The exercise for me where you knew this shit was #legit was when we had a long movement over rocky terrain. We had 4 hours to cover 12 miles. No sweat. Oh, we can’t talk or use headlamps. OK maybe some sweat. I swear this was only like 15 minutes into Heavy but it had to be a few hours after the start. 4 hours is a long time to be alone with your thoughts. I overheard someone mention that they were in a dark place (mentally, I’m assuming – since we were all literally in the dark) for a long ass time. Like, can’t see your arm in front of you dark at points. Not to make light of that but I didn’t get to spend too much time hating life or feeling sorry for myself since I was worried about twisting my ankle on that terrain. Eventually we climbed some gods-forsaken hill called the Hill of
Life Suck in Austin. That Hill can kiss my ass twice (we did climb it twice).
Basically, Heavy sucks hard and for a long, long time but I learned a lot about myself. Like, don’t sign up for shit like this again. It was definitely harder than a Challenge and it wasn’t just a long Challenge either. I went in with the mindset of “yeah, this class is going to be the hardest and I’ll survive it!” kind of dumb ass mentality but yeah, I was ready for this shit to stop right there at hour 19. Hour 22. Done deal. I tried. Whatever. Get me on the magic Goruck Bus and give me a ride back to the start point. No matter how much I wanted it to happen…damned bus never showed up. I don’t remember them all but I made all sorts of bargains with myself just to keep moving towards the finish line. Like, “don’t sign up for more Goruck shit when this is over” but here I am today, proving how much of a dumb ass I am.
The sleep deprivation is eye-opening and Heavy is allegedly a good gut-check for Selection….hahaha Selection yeah right. The closest I am getting to Selection is by looking at it on the website. Even then that’s a little intense. I wasn’t as physically or mentally prepared for the Austin Heavy as I should’ve been but I paid some good money and I was damned if I was going to quit on my friends. I’d certainly buy a 12 pack next time at the gas station because we were all so miserable. I don’t know if anyone would’ve drank it but at least it would’ve been cold and quick hydration. Let’s be honest – I’d have chugged some beers then.
For the entirety of this event…the only authorized rest positions were standing up, taking a knee or front-leaning rest (also cheating your ass off when Cadre isn’t looking). With that said, I managed to grab three one-minute naps when we were waiting for our next mission during the one and only time we were allowed to sit on our asses. This was when we had a guy (Jason) die but his muscles seized so hard he came back to life.
Too long didn’t read: just imagine walking far, peeing on yourself in the water and the sun beating down on you all the time (yes, even at night) but if you want greater details, sign up (because that’s the hardest part, right Eric?).
Some blah blah details for those who are interested: I was up from 0630 Friday to 0100 Sunday. That’s about as in-depth as I’d like to get.
For equipment and load-out here is what I used:
Merrell Moab Ventilators/Injinji toe socks/REI low profile socks (to look cool and to seriously not get a high sockline). My feet were fine up until around hour 19 when we got to sit down for the only time.
Ranger panties – no chafing at all, brilliant!
Dallas 280/281 technical shirt
Tac hat and a handkerchief (not gay) I tied around my neck to keep the sun off.
I brought two bladders, 100 oz and 70 oz, a 32 oz gatorade bottle and a 16oz water bottle (I filled these two up at every chance – easier to chug and get lots of fluid in you) 6 bricks, 2 vials of Nuun tablets, a bunch of S-Caps and caffeine pills. We were supposed to give those up but I would have died if I didn’t cheat. I had some a small ziplock of food but Cadre took up all the food. People seriously thought we were going to be gone for a week – we had like 30-40 pounds of food and we had to carry it as an extra team weight.
I don’t eat during Challenges as it is but I did force myself to swallow an 80 calorie yogurt thing that was probably tasty but food is the last thing on my mind when rucking. Next time (ha, never!) I just will continue to not eat. I’m fat enough (5’3 170) that I will survive. Not eating frees up a lot of time (to think about how much food you’re going to eat when it’s over). I don’t remember being hungry once…just thirsty. I could never drink enough. Again, I drank at least 5 gallons of my own water and there’s no telling how much water I drank from others. I am sweaty as hell so that’s how I monitored myself – if I started to slow down on sweating I would chug the water bottle and about 10 minutes later I’d be pouring out sweat. I pissed clear all day so that was good. I brought body glide but never used it and forgot about it until I got home and did some laundry. Ranger panties work awesome in that regard – one less piece of laundry to handle.
I don’t know if I could pack anything less but certainly next time I would put more effort into taking care of my feet. I left with some wonderful souvenir blisters but other than some wrecked feet, I feel fine. Not any worse than after my first Challenge but maybe that’s all mindset. I had one extra pair of socks and stuffed that and my pills into my Wal-Mart version of the Pelican case. I’d also tape my feet up more to try to prevent hotspots. The end result of this is having to get two of my toenails pulled while I was getting a follow up with the podiatrist for my tendinitis (note: getting toenails pulled is gross and cool as hell).
We had 4 guys drop and one was med dropped (worst cramping I’ve ever seen…and he was laughing about it!) and this picture pretty much says it all about our mindset:
When someone is dying, be sure to smile and take a picture.
For these maps…mine was from memory and a rough guess of where we were. Pretty damned close to actual map from Cadre.
Of course we always say we won’t do another one. “Nobody would be stupid enough to do that again” my dumb ass said after my first Challenge. I swore up and down during the last 8 hours of this crapfest that I’d never do another one but since it’s been a while, I really want to know if it really sucks that bad (hint: it does) so I will be doing another one if/when my tendinitis heals.