In the predawn hours of August 8, eleven men gathered at JJ Biello Park’s east lot, while one young man listened to the crickets chirp at the west lot. Spiccoli (whose name isn’t yet on the PAX Names dropdown – our apologies) caught up to us at about 0515, less than a minute before we would have disappeared into the woods for hours. YHC was glad to have a buddy for the morning, and Spiccoli really needed one. Didn’t get the memo about things such as starting location, extra head lamp, or not leaving his water in the car! Spiccoli – when you arrive fit and over-prepared for your first day of Air Force training in November, I hope you look back on this morning with fondness.
0500 – Form up by the backlit shovel flag for briefing. Buddy up for the duration of the event – work with your buddy, communicate with your buddy, and don’t leave your buddy behind.
0505 – Warm-up PT – complete with your buddy 100 shared reps for each exercise – SSH, Merkins, BBS. Form up. Look at the map (training exercise battle plan/Weinke)
0520 – Phase 1 – as Spiccoli catches us at the other end of the field, we head east (toward Venus) to find The Chose One. YHC had looked over the large rip rap rocks the morning before on a scouting mission and had “chosen one” that was just the right size (72.62 lb., as a matter of fact). There she was, on the opposite bank of the Little River, marked with yellow straps just bright enough to catch a headlamp beam at 30 yards, and waiting to be rescued. Hass and Gut Check were thrilled that she was a blonde after some anticipatory daydreaming. We helped one another form a stable assembly line across the river and passed her from her lodging spot back over to the near bank for passage across our territory. Hass, having demonstrated on prior rucks in this park how much he likes to take a good trip, once again lost his footing. This time being midstream in the river, rather than on the creek bank, I think his Pellican box was tested for waterproofing. Good thing your buddy was there to pull you up!
We dripped dry and shared the weight of The Chosen One as we gave her safe passage to the northwest corner of our territory, at the confluence of Little River and Rubes Creek. Thanks are due to our man, Butterfly, for stepping up and providing his timing services, so that each man knew when their minute was up. We dropped the Chosen One off to await her next transport – phase 1 complete.
0605 – YHC advised the PAX that the next phase of our mission was to be more buddy PT. We waded upstream and across Rubes Creek, up the trail to JJ Biello West to hear Spiccoli’s crickets. This is where he divulged that his only headlamp was dead and his water was in his car, which ironically was no longer in the vicinity! There’s a steep hill at The Valley Playground that’s been begging some attention from our group for some time now. This morning we crawled all over it to make some good memories and get stronger together. Buddy PT in the form of a Dora 1-2-3. For the sake of time: Dora 1-1-1. Ruck off. Buddy 1 starts rep count at the base of the hill while buddy 2 bear crawls up to the sidewalk and crab walks back down. (Missed my man 8-Bit at precisely this point, as crab walks are his very favorite.) Cumulatively with your buddy, perform 100 sledge hammers (American Hammer w/ruck in hand), 100 Bench Press (w/ruck in hand), 100 Ruck High Pulls (and some extra credit reps for many). Thanks are due here to Exile and Gut Check for stepping up and leading the early finishers in some tough Mary. This PT sesh was a fairly brutal arm combo that still has me sore as I type this on Tuesday morning. Of note, YHC and several other PAX hit the two mile mark while crawling up the hill. Slow going when the Q lays such burdensome work on the PAX. Phase 2 complete.
0640 – Phase 3 – Tame the Beast and take her back to base. First order of business, ruck south (toward the moon, right, gents?) via the Fairy Trail to find said beast. Hasbro’s knee doesn’t want him to go, but his heart wins, and we all end up at the end of the only road we saw all morning. Now The Beast is sort of a suburban log. She has a rustic brown stain finish, four big wrought iron handles, and four D-rings. She weighs 110 lbs. Until you hang 4 rucksacks on her. Each rucksack was equipped with a carabiner clipped to the top handle, which attached it easily to the beast’s D-rings. The next 3/4 mile was the slowest pace of the morning with 4 men carrying the beast, ruck on, and sharing 250 lb. + on their shoulder. She was tough to tame, but we managed. Another crew of four rucked alongside for moral support. And the ruck-off crew (whose rucks adorned the beast’s sides) completed a round of exercises. We continued like this until all three crews of 4 had manned each position three times. The first round of exercises was 20 burpees, the second was 30 squats, and the third was 20 merkins, if my memory serves me correctly. Back down the road, past PT hill, and ready to re-enter the trail to Rubes Creek, every man rucked up again after a brief recovery. The Beast had been tamed, and she rode along the rest of the morning at her much more manageable birth weight of 110 lb. The knock-off Go-Pro video is still being sorted through. Phase 3 complete.
0710 – Phase 4 – Return to base (field side nearest the shovel flag) with The Beast and The Chosen One whose other transport never arrived. Finish strong with PT and ruck until time. The PAX did a fine job of communicating, sharing the litter load, and keeping an agreeable attitude. We took a longer woodland trail back to the southwest perimeter of the fields to lay down our extra burdens at base. Time to finish strong with more physical training exercises. 4 X 100 reps – Squats (ruck on), Overhead Claps (ruck on), LBC (ruck off), Flutter Kick (ruck over chest). OYO, break up as needed. We picked up the six to complete every man’s reps, then rucked 400 meters to finish at 0800.
COT, group photo, and coffeeteria followed. We asked the Lord for grace to step up and lead while others are stepping aside and standing down in the face of the challenges our society is facing. We asked for mercy for those affected directly by COVID-19, especially our brother Stopwatch and his wife, and Jack Bauer’s extended family.
We rucked 4.63 miles together through some difficult terrain and with the added weight of The Chosen One and The Beast. We came together as a unit. We led one another and looked out for one another. We followed one another’s leadership with grace and honor. And we got stronger together in body, mind, and spirit.
What a pleasure leading you men. Thank you for listening to my instructions, completing the mission with me, sharing your stories, and tolerating my musings about a big rock, a heavy beast, navigating by the moon and stars, situational awareness, and the like.
Blessed to have met SuperDave, Spiccoli, and ‘Squatch for the first time and to hear some of each of their stories. Spiccoli – you’re on a great path, and we’re proud of your progress, brother. Go serve well, and thank you in advance. Oh, and be sure to know where to go. Oh, and bring all the supplies on the list. Put them IN your rucksack. SuperDave – thanks for making the hospital work. Technology is cool. Keep on shredding pounds like a Ninja. Sasquatch – glad you’ve circled back around to rucking, and may it become a mainstay in this part of your life’s journey. Glad to have you men in F3 Cherokee.
Snowflake – we don’t see you often enough in the gloom. So good to have you back out! And we are praying for you and HHC as you resume Sunday morning operations in person. You are a man full of God’s grace and Spirit.
Exile and C4 – with just a little more work, you’ll be fit enough to not fall behind on these easy little rucks. I kid, I kid. You fellas keep on pushing yourselves and your brothers to get stronger in every way. Thank you for joining in the fun this morning.
Hasbro – add some duct tape to that knee brace, and keep on posting, you bionic brawny machine!
Butterfly – I’ve only posted with you half a dozen times, yet I feel like I’ve known you for years. Really appreciate your quiet strength (a la Tony Dungy). You were born to ruck.
And my WoodstockRucks regulars – DropBox, Hass, and Gut Check – one more link in the chain of countless rucking memories with you crazy dudes. Thank you for humbling yourselves to be led by little old me. Three years ago I would not have imagined myself having such honorable men in my closest circles of friendship. I am grateful for each of you.