History Channel’s – The Selection: Evolution 6 Recap

Evolution 6: Seed of Doubt

We start this episode with the separate interviews of Candidates #2 and #3, our couple on the show. When asked about how he was doing, #2 felt he was doing good. He was asked about candidate #3 and felt that she was empowered on her end. He shows concern for her and the instructors jump on it. During her interview #3 feels that she is the best overall. Not the top, but not the bottom, just overall. She mentions that she hates long rucks with heavy weights and we hear the instructors state that these are both in her future.

Candidate #2 is removed as the team leader and replaced with candidate # 3. The candidates are also told that the instructors will give orders once and they are expected to follow them. This looks to be an interesting show as the mind games continue on the part of the instructors.

The first part of the evolution is a physical fitness test consisting of, pull ups, push ups, kick ups, sit ups, dips, bench press, rope climb while wearing a 20# vest, and finishing with a 5 mile run. They will be scored on all sections, best to worst. This will help the instructors to rank the candidates (I’m sure in regards to future evolutions.)

While everyone does well on this, candidates #3 and #19 could not complete the rope climb with weights. As we see the candidates finish the 5 mile run we are given their scores;

  • #17 – 96%
  • #12 – 92%
  • #19 – 83%
  • #2 – 80%
  • #11 – 78%
  • #2 – 65%

As day 8 begins, the mental games directed towards candidate #3 increase. We learn that the next part of the evolution will be a long ruck with a 45 lbs. of weight on their backs. Candidate #3’s biggest fear is about to come true. The candidates will be rucking with 45 lbs of weight on their back for a distance of 4 miles.

The course is hot (the temperature is 104 degrees), with steep segments and the instructor is setting the pace for the team. Candidate #3 is carrying approx 40% of her body weight on her back. That has got to take a toll on her. We see them as they cross what they thought was going to be the finish of the evolution, but the instructors have other plans; they are told that they will do it again, for time. The looks on #3’s face says it all.

We see #2 talking to #3 telling him that she can barely walk and is considering quitting. But somehow she manages to find the strength to move on and starts the 4 mile ruck again. We see #12, the fastest runner of the group running back at mile 6.8 as he passes #3 as she is still moving out.  She is struggling and the mental demons are all over her. Seriously thought that she would call it quits while on the ruck but she manages to finish it. The instructors tell her to hit the dip tank (a tank full of what appears to be ice water) to cool down as she is overheated from the ruck.

Now earlier in the evolution, #2 and #3 are told to stay separated but they disregard the instruction, #3 is relying on #2 to keep her going and they are penalized when they are caught. Candidate #3 was unable to do the punishment, push ups, quickly enough so the whole team gets penalized for their infraction and has to do the push-ups as well. Seems that the focus of this week’s evolution is to make #3 drop.

During the push ups, the instructors start the mind games up by bringing in plates of food and offering them to anyone that quits. Realizing this is not working, the instructors tell the candidates that it is “sugar cookie” time and they need to hit the dip tank and then start rolling in the sand. Candidate #3 is barely moving and the instructors start yelling for her to move it. She enters the dip tank and at that point, she tells the instructors, “I’m done.”

The instructors have high praise for her but the ruck was her downfall. Up until this point, she has kept up with men in the group. She knew her weakness and unfortunately it brought her down.

Candidate #17 is made the new class leader and we see the instructors telling #2 not to quit. He needs to focus on what lies ahead.

Candidate #12 is taken in for an interview and he reveals that he could do better and that the box in episode 4 was the toughest thing for him to endure. But despite it all, he never thought about quitting.

As the evolution ends we see candidates discussing how they feel. Candidate #17 states that his legs are paying for it and they feel numb. We see #12 crying (or appears to be on the verge of crying) and realize that this has been tough on them all so far. Final comment from the instructor Ray Care, “We have to strip everybody down to bare essentials and rebuild them.”

So 5 candidates remaining, #2, #11, #12, #17 and #19 and only 2 evolutions left. The previews for evolution #7 look interesting. It appears that more PT is on the horizon. Candidate #2, will he quit? Same goes for #17. And who was the integrity violator? Can’t wait to find out who makes it in the upcoming evolution and onto the final evolution.

Read recaps of previous episodes here:

Watch the episodes here

All photos courtesy of A&E Television Networks  ©2016 A&E Televisions Networks

History Channel’s – The Selection: Evolution 5 Recap

Evolution 5: Pass, Quit, or Drown

With only 8 candidates remaining out of the original 30, you have to wonder what will be the next thing that causes candidates to drop. We lost many of them at the beach in Evolution #2 and with tonight’s episode previews showing the candidates at the pool, you have to wonder if water will once again cause a number of the candidates to drop.

The evolution begins with the instructors “reviewing” the remaining candidates. We also get a screen shot showing the bulletin board showing the remaining candidates and the patches of those that have dropped. Why is there no patch for #14 on the board??

We hear that candidate #11 is still high on the list of instructor favorites, mentioned as a good leader and passionate. We learn that candidate #12 is a professional OCR racer. According to the instructors, #15 is “Cool as it gets” and seems unfazed by all that has happened and #17 is “Hard as nails”, being the strong and silent type. Candidate #3, the only female left is told by the instructors, “Don’t get pushed around.” They also mention that they “hammered” candidate #6 for the first 3 days of the selection.

During the first part of the evolution, the “Combative Evolution”, the candidates are taught some basic hand to hand combat skills. During this segment, we learn that Instructor Bowen was “All Army Combatants Champion” and holds multiple belts in multiple disciplines. They take what they learn and eventually are paired up to fight one another until only one remains unbeaten. After all is said and done #12 comes out as the overall winner. Not sure what purpose this segment served. Perhaps it is training for something that comes up in a later evolution. Or is it just to provide a more rounded training environment for the candidates.

We also get to see the candidates a bit more relaxed, in fact we see #12 use the term “Inspector” and #11 has the whole team down doing push-ups for his mistake. It was just after that the instructors puts the whole team on PT for becoming “Cocky.” While you may wonder if this was deserved, I believe it to be part of the mental games being played by the instructors.

As we end this portion of the evolution, candidate #15 is taken for his interview. We learn that he has doubts in his ability to finish the program. Has he given the instructors a weak point to exploit? We shall see.

At 2100 hours (and 51 degrees), the candidates are brought to the pool to begin the next stage of the evolution. Not knowing what to expect is frightening enough, but being in the water at night adds an extra element of stress to the evolution. The first thing they have to do is to be able to successfully tie and untie 3 different types of knots, a half-hitch, a square know and a bowline, while under water. Only given 30 seconds to perform the tie/untie of each knot. We can already see # 6 having issues with breath control, and he fails his first attempt to complete the task. He is taken out of the water to “regroup” and given one last attempt. During this attempt he must pass or he will be fail and be dropped. While this is going on, the rest of the team must stand in single file holding each other to keep warm. Candidate # 6 finds the strength to complete the task and passes.

Next for the candidates is what is called “drown-proofing.” The candidates have their hands tied behind the backs, and feet tied together, then jump into the water and then bob up and down for 5 minutes in the water. The “bobbing” consist of blowing the air out of your lungs as you descend, then pushing up from the bottom of the pool back to surface where you take a gulp of air and repeat the process over for a 5 minute period. This is not as easy as it seems. If you do not get enough push to the surface, because your lungs are empty of air and you do not float back up, you must undulate your body to try to get to the surface. As a diver myself and having experienced similar training, it is not an easy task.

Candidates #6 and #15 are struggling to complete this. Both are given the opportunity to get out of the pool and rethink, regroup and then retry it again. It is here that we have the first drop of the evolution with # 6 opting not to complete the task. Shortly thereafter, candidate #15 attempts the task, fails and is dropped. 25% of the remaining class has dropped during todays evolution.

So we are left with 6 candidates on the show; #2, #3, #11, #12, #17 and #19. So far 80% of the candidates have dropped, just like the opening credits state. With only 3 shows left, it will be interesting to see if more drop before the season finale and if so, who will be next.

Of the remaining 6 candidates, 3 candidates with an OCR background remain; #11, #12 and #19 .  And we have 4 GORUCK GRT’s still in the running; #2, #3, #11, & #17. Notice that #11 is the only one that has experience in both GORUCK and OCR’s; wonder if that will give him an edge?

In the previews for the next evolution looks like the candidates have to meet (or exceed) some Fitness Test standards in order to continue. Not sure if they will be using the Navy Seals Fitness standards, the Army Fitness standards, or a combination of both. Also looks like candidates #2 and #3 (who are a couple in real life) are getting a lot of pressure from the instructors. Looks to be an interesting episode.

Read recaps of previous episodes here:

Watch the episodes here.

All photos courtesy of A&E Television Networks  ©2016 A&E Televisions Networks

History Channel’s -The Selection: Evolution 4 Recap

Evolution 4: Weeding out the Weak

When I saw the preview for episode 4 I knew this was going to be a tough one for the candidates. 14 candidates remain as we start episode 4, mid-season for the 8 part series. By now they have proven that they are physically able to move on, but are they mentally capable of moving farther into the show?

At the start of the episode they are taught some basic concealment skills for tonight’s evolution. Basically they are given 4 hours to create a place of concealment in the hopes that the instructors do not find them. They are divided into 4 teams;

  • Team 1 – Candidates 12,19,28
  • Team 2 – Candidates 3,14,15,17
  • Team 3 – Candidates 6,11,20,27
  • Team 4 – Candidates 2,7,22

The Selection - search

At 0200 of day 5 the search begins for the teams. The instructors have 3 hours to find them. After about 90 minutes, Team 3 is the first team found, followed by team 1 and team 2. Team 4 manages to stay concealed until 3 minutes remain. And that was only because the instructor walked on the head of one of the candidates. Very good job of concealment on their part.

The candidates are then handcuffed with zip-ties and have a blackout goggle placed on their heads preventing them for seeing anything, It is at this point during the instructor recap that they state that they think # 20 will be the first to break as the move into what can best be described as the “torture” segment.

The Selection - Praying

The candidates are brought as a group into a “resistance lab” where they are subjected to a number of different types of “torture.” This is where the “psych ops” begin on the candidates. They are subjected to being placed in a small box for long periods of time, having ice cold water poured over them, subject to “repetitive noises” (such as a crying baby), being moved into uncomfortable positions and being told to hold that position, and as #11 experienced, having electric sparks fly near your head. All of this going on while being “blind” , your hands are tied by zip-ties and the candidates are starting to feel the effects of sleep and food deprivation. This is also where the candidates start to drop, beginning with #20 (as predicted by the instructors) followed by #27 and #22. While they are physically able to do what is expected, they just don’t have the mental strength to go on.

The Selection - In The Box

Nine hours into the lab # 28 quits leaving 9 candidates. Into the 10th hour we lose another candidate leaving us with 8 remaining candidates remaining; candidates # 2, 3, 6, 11, 12, 15, 17 & 19. By this time they been in the “resistance lab” for 11 hours, and have gone 36 hours with no sleep. If you have ever gone without sleep, you know that one becomes irritable and unable to think clearly. And not having a sense of time (or sight) adds to the difficulty of the evolution.

They are finally freed from the handcuff and have the goggles removed by the instructors. They have completed this evolution. The instructors give them praise for completing this grueling segment and are told to eat and rest because as one instructor stated, “Now that we have cut the weak, we need to start cutting the strong.”

So we have 8 remaining candidates at the halfway point. Interesting to note that according to the shows beginning screenshots 80% of candidates fail special ops training. Based on that figure, we could expect to see 6 candidates to complete the show. With only 2 candidates needing to drop to make that percentage, and only half way through the 8 episodes, one can’t help but wonder if more than 80% will fail. Only time will tell.

Of the remaining 8 candidates, 4 of them come from OCR backgrounds; #6, #11, #12 and #19 . Way to rep the sport guys. And for you GORUCK fans, we have 6 GRT’s still in the running; #2, #3, #6, #11, #15 & #17

Read recaps of other episodes here:

Watch the episodes here.

All photos courtesy of A&E Television Networks  ©2016 A&E Televisions Networks

History Channel’s -The Selection: Evolution’s 2 and 3 Recap

Ok boys and girls. A lot has happened since the first episode. We will get to the recaps of episodes 2 and 3 in a moment.

Being an Obstacle Race media site, we of course want to highlight OCR athletes when talking about an event. In my first review I pointed out folks that were OCR racers based on those my editor and myself knew were involved with the sport. The History Channel bios for the candidates don’t always mention OCR/GORUCK affiliations. so we may have missed a couple of folks. Just want to give a shout-out to a couple more candidates from those worlds:

  • # 6 – Dylan Davis
  • # 14 – Johnny Larios

Good luck guys. Now let’s look back to our regularly scheduled review.

Evolution 2 : Hell & High Water

Good Morning Candidates!!! Anyone that has gone through military basic training can relate to the awakening that was given the remaining 25 candidates. The look on the faces of the candidates is priceless. WTF in a major way. It was also during this sequence that we heard one of the instructors refer to candidate #30 as “Time Short.” While this was happening 2 of the candidates dropped leaving 23 as the day begins.

The Selection - WAKE UP

During the first candidate review by the instructors of the episode we learn that candidates #11’s age is 45 years old and that he is the oldest candidate. They also picked a new team leader for the day, during this segment tagging #23 for the job.

During the breakfast consisting of MRE’s, candidate #18 drops because of health issues. We also lost candidate #29 when they were being loaded up for the next evolution I refer to as “BUDS” leaving 21 candidates remaining.

At the beach, this is when the “Hell and High water” happens. Candidate # 23 is made the team leader. It was during this segment of the episode that we saw the loss of an early fan (and instructor) favorite #30. The swim to the buoy just was not in the plans for him. He gave 110% of himself but sometimes that is just not enough.

The Selection - #30 Drops

It was also during this segment that I had a letdown in regards to the reality of the show. During the buoy swim, some candidates were allowed to use flotations devices. I understand the safety aspect but it only adds fuel to the fire in regards to those that say it is not realistic.  I know that all the candidates had to pass a basic military PT test to even be considered, so why was a swim test not given if it was going to be part of the show?

The audience also saw candidate #11 take more of a leadership role. After the swim he could be seen trying to get other to overcome the cold. When all was said and done, 19 candidates remain.

The candidates end the episode with Zodiac Boat Drills. They may look light but they are a bitch to carry any distance. It was in this segment that #11 is made the class leader. During this segment we saw 4 more candidates drop, the sisters; #8 and #9, #23 and we see the first med drop of the show, #4.

By the time this episodes ends 10 candidates have dropped. A pleasant day at the beach was not in the works for many.


Evolution 3: Man in the Arena

There are 15 candidates remaining at this point and this is where it becomes more of a mental game for the candidates.

Candidate #11 is still the team lead when the group has their first barracks Inspection and it is not pretty. It was also during this segment that #11 gets reamed for calling the instructors “Inspectors.” He did this first in episode # 2. Because the instructors are starting to play more mental games, #11 seemed to be challenged a bit more than the other class leaders. But at this point it is to expected. As a team leader #11 did not follow-up through with his team to make sure things are done. Also during this time #11 was asked who he felt were the weakest candidates and he picked 2 females, #27 and #3. Will this come back to bite him? Or create dissention among the team?

The Selection - Inspection 2

Since this episode entailed a lot of walking, #20, whose toenail came off during episode 2, was questioned about his ability to continue. He sticks with it and moves forward. Also at this point #11 is replaced by #19 as the team leader.

The rucking aspect is comprised of 40lbs in their bags as well as their normal gear. The instructors also expect them to maintain a 12-14 min mile pace. While this sounds doable, jogging/walking with a backpack with that much weight is hard on both the back and the legs for those not used to it. It is during this evolution the team is to perform a Downed Pilot Drill. Basically create a litter with the materials given to them and transport a 200lb duffel bag (representing the downed pilot) back to the team pit. Multiple ideas were being thrown out by the candidates on the best way to do this causing confusion and potentially causing a time hack penalty in which one of the candidates would be tagged as a causality and would also have to be carried back to the pit. They finally got things moving with no time left. For those that have done a GORUCK event, you can probably relate to what was going on. This is something many GORUCK participants have experienced during tough’s and heavy’s. Along the return route there were issues and one of the candidates was tagged as a causality. It was also during this time #2 replaced #19 as class leader. We learn that candidate # 2 is a firefighter and he was better able to organize the team during this evolution and was able to complete it with only 2 casualties.

The Selection -Downed Pilot

There were a number of interrogations during this episode. It was during his interrogation that #19 admitted his faults during the evolution. He was also asked who he felt were the strongest candidates remaining and he choose  #11 and #12 and had high praise for #11’s mental fortitude.

The PT also gets a bit more challenging as the team is subjected to “sit-up” hell. Over 1000 done!! Kudo’s to completing that PT.

The Selection - 1000 situps

In the closing moments of the show the interrogation of #11 took place. Candidate #11 has become a fan and instructor favorite so it was interesting to hear of his reasons for being there. This was an emotional segment for #11 .We also learned that they were required to memorize a creed for the show and #11 repeated it (This is where the title of episode comes from.)

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic”  delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910 (Source: http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html)

The Selection - Number 11

Only 1 drop during this episode, smallest amount to date. While some may say this evolution was too easy so drop rate was low, I tend to believe that the 15 candidates that started the episode were more prepared mentally and physically for what awaited them.

The show enters episode 4 with 14 candidates left. While there are still a couple that I am surprised are still remaining, I am impressed by those that are. As I mentioned in regards to the “floaties” used in episode 2 this took something away in regards to the realism, but for the most part they are being pushed. I reached out to a couple of people that I knew that had gone through Special Ops training and they generally had positive things to say about the show. Again they, like me, realize it is a TV show and that the reality of it may not be as authentic as some viewers would like.

By now many viewers have picked a favorite candidate. Would love to know who yours is. Reply in the comments and let me know.

Read recaps of other episodes here:

Watch the episodes here.

All photos courtesy of A&E Television Networks  ©2016 A&E Televisions Networks


History Channel’s – The Selection: Evolution 1 Recap

The Selection - Opening

Evolution 1: Dip In the Fire

The premise of History Channel’s “The Selection” is simple; place men and women, known as candidates, with no military background, and have them endure the same or similar training that US Special Forces go through and see how they do. There are no awards, prizes, medals (or for the GRT’s reading this, patches) given to the winner(s) of the challenge. It is an exercise that pushes the limits of the mind and body.

As someone that grew up in the military, as well a vet and GORUCK GRT, I am aware of the different aspects of military training having witnessed and experienced some of it myself. I have the utmost regards for those that have endured the training required to become a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger or Green Beret. I know my limits and this show far exceeds those.

The Selection Squats

So at this point you might be wondering, “What does this have to do with OCR’s?” In regards to the shows premise, not a damn thing.

There is nothing in the OCR world that can prepare you for this…

Not Spartan Hurricane Heats, not World’s Toughest Mudder, Nothing.

Oh those events may give you a taste but cannot mentally or physically prepare you for what awaits. But in regards to the candidates themselves, (all participants on the show are referred to as candidates and are given a number, not a name) The Selection does have some ties to OCR:

  • #7  is Justin Dieter, came in 2nd to Junyong Pak in the first two World’s Toughest Mudders back in 2011 and 2012
  • #11 is a co-founder of Obstacle Racing Media, and former GORUCK employee, Christian Griffith
  • #12 is Ryan Kent, a current member of the Spartan Race Pro Team
  • #13 is McCauley Kraker, a former Spartan Pro Team member and ORM contributor.
  • #19 is Logan Nagle, who recently completed 75 miles in last month’s World’s Toughest Mudder

The Selection - Night Log

Before the shows airing, I became aware of the negative comments being posted on the History Channel Facebook Page for The Selection and honestly was quite bothered by all the disparaging comments being made about the people that were on the show. Especially in light of the fact that the show had not aired yet publicly. Most bothersome was the comments made by active and former military regarding the show and the participants. I would think that they would welcome the opportunity for civilians to experience a bit of military life and perhaps gain a better understanding of what it takes in regards to being Special Ops. But I digress…

For those of you that have done a GORUCK Tough or Heavy, the opening episode may remind you of the Welcome Party that usually starts these events.  But unlike a GORUCK event, you are not punished and pushed in the way seen on the show. But much like the welcome party, it is during this time you start to see the candidates drop out. Within the first 10 minutes of the show, we see the first drop-out. While there is the essence of team building and support, this all comes down to the individual.

Now many of us have our reasons for doing OCR’s and GORUCKs and one the best aspects of the show is the “interrogation” scenes in which the candidates are asked, “Why are you here?” The reasons why some of these people are here are inspiring. It adds a layer of vulnerability to these people that the audience can relate to. I think we can all, as OCR racers, relate to what drives these people to want to do this.

The Selection - Interrogation

During one scene of the show, the instructors made it clear to all the candidates that nutrition and fluid intake are vital. Again, we as OCR’s racers are familiar with the pitfalls of not keeping on top of both before, during, and after an event. Kudos to the instructors for making this a high priority.

Also of interest are the scenes in which the instructors talk about the individual candidates. This allows for you the audience member to develop a “bond” as it were with a candidate that you may be rooting for. In regards to Christian and Ryan, both of them receive positive comments from the instructors. It was during this sequence that the best line of the episode was given when discussing Christian, “#11 looks like a hipster Jesus.” If you know Christian, you will understand.


Christian Griffith – The Hipster Jesus?

By the end of the 1st episode, 5 candidates have turned in their patches, #1, #5, #16, #21 and #24, leaving 25 candidates (17% drop on day 1). I was really impressed by candidate # 30. He was giving 100% on the log when the rest of his team was not and did not let his small stature reduce his perseverance. Looking forward to seeing how far he goes. Candidates #7, #11, #12, #13 and #19 are still there and gave a good showing in the first episode. Ryan, #12 was picked as a team leader early in the episode and did a great job leading and motivating the rest of the candidates. And the instructors had high praise for Christian, #11.

Overall, I felt the episode was a good introduction to both the premise and the candidates. The instructors were fair but firm in the treatment of the candidates and appeared to be honest in regards to “weeding out” those that can’t cut it. They went looking for weak links and pounced when one appeared. The first episode set the stage for the remaining 7 episodes in regards to expectations of the instructors. Some of the candidate’s right from the start made you wonder, WTF? (Pink haired candidate #1 pops to the forefront.) Is this truly a military show? No! It has to market itself to the masses and honestly most people don’t want to see what really happens, but it does give a good representation of the training as well as the mental and physical endurance that Special Forces operatives go through.

Read recaps of other episodes here:

Watch the episodes here.

All photos courtesy of A&E Television Networks  ©2016 A&E Televisions Networks

Atlanta Merrell Down and Dirty Review


For me this year’s Merrell Down and Dirty started out as one of those “if it could go wrong, it will” events. But none was the fault of the race itself. There was an interstate shutdown on the way to the event, and I forgot parking pass and timing chip. Sigh.

This year’s event was held at the International Horse Park in Conyers, a great place to run. Now my background is that of a marathon runner and triathlete so this whole “Obstacle Course” thing is somewhat new to me. While I have done a few OCR’s I am by no means an expert or “seasoned” runner of these events so keep that in mind when reading my comments. [Read more…]