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The Trifecta

 Posted by at 1:36 pm  Fitness, Motivation  Add comments
May 022016

I can now say, I completed a 3-day endurance event!! I completed my first GORUCK HTL (Heavy, Tough, Light)!  I was one of 25 people to finish all 3 events back to back as a team.


Let me define what that means, from GORUCK’s website:

HEAVY:  24+ hours, 40+ miles.  The ultimate team event.  Average completion rate is 50%

TOUGH:  10-12 hours, 15-20 miles.  The original Challenge.  Average completion rate is 94%

LIGHT:  4-5 hours, 7-10 miles.  Fun on a team.  Average completion rate is 100%


Another difference between events is the weight requirement for your ruck during the event. You can use bricks, sandbags or metal plates for weight.


- Under 150lbs: 20lb sandbag / 4 wrapped bricks / 20lb ruck plate

- Over 150lbs: 30lb sandbag / 6 wrapped bricks / 30lb ruck plate



- Under 150lbs: 20lb sandbag / 4 wrapped bricks / 20lb ruck plate

- Over 150lbs: 30lb sandbag / 6 wrapped bricks / 30lb ruck plate



- Under 150lbs: 10lb sandbag / 2 wrapped Bricks / 10lb ruck plate

- Over 150lbs: 20lb sandbag / 4 wrapped Bricks / 20lb ruck plate


The Heavy starts on a Thursday at 5 pm and goes to 5 pm (often later) on Friday. You may get a small break to change, eat, and possibly take a nap if you’re lucky (I was not) before starting the Challenge at 9 pm.

The Tough Challenge starts at 9 pm Friday and goes until 9 am (often later) on Saturday.  Then there’s another small window to prepare for the Light which starts at 2 pm.

The Light starts at 2 pm and ends around 7 pm (often later) on Saturday.  You didn’t have to sign up for all 3 events; you could do 1 or 2 in any order. Doing all 3, you fall into a time warp and you don’t know what day it is. You hear people trying to figure out what day it is and what time it is (because we can’t wear watches and don’t get to know) but you really have no idea.  It doesn’t matter — you must keep moving and you’re not done until the Cadre tells you you’re done, so it’s best not to agonize over how long it’s been going on.

This was a memorial event to honor the people lost and to celebrate how the city has healed. There were 168 lives lost that awful day in 1995.  We each had to make a 2×3 patch with the picture of one of the victims from the bombing.  During the event, you stared at the face of someone that couldn’t be there. We each had to research that person and be able to talk about them.  I carried the picture of Danielle Nicole Bell who died when she was 15 months old; reading about her pulled at my mommy heartstrings, a tiny innocent life taken far too soon.  A life that was just starting didn’t get to grow up and experience what so many of us take for granted.  Her mom dropped her off at daycare and 30 minutes later, life changed in an instant.

As much pain I was in at times during the events, it wasn’t close to the pain the families affected 21 years ago have felt.  Therefore, you suck it up and push through.  How can we complain when we are able to be here and go home to our loved ones when we’re done?  During each event, we went to the Oklahoma City National Memorial.  Being there is emotional; tears are shed and hugs given.  The site that once was chaos and pain is now peaceful and full of love.


What exactly happens during those 3 days of GORUCK events?

Here is a summation:  PT, upper body round-robin (UBRR) test, 12-mile roach march in less than 3 ½ hours, team weights, welcome parties, sandbags, telephone pole, casualties, hunks of concrete, water jugs, pole less litter, running (well shuffling in a slightly faster pace because we were exhausted) in the heat of the day, trying to get through intersections before they turned, being tied together with a carabiner, rucked all over OKC, telephone pole, buddy carries, filling and carrying a fire hose, blisters, eating electrolyte chews until you hate them, hydrating, foot care and changing your socks a few times, team lead and assistant team lead, lots of strange looks from people you pass, walking within an arm’s link of the person in front of you, role playing & skill instruction, laughter & conversation, and American and Oklahoma state flags.  Sounds awesome doesn’t it?


At each GORUCK event there is a “Welcome Party”, which is a “smoke session,” as people like to call it, of nonstop PT including things like burpees, thrusters, pushups and lots and lots of flutter kicks. Each of the 3 events had a welcome party and each was different.  During the Heavy we were put through mud and the 4 Cadre intentionally created chaos by having us run from station to station, changing what group you’re with, doing fast repetitions, etc.  During the Challenge and the Light we used a desk of playing cards and had to do the number of reps on the exercise assigned to each suit.

At the Heavy, we were instructed to lay our rucks open on the ground so that they could check the dry weight. The standard was set to be no less than 30 pounds of weight in each ruck. One by one, the Cadre weighed our rucks. Mine weighed in just under 40 pounds.  A few people were under weight and everyone scrambled to get them up to passing weight.  We also had a scored PT test and 12 mile ruck march to complete during the Heavy.

At the Tough Challenge, there were several times during where several of us dozed off while standing or walking.  Everyone that did the Heavy the night before was feeling akin to zombies during the darkness of the overnight Tough until the sun came up which renewed our spirit and brought us back to life.  I have not gone that long without sleep before, and therefore did not know about delusions and the weird feeling that comes from that. That was one of the hardest things for me.  I tried to stay peppy and talk to people but most just were in a zone of “just keep moving” and not up for my chatter.

At the Light, we worked to learn everyone’s name on the team and had a focus on PT. Those of us that did 2 events already may have been hurting but we knew the end was in just a few hours and that really kept us going.

The descriptions above are such a tiny part of the experience. We ruck carrying a lot of heavy weight all over the city, whether items accumulated along the way or by team members being assigned as a casualty.  While I can’t tell you everything that happened, I can share that it was a weekend I won’t forget. While there are some things that are the same, each event is different. Each team is different. You should be different at every event because of what you learned from the last one.

Not everyone that started finished. There were some physical injuries that took some people out, but a large part of these events is mental.  I think most people have that moment they question themselves and their ability.  It is hard to make yourself show up to the next event after getting to sit down and relax.  You have to find your strength to be there for your team because they need you.  We pulled together when we really needed each other, a couple of times rallying to have someone stay when they were tempted to quit.


Finishing that last event was such a happy moment. Just remembering my feelings that day makes me smile.  Hugs and handshakes were thrown all over the place when the Cadre said, “You’re done.” I shook each of the 4 Cadre’s hands, gave each one a hug, and was awarded my patch. I was done! It was finally done, and I couldn’t be more happy and proud of such an amazing team.  Thank you to my friends that did the event with me and the ones that were there to help me succeed.


We do not do these challenges to get a finisher medal, to win the race, or to write a score on the wall next to today’s WOD. We do a GORUCK events to be stronger mentally and physically today than we were yesterday.

It will challenge you.  It will push you.  And those are the reasons I love it.  This Heavy, Tough and Light were my 16th, 17th, and 18th GORUCK events to complete since I took the plunge back in 2013. Yes, I love it.  I cannot wait to go out and put on my ruck again.  And who knows, maybe I’ll attempt this 3 day challenge again.


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