And I’m back! I was feeling a lot of negativity during and after this event so I had a difficult time writing up this AAR/recap and putting that negativity out in the universe. Obviously I made the decision to share my experience.
So this time I am going to recap the GORUCK Light event that I participated in approximately 21 hours after completing the GRH. But first after the heavy, I had my friend pick me up and we headed over to Hounddogs for a pie and beer. After that we headed back to the Heavy SP to retrieve my car. I swung by Starbucks real quick for my first cup of joe in a few weeks. I had just enough time to shower (but not wash my hair) before it was time to head out to the Challenge Start Point to shadow the welcome party. At this point, my feet were not happy. I was a little loopy. And it should be noted that when I went to replace my contacts, I never took out my left lens before putting the new one in and it took almost 10 more hours before I would realize why my vision was fuzzy.
After a night of rest and a morning of relaxation, it was time to get ready for the Light. If you want a reference, feel free to check out my previous GRL recap here. Now the Light events can range from shorten Challenges (or quartered Heavys) to a down-right party with a ruck. For Special Event Lights, the theme tends to be fun as in celebration, but this was Honor the Fallen. This was Memorial Day, and fun is not how you honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Before Roll Call and the Safety Brief, we were told to run through the fountains near the Start Point. Then again. And now low crawl. Okay we were wet enough finally. Once our names were called we were given a point to run to and back to our rucks continuously until given a new task. Because I had chosen to complete the HZL instead of the HCL/HTL, Cadre decided to have fun with me. First they dumped my ruck, and then I had to run to all four (4) points. Then it was crab walk. Then every one back to their rucks, grab hydration source and to a point. And back again. Too slow. Next grab your ID. To the point. Back to your ruck, grab your weight. Back to the point. Now repack your rucks. Too slow.
When it was finally enough, the individuals who hadn’t already participated in either the Heavy or the Challenge were instructed to move to the U-Haul to begin gathering our coupons. And eventually it was time for us to get on with our first movement.
When I first began participating in GORUCK events in 2014, Cadre would spend more time on “Safety” and include basic military concepts (ie ranks vs columns, what dress it up/keep it tight means, fall in, etc). But as the events have grown, I’ve seen Cadre rely more heavily on the GRTs (GORUCK Tough, or individuals who have completed a GORUCK event) for educating their teammates on these concepts. While this is a common practice in the military, if you have a GRT who was never given the proper instruction, how can you expect them to give (or even know to give) the instruction to their new teammates?!? Think of it like this, my first Light Class was 502 and two and a half years later this class was 1547. I think this is one of the reasons why during Light events, you don’t always get that “team” feeling, and instead its a bunch of individuals doing their own thing. Besides, it’s only 4-6 hours to build your team, which often isn’t enough time.
The Cadre picked newbies the entire event to be our Team Leaders for each movement. Despite sometimes rocky instruction from our Team Leaders, we were still successful. We moved from Bicentennial Park to Greenlawn Cemetery. During one of the one particular movement, the Cadre determined that our two apparatuses that we built during the Heavy would only be carried by women. Communication was really lacking during this movement but somehow we pulled it off. I didn’t rotate off from under the weight enough because there weren’t a lot of women to rotate, and I was definitely feeling this short time under weight on my feet. Once we arrived at Greenlawn, the Cadre allowed us time to share our stories of those we carried with us. Soon we were back on the road. During our last stop, Cadre put the HTL teammates under one apparatus and told them to lead the way. I put myself in between them and the rest of the team to offer my encouragement to my Heavy teammates. They definitely pushed the pace the last mile, and there was significant space between the HTL crew and the Light crew. Cadre directed us into a gravel parking lot. We did some PT, hung out, more PT, some more hanging out, putting weight away in the U-Haul, and finally receiving our patches. To illuminate the lack of “team” achieved by this event, we did not get a team picture because people left immediately after the patching. We had approximately a half mile to walk to our cars/SP. And I was a little annoyed because it was clear we only endexed at the gravel lot because HQ had given the Cadre a time-limit for the event. I don’t mind ending at a different point than the start, if there is a freaking reason, but when it’s an arbitrary let’s end here to end here, it kind of pisses me off. Not everyone has access to someone to pick them up, or can afford money for a cab (even though we are required to carry cash with us), PLUS we had bags of canned goods for our service project that we somehow had to get back to near the Start Point to drop off.
Moving on with the AAR.
What was supposed to happen: “lighter vibe, lighter loads and less time commitment, which means more time to party with your class after you’re done. ”
What did happen: None of the above. The vibe was not lighter, but it was an Honor the Fallen event. The loads were very similar to the Challenge. I don’t know how many people hung around after to party.
What can improve: I understand that it was an Honor the Fallen event, so “fun” and “celebrating” wasn’t to be had, but maybe we could have done that to celebrate the lives lived by the Fallen.
What we should sustain: I loved the planned out route. The Cadre had a lot of purpose behind what they did.
Final thoughts, we covered approximately 7.5 miles in roughly 6.5 hours. I was pretty bitter over the lack of teamwork and communication. I was also not happy with the feeling that this was more of a mini-Challenge instead of a Light. But this could be a result of the fact that I’m slowly growing over GORUCK events in general. Like everything, they served there purpose in my life and I grew immensely from them. I was impressed with my performance during the Heavy event, and that I survived the Light. I had almost a year off between GORUCK Heavy events, so maybe in another year I’ll be in the mood to come back from retirement.