PAX: Flounder, Abacus, Nino, McAfee, Kilo, WetSack (FNG), Fanny Pack, Chestnut, Tool Time, Weed Wacker, Logs, Big Bird, Miyagi, Huggies, Iceman, Alexa, Mama’s Boy, Fatone, Plumb Bob, Snow Day, Diablo
Q Gear: Salomon XA Pro 3D Shoes; SmartWool socks; Reebok dry fit undies; Go Ruck Challenge pants; Nike tactical belt; F3 MudGear shirt (as sponsored by F3 Naperville); Nike Pro Gear half-zip; Patagonia rain jacket (that I kept taking on and off); mechanics gloves I bought at the gas station on way to Ruck; 5.11 hat with sweet GrowRuck Tough patch
Q Ruck: Go Ruck Rucker 1.0 (in orange) with 30 lb plate, decorated with my prized Rainbow Unicorn patch
It hit me when planning this ruck that Q’ing our monthly Ruck event is a bigger responsibility than I’d initially imagined. Men are coming out late on a weekend, missing a night at home, maybe even missing a family event, just to go carry heavy things in the rain, and to take direction from someone that knows no more than them. Accordingly, it’s not something I could just “wing,” which is my normal MO.
But, it’s also worth noting that when we Ruck, we don’t just go out and walk, or simply carry things. We are getting stronger. Doing it together. Getting to know the guy next to us a little better. Strengthening male relationships. Working as a team. Leaving no man behind. Hopefully, these are all things we take with us when we’re done. They’re my favorite events.
21 PAX gathered at Seneca Park at 8:00 pm, meeting at the basketball courts. I circled them up and gave a brief overview of what we were going to do; provided a quick disclaimer; and, an instruction that we were in it together. (Yes, I give a F about an Oxford comma.) No gear check – I trusted that the HIMs with me were properly loaded to push themselves. (Iceman was there at the start, though his full camo caused us not to see him until the ruck started.)
We picked up our two 6X6x8 posts, which when dry weighed approx 95 lbs; the 6 pumpkins; Val (our heavy sandbag); and our “lil’ sandbag,” which weighed approx 30 lbs. With team weights in hand and spirits high, we headed toward St. Matthews Baptist Church for some PT.
A note about the pumpkins: Last year, I and 6 others traveled to Toledo for the GrowRuck Tough event. Through a series of conflicts, those 6 HIMs couldn’t make this Ruck, so each pumpkin represented one of them, identified by name and their given excuse for not making it —
Once at the church, we stopped for the first trivia question. If PAX answer it correctly, rucks come off for PT; answer incorrectly, rucks stay on. The question: In The Shining, what hall of fame baseball player’s autograph is on the baseball bat with which Wendy strikes Jack? PAX had no clue and offered wild guesses, which I of course suspected would be he case. (Carl Yastrzemski btw.) Rucks thus stayed on. PAX partnered up. Partner one would do a T-Merkin, or a hand release merkin, while Partner 2 did a deep squat. Partner 2 could only come up from squat when Partner 1 was up from his Merkin. PAX did 2 sets of 10 reps of this. Many PAX shedded a layer at this point, as there was a break in the rain.
PAX then picked our weights back up so we could head to our next stop. I gave some direction as to how and where we’d use some sidewalks.
From the church, we rucked through the neighborhood, politely heckled a house party, and made good time to the parking lot at Baptist. At this piece of pavement, another trivia question was posed: Who haunted Carol Ann through the mirrors in her aunt’s high rise Chicago apartment? Again, PAX had no clue, just as I’d hoped. (Rev. Kane btw – scared me to death when I was a youngster.) So, rucks became a part of the PT. PAX partnered up. Partner 1 did 10 manmakers while Partner 2 counted. Switch when done. And, then, another round, so each PAX did 20 manmakers. (These always suck.)
When finished, PAX performed a gear check and many put on rain jackets. (Huggies called us all names under his breath, as his arms glistened in his short sleeves.) I learned the hard way that I need to remember to put the water valve inside the Ruck when doing this crap, as I shattered mine on the manmakers.
This gear check also prompted one of my favorite scenes from the evening. Miyagi has some issues with the straps on his Ruck. Did he have to repair them alone? No, McAfee and Abacus (and I think maybe another) were right there with him, getting it fixed. A simple thing, but a small example of “never alone.”
PAX gathered the weights, including the wet pumpkins, which were becoming a menace, and plowed ahead toward Brown Park. Once there, we circled around to the old Brown Family Cemetery, the family graveyard for those of the James Graham Brown clan. It’s in poor shape, locked up, and our headlights revealed that some of the vaults have been opened over the years. Pretty spooky place, unless you’ve got 20 fellow ruckers with you. Here, PAX removed their rucks, took a short rest, and had a light snack.
The PAX was set for the final push. It was raining heavily at this point, but as the rain increased, so did the mumblechatter. WeedWacker is a talker; Chestnut always has an observation; Nino likes The Office as much as I do; Kilo and McAfee kept morale high and spirits light all night; Fanny Pack never wants to put a weight down; Abacus is always a machine; Huggies laughed at our gear in his T-shirt & shorts. I could go on, but as I lightly directed the PAX on the route, I just listened and observed and laughed. A personal highlight for me.
Our final stop was the soccer field at an unnamed location. (We probably should have stayed off that field – it was a muddy mess.) I asked a final trivia question: How did Michael Meyers die in Halloween III? It was a trick question, as he wasn’t even in that sequel. McAfee got me on a technicality, but I pulled Q rank and did what I wanted anyway. So, rucks stayed on. PAX lined up holding a plank. It was then an Indian bear crawl around the line to the front. In the mud. It was almost impossible, but it was good work, and allowed PAX to experience the elements, as if pouring rain wasn’t enough.
After that mess, we picked the weights back up and circled back to St. Matthews Baptist. Everything was heavy at this point. The log Kilo and I carried back to the church weighed an estimated 247 lbs at finish. Water treated my ass. At the church, we stored the logs, the pumpkins, and threw the weighted bags in Huggies cool Chevy Silverado. (I’ll trade my used Trek bicycle straight up for it Huggies – just let me know.)
The PAX then moved at a fairly blistering pace toward the cold beers waiting for us at Gerstles. It honesty took no time to get there, but I was thirsty, too, so we took a direct route. Here’s a map of the 7.5 miles we covered:
Gerstles was a perfect end spot on this night. Enough of a crowd to make it fun, but plenty of space for our rucks and to move and talk. The first round was on YHC, so long as everyone was cool with an ice cold PBR, which they of course were.
We then fielded the typical “what the hell are you guys doing” questions, and caught up on the evening. We didn’t close it down or anything, but were there long enough to learn that McAfee can move (have him tell you about his hip hop days), and that Mama’s Boy is not allowed on the stage, though he tried.
I hope all enjoyed it as much as I did, and I’m already looking forward to the next one.
As always, thank you for the opportunity to be a part of THIS.