutes later have to give it up because my feet hurt so badly. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t do more. A few of the strong team members in the back carried extra rucks for miles. I’m talking miles. Those guys are animals. 30+ miles in and these guys had 90 lbs. on their bodies eating up miles.

Around 5 miles from the end of the movement I felt a sharp pain on my right little toe. It had been hurting significantly more than the others recently and my first though was that the nail had just ripped off. I looked down and watched the area of my boot above that toe become wet in a silver dollar sized spot….I was sure that it was blood that had just soaked through my boot. I would only know for sure when we were all done.

We finally got the word that we were one mile away. It was a relief but also felt like the longest mile ever. The sign for Ft. Sheridan Cemetery appeared along the road next to the bike path and we hobbled across the street and entered the cemetery. Our service project, which is included in some fashion for all Heavy events, was to clean headstones in a military cemetery. We formed up in the parking lot and none other than Shredder came rolling by in his rental care blaring music from the 50’s with the windows down hollering at us as he went by. We couldn’t help but smile.

He got out of his car and was pumped up. He let us know we had beat our time hack by an hour. An entire hour! He was so pumped at our motivation and work he said we were done. Right then and there. Done. As we dropped our rucks and cheered one of the team members in the front row began to sway. He was one of the bigger guys in the group, and by bigger I mean Hulk big not overweight big. He was pale, not sweating anymore, and wild eyed. He had given all he had and literally could not stand anymore. The guys around him grabbed him as he collapsed and helped him to the ground. Two the team members were doctors and ran over. He was breathing heavy, couldn’t answer questions appropriately, and was laughing and crying all at the same time. Shredder called 911 immediately and the doctors attended to him until they arrived. We all lined up next to the cemetery entrance, giving the down man room, and waited for instruction. The squad came and he was loaded into the back. (more on that in a minute)

We went into the cemetery and with brushes and Simple Green began to wash and rinse head stones. We had to be a site to see. A bunch of dirty, sandy, rotten smelling adults, hobbling around washing headstones. But it didn’t matter to us. We looked at the names inscribed on each stone and thought about the family who loved them and had lost them. It was a sobering reminder just what we had done this whole thing for.

When we were done we rucked up and walked back over to the flag pole in the middle of the cemetery. It was time for ENDEX.

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Shredder, KD, and Doug stood in front us and congratulated us on our event. They said they were proud of how we worked together, put in the miles, and completed a very tough event. Shredder explained his conversation with the guy who was taken away in the ambulance a short while ago. He said after he got some IV fluids he perked up and was trying as hard as he could to get out of the ambulance and join us for the end. What a soldier. The guy is a beast. Come to find out he was a Marine who was one of the first men in Fallujah kicking down doors in the war. None of us knew any of this the entire event. He kept it quiet the whole time. From Shredders tear filled conversation in the back of the squad he learned that the guy had struggled with PTSD since his return and said that this group of people had changed his life. This is about the time I started to cry.

Shredder played from his phone the first news report to America that we had invaded Normandy. It was a somber moment. I don’t think I was the only one with tears flowing. The cadre walked around hugging each member and handing out patches in the classic handshake hug customary to GoRuck.

Cadre Shredder was the leader of the first event I did a few months ago. Some men are made to lead other men and God made Michael David Castillo to LEAD. I would follow that man into the depths of hell to fight. He is that inspiring. I signed up for this event solely because he was the Cadre leading it and I am so glad that I did. When he came by and shook my hand he said, “ You’re a strong leader and a strong team member, you did an outstanding job”. More tears.

Hugs and congratulations were shared by all and I hobbled to the parking lot where my brother awaited in the van. As I looked up at him he was laughing at my condition and I believe my first words to him were, “ Dude, never again.”

TAKEAWAYS:

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This has been really really long. Even so, I am sure that I missed important events and big portions of the whole thing. I did my best to remember what happened and accurately tell the story. If someone who did the event with me reads this and realizes that I am not telling part of the story accurately, please understand that this is far from intentional. If two or three of us could sit down together and write this out I am certain it would be much better and accurate. So if there are mistakes, forgive me.

With that being said, I am two days removed from ENDEX and with blisters heavily bandaged, able to walk normally. I am sore, but not too bad. My feet hurt, but they will heal.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this event since it was over. I pushed myself farther and harder for a longer period of time than I thought I could. This was by far the most grueling and exhausting physical challenge I have ever done. It was ten times harder than I thought it would be. I have such a new respect for those who complete this event and more. They are complete warriors.

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I hope that I come away from this event more mentally tough. I hope that when my kids are whining, I’m tired from being up all night at work, and I have a million things to do at my house and no time to get them done, I have a greater ability to be patient, keep my cool when I’m exhausted, and realize that everything is going to be just fine if I don’t get everything done I think I need to. For me this was a spiritual event. I pushed beyond what I thought I was capable of and I hope that leads to personal growth in other aspects of my life.

Around 24 hours after I got home I texted my brother and said, “ I think I need to do an HTL”. His response was, “ I seem to recall you saying that you would never ever do this again….”

Someday I’ll learn to stop saying never....but that day is not today.


NOTE FROM STEPHEN:

This was a guest post from a friend of mine, Ben Holt. There are a few men that you meet that you just know were born to lead, and are real men. Ben is one of those guys.

Just being around him makes you want to be better. He is humble, soft-spoken, a great Dad, and a hard worker. He does not have to try and be the man. He is the man.

The same way that he talks about shredder is the same way that others talk about him.


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Ben is a Firefighter, father, husband, and is known as "Rooster" in F3 Nation.

He is also an amazing carpenter and woodworker.


If you want to connect with Ben you can do it here: