I did it against the better judgement of well, everyone. I really couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take on the first ever GORUCK Nasty. This was GORUCKs first attempt at an obstacle course and they decided to base it on Nasty Nick, the course all Green Berets must pass. So what it boiled down to was an obstacle course over 6+ miles at Massanutten, VA developed by current and former Green Berets and Marine Recons. Could I do all of the obstacles? Absolutely not, I may have some stuff torn in my shoulder, but shhhh, don’t tell my mom I’m doing this. My physical therapist taped me up and give me strict instructions on what I could and could not do. We also decided it would be best if I wore a sling for extra support AND to prevent me from accidentally trying to use my right arm when I shouldn’t be.
The car I was in didn’t make it down to the campground at Massanutten Resort until 3:30AM on Saturday morning. Luckily I was able to sleep most of the 7+ hour ride down. Somehow we found someone awake at that time to show us where to set up our Marmot Limelight 3 tent. By the time we were all set up and everyone from the car settled into a sleeping location it was nearing 4. Oh goody, I have an 8:15 start time. After a few short hours of restless sleep we were up and trying to get ready. It was cold, damp, windy, and rain was in the forecast. Eventually we made it down to the start line around 9 and were able to get in a group a little after that to start.
From the start we headed up a little hill to take on a low crawl, cargo net, and rope swing. The first cargo net was at enough of an angle that I decided to give it a go. With some friends around me, just in case I had a problem, I was able to make it. This was the start of assistance and encouragement from both friends and strangers alike throughout the next few hours. For the rope swing, I held on to the rope with my good arm and 3 people carried me up and over. Teamwork is key is a favorite phrase in GORUCK and the GORUCK family was my team. Continuing on I laid down in the mud and did a mud angel for the volunteer hosing people down and telling them that they weren’t nasty looking yet. I was also able to do the low walls but then had to just watch and take pictures for the next few obstacles.
As we continued on we met up with more friends and soon became a large group. There was a long line for the underground tunnels which gave us a chance to catch up with one another and make some new friends. I really wanted to do the tunnels since my PT said I could low crawl using only my left arm but the group convinced me that it wasn’t in my bodies best interest. It turns out the underground tunnels were rather tight and made some sharp turns. Good thing I didn’t go in. Next up were long, black, uphill tubes. Inside they were slippery but I managed a regular crawl with just my left arm but eventually had to do a monkey walk.
On we went to the Monkey Bars. Yup, not a chance I was going to even pretend to do them. It was amusing to see people try. A fair amount of people didn’t even make it to the first bar as they had to jump to reach it. This is when a lot more of the uphill began. Finally, something I can do well that my arm doesn’t get in the way of. At the top of the first big hill was the Nut Cracker. Something else I could do. I was pumped. Up and over, using my legs as much as I could. hen it was time to head back down the ski slope and then go up again. Now either we were getting higher or the cloud level was dropping lower. Up in the clouds was a wickedly awesome looking obstacle with a rope climb, cargo net traverse, and downhill ladder. Perhaps next year I will be able to come back and do it, but this year it was a look but don’t touch.
We headed back down the mountain only to be confronted by a long stretch of low crawl with barbed wires. When I have done other races like the Tough Mudder they put the barbed wire higher up and some regular wire lower down. Well, this is GORUCK so it was all barbed wire, and it was very low. Most people went head first on their stomachs. I improvised and went feet first on my back, inch worming down with my feet and abs. A few rips in my pants and a very sore bum but I made it through. There were quite a few people that ended up a little bloody after this between rocks and barbed wire. Once out of the wire we headed over to boards set up with American flags for the Memorial March back up the ski slope. Before heading up a Cadre talked to us a little bit about those service members who had been POWs or KIA and never made it home. This steep, uphill march with a flag was to remind us of their ultimate sacrifice for our country.
After placing the flags in a peg up top we were grouped up to head out along the Mogadishu Mile and back down the mountain. This time we were along a fire road so it was a little easier going on the knees. It also gave me the chance to chat with someone I had just met while shadowing the Custom 9/11 GORUCK Challenge and meet some new friends that also happened to be from Connecticut. This is also when it started to rain. We had gotten very luck because the rain held out a lot longer then originally forecast. Back near the bottom we came to the final five obstacles. First up was walking along logs that were NOT secured down. Teamwork came in handy again as people had to hold the ends of the log from rolling while someone walked along.
The final stretch started off with Incline Walls before moving on to the Weaver. For the Weaver you need to go over a rung and then under the next as if you were the thread weaving through a clothe. I knew I couldn’t weave, but I did attempt just climbing up and over. This was not my smartest move as I came to realize I didn’t know how to get down without using both arms. At the bottom of the final rung I also realized you were suppose to hang off and jump down, oops. Instead I got assistance from a few guys who were able to get me on their shoulders and lower me down. The improvised Weaver would be my last obstacle of the day.
The final two obstacles I would have loved to do but I had to take a rain check. Second to last was the Confidence Climb. The Confidence Climb looks like a giant ladder that you are suppose to go up one side of and down the other. Oh, it’s easily 30+ feet up too with only high jump mats below to break your fall. This is one that I would like all four of my limbs functioning properly to tackle. The Tough One was the final obstacle of Nasty and the one that I would love to one day take on. To start there is a rope climb (or ladder) to get up. Once on the platform you had to walk along 10+ pieces of wood to get to another ladder. Get up the ladder and there was a final cargo net to climb down. Lastly, there was a short run down to the finish line to receive your Nasty patch for finishing.
As much as it was fun to take on an obstacle course race the best part of the event was seeing friends from all over the country. I think the obstacle course was just an excuse to have one big GORUCK family reunion while introducing some new people to GORUCK. It wasn’t about the time you finished rather that you gave all you had while having fun. It turns out that I took such good care of my shoulder that it actually hurts more to type this then it did to take on the Nasty.
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