Sunday, July 23, 2017


When looking for an HTL I found that GORUCK GOREVOLUTION (GOREV) was being held in Philadelphia, PA over the 4th of July weekend.  I had never done a GOREV before and heard a lot of good things about them.

This one happened to be an HTL, so I signed up for the Heavy, Tough, and the Light.  My wife and some friends even signed up for the Tough, this being their first Tough. I was excited about this, because I knew it would help get me back to and through the Tough.

After signing up and looking into GOREV, I realized how little I knew about the founding of our country.  A month or so out Cadre Andy sent out a list of books to read on the Revolution.

So from the list I read "Rise To Rebellion" and "The Glorious Cause", both by Jeff Shaara.  Both books were great, and as I read through both of them I was even more excited about the event.

When packing for the HTL, I tried not to pack more than was required.

Packing List:
GORUCK Rucker See more here
GORUCK 30# Ruck Plate
2 Source 3L water bladders. This is the one item I like to carry a spare for
Snacks Cliff bars, Honey Stingers, and beef jerky
Headlamp Black Diamond Storm
Extra batteries for headlamp
Duct Tape
2 Black Diamond Nylon Runners
Set of cheap lifting grips (always carry and have never used)
Pelican 1040 case With watch charger, battery, buff, $20, and license
Under Armor rain shell
Spare socks (Never used but always pack due to packing list)
Sports tape
Dry bags (1 for food, 1 for pelican case, and 1 for other items)
Mechanix gloves

For the event we went down the night before the Heavy.  We got a hotel for the weekend, we figured that it would be nice to have a location to come back to between events and afterwords.

The morning before the event we decided to join the Cadre for a ruck off at the Revolutionary War Museum.  It was only about a 1.5 mile walk from our room.  If you are ever in the area go check it out  This was great to see after reading the books.

Join or Die!

The museum took an hour or two to get through but you could spend a lot more time there.  We went through it a little quicker, because we wanted to have some time to go get lunch and get ready for the heavy.  So we walked back to the hotel and grabbed a sandwich on the way.

Because my wife was doing the tough, she was able to drive me to the start point for the heavy.  This was nice because the start point was pretty far from the end point.  So we drove to the start point, at Chadds Ford Elementary School.  This was a great place for a start point, because there was lots of parking and a soccer field that we got to spend some time playing on later.

I was squinting a little, it was very sunny out.  This was one of my biggest concerns for the weekend, the heat and sun. We got there well ahead of the start time, so I had sometime to say hi to a few GRTs that I have done events with in the past.  I also had a little time to sit and relax in the shade.

 Then it was time to form up and take care of the admin portion of the event, role call, safety, Cadre introductions, and some info about GOREV.  

All 3 events would be lead by Cadre Andy, Cadre Michael, and Cadre Chad.  During the admin phase 2 members showed up late, which is never a good idea at a GORUCK event.  So they got a little extra attention.

Cadre Andy started GOREV off with explaining the war to the point where we were starting, (I am not going to go into a history lesson here.)  I recommend reading the books above, or even better yet give GOREV a try.

Next we were split into two columns and we counted off. A General was selected to lead our army, and then 2 Regiment Commanders were chosen by calling out a number from the count.  My number was called so I was one of the Regiment Commanders, with each of us in charge of one of the columns, now regiments.  

I had regiment 2, which I had to then split up into 4 companies, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, and Hotel.  For each of them I had to select a commander for the company.  Then the General had a second in command, who was the Quartermaster, in charge of the people and equipment.  The other Regiment Commander and I were instructed to select a second in command.  This might sound a little confusing, or it might make perfect sense to you.  For me at the time I was a little confused.  It started to click for me an hour or so in.  The problem for me in the beginning of the night was remembering the commanders and identify them in the dark.

Once this was all figured out we marched our army down the hill to have some fun on the soccer field and do a little PT to warm up and stretch.

This consisted of a lot of bear crawls, and other crawls to cross the field.  There was lots of failure and starting over, this is to be expected with such a large group.  We were then broken up into some smaller groups that had to make it across the field, and if someone put a knee down or we didn't keep the line straight then we started over again.  I am pretty sure it was not a regulation soccer field, I am pretty sure it was about a mile long.  At least at one point it sure felt like it.

Due to the heat, the Cadre were nice enough to let us take a rest in a cool stream.  Or it might have been more like run down the hill dunk under water and get back up here as fast as possible.

Once we got through this we got back into our two columns and headed out on the road, stopping at a few locations to hear more about Chadds Ford, and the battle of Brandywine.

We even stopped to fish a friend out of a field.  

It didn't stay with us long, I believe it was even a little larger than the cadre thought.

After traveling up the road a few miles, it started to get dark.  There was an amazing lightning bug display, but I didn't see any pictures from it.  Next we went up the road a little and had an opportunity to ford part of the Brandywine.  Than back on the road, after a few quick stops along the way, one being the Battlefield of Brandywine, it was time for phase 2: The Heavy.  

At this point we got a break to refill water and prepare for the 12 mile timed ruck.

This was my first 12 mile time ruck as a team.  We were still quite a large group, so this was a tough march, just keeping everybody together at a decent pace.  I know we lost a few during the 12 mile ruck but I am not sure how many.

After finishing the 12 mile ruck it was time for some more PT.

Next we went to Paoli Battlefield, and had the chance to walk the battlefield for a few minutes.

Then we headed off to Valley Forge, this was about a 10 mile ruck, including lots of casualty's.  At Paoli Battlefield we picked up a few logs to accompany us to Valley Forge.

The first stop as we got to Valley Forge was Washington's Headquarters.

We were still a pretty large group so we split up into our regiments to go see Washington's Headquarters.

Next we headed over to General Friedrich von Steubens statue.  It was positioned in front of the field where he trained our troops.

Another stop in Valley Forge was Artillery Park.  This is the location of some of Knox's Canons.

We walked a few more miles through Valley Forge and came around a corner and could see the National Memorial Arch.  This was to be our end point. 

 But as we got closer, and you could tell everybody was a little excited we took a hard right up the hill in the opposite direction.  We headed up to see General Wayne's Statue.

After some more information on General Wayne, we headed back towards National Memorial Arch. This would be our Endex point.

At the Endex Cadre Andy asked who was only signed up for the Heavy, and he pulled them all off to the side.  Then he asked who all was doing the HTL, and many people raised there hands.  Then he told us he would not be handing out any patches to the HTL participants.  If you wanted your patch you had to come to the beginning of the Tough.  If you would not be participating in the tough, you could get your patch, but you must walk in front of all the HTL members that were continuing to the tough to get your patch.

According to my watch that was buried in my ruck, the Heavy event was:
23 hours and covered 37 miles

After the Heavy was over, everybody cleared out, but I still had about 1 hr until my ride arrived.  While waiting there was a huge rain storm so I got pretty wet, it felt pretty good at first but it was not helping with drying out my feet.

My wife and our friends picked me up and we went back to the hotel.  I had some time to get dry clothes on and get my feet fixed up for the tough.

We took a taxi over to the start of the Tough at Pastorius Park.

When we got there, there were a lot of HTLs laying on the sides of the street getting in a little nap.  This looked like a great idea so I joined in.

Then we walked down to the pond for the start of the tough.  We were split up into 2 groups, the members doing the HTL and the members doing the Tough.

The HTLs were pulled off to the side with Cadre Andy; there were 48 that came back to do the Tough.  You could hear in his voice how excited he was that so many came back.  He explained throughout the Heavy that he had planned for the HTL, so if you missed one of the 3 events you would miss part of the story and the experience.  This was a highlight of the HTL for me, just seeing how excited he was, made me excited too.

Next we got into formation and started the welcome party.  We were still split into the 2 groups, and we started doing a lot of PT.  

The end of the PT for the HTLs included emulating how the British soldiers and the US soldiers formed up and fired.  We also had the chance to emulate if a soldier was shot how they were dragged off the field and the formation was filled in.

After the PT we went and filled up our water and the water jugs and were split up into regiments and companies, the same as the heavy.  This time I was in the Charlie Company, and didn't have a leadership role, which was kind of nice, now I could carry some heavy stuff  and help where needed.  Then we headed about 3 miles down the road to a ball field where we heard more about war and prepared for our next mission.

For the next mission we split up and traveled about 1 to 2 miles with our rucks held in front of us with no straps.  (to simulate carrying our weapon across our body)  There was no talking, none, we had to remain silent during this part.  On this leg of the journey our team had lots of casualties.

We finally made it to a parking lot where members were used as a live terrain model, to explain the battle of Germantown.  

After leaving the parking lot we walked around the Chew House, to see where one of the bloodiest battles of  Germantown took place.

Then we traveled 2 to 3 more miles and stopped in a grassy area in front of a gas station.  Along the way we picked up a few chunks of wood.

This was welcome party number 2, really Cadre Michael just felt left out on missing the first one.  He made sure we REALLY wanted to stay for the rest of the journey.

When we arrived it was still dark out.

By the time we got a chance to refill water, and head out we were well into the morning.  From looking at the data my watch collected it looked like we were there for about 1.5 hours.

As we walked away from the grassy area, you could definitely tell something went down here.  Every location from the formation where someone was standing there was a dirt patch.  I think a lot of it was from lots and lots of mountain climbers.  Lots of them.

After this we hit a trail that we were on for quite some time.  There was about 4 miles of quick time hacks.  I found myself doing a lot of shuffling and when not doing that, a very quick pace.  After hitting several time hacks we were given a break to hear more about the war and refill our water.  The cadres were nice enough to get us Gatorade and donuts since we met our time hacks.  It pays to work a little harder.  

Then we headed out again.

There was about 4 more miles of time hacks until we made it to the Eastern State Penitentiary.  We we got a short break here.

After leaving the Penitentiary, there were lots more casualties and we started to miss the time hacks.  So it was time to re-motivate the troops.  We bear crawled into a parking lot to start some PT.

The Cadre made a deal with us, if we could perform a Chinese Chair (I think that's the name) with our entire team, we could skip the PT and drop all our casualties. 

It took us a few tries and some help from Cadre Chad, but we finally got it pretty close.  Maybe not perfect but I would give us an A for effort.  And you got to really know your fellow teammates.

After this we headed back to Franklin Square for the Endex.

Once again the GRTs only doing the Tough were pulled aside to get their patches.  Then the rest of the HTLs were told the same thing as before, if you want your patches come back and finish the light.

According to my Watch that was buried in my ruck, the Tough event was:
13 hours and covered 18.5 miles

We took a taxi back to the hotel room, and my wife and one of our friends decided they were going to come back out and do the Light also.

After going back to the room, and putting on a different shirt, drying out my feet, and refilling water, we grabbed a taxi and headed back to Franklin Square for the start of the Light.  I didn't really change anything with my ruck, because we were instructed to keep the same weight for the Light.  Plus with my wife doing the Light, I had no other plate.

After getting back to Franklin Square there was a lot of familiar faces all around the park.  We arrived early so I took the opportunity to lay down a few minutes.

For the start of the Light somebody brought a cake for Cadre Andy for his 40th Birthday, which we had to finish before we started.

After getting in a health snack it was time to start the Light.  The Admin section was done and we were ready to go.

We started off with a good bit of PT and crawling around, I think more than most Lights I have done.

Crawling with no hands is always a good time.

After finishing up we headed out through historic Philadelphia, and stopping at a few locations on the way.  Each stop we heard a little more about the war.

About 3 miles in we stopped in the park for a little more PT.

I might look a little like a zombie in this picture, but I wasn't really tired knowing that the end wasn't far.  We did MORE cherry pickers, sungods, and some new stuff we hadn't seen before.

After the PT we headed back to Independence National Historical Park for the Endex of the Light.  Here the Light GRTs got patched along with the T/Ls.

From hear we headed over to Washington Square for the Endex of the HTL.

According to my watch that was buried in my ruck, the Light event was:
4 hours and covered 5 miles

We had a great group from the Pittsburgh area for the HTL, and it was great to see their faces throughout the weekend. 

The patches we received were probably my favorites so far.

This was one of the best events I have done to date.  Cadre Michael and Chad were awesome, and very motivating and never disappointed when they took over from Cadre Andy.  The let us get a small taste of how beat down and tired our soldiers would have felt.  If anything, it's humbling.

As for Cadre Andy, I can not say enough.  I can't even imagine the time and effort that he put into planning this event.  It was perfect.  Between reading the books he recommended, attending the museum, and the events them self, I learned more than I could have ever hoped about the founding of our nation.
Get out and do a GOREV with Cadre Andy, learn about what took place so we can have the freedoms that we have today.  You will not be disappointed.

See More at: Fit N Fun.Life

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

2017 Terrain Race Pittsburgh Review

We decided last minute as a family to run the Terrain Race in Pittsburgh.  We ran it last year and it was fun, and not too difficult, so we decided to do it for fun again.  This time my daughter got to run it with us.  She had just turned 7 three weeks before the race, and participants must be 7 to run the 5k.  She was pretty excited.  

(signing her waiver)

We only paid $20 per entry for the 12:30 heat, so it was hard to pass up!  We had a few friends and their kids run with us, so we were entertained and we had fun!  As usual, we were corralled in the the pool, awaiting the start of our heat.     

We took off and were running up a hill through the woods on a muddy trail.  

It wasn't long before we were going through thick mud and murky water crossings.  

Obstacles included some very muddy walls, a tall roped wall, a water crossing and a cargo net.

I took my Olympus Tough camera with me and was able to capture of a lot photos during the race.  We were just running or walking or whatever we felt like doing.  I even stopped to take a selfie or two.  It was all about having a good time!

Up next was more mud and more running/walking, followed by a cargo net and some tire flipping.  The cargo net was your typical height, but those tires were not typical.  Good lord were they heavy!  I REALLY like lifting heavy stuff too, and they were the heaviest tire I've ever flipped.  (twice down and back)

Next we were headed in to the mine (don't worry, it shut down).  I've been in the mine before for other events (some which still haunt me) so I knew it would be chilly and dark.  They had this fun floor hockey type station set up where you hit a small tire with a sledge hammer until you reach the line and then return it back to the start.  It was far more fun than I expected.  I thought it would be silly, but it was fun!

As we exited the tunnel (we were only in a short time) we had another wall to climb and then a rope double tire carry.  (it wasn't heavy)

My husband is awesome and he carried Emma during this event.  She couldn't quite lift these. 

We walked through more mud and water and made our way to another cargo type net, but the set up was different.  It was more like a box, up one side, over the top and down the other side.

Like mother, like daughter.

More water crossings, some uphill terrain (nothing terribly hard) and then a bucket carry and rope climb.  My daughter was so excited for the rope climb.  The bucket carry wasn't as heavy as they are at a Spartan race, and the distance was laughable, but it made it fun.  We never pushed ourselves physically.  

I mean how silly is this pose?  I could never have done that a Spartan race!

I remember looking at my watch and thinking, it has to be over soon because we were close to 3 miles.  Then we came upon the wreck bag carry.  They were maybe 30 or so lbs.  I just know it felt really light.  Of course for my 50 lb. 7 year old, it was heavy.

She split this obstacle with a buddy.  

The next thing I know we're up the last little hill, over a short wall and then comes the harder obstacles in the 5k event.  (the 10k had a few more obstacles than the 5k)

The rig was before us and it didn't look easy.  I watched my husband fly through it, so I thought I may be able to do this.  I have decent grip strength but the hand holds were not what I'm good at.  I stepped up on the platform and attempted twice in the same line.  The hand holds were round balls, a handle, a ring, some more round balls etc.  I fell 3 or 4 holds in both times.  I was mad.

A friend of mine suggested I try a different lane so I moved to the side of the rig that didn't have a platform to stand on.  She offered me her bent knee and I used it to jump up and grab the first handhold.  This time, there more handles and less of the smaller balls to grab on too.  However, there was larger ball, which required both hands to grip it.  Somehow, I made it to the pipe with long rings for your feet.  Like an idiot, I didn't put my feet in them (which would have allowed me to rest my arms some) but I worked my way down the poll, entangling myself in rings and ropes, but I made it!

Well, boy was I happy that I made that obstacle.  The rig is hit or miss for me.  Up next was the monkey bars over water.  They ascended slightly to a middle wooden beam that you had to blindly reach under to grab the bar on the other side of it.  It was awkward, but I made it.  I think I've only ever failed the monkey bars once and it was my first time doing them.  (and I was a few bars from the end, just needed better grip strength)

My husband put my daughter on his back, but unfortunately the 50+lb. load was too much for him.  He lost his grip and down the both went.

The very last obstacle was a balance beam walkway to the cargo net and platform where you slide down a pole to the finish.  

And that was it!  This race was a fun, family 5k OCR that everyone can do.  Even if you can't complete an obstacle, there are no penalties, you just don't do it.  We all crossed the finish and got our water and t-shirt.  

Overall, I would recommend this race because it's inexpensive and relatively easy, great for first timers!  My daughter loved it and we had a great time as a family.