Bert has said that the hardest part of the HCL was showing up to the Challenge and he was right, I think. He didn’t mention PT or cardio but I guess that was assumed. I wasn’t worried about the Challenge as much as I should have been (or any event if someone is keeping count) and it bit me in the ass. I don’t worry about nutrition ever because I think that shit’s overrated but uh…maybe it’s time to reevaluate my life.
The Challenge started a good 40KM away from the Heavy start point. Our start point was the Utah Beach Memorial and it’s windy and cold as fuck. I am hoping that Jason doesn’t show up so I can wear some pants instead of dumb ranger panties but that bitch rolls up right before we kick off so I have to strip down. I’m keeping my wool sweater on though (might’ve been the deal breaker in hindsight) because fuck him, non-pants wearing bastard.
We roll 150m out to the beach and then have to roll back to the entrance so we can listen to a WWII vet talk about landing on Utah Beach. I only mention that because it involved cardio and that is my main (of many) weakness. Kind of hard to hear him but what I did hear was cool as hell. Again, “take a knee” means I quit taking a knee ASAP and sit on my ass.
After that we roll back to Utah and listen to Aaron and Dan educate us. Just as good the second time around. While we’re doing this we see the cadre running up and down the hills behind us and we get to do GORUCK Nasty Atlantic! Not as exciting as actual GORUCK Nasty as there aren’t any monkey bars for me to fall off of *cough* but we do get to low crawl for-fucking-ever and Dan spots some barbwire sticking out of the ground and says “hey don’t crawl on this” and six people proceed to ignore him and crawl on it so he makes us get up when we get there and walk out.
We form up ready for our next task and cadre ask for two people to be in charge of sandbags so John Steel (Sex Appeal) and I volunteer to be in charge of sandbags but they say “OK Team Leaders” and we try to back out of it but they were like “lol gtfoh TLs” so we were tasked with getting fourteen (14) sandbags filled up with a minimum of 40lbs and to get the team moving to St. Marie Du Mont. We get them rolling and John is pushing a difficult pace and this route is uphill both ways in the snow. We have 75 minutes to go 6 klicks and after making the first mile I convince John to give ’em a two minute walking break and I made so many friends from that. More walking and more hills and we make our time hack by five minutes. We learn some history and I’m just trying to not freeze my ass off and am unsuccessful.
Our next movement is a long, six mile hump and here is where shit gets real for me. Having not eaten a lot previously and just relying on willpower, I burn out. Better to burn out than to fade away, right? Fuck no. At least with fading away you have a sense that it is coming to an end. I hit the wall hard and couldn’t breathe, couldn’t carry shit and basically couldn’t get right. Jason was my battle buddy and no shit he gave me the weight and I had to give it right back. I was hurting in a bad way and he was there to save me aka give me food and tell me to suck it up #bffs 😍😍😍
I ate some food and Continued Mission/Charlie Miked and took off my sweater to cool down. This provided some respite. I was burning up and walking with my shirt raised, exposing my lily white belly for all of Normandy to see. At one point during this movement to Chef du Pont I rolled my ankle (first time in nearly two years) and as I was falling, I saw what I thought was a pile of dog shit and thought “damn it I’m going to break my ankle AND land in dog shit!” so I tactically rolled and lay down on the ground like a little bitch. Actually, the biggest bitch. I thought, no, hoped, I had broken my ankle so that this dumbness would be over. Alas, it was not meant to be. As a seasoned veteran of the weak ankle/flat feet club I am quite familiar with rolling my ankles. I have a pretty good idea of how bad it will be immediately after and right after I fell down, knew it wasn’t broken but I contemplated quitting.
That’s a new low for me. I always talk about quitting events during roll call, Welcome Party, first – last movements, taking a knee or pretty much the whole event but I have never seriously considered it. It’s fun to say and think about – similar to “what would you do with a million dollars?” “/Two chicks at the same time.” Not sure I like where I took that mentally but uh…Charlie Mike!!!
Ranger Jason comes over and asks what the problem is. People tell him I rolled my ankle and he says, with a hint of disgust in his voice, “Get up!” and that’s that. I’m up, ankle is a little tender but basically won’t slow me down because at my current speed you can’t be slowed down as you would be traveling backward through time if you got any slower.
Around this time we put my new friend Annie “HCL with two stress fractures” Bright on the litter and she starts to hate life. Don’t know what she did to think this was a good idea but her HCL was definitely more difficult than mine. You never know what someone is going through during their event so you most of the time you judge from afar but sometimes (most) you should ask them, too.
edit: Forgot to mention that she fought vehemently to not be put on the stretcher. She said that part was worse than the stress fractures.
Eventually the food and no-sweater fixed me so the Challenge class got an upgrade – I went from being little bitch Bee to just fat Bee and I was ready to rock. From Chef du Pont we head over to capture a bridge over the river Merderet and t’s all up hill. Normandy is hilly as hell it seems that after every hill is a bigger hill behind it. We arrive at the bridge and use the sandbags (demo) we’ve been carrying and long, thin wooden pole (BRING OUT THE BANGALORES) to capture/explode it.
Our TL for this mission had intel to send us over a hill but it turns out it was bad intel so we have to reroute and head back to the bridge. We send a team up to the bridge to blow it with a bangalore (like in Saving Private Ryan!) and after theirs go BOOM, we send the rest of the team up to blow the bridge with lots of C4 (sandbags). After it’s all in place, the team regroups and we make a defensive perimeter and ignite the charges. Then we pick up all the sandbags and fuck me there are only thirteen (13) so it seems we are missing one. Either it was misplaced or it wasn’t there to begin with. That’s on me. I was TL at that time and didn’t verify if we had them all or not. (I don’t remember if it was before or after the bridge demo but we learned about Iron Mike and Paratroopers being bad asses. So much history and I’m annoyed that I can’t remember it all.) Surprisingly we didn’t get smoked and our next task was to head to Sainte Mere Eglise.
Sainte Mere Eglise is the site where the paratrooper John Steele landed on the church, got stuck and had to play dead for a couple of hours before they realized he was alive and they captured him. He ends up escaping and delivers valuable intel to the Army.
So we’re walking back down the same route we came in on and I’m thinking it’s going to be an easy downhill but I shit you not it was uphill again. It was like uphill both ways. I was not happy. Definitely going to write to HQ about that one.
We arrive on site, form up in a circle and we get to do PT when Dan starts quizzing us on things we should have learned and this doesn’t go well. At one point early on he asks us what infantry division landed on Utah Beach (4th ID) and no shit there are Soldiers from the 4th ID watching us saying “Let me help you out!” and they start flashing their patches at us but we ain’t in the Army so we don’t know what it means. I knew 3/12 questions posed that day. We get patched up and everyone heads out to get changed for the Light.
Note: sandbags in Europe are like sandbags in the US – shitty and heavy.