GORUCK Challenge Class 800, Richmond VA 2013 | AAR

Editor's note: This article was originally published in October 2013 and has been updated in September 2022 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.    

The Hardest Thing To Do Is Sign Up!

I had been looking for an endurance type of event to give myself a goal to work toward. Something that was going to be physically challenging and that would push me to my limits. I wasn't interested in mud runs or obstacle course types of events. I was looking for something with more purpose. What that meant I had no idea.

I soon found an event called GORUCK Challenge, and that was what I was looking for. What's a GORUCK Challenge? Well, it's just best that you go here. Because that is where I started. The challenge is not a race but a team event. The challenge is led by a current and former Special Operations Cadre. Their job is to test your limits and push you past those limits. The cadre takes a class of individuals and turns them into a team while building a bridge between the civilian and military worlds. 

One of the interesting aspects of a GORUCK Challenge is the event course is unknown. The cadre will only provide a starting point in the host city the week of the event. This is a good thing because part of not knowing the course adds to the mental stress of the event. The GORUCK Challenge is designed to be both mentally and physically challenging. Plan for the event to last 10-12 hours with a course distance of 15-20 miles. For any type of special operations training, 90% of it is metal, and 10% is physical. GORUCK calls the physical part "Good Living."

I had plans to do the event with my stepson. He had just finished his commitment with the Marines.  As it turned out he couldn't make it. Since I couldn't find someone else to go with me. I signed up to go at it on my own. Do the challenge with a buddy. You will walk away with a stronger bond and friendship. If you are going to the event solo, then you will have a team of friends for life. 

GORUCK Tough Class 800
My Loadout for the GORUCK Tough.

Let's talk about gear. GORUCK provides a required gear list for each event. You don't have to purchase a GORUCK pack to do this event. If you have a military type of day pack it will be fine. I used what I had on hand. 

Oh, I almost forgot the most important piece of gear of all bricks! If you weigh in under 150lbs you will carry 4 bricks. If you happen to weigh 150 lbs plus, then you have to carry 6 bricks. I didn't weigh my pack because I had to carry 6 bricks plus water and everything else that I listed. If I had to guess my pack weight of 45-47lbs.

The only item that I carried and didn't use was socks. Even though I had placed the socks in a zip-lock bag they still ended up wet. I don't think there is a Challenge event in that you will not get wet. So plan accordingly!

Pro Tip: To help protect and keep things dry. I suggest using a 4-liter dry bag instead of a zip-lock bag. To protect your cell phone use a small Pelican case. As for gloves, I think the most important aspect is to have a pair that fits like a second skin. I use and have had good results with Mechanix The Original® tactical gloves.

After starting the GORUCK Challenge with 17 individuals. Class 800 finished as a team 9 hours and 26 minutes after we started. I am sure that this event challenged us in different ways. People learned that they can push past their limits and at times they have to pull from the strength of others. 

I feel that I came away with something different than most. One of the points that we stopped at during the night was the Virginia War Memorial. This was purposely placed in the course to help bridge the gap between the civilian and military worlds. For us to individually reflect on the sacrifices that had been made by those American names that were on the wall. I remember at this point, the night air became cool and crisp. The sounds of the city became still as we took time to read the names on the glass walls of the memorial. I was looking for the name Staff Sergeant Darryl Booker a friend of mine who was killed in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom. While I couldn't find his name on the wall that night. I knew he was there with me if only in spirit. A powerful emotion came over me I knew that I needed to live my life to the fullest since he was not able to live his. I hope I have not let him down.

GORUCK Tough Class 800 Richmond Virginia
Group photo of Class 800 in front of the Virginia State Capitol

Now It's Your Turn-
Have you done a GORUCK Challenge or another GORUCK event? I would like to hear about your experience. Do you have other gear tips?


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