I posed the question this past weekend: “Which is harder to describe, the Death Race or a GoRuck Challenge?”
Obviously, to the average person, both seem certifiably insane:
The Death Race: you basically do whatever they tell you to do for 48ish hours, which likely involves chopping wood, running up and down a mountain, and carrying heavy and awkward shit.
GoRuck: you run through a city at night for 12ish hours with a backpack full of bricks and stop and do push-ups, bear crawls, crab walks, and any other stupid exercise you can possibly think of (see, e.g., monkeyfuckers; little man in the woods)
After giving it some thought (ok, WAY too much thought), I think I’m going to go with GoRuck being harder to explain. Why?
It’s not a race.
And people don’t get that. I couldn’t tell them “yeah, so I was the only female to finish,” or “I placed 5th” or “the finish rate was 1%.” It simply was running around the city with a team of 30 people for 12+ hours, doing PT and completing missions. The goal was finishing, and finishing as a team.
And for Chicago GoRuck Class 129, we finished as a team: 28 in, 28 out.
But therein lies the rub for me. It’s no secret that I’m a competitive person. And the hardest part of the GRC was shelving this competitiveness, and reminding myself constantly “it’s not a race.” It’s working hard for the good of the team. Not for my finish time, not for my own glory, but for the camaraderie and the mission at hand.
And dammit, I suck at it. I really, really do. There was a reason that I hated group projects in school. A reason that I chose (and still choose) to work alone at any opportunity I can get. There, I was only accountable to myself. There, every decision I made was the right decision. There, I chose the speed, I chose the course, and I chose how I got it done.
So over the course of Class 129, one of my major flaws came to light: I have the patience of a 2-year old. And sometimes empathy that would rival a 2-year old’s as well. For example, I probably said out loud about a dozen times during the night “can’t we run any faster? This isn’t even a shuffle. I walk faster than this.”* In other words, my utter lack of patience and my inability to go at my own pace and make my own decisions catapulted me into complete inner bitch mode (though you wouldn’t know that considering I was consistently singing LMFAO with a bit of Kanye thrown in for good measure).
And that’s not what GoRuck is about. It’s about team-building, problem-solving, and camaraderie. And laughing while doing some ridiculous things. Oh, and carrying heavy shit. But slowly, as the hours progressed, I began to put aside my inner impatient 2-year-old self and instead focused on enjoying the company of my fellow classmates, our hilarious and awesome cadre Dave (“ass as hard as a woodpecker’s lips”), and the fantastic Death Race training that carrying an awkward sandbag or shamrock on my shoulders provided. And beers. I began to enjoy beers, which made all the difference.
Because, for me, it was the mental, not the physical, that made GoRuck challenging. I had to get over myself, and start playing nice with others. I had to realize that my finishing time didn’t matter, because we were all finishing together. And I had to drill it into my head, over and over, that this is not a competition, and this is not a race.
So why is GoRuck harder to explain? Because there’s no concrete victory, and there’s no idea of winning. You don’t do a GoRuck to beat the living hell out of your fellow competitors: you do it to learn about yourself. So smile, enjoy the company of your classmates, and grab a couple beers.
*Because the goal of GRC is to get everyone to finish, it unfortunately (or fortunately?) means that you are only as fast as your slowest person, and only as strong as your weakest person. I suppose this is a metaphor for teams and for life, but it sometimes means carrying people or crossloading weights, and can sometimes result in excess frustration.