GORUCK Star Course Washington D.C. 2019 || AAR

The culminating navigation exercise for Special Forces Selection is the Star Course. Ruck with weight over distance, and time to different waypoints. Meet this standard and you pass! The GORUCK Star Course is based on the Specials Forces culminating exercise.

GORUCK Star Course DC completed!

GORUCK gives you three options, 12-miles within 5 hours, 26.2- miles within 11 hours, and 50-miles within 20 hours. Your ruck must have a dry weight (this is before water) of 10lbs if you weigh under 150lbs and 20lbs if you weigh over 150lbs. Your team of 2 to 5 persons shows up at the start point and is provided waypoints, or "hit list". Your team must plan its route through your host city. This is where some strategy comes into play. Expect at least one long movement taking you to the outskirts of the city. Sounds simple and fun right?

I signed up as a 2 person team for the 26.2-mile course in Washington D.C. and figured it would be cool to ruck D.C. and see the sites.

We showed up at our starting point, got checked in, and had our packs checked to ensure we met the weight requirement. Once we completed that task, the cadre called for some active-duty members along with first responders to come up to the front. We held an American flag, and the National Anthem was played.

 A few days before the event, we were emailed some information. In that email, there was a suggested list of navigation apps. I downloaded one of those apps. The issue with the app I selected was you could only enter the location by Lat/Long. We were given a list of waypoints, or what was called a "hit list". That list used addresses, and we had to switch to Google Maps to enter our waypoints.

Just to highlight some of the waypoints that we were given. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Women In Military Service For America Memorial, The Exorcist Steps (featured in the film), Winston Churchill Memorial, and Titanic Memorial. While I have been to D.C. many times, I had no idea that these memorials or attractions existed. That's one of the things that made this event fun.

Between the 50, 26, and 12-mile options there were 600 participants. Because of teams selecting different routes, you would have never known that many people were taking part in the Star Course.

Lessons Learned:  

In a place like D.C. just use Google Maps as your map app. Just be careful that when you use Google Voice the address that it gives you is the address that you said. Double-check that you have ALL the addresses entered correctly! We had one issue with this, and it put us in the wrong place and cost us miles and time. Know how to save places in Google Maps. This will make your saved place list. You need to really think about your route choice.

Delete the waypoints as you go and check them off your sheet. Your sheet will be out of order, and this will make it easier to track what you have or have not done. Also, be sure that you are using walking directions. This will get you to your waypoint the fastest. You will need some type of spare battery or battery bank for your phone. Trust me you will need it!

There is always some type of event or protest taking place in Washington D.C. it will be helpful that you know what events are taking place and what streets might be closed because of the event. While you start off the course, there will not be many people out and about. This will change around 1030-1100 and be that way for most of the day. Because of this, plan your route wisely.

At the finish, my pack weighed in at 32lbs. I would guess with food and water plus the other gear I had, the start weight would have been around 40lbs. Do yourself a favor and get your base weight as close to the required 10 or 20 lbs. My pack started off 6 lbs heavier than it needed to be.

You need to train for this event! It seems simple to be able to put one foot in front of another and cover the required distance. But with the stress of the weight, distance, and time that task becomes a little more difficult. Working up to the event and ruck as much mileage as you can get in. A long ruck might be 7-12 miles and that's great! Things start to blister up or dig into you that didn't happen on your training rucks. Just be prepared that you will have to treat those issues.

As the day goes on your brain is going to stop working. This is going to cost you time when you didn't read what you needed in the picture that you sent in for your check-in. Take the time to read the waypoint description.

The start point and the endpoint are not the same places. You need to figure out your logistics for this issue. The last thing you want to do is walk two miles back to your car after the event.

Personal Highlights:

I have never carried a ruck over this distance before. So I can check that off my list! While on our way to the Women In Military Service For Americal Memorial, someone calls out "Hey 1SG". It happens to be a Soldier from my Battalion. That was cool to run into him! The task at the WWII Memorial was to take a picture in front of the stars on the Wall of Freedom. Each star is for a hundred service members killed in action.  Well, we didn't do that. We took our picture with a WWII hero and shared it during his visit to the memorial. I can't tell you how much of an honor that was.


GORUCK Star Course WWII Memorial
 

NOTE: 

You can pick up supplies (food and water) as you go or you can have a supply drop. But no one can help you move from one point to another. The only movement is rucking! If you have a supply drop and have more food and drink than you need, make friends and share with another team!

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