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053119 GORUCK "Detroit" Heavy After Action Report (AAR)

053119 GORUCK "Detroit" Heavy After Action Report (AAR)

I completed the GORUCK "Detroit" Heavy 24 hour event which started on 053119. This is my after action report (AAR).  The reason I have "Detroit" in quotes is that the event actually was held about an hour west of Detroit at the DTE Trails which is only about 15 min. from my house. Below are two videos which I recorded as AARs as well.

053119 "Detroit" GORUCK Heavy AAR Part 1 Video

In this second video I talk about my gear and nutrition:

053119 GORUCK Heavy AAR Part 2: Gear and Nutrition Video

I signed up for this event and another Heavy in July in Columbus in November. I had originally planned to complete the HTL (the Heavy 24 hour, Tough 12 hour and Light 6 hour which was actually in downtown Detroit).  Everything felt good except my feet after the Heavy event, however, since I was so close to home and there were over 4 hours wait between the Heavy and the Tough I wimped out and "just" completed the Heavy.  We had one member of our 10 person team a beast (although you would never know it just from looking at him which is one of the great things about these events in that many to "look" the part are the weakest and those who you would never know are that strong from looking at them are the strongest) from Ontario Canada completed the entire HTL!

The event was originally SUPPOSED to be held at the Pinckney Recreation Area a few miles from where we ended up. This area is larger and has a nice lake right at the park. However, GORUCK did not secure the required overnight pass required to be in the park after dark.  The Michigan Park Service only grants one over night pass per group per day and ironically, the pass was secured by the "Midwest Suck" group, which was also doing a GORUCK like event that day / evening. So our cadre Mike Pog and cadre Pike, both special forces Marines, cadre Pike is retired and cadre Pog is still serving on active duty) improvised on the fly and we all drove around looking for another location for about an hour. We finally ended up at the DTE mountain bike trails off of Cassidy road a few miles a way and had to "hide" from the park rangers so that we would not be ticketed. We did end up leaving our vehicles at the park over night and thankfully were not ticketed. We were also allowed to access our vehicles several times during the event which made things easier. I had several coolers full of food and recovery drinks and it was nice to break into those at about the 12 hour mark, however, I do feel that we had it a little easier than if things would have been as originally planned for the event.  That's in NO WAY to say it was EASY, just perhaps a little EASIER.  Although because it was my first Heavy event I have no way of knowing. I had done about six 12 hour "Tough" GORUCK events and a "Light" prior to this one so I had some feeling as to what to expect.   

I own a CrossFit facility and regularly do CrossFit classes and had been doing the Mountain Tactical Selection training program for about five months prior to the event. Lots of pushups, situps, benching, running and rucking. I used a 45 lb. plate on most of my rucks and went up to 60 lbs. in total ruck weight in my training. With the exception of getting severe hot spots on the balls of my feet during long rucks I felt that my preparation and training served me VERY well during the event!  The thought of quitting never entered my mind and I felt my PT was very strong during the entire event.

We started and MORE IMPORTANTLY ENDED with 10 participants. There was a group from Toledo. One member definitely was thinking about quitting very early on and the team kept him in the game for the duration, which was awesome!

We started out at around 7PM after all the "civilians" had left the park we found, with a "Navy Diver's" PT test which consisted of 2 min of pushups, situps,  3 count flutter kicks, something with a girls name where we laid  on our backs similar to a flutter kick and widened our feet with straight legs and then brought them together in 3 counts for about 20 reps. I was probably the oldest participant there at age 53 and was surprised that I could keep up with the younger guns and actually came in first on several of the movements. The cadre wrote down our reps in a book but I'm not sure what they did with that. They did not do anything or berate anyone who could not successfully complete the PT standards as long as they were trying. 

We then went for a 5 mile run which several team members had an issue with. I believe I came in around the middle of the pack.

We then put on our rucks and picked up our coupons, which consisted of several 30-50lb gravel bags, water jugs and a fire hose filled with sand which quickly became solid and really SUCKED TO CARRY!  All but perhaps two of the team were also carrying a coupon at any given time which SUCKED!  Cadre Pike led us around the trails in the woods for several hours well into the dark. I was picked as one of the first 2 team leaders and felt I did a decent job of leading my team.

Cadre Pike gave us what I felt was many ample 5 - 10 minutes of rest on the trail. My feet started getting the usual hot spots on the bottoms at about 2 miles into the ruck since we also had already run 5 miles.  It is like walking on glass with every step but the somewhat frequent breaks definitely helped with that.  As long as my feet get a rest I can gut it out until the next rest.  It was awesome lying on the trail at night, tired, in complete silence!  We used minimal light during the rucks at night which was a significant challenge! 

We then did team PT of synchronized lunges (with no rucks) more pushups and flutter kicks, team push ups in a circle with each other's legs on our shoulders and then the two lightest members of our team were turned into human "logs" and we did some group log PT of holding them over our heads for a specific count and then situps. That was CHALLENGING!

We then came back to the start after rucking for several hours and Cadre Pog took over at around 1:30AM?  Then cadre Pog took us on another ruck through the dark trails until the sun came up. He moved much faster than cadre Pike and we had much fewer rest periods and could use only two head lamps with the red light. He also made us take the reflectors off the backs of our rucks so it was very difficult to see the person in front of you and hard to keep up at the pace he was walking! I did not wear my glasses and there were times when I couldn't tell if it was a team member or a tree in front of me. We all got into a swamp up to our hips and got our boots and feet completely soaked.

We got back to our start point (which was by the parking lot of the park) in the early morning after the sun had come up we and did a Tabata (8 rounds of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest) ruck workout with Cadre Pog (he did it with us which was awesome). Cadre Pog then took us on about a 2 mile ruck run and made us low crawl through a huge mud puddle in the middle of the dirt road (this was right after I had changed out of my wet socks and shirt) and then do the "Tunnel of Love" back through the puddle and then do flutter kicks in the puddle. We were completely soaked and covered in mud after that. It was AWESOME!  We then did a ruck run back to the start and I was able to keep up with the cadre and came in first in that event.

We started the 12 mile ruck at around 10:30AM. Eight team members took off together and I stayed behind with our team member who was struggling because it is a TEAM event and that is a LONG way to walk by yourself and he may not have made it. This was fine with me anyway since my feet were on fire and I couldn't go much faster anyway.  It was good to be together. However, we lost the other eight team members who were way ahead of us and took a wrong turn and ended up coming back BEFORE everyone else! THAT SUCKED! Cadre Pike then made us to pushups, 3 count flutter kicks and other PT as a penalty for NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO DETAIL AND SHORT CUTTING THE 12 mile ruck. We definitely did at least 10 miles though. 

The weather was very good. About 80 degrees and hot when we started but it cooled off quickly but wasn't too cold.  There was a storm coming in all night because we could see the lightning flashes in the sky but it didn't get to our area until the end.  THE MOSQUITOES HOWEVER WERE RELENTLESS FOR THE ENTIRE EVENT which made things interesting. Every time we would rest all you wanted to do was get a little sleep but you would have the mosquitoes buzzing in your ear the entire time! When I did shut my eyes for a minute I would immediately go into a deep dream and not even know where I was. That was very interesting!

After the 12 mile ruck (the rest of the team came in at about 3 - 3.5 hours) we got to go to our vehicles for a break I ate an apple, a banana, some Rx protein bars and drank two Kill Cliff Recovery drinks, which was awesome! The sun was out and I felt rejuvenated.  It's amazing how little things like that make you feel so great when you are tired! Then cadre Pike took us on another ruck. It started to rain but it didn't last long. People were seriously hurting at this point and digging deep to finish this. Every step hurt!  We were moving very slowly.

When we got back to the start point at the park we did more PT individually and in a group after which we received our GORUCK event patches at approximately 16:30.  So from start to finish it was about 22.5 hours.  I had been up since about 4AM the previous morning.  I tried to get a nap a few hours before the event and maybe got one hour of fitful sleep!  So I had been up for a long time but didn't really feel as bad as I would have thought. Perhaps it was all the caffeine pills I had had. So I was happy about that.  I went home and slept until about 10PM and felt pretty good when I got up and I recovered nicely over the next few days.  I didn't feel too beat up!  I did wear knee sleeves which definitely helped in the PT and low crawls but the back of my knees were rubbed raw and my hips were also very chafed from my ruck waist strap so I will definitely use some "Body Glide" in these parts the next time.  However, these were not that terrible and I barely noticed these "injuries" during the event but that could have been due to my feet hurting WAY more than anything else!  Other than that I was VERY HAPPY for how well my body held up and recovered after the event. I have done other events where I feel like I got hit by a truck for several days after, and while I definitely felt it for a few days it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be!

Throughout the event the cadre shared important lessons regarding D-Day, which the event was in honor of, and the sacrifices of the men who participated in that historic event!  It was AWESOME!

I popped caffeine / salt / electrolyte pills, jelly beans and aspirin about every two to four hours and never felt dehydrated or had any pain anywhere except again in my feet!

I had trained in the GORUCK Mac-V, Altra Lone Peak 4 trail running shoes and Nike SFB Gen 2 tactical boots (which I wore the entire time during the event). I purchased expensive hiking socks and experimented with a thing and thicker sock as well as two socks.  I got a pedicure, kept my toe nails trimmed and put lotion on my feet.  I walked around bare foot for weeks and I rubbed "Trail Toes" all over my feet prior to the event and each ruck during my training. I had zero blisters on my feet, however, I could never get rid of the hot spots on the balls of my feet, which never blistered, and developed painful corns on the widest part of my feet. My conclusion after talking to some of the other participants was that I need to find a boot that fits my wide feet perfectly. I know that after rucking long distances (we covered over 42 total miles) your feet will hurt no mater what, however, they should not hurt that bad after only 3 miles! 

The things that I learned from this event were:

1.) A deep respect for the ability of people like cadre Pog and Pike to work and improvise on the fly under pressure, while displaying nothing but a calm demeanor to get the mission accomplished! It has always been my goal to be able to do this.

2.) You can accomplish ANYTHING and it is easier to accomplish ANYTHING with a supportive TEAM!

3.) Don't judge a book by it's cover! I am always humbled and reminded that you cannot judge someones mental toughness by what their exterior looks like!

I am looking forward to my next GORUCK Heavy in Columbus that I am doing with my good friend and training partner Ken Hamilton. I will work even harder to be better prepared and will solve the issues with my feet so that I can perform at an even higher level!

Thank you for taking the time to read this!

Carpe Diem!

Cyril S. White

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