GrowRuck09 BackBlast Preface
The question was thrown out almost immediately after we finished the 14 ½ hour GRT – GrowRuck 09 – “When will we get to read the backblast….”
A backblast is defined in the F3 Lexicon as:
BACK BLAST: A written account of a Workout or Event that the Q Posts to a public forum. Abbr: BB.
I asked Froman if he would like to do the honors considering he had so many hours in making certain the weekend was a success. He was reluctant. The more we discussed the weekend with others in our pax over breakfast and heard the experiences – some similar and some vastly different – of all 3 platoons, the more we realized there is no way one man could do this justice.
Some reasons why this was too much to ask of 1 man:
- 97 men showed up for the Growruck, mostly between 4:55pm – 5:30pm to make sure they were ready to go for the Cadres.
- Speaking of Cadres – this was the first ever Growruck event that necessitated 3 Cadres b/c of the size
- Each platoon had 32 or 33 pax – all from different backgrounds with respect to number of goruck events (if any at all), time in f3, physical or mental fitness/preparedness, etc.
- 57 of the pax were from Toledo with the remaining 40 representing 10 different F3 cities (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville, Kalamazoo, Twin Cities, Dayton, Puget Sound, Pittsburgh, Fort Mill)
If one man was going to write this, the person that would make the most sense would be Froman as our Growruck 09 Q. F3 defines the Q of something as being responsible for the outcome. Froman took that to the extreme in a positive way in the 6+ months leading up to the weekend. It was his idea to approach Camp Miakonda and not a day went by that he wasn’t thinking of ways to ensure that we did all we could to have as many pax there to experience the weekend. Froman headlocked pax in Toledo as much as anyone, he followed up multiple times on waivers to GoRuck, payments to Iron Project and worked with the Toledo Growruck team (Klinger, Ticket, Stark, Pixar, Splinter, Kitty) to pull everything together flawlessly. The outcome of the weekend was an absolute success (100% finish rate). As the Q of the event Froman thought of everything and everyone. To all that earned their patch; know that he did more than Q, he set the bar for future Growruck Q’s.
It was decided that all 97 men need to be recognized on the BB and all three platoon’s stories of the night should be told. A HIM from each platoon was asked to put into words their experience as best they can recollect.
As you read the “chapters” to follow I would encourage you to get your pax in to rucking like Klinger did for us on May 15, 2017 (first Tuesday after Toledo’s launch). The 2nd F that is formed during a simple ruck in the gloom is unmatched. Doing a CSAUP like a Growruck will provide stories and lessons within your pax unlike any other event. The impact is difficult to explain to many, but it will be felt on an individual level as well as in the brotherhood of men that finish, and it will go far beyond F3. If you have the means to experience a Growruck – don’t overthink it (you will), don’t be afraid you can’t complete it (F3 men won’t let you quit), don’t make excuses (someone in your pax or f3nation will lend you a ruck and the rest is easy) – just HC to it. The fear of missing out is even stronger when the event is over.
Before jumping into the awesomeness (and bluntness) of these stories please know that we did not want to censor the thoughts, opinion and descriptions of the event too much. However, this isn’t something I would read to your young children without some editing of your own.
Enjoy the read and from all F3 Ohio and the Toledo pax Thank You.
Thank you to Dredd and OBT for the gift of F3, to the 115 that posted at Growschool, to our Cadres – Danny, Shredder and Mocha Mike and to the 97 that earned their patch and did not suffer from Tiny Heart Syndrome!
Live #EQV – To Be, Rather Than To Seem
Jared “Colonel” Helton
GrowRuck09 BackBlast Red Platoon
“Schooling, Apprenticeship, Opportunity, & Failure are the steps to forming good leaders.” — Dredd
GrowRuck09 BackBlast White Platoon
- Van Damme (and maybe Bone Daddy) fully submerged into the lake out of the discharge tunnel.
- Mariah has an incredibly soft hand. Oh, and Keaton has a wide undercarriage (total compliment).
- It’s heartening to hear grown men whimper, especially when it’s louder than your whimper. (Note to self: practice crying in silence).
- It’s a good idea to take off your gloves before going into water because (at least for me) wet, frozen hands suck.
- If someone gets stuck under a bench, kicking them in the ribs will not get them unstuck faster. You’re likely to hurt your toe and, possibly, their ribs.
- Body heat is good heat.
- It’s totally OK to grab a small rock if the Cadre tells you only to grab a rock. Remember the standard is the standard. Anything more is you dick measuring.
- Cadre don’t give a shit about your new hat and headlamp.
- Goose poop is irrelevant at some point.
- Many of us like to make fake gun sounds at any opportunity.
- Oh, and while we’re talking about imaginations, pine cones make for good grenades.
- Children are a threat, especially when they make contact right.
- Not only did Red Platoon get the shit kicked out of them, most of them are also down one carabineer
- No one is supposed to be in the water at the Camp because it’s horribly polluted.
- The logs weighed between 2000 and 1 million pounds.
- Dredd doesn’t need water.
- Unlike some of those “ladies” on the Bachelor, we were all out there for the right reasons. It was good to have an index card as a reminder.
- Concrete filled ammo boxes are pure evil.
- Steel poles freeze quickly.
- That water bottle. Woof.
- Stalker and Spider Monkey are both strong.
- If they’re a casualty, why can’t we just drag them and burn their ruck?
- Bourbon doesn’t stop smiling, even when he’s dizzy.
- We weren’t protesting anything, but I’m pretty sure we were all internally protesting the seemingly incredible strength of that balcony railing. I kid, I kid. Dredd laughing at that made it all OK.
- Van Damme may have a necrophilia foot fetish. He couldn’t stop grabbing casualty feet.
- The feeling when the sun comes up is indescribable.
GrowRuck09 BackBlast Blue Platoon
Q – Cadre Danny, Cadre Mocha Mike, Cadre Shredder
PAX – Trinity, Mother Rucker, Pixar, Gap, Jimmy Dean, Tupac, Shakira, Buttermaker, Gecko, Nails, Sipe, Mercy, Fonzie, Solid State, Moosejaw, Haskell, Cogsworth, Moon River, Dusty, Matlock, Dauber, Mr. Belding, Jennay, Ticket, Brute, Bambi, Boulder, Ping, Dark Helmet, Stardust, Honey Bear, Sideshow, Oscar Meyer, Trigger 33
Full Disclosure – The delay for this backblast lies directly with me. When Froman asked me to write this I decided that since I couldn’t write like a real writer I would act like one. So I blew my advance on booze and the ladies of the night that Brita and Mickey were looking for and I woke up a few days later in a tub of ice missing a kidney. In addition, greatness cannot be rushed and in my case neither can mediocrity. I hope I did the night justice, but it would be impossible to capture it all. I apologize ahead of time for any mixing up of names, events. Etc. Remember I am not a professional and you are here of your own accord.. So with that let us begin.
As the Cadre called off roll and completed the TPS report portion of the GrowRuck I was a knot of worry and doubt – I had slept about 5 hrs total in the last few nights, felt I had nothing in the tank, and knew my electrolyte supply was inadequate. I then caught a glance of El Chapo (Toledo) across the parade ground. He completed the CincyTough on no sleep the previous night, 2 Speedway hot dogs, a Mountain Dew slush, and maybe the nation’s shittiest Ruck this side of Oscar Meyer (foreshadowing). Inspired by Chap and the PAX surrounding me I decided to stick it out not go hang with the Cub Scouts.
PART 1 – The Making of Blue Platoon. Looking for a PL, Shredder surveyed this motley crue with a gaze that could turn cheese back into milk. Was it the rugged good looks or the green hat that caused him to choose Trinity? I think it was the hat (Pix might beg to differ). There was a collective sigh of relief as 32 men thought “Glad I am not that Fing guy” to themselves. GRT vet MotherRucker was tasked as our PS. Under the guidance of Shredder , These two men, along with squad leaders Gap, Belding, and Nails, would turn these 33 Left feet into a well-oiled machine and by well oiled machine I mean a 1984 Dodge Omni.
Our first few attempts to form up on Shredder were about as successful as Belding’s breakdancing career. Some PT ensued and we struggled to find a cadence that would work for our smurfjacks. Shredder and Trinity had some quick heart to heart conversations and with the advice of Army vet Haskell (Cleveland) “that it all starts with Gap” was key (although admitting that out loud would add to Gap’s already legendary ego). Soon we were under the flagpole where the “About Face” threw our PL Trinity and most of our platoon for a loop (apparently left and right are not that important with computers). In fairness to Trinity, the 32 men he was leading again collectively thought “Glad I am not that Fing guy.” As we prepared for the Cadre change, I thought to myself when Shredder isn’t running GRTs does he just sit at the top of a Himalayan Peak waiting to impart wisdom on Buddhist Monks?
After a fake handoff to Cadre Danny, Blue Platoon was handed over to Mocha Mike. Mocha Mike with calm, muted tones explained the inverted wedge movement and other squad movements. I was fortunate to miss the goose shit, many of my platoon were not so lucky.
Finally, we were in the capable hands of Cadre Danny. While he briefed the Orange Ruckers on the next task, the rest of the platoon moseyed over the bridge and broke into squads. The gods smiled on us as the sun went down because while Cadre Danny had business to attend we flailed through our close quarters exercise drill. I was expecting a smokeshow but Cadre Danny surprised us all when we were ordered back to the Parade Ground for the next rotation.
Part II – Full Metal Suckage
As darkness engulfed Miakonda,Blue Platoon did a quick refit. The air was electric with tension as we wondered what was in store for us. With Cadre Shredder again at the helm we made our way to the bottom of SuckBalls Hill. We locked arms with two other PAX ( I flanked Haskell and his right was covered by Ping) and the lunge walk up SuckBalls Hill began. The platoon was a cacophony of agony, urging, and bitching as we struggled up SuckBalls Hill. Negotiating the fence proved problematic and the walk down the stone steps was no picnic. We raced back to Shredder and I believe we did a repeato. My memory is a little fuzzy at this point. What is crystal clear is upon our return, and after brief pleasantries with Trinity, Shredder deadpanned the phrase “30 burpees”. Apparently we were 6 minutes late and the burpees were the toll to be paid. We found the soggiest piece of ground and the misery commenced. Every F3 region has those PAX that love burpees ( I am looking at you Perrysburg). I am not one of those guys. Suffering through the single digits the Q word kept popping into my head (not quiche or queef BTW). Then I saw Gap ahead of me doing burpees with 1 and ½ arms, heard MotherRucker say “You did this to you”, gathered strength from the shared suffering and slipslided to 30. After a brief respite the elephant walk began and Blue Platoon would soon wish we were in the middle of those burpees.
Decisions have to be made during an elephant walk. Do you want the man in front of you to rest his fruit basket on your forearm or elbow? Do you split his Gu sac down the middle? Or go two balls right or left? Forehead or neck deep during the rectal exam? Each man had to answer these questions for himself. It was slow going as Blue trudged up SuckBalls Hill for a third time. The fence again proved a worthy obstacle both on the way up and the way back. When Shredder told us to stop I was sure round 2 of the Smokeshow was upon us. Instead, with the same tone he used to announce the 30 burpees we were told how well we communicated up and down the line. I bet Shredder is a helluva poker player. Before heading back to the parade ground. Shredder decided to cool off Blue Platoon with a refreshing crawl through a culvert. As the end was reached no one was able to land the Triple Lindy on the dismount, and most members of BP got good and soggy.
Shredder was not out of surprises. He allowed each member of Blue Platoon to take a souvenir back to the parade ground – a rock of their choice- #winning. As we trekked back, I thought BP had been thrown a decent amount a shit and we had hung together pretty well. The rocks were used to make structures that made the Great Pyramid at Giza pale in comparison. We were given about 5 minutes to piss and grab some grub. The spectre of Cadre Garrett from the GRT in Cincy hung over many in Blue PLatoon as we did not ground our rucks for fear of causing a smokeshow. As I saw members of BP sharing food, grabbing headlamps and gloves for each other I thought of Manager Lou Brown ‘s quote from Major League “starting to come together Pepper, they’re starting to come together!”
Side Note – Dark Helmet washed his hands so thoroughly after our time with Shredder I wondered if he wasn’t kidding about the rectal exam he gave during the Elephant Walk
Part III – Napoleon Dynamite Complex
Cadre Danny led us on our next exercise to gather some sticks and build a fuselage so we could simulate a static line jump. He made a pretty cool map, he showed us how to get into security position (like a football). He was super patient. IMO this was the nadir for BP. We just kind of kept f’ing things up. Cadre Danny would give advice and we would talk instead of listen (again super patient), We kept forgetting security positions; the logs were troublesome. We were split into groups by height and for some reason the shorter members of BP took on the John Holmes of logs. It was long and it was girthy. I believe each member who was humping the John Holmes log is now 2-3 inches shorter then when they began. The tall guys saw that struggle and said let’s risk serious injury and climb to the top of the log pile and find a more svelte log. We were acting like somebody smashed our tots. Somehow the logs made it up there. Cadre Danny showed us the correct way to lift and drop logs – that would soon come in handy.
Part IV – Night Moves
Before it was time to test our grasp of Mocha Mike’s earlier squad and fire team movements, we rotated into new leadership positions. Trinity passed the PL mantle over to me, Honey Bear took over for Mother Rucker as our PS . Mercy, Jimmy Dean, and Haskell were our new squad leaders. Looking back, I believe Trinity and his crew did a bang up job. They were given 5 or 6 different objectives to get the platoon to meet. We were in charge of getting two logs from point A to point B. They executed the Triple Lindy; we just had to land a cannonball.
We bombed the first couple of questions of Mocha Mike’s test – the switching of platoon positions may have been the root of this or poor leadership by yours truly – take your pick. Regardless, a series of overhead presses and butterfly kicks seemed to whip us into shape. Mocha Mike’s request to stop with the “female noises” during our PT ordeal drew a silent chuckle from many and that phrase was bantered about for the duration of the GRT.
Our boys up north from Kalamazoo might want to rename Ping – Lone Wolf McQuade. He may have seen Rambo too many times. He kept rushing into the fray solo, leaving the safety of his fire squad. First Squad seemed to make the most casualties (probably due to their proximity to Mocha Mike). As we dragged casualties back (AFTER completing our objective ) Seger’s “Night Moves” popped into my head except instead of “could’ve used a few pounds, we could’ve lost a few pounds.”
Maybe it was Mocha Mike’s chill demeanor and his heartfelt desire to connect this exercise to our real world, maybe it was the quiet, star-filled night, maybe it was how fluid our fire teams moved across the “battlefield”, maybe it was how Pixar and Brute kept taking one more turn on our casualty even when they were gassed], maybe it was all those things that made it one of my favorite parts of the GRT.
Part V – The Quiet Storm
Mocha led us to the amphitheater, where white and red platoon were already enjoying a bit of R & R. Oscar Meyer, who had already achieved legendary status by signing up for the GRT Friday night (surely no libations were involved), was thinking about packing it in. His Hello Kitty backpack was in tatters despite numerous operations involving duct tape and bungies and the brains of Gecko, etc. Boulder offered up that he had an extra ruck in his car. After Cadre Dannygave the go-ahead Boulder and Oscar Meyer double-timed it to the parking lot. It wouldn’t be the last time members of Blue Platoon would rally around each other.
The next exercise was a favorite of many members of BP – the sharing of the 6 word sentence. I don’t remember his name – but his Irish brogue, his story of waking up in the hospital and his “will I be able to play the piano?” punchline set the tone – powerful and personal. Cadre Danny gave us a brief scolding for a lack of reverence and a firm reminder of what was coming down the pike.He reminded me of Kurt Russell in Tombstone “tell them the Cadres are coming and they are bringing Hell with them them!” Cadre Danny’s message was clear – we had received a gift, take Fing advantage of it dipshit(s)!
Set straight, many members of BP shared their sentences and their stories. The other platoons had moved out and as PL I was nervous we were behind. Cadre Danny gave me a simple look that said “chill, we are no hurry”. All the shares were powerful but Mercy’s really hit home for me. As a teacher for over 20 years I have seen the absence of a male role model as the big problem in so many kids’ lives. That he is stepping up to fill that void is impressive. Present is more important than perfect. We were cold and tired but energized as we headed back towards the parade ground.
Part VI – MOLL
As we re-fit and prepared to move out, Mother Rucker looked like Lloyd from “Dumb and Dumber” after his moped ride – he was pale (about 3 shades away from undead ) and shivering . Suddenly the entire Blue Platoon created a BOMR in an attempt to get him warm again. Thankfully there was no Barry White music playing…that would have been awkward. Cadre Danny gave very specific orders: make sure your guys re-water, grab a flag and TWO logs. If I was a millenial, I may have asked “are the other platoons also carrying two logs?” Instead I decided to STFU. Cadre Danny must have noticed the Hoss-like status of Blue Platoon ( I mean we had a dude who wore a short sleeve the ENTIRE GRT – he’s from F3 Twin Cities and his new F3 name should either be Jon Snow or The King of the North) and known even with the dipshit they have as PL they will get it done. BP moved out with all that was asked of us – full water bladders, a shovel flag, and two logs: John Holmes and Long Dong Silver.
We stopped in the parking lot to pick up some extra water and we were off. Unlike earlier when we all happy to not be Trinity, There were now 30 members of BP glaring at me saying “I wish I was that Fing guy!” Shouldering Holmes and Silver was pure misery – if Dante had an 8th level of Hell this may have been it. As we approached Handel’s Ice Cream, I thought Cadre Danny must have wanted some Rocky Road because he ordered us to halt. He pulled me aside and like the Gap Band dropped the bomb on me – I had forgotten to take the team weight with us so we would be retracing our steps to Miakonda with the Two logs and starting over. That I would swear on my testicles that the weight was never mentioned in the original order was immaterial. (I am not sure if the dumbass look on my face planted a seed of doubt in Cadre Danny’s head or they had informed him that this Dauber guy is the dude that falls a lot (my go to move at the GRT Cincy). Whatever the reason, he took pity on me and said we would wait to have the weights brought to us. SIDE NOTE – That Cadre Danny stated as much at the amphitheater speaks to his leadership. Hold yourself accountable – another lesson learned from this Masterclass.) As the other platoons caught up with us I pleaded with their PLs to loan us a few guys since we had two logs and they had one. After a brief discussion “I can’t spare any guys -we are really struggling with our log…oh really we have one more guy and one more LOG – for the love of god give me a couple of guys”. Finally, We were able to procure 4 guys from each platoon. I don’t remember all 8 but I know Klinger, Dredd, Wake, and FIAB were among them. Tall(er) PAX took the lead log and our the Pax with a lower center of gravity shouldered the caboose log (with our PS Honey Bear focusing his leadership there). At one point in the suffering, Cadre Danny asked me “Do you have a plan?” The answer was fairly obvious. Thankfully BP just kept putting one foot in front of the other and managed to finish ahead of the other two platoons who were carrying ONLY one log a piece. As we reached the back of McCord and the logs were lowered I felt like a wealthy billionaire who”climbs” Everest on the back of sherpas or Phil Jackson. The men of Blue Platoon had dominated and earned the title Masters Of the Large Logs.
Part VII – Ain’t no party like a PT party.
5 minutes of burpees, timed Butterfly kicks and situps, and a shuttle run. What is a RAK? Correct. Impressed by the accountability and the effort given by 97 PAX. 77 Burpees by Hacksaw =Just Plain Ridiculous
Part VIII – The Long and Winding Road Home
The question was asked often as we re-fit after the PT test -” Are we going to have to carry those logs back?” Belding’s solution to just walk into traffic with them became more attractive after Shakira and Dusty, who took over as PL and PS for Blue Platoon, informed us that the answer would be yes. Cadre Mocha Mike’s declaration that we would be caching Holmes and Silver was a pleasant surprise and Shakira looked like a genius at coupon Uno because we now had only one sandbag to deal with. Noise discipline was stressed as we headed towards Lourdes University and then we stumbled upon a house party still raging near 5 AM and we were about as far from noise discipline as you could get. A young lady kept asking “what were we protesting?” Well cookies with nuts for one thing, but I digress. Bets may or may have not been taken if the balcony would hold or not. As we turned the corner and headed to Miakonda, It got a bit dicey for awhile – we had trouble keeping it tight, guys were not staying with their buddies and Mocha Mike seemed ready to bring the pain. The solution was again obvious – watch Red Platoon stop in a parking lot and do 40 burpees. In unison we thought “let’s not be those Fing guys” and promptly got our shit together. We were changing out spots in the three man carry like we were in a NASCAR pit. Mother Rucker, who had almost succumbed to the cold earlier in the night, and Belding carried the sandbag FOREVER. The sun peaked through and the guys in Blue Platoon eagerly got under an elbow, grabbed the team weight,. or carried an extra ruck. We were in the final stretch…maybe?
Part IX – On Golden Pond
Shakira broke us out into squads for some Spring cleaning around the parade ground. The Pyramid at Giza had lasted for millenia, ours did not last the night. We teamed up with a few squads from another platoon to return logs to their original place. The highlight had to be Cadre Shredder leading us in a GROW – RUCK, GOOD – LIVING cadence as we made our way back to the amphitheater – Another Damn this is awesome moment. Guy has a great voice. I would listen to a podcast of Cadre Shredder just reading the Yellow Pages. We enjoyed the sunrise and some solid words from Dredd before Cadre Danny explained our next task – A partner carry around Golden Pond. I was partnered with Bo Schembechler. He really screwed the pooch on this one due to my 245 to his 215, but that is what you get when you punch a Clemson player in the face. It was cool to see nearly the entire PAX double back for the 6 and grab a ruck of someone who was struggling.
Part X – This is the End
As we formed up on the parade ground, preparing for one last smokeshow, I thought how did I get here? I should be reading the paper with a cup of coffee thinking of ways to limit my trips up the stairs – that would have been me a year ago. Instead I was surrounded by friends old and new – sharing laughs and handshakes looking at each other knowing that “we just kicked this pig in the balls” (a Gapism, which is not to be confused with a Gapasm) . Men who pushed me with their words and more importantly their actions. Pixar, Bambi, Nails, Haskell, Belding, Brute, Gap – these are the guys that surrounded me all night. I know everyone in Blue Platoon had a crew like that who did the same for them – I encourage you to share in the comments section who those dudes were. That is what will truly make this backblast complete.
Although I don’t think I could top Jimmy Dean’s words and gesture, I would like to end this by thanking the Cadres: Danny, Mocha Mike, and Shredder. What you have given of yourselves in the service of this country most of us cannot begin to understand. The chunks of wisdom you imparted throughout the night whether funny ”lady noises” or serious “it matters at the end” have been embraced by the 97 men who had the privilege to be in your company. It is most likely the reason all 97 of us finished. It is now on us 2621 to impart it on others.
- Dauber, F3 Toledo