Why I Want to Work for GORUCK

GORUCK GR1

Forward: First and foremost, out of respect for my current employer, I have to say that I have had a great career, and worked with some wonderful people who have become like family to me. I have also earned the trust of some very significant clients in the business world, and for that I am thankful. This life move for me is based on personal choices I have made in wanting to improve my life. But more so, I hope I can write this in a way that will make people think. Make people move. Make people wake up, take notice, personal inventory, whatever… and fucking live. Live for a living.

Are You Living?

Yesterday, driving through downtown Atlanta, an obviously stressed-out, frustrated lady in a VW Beetle, complete with namaste and peace sign flashing, frog stickers, flipped me off in traffic. There was a certain hilarity in the hypocrisy of the image she was trying to portray, versus her actual actions as played out in the streets of real life.

Then, looking at all the billboards along the highway, I noticed that every service company, every business school, every product, was trying to “sell me” with messages of meaningful acquisition via uber-simplicity, thus promising the greatest gain for the least amount of effort.

We’ve become a nation of comforts. And from my frame of reference in the bigger cities, a nation of growing perceived value in materialism, coupled with a lesser value in personal relationships. Real relationships. Not Tinder hookups, nor Facebook friends, nor Instagram followers, but real, honest, “go through some real shit together”-relationships.

And lastly, one of my biggest pet peeves, and until lately, my own personal struggles as well, the apathy of our daily lives. Most of us wake up, maybe exercise, but most likely that’s just an intention. We slug down some coffee, tea, drugs, or whatever else will get us together enough to face the day; and then, get in our heated or air conditioned cars, drive to our climate-controlled offices, send emails a’plenty, suffer through increasingly more mindless, meaningless meetings, all centered around some cause we most likely don’t even believe in, and smile and nod and share our talents for really no purpose at all.

…but hey, it’s a job right?

And we repeat this day after day, year after year, until something changes to change us. Or worse, nothing changes, and we die without ever really living in the first place.

If this is not you. I applaud you. You are the minority, …but I’m about to join you.

GORUCK HQ

Not me. Not anymore.

After a series of dramatic life events, some out of my control, but many within my control, and just results of poor, self-centered decision-making, I found myself needing to tackle a few important things:

  1. To be a better a man.
  2. To work for something in which I am passionate.
  3. To work for something that gives back to a worthy cause.

While #1 is a long personal journey, #2 and #3 are easily satisfied by associating myself with an organization like GORUCK. I own, and swear by, their gear; I do the events, and I know, first-hand, the life-changing experiences that come from taking on these GORUCK challenges.

Who is GORUCK?

Most of you in OCR are at least familiar with GORUCK, but most likely know very little about the company, and the events.

GORUCK, as a company does two great things – it designs, develops, and produces top-quality rucking gear and accessories. The gear is made with quality in mind, not margin. Yes, it’s a business, but the primary goal is quality. GORUCK gear is made in the USA, has a ridiculously simple “break it and we’ll fix it” product guarantee on all rucks, and should you ever need to actually talk to someone, you can email, or speak, directly to a human being.

The second great thing GORUCK does it put on unique events designed to challenge individuals, and develop teamwork, through a series of physical, mental and emotional tasks, all rolled up into a 6, 12, or 24-hour experience. There’s even a 5K event, allowing folks to get a small taste of the vibe of GORUCK.

The world needs GORUCK

1

I am passionate about GORUCK because, again, as someone who has done the events, I can truly say that the experiences have contributed to changing my life. Perhaps the greatest thing GORUCK has taught me is the value and efficiency in teamwork. Outside of the Kill That 5K event, you will not get through a GORUCK event without participating, and contributing, to the team.

You walk away from these events smarter, stronger, and with a greater sense of life not being all about you. You learn to solve challenging tasks as a group, and get to experience the elation associated with that kind of success.

It’s amazing to watch participants during the post event “ruck-off”. You literally watch people change. People bond, shake hands, hug, talk about the crazy challenges they conquered, swear to do another one, on and on and on.

We are inherently social beings. We need each other. GORUCK gives us a way to play that out.

Just like every person on the planet could benefit from the kind of training the military delivers to young men and women, every single person on the planet can benefit from GORUCK events. While GORUCK event leaders (called “cadre”) are current, or previous special forces military personnel, the events they design are for everyone.

I love that. GORUCK really is focused on building better Americans.

Lastly, and so very important to me as someone who’s number one man in his life is a World War II veteran, GORUCK donates a significant portion of profits to veterans-related causes. This is the icing on the cake for me, and satisfies my #3 so very nicely.

We treat our veterans like shit. I’m appalled by it, embarrassed about it, and feel the need to apologize to every veteran I see who finds themselves having to fight with the government for medical and financial benefits owed to them for service. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have the freedom to write all my passionate tirades, or the freedom to do anything I do.

We owe our veterans everything they deserve and then some. The fact that GORUCK is not only built on this foundation, but also supports it greatly, makes it one of the greatest places I could ever choose to work.

GORUCK Challenge

So How About You?

What are you passionate about? Do you love what you do? Could you take your skills and seek out a company that shares in your values, AND could benefit from your experience? Or maybe, even start your own.

I get it. Some people will say, “hey, I do what I gotta do to pay the bills.” …and I totally get it; but so do I. I have a kid in college, family members to help support, life hobbies and adventures, general living expenses. I get it.

But nothing stops you from taking that first step and questioning it.

Stop right now. Think about who you would like to work for, and write down three organizations that satisfy your dream job, and make it happen.

Worst thing that happens, you learn something about yourself.

Best thing that happens, you follow your passion, and succeed.

Either way, you win.

Do nothing, and you lose to your dreams.

Live for Living.

Thanks for reading, and thank you GORUCK for believing in me. I plan to join you in creating the rucking revolution, because, again, the world needs GORUCK.

 

Go Pound Gravel

Foreword: It says alot about Matt B. Davis, and our entire ORM team, to support my inclusion in this media company. My writing can downright make OCR enthusiasts uncomfortable, and even angry at times; yet, Matt and team ORM support me because what I talk about is real. It’s real stuff, really happening, and that we all see, in a sport we all know and love. It doesn’t always create feelings of sunshine and kittens, but ORM understands the importance and value of artistic freedom, rather than buckling under the pressure of just wanting to be liked among our community peers.

Love it or hate it, our unique content is what separates us from the handfuls of promo-code pimps, and I’ll champion for artistic freedom over popularity, any day of the week.

Lack of Athletic Integrity

Awhile back, I wrote an article about cheating in obstacle races, and more specifically, the huge number of participants not performing their burpee penalties when failing an obstacle during a Spartan Race.

“Oh, I’m sorry, you’re under-trained and 20 lbs overweight? by all means, skip the penalty, here’s your participation token for a job almost well done.”

“And by the way, see that dude with one leg, a ruck sack, and full fatigues? Sucks for him, too, but he did it.”

Do the Task or Stay Home

Now, recently, we’ve all seen the image floating around Facebook of the dude I like to affectionately refer to as, “Gravel Guy” – the dude who empties his bucket in what appears to an effort to make the challenge easier.

Spartan Race Cheater "gravel guy"

And once again, this topic of participation integrity comes up in the social sphere, and also once again, I have some very strong opinions on this topic; HOWEVER, I most want to address some of our community’s response to the post.

“And Go…”

I am proud to call Margaret Schlachter, of the popular OCR blog community, Dirt in your Skirt, a friend; and, I believe it may have been her that posted the image first. She made no judgement at the time, just linked to the image, and simply said, “And go…”

And people did.

Facebook Spartan cheat post

However, what struck me the most was the OCR community’s response to such actions. First, one must assume, as did almost all the respondents, that the participant did this in an effort to make the task easier, and thus cheat. Making this same assumption, I would like to randomly address some of the comments that resulted from the image.

“I always say its your race worry about your actions.”

Or another, “Why does it even matter? It’s his race. You’re not running to beat him. You don’t know his story or struggles. “

It’s not your race. It’s not my race. The race has a race owner, director, and the format has very specific, written rules, regarding participant conduct. I believe this comment to be indicative of the “I paid my entry fee, I can do whatever I want” culture. It has no place in OCR, nor sport at all.

His story and struggles are again not relevant. The rules of sport and participation do not change based on your personal circumstances, interpretations or whims of the moment.

“unless in competitive wave, the experience is personal”

What??? So, if someone doesn’t pay the extra money for the first wave, they are not competitive? How exactly do we define who is competitive and who is not? See above. The experience might be personal to you, but its not your race to do whatever you want.

“No one here can judge him.”

From a sporting perspective, he absolutely can be judged. For an athlete to be disqualified in legitimate sport, there is first a case made for the infraction, both sides share their perspective, and a “judge” decides whether or not the athlete will be disqualified or penalized. If I see a photo of a participant cheating an obstacle, I feel perfectly justified to judge that action as such.

He might be as sweet as a pecan sandy, as a person, but he’s cheating an obstacle in athletic competition.

“You people need to find something better to do with your time! Be supportive, not rude!”

Seriously? Be supportive of what exactly? cheating? taking a shortcut? displaying poor athletic integrity?

I get it. There are some topics that fire people up, and some that just don’t have that same effect. But as someone who believes strongly in athletic integrity, I’m glad some of us are taking the time to share the perspective that cheating, and tolerance of such, puts a black eye in the game for everyone.

“This post could be very embarrassing for them and they might not come back into the game.”

So what? Then dude shouldn’t have emptied his bucket in front of official photographers. Hopefully, the lesson learned for dude was not to cheat. If he wants to continue to cheat, then I hope he, they, whoever, don’t come back.

In trail racing, if you are caught cutting the course, you will be DQ’d. Plain and simple.

If you purposely dump your bucket in a Spartan Race, thus “course cutting” your obstacle challenge by choice, you should be DQ’d.

A Simple Concept.

It makes me crazy that this is such a difficult concept for some in our community to grasp, and especially when you consider the roots of OCR, and the strong influence of police, fire and military conduct.

Do the task or stay home.

Can’t do the task? Do your burpees. Take your lumps. Go home, learn the task, and come back to fight another day.

It’s that simple.

That’s not just a lesson in OCR, that’s the basic premise of living a successful life.

Cheating is universally unacceptable in sport.

OCR should be no different.

 

Cranky Bastard Logo Contest Winner

Meet Cranky Bastard

Cranky Bastard logo winner

Why This Logo?

First of all, choosing was incredibly difficult. I liked every single one of the logos, and quite honestly, the craziest, most maniacal ones were my absolute favorite. I agree that some looked more angry, than cranky, but I think that’s ok.

In the end, I went with the one I found to be the most unique logo design.

Other reasons I like this logo:

  1. There is really nothing else like it.
  2. As a pudgy racer, I’m much like the character.
  3. I like the “confusion” element of the icons around him.
  4. The distressed look, while sometimes played out, works here.
  5. There is a subtle feel of barbed wire to it, and I love barbed wire.

The Contest Winner

The winner of the comments contest was “Josh”. So, now “Josh” needs to respond to us using the same Hotmail email address he signed up with, and dude has a free race entry. Where ya at, kid?

I liked his response as it was obvious that he took the time to review the options, think it through, and respond. I’m a sucker for analytical people, plus he was kind of funny.

His comment read:

I would go with the stenciled guy gripping his fists. I like the font and that he looks pissed and irate and cranky at the same time.

1. The logos in the circles look like the little guy is taking a sh!t.
2. The other stenciled logo looks mischievous but not cranky.
3. The masked hero would be Fat Bastard, but he’s no Cranky Bastard
4. The dog and monkey logos are played out and childish
5. The panda one reminds me too much of Kung Fu Panda

Back to Being Cranky

Ok, enough with the niceties and love-stuff. I’ve got a boatload of Cranky content coming down the pipe, exploring all kinds of funny, interesting, and goofy elements of our OCR culture.

We are a “look at me” culture. That’s a simple fact. One look at OCR participant Facebook pages and Instagrams proves that, so keep an open mind, read with a light heart, and really, it’s ok to laugh at ourselves from time to time.

Congrats, Josh, hope you pick a really cool race to shred.

It’s Not Making You Faster

Huarache sandals

©2013 Scott Smuin

Who do we blame?

Born to Run?

Vibram?

Luna?

Barefoot Ted?

Beyond The Minimalist Movement

I’m going to piss-off a lot of my friends with this semantic exploration into the current trends in racing footwear, but, well, c’est la vie, because Cranky believes it’s getting waaaay out of hand.

Footwear, or the lack thereof, has been rapidly changing in athletics over the last five years. What was old, like “Nike Waffle Racer in 1973, old”, became new again, and minimalist footwear hit the athletic shoe world with tremendous force.

Nike Waffle Racer shoe

photo: This looks like like it would be an excellent OCR shoe, yes?

First, it was the minimalist models that began trickling in, most notably models from New Balance, Inov-8, and pretty much anything supporting a neutral gait, with low profile, 4mm or less heel-to-toe drop, and weighing in at lighter than 8 ounces.

This was good.

Barefoot Running?

Then, came the barefoot movement. Seemingly, not so good.

I mean, ok, so there have always been “barefoot runners”, but they certainly weren’t considered “hip”, nor progressive – just a little crazy. The mid-foot vs. heel-strike movement started to ramp up, people started looking towards pose running, which lead them to more minimalist footwear options, and BAM!, some of the more extremists went straight to barefeet.

Sounds good, right? I mean, Who’s going to heel-strike barefoot?

When Barefoot isn’t Really Barefoot

If you haven’t already, you will soon hear someone say, “I run barefoot…” and then follow that up with, “…in Vibrams.”

Unless I’m missing something, that’s not really “barefoot”. Barefoot means bare, feet. No shoes. But somehow, Vibram Five Finger runners have redefined the meaning of “barefoot”.

vibram

Photo: as shown at vibramfivefingers.com

Let me start by saying, I own a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. I felt like, and continue to feel like, occasional training in very minimalist footwear, like Vibrams, helps to improve my overall foot strength and flexibility. That being said, I would never race obstacles in them.

Besides looking completely ridiculous, I see absolutely no advantage for obstacle racing athletes. Because most OCR races are run on the trails, and a majority of obstacles require a lot of jumping, and landing, it seems counter-intuitive to the needs of the racer, and seems that it would promote injury, force more careful foot placement, and ultimately slow the runner down.

Huarache Sandals and Various Knock-offs

It gets better.

Sandals.

Now, there are a lot of athletes, with whom I carry a great amount of respect, that choose to race in this kind of extreme minimalist footwear; but, I simply do not understand this incessant need to run in Huarache sandals, or any other sandal, when solid athletic performance is a desired outcome.

Unlike Vibrams, they look cool and interesting enough, but I have seen countless examples of OCR athlete, sitting on the side of the trail, all sad and dejected, with their cool, new, hip sandal in their hand, completely blown-out.

Or worse, feet that that have suffered some gnarly blistering from the in-between-toe straps, the ankle straps, or the loose footbed sliding around underneath.

Why is this better than, say, an Inov-8 Bare-X model shoe with zero drop heel-to-toe, minimal upper or cushioning material, and ultra-light at about six measly ounces? or a New Balance Minimus Zero model? Both of these shoes would feel every bit as light as Vibrams or sandals, but would provide that additional protection necessary to run faster, more worry-free, and less injury-prone.

It’s Not Just the Footwear

Overzealous athletes deserve some of the blame.

Many times, athletes jump on the bandwagon without taking the appropriate time to get used to minimalist footwear. The amount of new strain added to the calves, achilles and overall foot musculature is much greater in minimalist shoes, and it takes some acclimation before one can resume the same levels of racing and training.

In Cranky’s opinion, CrossFit is the best training methodology ever invented for the masses, but many people will tell you that CrossFit is a recipe for injury; and it can be, if athletes do not first take the time to learn proper technique, scale the loads and movements, and build a foundation for which to grow.

Minimalist footwear acclimation is exactly the same thing, and when this “foundational” process is ignored, people get hurt.

But Who Cares About All That?

All grouchy commentary aside, I believe that uber-minimalist footwear like Vibrams Five Fingers and Huarache sandals makes athletes slower, more careful runners, and rarely promotes maximum performance potential.

Ask yourself this, why do none of the Kenyons, ripping through 2:05 marathons, wear Vibrams or run barefoot?

Why are none of the fastest, elite, top-finishing trail runners, from distances as short as cross country, to ultramarathon distances of 100 miles or more, wearing Huarache sandals?

Or in OCR, where’s Hobie’s Huaraches? Cody? Ella? Margaret? Oh that’s right, Margaret races for Inov-8 🙂

These athletes do not choose this extreme footwear for racing because it does not make them faster, nor perform better.

So, Cranky has to ask, for those of you that do rock the Five Fingers at races, or the {gasp} latest model of primitive sandal, why?

What are you gaining by doing this?

How are your race performances benefiting?

Are any of you getting faster by doing so?

Cranky doesn’t think so, but is open to hearing your experiences.

 

A Bunch of Cheaters

How to do burpees

Cheaters suck.

In competition, there is little that is more frustrating than losing to someone who has cheated.

For Obstacle Racing to become a legitimate “sport” and a valid test of competitive superiority among its athletes, there must be standards that are met by all participants. When participants take it upon themselves to ignore the rules of competition, chaos ensues, doubts are raised, and conflicts develop.

Don’t be a cheater.

Attempt Every Obstacle

If you sign up for an obstacle race, you should expect to attempt every obstacle. In this writer’s opinion, if you KNOW you cannot swim, don’t sign up and just skip the swimming obstacle. Instead, find another race.

There is no shame in failing; but there is plenty of shame in first, glancing around to see if anyone is looking, and then, waddling past a 8-foot wall because you don’t want to make a fool of yourself struggling up the obstacle like a stranded seal in San Francisco Bay.

OCR is a supportive community. If you are willing to try, there a hundred athletes behind you, all ready to help you achieve that goal. If that means squatting on all fours and creating a step-ladder for you to get over that wall, or cupping the hands to give you a lift, or even collecting a group to toss your big ass over, athletes in the community will be there for you.

Even better, they’ll high-five you on the other side, tell you what a great job you did, and move on.

That’s the experience you came for when you signed up for an obstacle race, isn’t it?

Complete Your Obstacle Penalties

Most races do not have obstacle penalties. I could write an entire piece about this subject as in my humble opinion, a race with no penalties is no valid race at all – it’s just a trail run.

Spartan Race is probably the most well-known obstacle race series in which penalties can be a major factor in race performance and finish time. Typically, failing or skipping a major obstacle in a Spartan Race will result in the participant being ushered to the sidelines to complete thirty [30] full-range burpees.

They key here is “30”, and “full-range”, but what is really going on is anything but.

Is Counting To 30 An Obstacle?

It sure seems that way.

Next race, meander on over to a monkey bar obstacle, rope climb, or wall traverse and watch the crowds of obstacle failures attempt their set of burpees. Let me know if you find more than 1 out of 5 that are actually completing their obstacle penalty, because I’ve never seen it.

Why should that seemingly fit girl in purple tights get to short her burpee count, when a far less fit athlete, is struggling through her burpees, as instructed?

At one race, I informed a girl from the sidelines, “hey – that was only 14 burpees.”

Her response? “I have to catch up to my friends.”

There’s something wrong with that, isn’t there?

A Burpee Is Not A Squat Thrust

There is almost an infinite number of videos on YouTube displaying proper burpee form, but in short, the bottom of the burpee should have the athlete on the ground, full legs, hip, and torso contact, with the top of the movement consisting of an open hip, and controlled jump into the air.

That is a legit burpee.

You’ll find people who throw their legs behind them, into a high-butt plank, and then jump right back up, and do it again.

That’s not a legit burpee. No rep.

You’ll find people who flop to the ground, roll side-to-side to get themselves up, and then with a muted hip, start the process over. No open hip, no jump, and in my opinion, no rep.

Who Cares, Cranky?

I care.

I’m hardly an elite racer and I’ve never seen the podium in OCR, but I do run the elite heats, and in these heats more than anywhere, I expect a higher level of competitive integrity. The problem stems from the the top, to the back of the pack, and I would like to see our community police it more, and especially when there is money involved for the top finishers.

Look at every OCR race web site out there. What is the overarching theme?

“Toughness.”

“Dig deep and challenge yourself.”

“Achieve the seemingly impossible.”

I have yet to see a race that promotes,

“Super easy obstacles.”

“30 burpee penalty (unless you don’t want to).”

“Anyone can do it!”

Why? Because most obstacle course races want to be viewed as true tests of one’s physical, mental, and emotional capability under the duress of challenging competition – whether vs. oneself or other racers.

Cheating in an obstacle race only cheats one person – yourself. You are the one that has to lay in bed, stare at the ceiling, and asterisk your own race finish, right?

Now It’s Your Turn

So I ask the community, how much cheating do you see? How has it affected you or your race, and better yet, what can we do to curb it? Let us know in the comments below. Remember the OCR community is YOUR community and rest assured that the race directors are watching and reading.

Speak up to drive change.

 

Cranky Bastard is a weekly editorial feature of Obstacle Racing Media, written by a member of the OCR community, to share personal thoughts, experiences and opinions regarding obstacle racing. Got an opinion? Let ’em have it.