Last week I did a leg of the Ruck Across America (RAA), the grassroots fundraiser organized by alumni of the GoRuck Challenge. The pack started it’s journey on June 22 in Coronado, went north to Seattle, traveled across the country to Maine, then all the way down the east coast until it finally reached South Florida. By the time it reached me it was very stinky and filled with various knick knacks from around the country. There was a beanie baby reindeer and a bottle of Fireball. Despite the stink, it was a pleasure to carry.
What I liked about the RAA was the chance to spend a day hiking a section of the coast I had never visited. The most I’ve ever hiked in a single day is 20 miles, if you don’t count the GoRuck Challenge as a hike, which you shouldn’t. My crew opted to walk at a brisk pace, about 17′ miles. Leisurely compared to the GRC, but still aggressive enough that it was tiring. I thought the RAA backpack weighed about 20 pounds, but I wasn’t sure. It felt light but it burdens you just enough to wear you out, especially by the end.
In my previous post I gave an overview of Kokoro Camp 25. In this post I’ll review what I did to train and offer some ideas for anyone considering Kokoro.
Personal Fitness Standards
Coach Divine recently updated the fitness standards for Kokoro and they are the following:
- Minimum 50 push ups (40 for women), 50 sit-ups and 50 air squats in 2 minutes each.
- 10 dead hang pullups for men, 6 women
- 1 mile run in boots and utility pants on road in 9:30
- Body Armor (aka Murph) with 20# pack (15# for women): 1 hour and 10 minutes minimum
- 10 mile run in less than 1:20 (recommended)
- 20 mile ruck hike with load in less than 6 hours (recommended)
This is me speculating, but I think because of the growing popularity of Kokoro Camp, Coach Divine is putting a renewed emphasis on the basic skills of running, rucking, and body weight PT to make sure attendees have those skills.
If you’re a GoRuck fan (aka “Rucktard”) and you haven’t heard about it, the Ruck Across America unofficially kicks off tonight in Coronado, California. I say unofficially because there is absolutely nothing official about this grassroots epic.
What is it? The GoRuck Challenge, which I’ve blogged about extensively, is a military-style multi-hour team challenge where participants run/hike with a backpack full of bricks. There are 2000+ GRC alumni as of today, with more getting added every weekend. I’ve participated in three GRCs myself and I’m a big fan.
The Ruck Across America is a relay by GRC alumni where a single GoRuck GR1 will make it’s way across the United States. On foot. With bricks. It’s estimated to be about a
10 8 month odyssey (end point is Fort Carson, Colorado in February 2013) and the participants are communicating via Facebook and cell phone to coordinate this human centipede of a relay. There is NO website. There is NO organizing body. There are NO entry fees. There are NO requirements. The whole thing started as a Facebook meme and exploded into an actual event that is happening now. You simply have to have a desire to carry a backpack full of bricks, on foot, for around 30 miles, somewhere in the United States.
I did my third GoRuck Challenge over the weekend, Class 172 in Orlando. Originally I wasn’t going to participate because my left achilles is still jacked up, but I had a handful of friends register and they inspired me to jump in.
The starting point was the amphitheater at Lake Eola, a short walk from my house. One of my favorite parts of the whole deal was limping back home with my pals after it was done and soaking in the glory of the day and bitching about the experience.
I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon about GoRuck. While they’re happening, they completely suck and I swear I’ll never do another one. Shortly afterwards, I remember the event with extreme fondness and the memory of the experience grows and grows. Just a few days later, I’m thinking about when to do the next one. It’s like Inception where you can’t tell reality from the dream. By Thursday, I was telling everyone what a blast it was and everyone should sign up.
I did my second GoRuck Challenge over the weekend. It was every bit as challenging and unique as the St. Augustine 007, my first GRC, last December.
The Tampa Challenge — Class 083 — met at 0100 hours at Ballast Point Park, just north of MacDill Air Force Base. We started off with 25 members and finished with all but one. Cadre leader was Brian Richardson, a former Green Beret medic and all around badass. The total journey was about 27 miles, with 21 miles of rucking and a 6 mile truck ride! Finish time was around 1430.
Our team weight was an ammo box filled with coins and a bottle of rum. Individual weight was either 4 or 6 bricks, depending on your body weight, which was a change from past challenges. My pack at the beginning of the event weighed about 45 lbs.
Think GoRuck Challenge is just for the guys? Lauren O’Leary is hear to tell you otherwise. Nicknamed “Scrappy” for her toughness, Lauren recently completed GRC Boston. Standing at 5’0 and weighing 115#, Lauren had mostly globo gym, distance running, and recent CrossFit experience prior to signing up for GRC. Lauren was the only female athlete to participate in Class 029 and she nailed it with flying colors. Keep in mind, these guys and gals are rucking 30-40 lbs for 10-13 hours and doing hours of bear crawls, pushups, and carrying heavy “coupons.”
In this interview, we talk about her decision to sign up for the Challenge, what her experience was like, and her past and present training. Lauren is a member of CrossFit Fenway and is planning on attending GoRuck NYC on 9/11.
Ladies, sign up and earn your Tough patches. Video interview after the jump…
Here’s a description of MetroDash from their site:
“…We combined 30 elements into one insane obstacle course that will surely push your physical and mental limits…The Metro Dash course is set up in an area the size of an NFL football field. Competitors will sprint a total of about 600 meters while climbing, crawling, jumping, swinging, and scaling their way through 30 challenging obstacles. The fastest time wins.”
Here’s a quick training post for those guys and gals preparing to rock out a GoRuck Challenge. In one of my past posts I recommended strengthening hips, knees, and legs in preparation for handling the loads of GoRuck, which is a crapload of running with a weighted pack. If you’ve never run with weight on your back before, you’re in for a surprise, because the weight does weird things to your body. Expect extra stress on your joints, your stride going to hell, and quicker muscular fatigue.
Here are two workouts you can try together or separately that will go a long ways towards forging those Robocop legs you’ll need.
Over the weekend I had the pleasure of interviewing Todd Garrett, a recent veteran of the San Diego GoRuck Challenge, class 033. Todd is 46 years old and lives in Los Angeles. He’s normally a marathon runner and can do a 3:40-3:50 marathon while training 30 – 35 miles per week. I connected with Todd after he found my initial GoRuck review and inquired about training and the overall difficulty level of the Challenge.
I often get emails from guys who are wondering the same thing, so I’m hoping this interview will shed some light on the endeavor and encourage more guys and gals to sack up and drink the GoRuck kool-aid. I remember I was in the same position…I was curious and wanted the hardcore experience, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to handle the physical punishment of carrying weight a marathon distance, so I dilly dallied for a while before finally being talked into signing up.
I plan on participating in the Tampa GoRuck Challenge the weekend of November 19. To see the exact Challenge dates, go here. Prior to GoRuck, I’m also signed up for the Megatransect ultrahike on October 1. Never heard of Megatransect? Neither had I until recently. Mega is a 26 mile run/walk/hike/crawl over Eagle Mountain in Central Pennsylvania, limited to 850 entrants. My batshit crazy friends, the same ones who roped me into GoRuck, got me to sign up for Mega. We’ll be rocking it with our GoRuck packs and hats.