CrossFiters the world over, including CrossFit West’ers, have gotten together, formed teams, and entered adventure races like the Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, Spartan Race or, the more “real-world scenario”, (haha), Run For Your Life. Like running the gauntlet of challenges in Ninja Warrior, these races are all great events outside of CrossFit that allow us to express our athletic prowess and heightened fitness that we’ve worked so hard to forge, and do so in a very fun “play” like way while in an outdoor environment. While being great fun, these events are usually always about the “race” and not about building strong team dynamics.
There’s a group of former Special Forces Operators and a company called GORUCK that produce some of the very best quality rucksacks (really expensive backpacks, basically) in the world, made entirely in the USA. To test their gear, they started the “GORUCK Challenge”, bringing much of their many years of Special Forces training and experience into creating the 10+ hour long challenge. Since then, it has grown and evolved into much, much more, and now includes challenges for all levels, including a 4-5 hour “GORUCK Light”, a 24+ hour “GORUCK Heavy”, and their most demanding Challenge by far, having only a 10% expected pass rate, the 48+ hour “GORUCK Selection”, based largely on Special Operations schools (such as Special Forces Assessment and Selection).
Unlike the countless adventure races, the mission based GORUCK Challenge is most definitely a team event, never just a race. Armed with only your rucksack and how smartly you packed it, the challenge focuses on teamwork, team building, camaraderie and developing critical leadership skills the Cadre have learned while serving in the nation’s most elite units, in the world’s harshest environments. Leadership is taught and teamwork is demanded on missions spanning the best of your city as Special Operations Cadre challenges, teaches, and inspires you and your team to do more than you ever thought possible.
As Jason, GORUCK’s Founder, says; “The beauty of the Challenge is that it’s not about you, it’s about the people by your side, the individuals that become your team….The bottom line is that people, when they work together, are capable of infinitely more than they thought possible. And that’s a powerful thing to know, and even more powerful to experience.”
So why am I writing about this? Because I think the GORUCK Challenge could be a great way for focused CrossFit teams in the area to develop critical leadership skills and team unity in preparation for the rigorous demands of the CrossFit Games season, (especially if they were able, as a team, to complete the arduous 10% pass rate Selection), and all while taking the team outside of the usual grind/comfort of the gym and exposing them to a completely different environment and experience with unknown variables. It could even be a great way for Individual competitors and coaches wishing to help further strengthen their mental toughness and leadership skills to further prepare for unknown things like the Camp Pendleton events of the 2012 Games or unknown challenges that sometimes arise when in a large group setting.
I know full well that CrossFit alone helps strengthen mental toughness, doing “Team WOD’s” helps build teamwork, and group classes help forge this amazing community. Though I think it could well serve us all, both as athletes and individuals, to occasional experience developing our mental toughness, leadership skills, and teamwork in a setting outside of CrossFit, especially a setting where we have the opportunity to learn from this countries finest, our men and women of the Special Forces who serve and protect this great nation. Just as CrossFit has a very high “carryover” into all other aspects of sport and life, the GORUCK Challenges could well have carryover into CrossFit and life.
I think it’d be great to get a large group from CrossFit West and all do the Challenge together! While they offer Challenges all around the Bay Area, Pete J, (aka, “Bearded Pete”), and I are looking forward to doing the Challenge here in our hometown of Santa Cruz, June 14th. Hopefully we won’t be the only ones from CrossFit West. 🙂 Pete is already signed up and even has his GORUCK GR-1 Rucksack, (a.k.a.; “really expensive backpack”), ready to go. (Pete, have you taped your bricks yet?) Spaces are limited, so I’ll be signing up soon to secure my spot. If you can’t make June 14th, they just added another Challenge here in Santa Cruz, November 16th. (Private group Challenges are also available.)
Treasured by all who’ve earned them, those who successfully pass any of the GORUCK Challenges are awarded a corresponding Patch. A badge of honor, if you will. You can not buy one. They do not sell them. Someone who has earned one would never sell it. Like a scar from battle, it can only be earned. I am going to earn mine. I can’t think of a cooler scenario for earning a Patch than to do so along side those you train with every day, so I’m hoping to earn it with my friends and members of the CrossFit West Community. The entire experience would be SO much more awesome if I was able to to do it with a large group from CrossFit West!
Deadlift, 5×3, (+5lbs over last weeks weight)
HP clean, 5×1, (+5lbs over last week’s weight)
3 Rounds For Time:
50 Air Squats
15 Jerks 135/95