The sons first heard about the GORUCK Challenge over a year ago, when the older one asked for a GORUCK bag for Christmas. It sounded intriguing but not something I'd be interested in. A while later, I saw a man at the gym wearing a GORUCK t-shirt. I asked if he'd done a Challenge, and mentioned that my sons were interested in them. He said that he had indeed done a Challenge and that it had been something of a life-changing event. He told me to tell the sons that if they ever had the chance to do one, to jump at it. It sounded even more intriguing, and I admit that I got a wee bit interested at that point.
Fast forward to the Christmas holiday immediately past. It had become clear that younger son would be moving back to the East coast, and they started talking about doing a Challenge in the Washington, DC area. I happened to be online at the time, so I clicked around the GORUCK website and found that there would be a Challenge in Charlottesville on May 18. They immediately planned signing up using the register one, register another for free plan. I felt a pang or two of jealousy.
A couple days later, younger son suggested that I register and do the Challenge with them. I think I said something about not wanting to embarrass them. Younger son said that would only happen if I broke down in tears in the first ten minutes of the Challenge, and he didn't think that would happen. I noted that I was a 56-year-old woman, and the Challenge seemed designed for 20-something men. He suggested I email the GORUCK people and ask them for their opinion. He also noted that while one could always ask why they should do something, sometimes it was better to just say why the hell not do it.
I took younger son's advice and left the following comment on a blog post "The GORUCK Challenge Explained": "My sons, ages 25 and 23, have signed up for a challenge in May. They’re
trying to persuade me, their 56-year-old mother, to sign up, too. I do
work out regularly including martial arts six days weekly. Is it
reasonable to think I could train and do it? It would make for a good
challenge for the new year."
Within two days, I had a reply from Jason, GORUCK's founder: "Jean – yeah it’s totally reasonable. The older we get in life, I think
that we’re capable of more it just requires a little more recovery time
when we’re through with it. The Challenge itself is a team event, so
everyone gives what they can. I find that the best classes have a mix of
young and old, men and women, etc. Young bucks sometimes like to work
harder not smarter. Wiser folks prefer to work smarter not harder."
I signed up that night, and publicly committed to doing it here. I started to actually train for it, as described here. I even discovered a new GORUCK event, the Light, through which the sons and I could get a taste of what might be in store for us in the Challenge. I described the preparation for and nervousness before that event here. Finally, I described the experience here, in a post that has since been reprinted as part of the GORUCK training website.
So here I sit now, the Monday before the Challenge on Saturday. It might be better to say "on Friday night" because the Challenge actually starts at 1:00 a.m. on Saturday. It could be interesting. The starting point is just off the University of Virginia Lawn, which will be the site of graduation ceremonies both Saturday and Sunday. One of our partners in this dose of good livin' is an assistant district attorney here, and he's made sure that the appropriate police departments know that the thirty or so people wearing black rucksacks and running around the local UN World Heritage site (the UVa Lawn) in the wee hours before a major public event have nothing in common with the two young men wearing black backpacks at the Boston Marathon.
Despite having successfully finished the Light, my nerves are starting to tingle. Some of the other people doing this Challenge have prepared by doing 20-mile rucks carrying the bricks they will carry during the Challenge. I have not. Interestingly, when the GORUCK training website went live a week or so ago, I found that their six-week training program to prep for a Light or a Challenge was not all that different from what I've done. I hope it's enough. I'll let you know in a few days if it was.