CW Presents: “Tough Mudder – The Challenge Within”

Spartan Race has done TV specials as has Battlefrog Race series so what makes this show about Tough Mudder different? It is not about elite racers but instead focuses on 3 average participants, each overcoming their own personal obstacles. And that right there was enough for me to look forward to the show. I have battled many things in the past 12 years so seeing these 3 participants as they struggle with their lives allowed me to bond with each of them.

Now if you have been watching the TM shorts on the CWSeed, you already know their stories but lets do a review:

  1. We have Bobby and his brothers Brandt and Jimmy who hail from NJ. Bobby suffers from MS and we learn how as brothers they have always been there for each other and how this is so important in their Tough Mudder experiences. Click here to learn more about Bobby.
  2. We have Mirna from Georgia. A health scare is what prompted her to start running and doing OCR’s. blog called Fat Girl Running. Here she provides inspiration and motivation to many people who felt that their size was a hindrance to them running and doing OCR’s. Click here to learn more about Mirna.
  3. And finally we have Denise, a veteran from NH who is struggling with injuries she received during the first Gulf war. She hopes that the upcoming Tough Mudder will bring a bit closer to overcoming her anxiety. Click here to learn more about Denise.

In tonight’s show, we follow the 3 participants as they come face to face with some of the challenging obstacles in the Tough Mudder event held in Englishtown, NJ.

As with any Tough Mudder event, we see the the emcee, Sean Corvelle, as he motivates the crowd at the start line. There are only a couple of race emcee’s I know that do this well, and Sean is among the best. He introduces the 3 participants, Bobby, Mirna and Denise, and gives the crowd a brief overview of who they are, and why this race is so important to them.

So we begin at obstacle #1, Rain Man. Basically a trough full of water but covers with fencing so that only about 6-8 inches of space exist between the top of the water and the fencing. This can be claustrophobic for some racers and here Bobby gulps in some water and panics a bit but all make it through.

Next up, the Birth Canal. This obstacle is water in plastic troughs that leave just enough space between the bottom and the ground for a person to crawl through. In some cases not even that much room. Many racers, including Mirna, feel out of their comfort zone doing this obstacle.

We see Denise tackling the next obstacle, the Hero Carry. For her it is a throwback to her days in the military. We then come to one of the tougher obstacles for Tough Mudder, the Pyramid Scheme. It is a slanted wall that requires you to crawl, walk or slither your way over your teammates and other participants to get to the top. Mirna has some concern that her being a large person may be a hindrance on the obstacle. This obstacle also poses an issue for Denise who suffers from PTS and being in a large group can trigger her symptoms. She gets to the top but her fear of height kick in and she begins to panic. Mirna, who has completed the obstacle sees this and begins to offer words of support. Denise is able to make it down and thanks Mirna for her support. Hearing that Mirna is running it alone, she invites Mirna to join her team for the rest of the course.

Obstacle #6 is the Funky Monkey, a favorite of many Tough Mudder participants. This is not really a team obstacle as it requires the individual to cross a pool of water on what are essentially monkey bars. But add mud and water to the bars and they become even more challenging. During this obstacle, Bobby suffers a mild episode due to his MS and falls into the water. As he climbs out he is given words of support form his bothers as the head to obstacle #7, the Mud Mile.

The Mud mile, while not a mile in length, can seem like 40 miles to the participants. It consists of sections of ankle thick mud and pits full of water and mud that you have to climb out of and over into the next pit. It is here that we learn a bit more about Mirna as well. It was her concern over her health after a health scare that prompted her to start running. She started with 5k’s and then 10k’s and eventually got to running marathons, completing a number of them. She then transitioned over to doing Tough Mudders. This is a very familiar story for many OCR racers, such as myself. A desire to get your health under control has been the motivation for many. As Mirna completes the Mud Mile, she is united with her family who have come to cheer her on.

As we jump ahead on the course we get to Obstacle #12, The Arctic Enema. Best way to describe this obstacle is imagine you are jumping into a lake in the middle of winter, and there are is ice on the lake. Yup, your system takes a shock as the cold water and ice hits your body. The best ways to overcome this, as Denise states, is “Mind over Matter and don’t panic.”

Next up is the Balls to the Walls obstacle. Basically a wall climb using a rope. By now we see that Bobby is starting to feel the effects of his MS. Bobby who is supported by his brothers Brandt and Jimmy, have always been there for each other. We see Bobby struggle with a test with his physical therapist and how MS is affecting him now and how it will in the future. What transcends from this segment of the show is one of the basic foundations of Tough Mudder: Camaraderie.

We are getting to the end of the event as our 3 participants hit obstacle #17, King of the Swingers. For Denise, this is a major obstacle to overcome. Not only is she high up on a platform, but she must run out, catch the swinging bar and then try to ring the bell before falling into a pool of water. Her fear of heights is evident by the look on her face as the panic begins to set it. As mentioned earlier, Denise, as mentioned earlier, is a Iraqi war veteran who is suffering from PTS. One of the affects from PTS is her lack of comfort in large group situations. She also suffered injuries in a tank accident, one that she does not really remember except for recalling the sounds of the event. This, as we find out during the show, is a cause of her fear of heights.

As we get to Everest 2.0, obstacle #19, we can see that all of our participants are starting to feel the affects of the course. Bobby comments that he is seeing folks without diseases dropping like flies does not bode well for Bobby and his ability to complete this obstacle (and the course.) He makes an attempt but just cannot grasp the hands of his brothers who are waiting for him at the top. By the now the crowd is starting to chant his name, “Bobby! Bobby!, Bobby!” as he makes a second attempt to make it. He grabs the hands of both of his brothers but looses his grip on the left hand. His right hand is firmly gripped onto his brother hand as they slowly manage to pull him up and over the top of Everest 2.0.

And we finally reach the end of the course and the final obstacle, the dreaded Electroshock Therapy. This is probably the only obstacle that I fear when I run a Tough Mudder. We see others getting “zapped” as they attempt. With anywhere form 1,000 to 10,000 volts going through those wires, it is enough to make you question your sanity. Electroshock Therapy’s amperage is at about 10 amps, putting a shock from that obstacle on par with getting tased (about 14 amps). Not a pleasant feeling. But Bobby and his brothers, as well as Denise and Mirna all successfully complete the obstacle and event.

So as all 3 of them complete the event, I can recall my first Tough Mudder and the sense of accomplishment that came over me. I am sure that many of you reading this felt the same way. For me as a reviewer, the high point of the show was seeing Sean put the Tough Mudder headbands on their heads. Especially Bobby who has just completed his 10th Tough Mudder, while suffering from the affects of MS. We saw Denise overcame her inner demons to complete the event and Mirna has shown to use all that your shape does not define you or your abilities. Kudos to Bobby, Denise and Mirna for all you have overcome and for showing us that everyday people can be heroes on the course.

Tough Mudder Short #5: Finish Strong

As I mentioned in my previous review, there are a total of five shorts, 6-7 minutes long, available for viewing on the CW Seed website. These shorts are a buildup to the television airing of Tough Mudder: The Challenge Within on Valentines day. The final short previews the 3 participants the day before the Tough Mudder event in Englishtown, NJ.

A brief overview of our three participants; Mirna is from GA and despite being a large person, wants to show others that your size should not be a hindrance to your goals. Bobby is a 50 year old NJ man trying to battle MS with the support of his brothers. And our 3rd participant is Denise, a veteran from NH who suffers from PTSD from injuries she received in the first Gulf war who is uncomfortable around large groups of people.

We first see Mirna as she receives a call from Sean on her computer. Sean mentions that one of the cool things he loves about his job is to call and speak to those that inspire him, and Mirna is one of those people. Mirna’s goals are for her family to see her doing things that look impossible and to motivate them, as well as others. As we leave Mirna she is giving her son and hug and getting into her car.

Next we see Denise as she is out for an evening walk the night before the event talking to her husband, Patrick. She is discussing how this TM is going to be different than others she has done, especially the new obstacles. When asked by Patrick what she is looking to get out of it, she states that she wants to get out of her shell. To overcome her fear of people and that she does not feel normal around people.

And finally we see Bobby and his brothers. Bobby is getting things packed for the event, deciding on what headband to wear and the shirt his brother and him will each be wearing. As is tradition with him and his brothers, the night before they gather around and have a drink. We leave them as they make the toast and have that drink.

The final scenes of the short are at the start of the NJ event as they and other TM’ers are being inspired and motivated by the TM emcee, Sean Corvelle. There are brief glimpse of each of them, as well as the crowd as Sean get them pumped up for the days run. As the short ends, we see the participants beginning their run with the traditional Tough Mudder orange cloud of smoke.

The CW will air the TV broadcast of Tough Mudder: The Challenge Within, on February 14th at 8pm ET/7pm CT.  Check your local listings for the CW channel on your cable or satellite system and look for my recap of the show shortly thereafter.

As a reminder, you can watch the 5 shorts on the CW seed on Apple TV, Roku or your smartphone by using the CW Seed app.

Tough Mudder: The Challenge Within

Well it was only a matter of time before Tough Mudder would create a show about it’s events, for the TV audience. I mean Spartan Race and BattleFrog have done it. But unlike Spartan Races which are on NBC or BattleFrog Races on ESPN, they are going about it very differently. Yes, TM did launch 3 shows around the World’s Toughest Mudder last year, but this is their first show to focus on the “standard” Tough Mudder.

The first 4 episodes are not actually on TV, but like many shows in this new digital era, are instead presented as a series of 5 episodes or shorts, each about 6 – 7 minutes long, on the CW Seed site. CW Seed is the CW’s digital home for many of your favorite CW shows as well as original content such as the Tough Mudder shorts. 

Currently there are 4 episodes available on the site, the 5th episode will be available on 02/13.  There will be a “final” episode that will air on the CW Channel on February 14th at 8pm ET/7pm CT. But lets look at the first 4 shorts…

Each of the shorts begin with Tough Mudder Emcee, Sean Corvelle, talking about what TM is and what it is not. Now if you have ever done a TM in which Sean is the Emcee, you know he brings a high level of energy to the event.

In Episode 1: Overcoming Obstacles, we are introduced to Johnny Hartnett, head of construction for TM. Together Sean and Johnny go over a few of the obstacles that TM is known for. We see the Pyramid Scheme, an obstacle that requires a team effort for the racers to complete. We have the Arctic Enema, basically a dumpster full of ice and a fave of many TM racers. Add some cold weather to the mix and it makes this obstacle challenging for many folks. And we finish with the Frequent Flyers obstacle, an obstacle that seems to instill fear for some and a strong sense of accomplishment for others, especially if you ring the bell.

But the real purpose of the episode is to introduce you to the three featured racers; each being highlighted in the upcoming shorts. We are introduced to Bobby, a 50 year old man from NJ who is suffering from the effects of MS -Multiple Sclerosis. Mirna, a teacher from Rabun Gap, GA who does not allow her weight to hold her back. And Denise, an Iraqi war veteran from New Hampshire suffering from PTSD.

As I mentioned, each episode is only about 6 – 7 minutes long. So after the opening sequence, we have about 5-6 minutes to learn more about the features racers. Just enough to allow us to understand what motivates each of them and the personal obstacles they have endured getting to where they are today.

In Episode 2: Mud Brothers, we are introduced to 3 brothers from Freehold, NJ as they get ready to do their 10th Tough Mudder; Bobby, who we were introduced to in episode 1, and his brothers Brandt and Jimmy. Bobby suffers from MS and we learn how as brothers they have always been there for each other and how this is so important in their TM experiences. We see Bobby struggle with a test with his physical therapist and how MS is affecting him now and how it will in the future. What transcends from this episode is one of the basic foundations of TM: Camaraderie. You will need the support of your team, and if you are a solo racer, other racers, in order to overcome many of the obstacles, such as the Pyramid Scheme shown in episode 1.

In episode 3: Fat Girl Running, we meet Mirna Valerio from Rabun Gap, GA. A health scare is what prompted her to start running and doing OCR’s. She started with 5k’s and then 10k’s and eventually got to running marathons, completing a number of them. She then transitioned over to doing Tough Mudders. This is a very familiar story for many OCR racers, such as myself. A desire to get your health under control has been the motivation for many. In 2011 she started a web blog called Fat Girl Running. Here she provides inspiration and motivation to many people who felt that their size was a hindrance to them running and doing OCR’s. The message that I came away with after watching this episode; “Size does not define you and your ability to accomplish things in life.”

And finally in Episode 4: Invisible Wounds, we learn more about Denise, a Iraqi war veteran from Manchester, New Hampshire who suffers from PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We start this episode with Denise speaking to her therapist about how she has not done an OCR in almost 18 month. She mentions that she prefers to be alone but feels happy in the mud. When she left for Iraq shortly after 9/11, she had a 6 month daughter and after returning 18 months later (one of the longest deployments for a Reserve unit) she had to rebuild her relationship with her daughter, who was now 2. She suffered injuries in a tank accident, once that she does not really remember except for recalling the sounds of the event. We see her dealing with the anxiety of dealing with public situations. Again, as we see her talking to a teammate Scott, it is the camaraderie that she feels during the TM that helps to motivate her. She hopes that the upcoming event will bring a bit closer to overcoming her anxiety.

So there you have it. This series of short episodes is a welcome change from the Spartan Race and BattleFrog TV shows. While those shows seem to focus more on the elite or professional racers, the Tough Mudder show introduces us to everyday men and women overcoming the challenges that life has placed before them. It is something that the journeyman racer can relate to and this helps the viewer to form a bond with them.

Episode 5 will be up on February 13th so look for my recap then.

You can also watch the CW seed on Apple TV, Roku or your smartphone using the CW Seed app.

DeSena Responds To Podium Controversy

Spartan Podium

We heard from Joe DeSena late yesterday in regards to the recent Spartan Race podium rule changes. Here is what he sent us.

I’m here in Tokyo and find myself wanting to write my friends directly. I haven’t read anything online, but a few people in our organization have said, “Wow, I can’t believe what some people are writing about the new Spartan podium rules.” Even though I never read these ridiculous things, I believe all press is good. 

I realize that I need to offer clarity to everyone who’s confused, frustrated, or simply impacted. I apologize for not contacting each of you directly, but in the interest of time—and because I want to be completely open about this—I thought this email was a better choice of communication. 

So, feel free to share this message. Or not. And also always know that the world has my email address should they want to talk to me.

There’s an old adage: “Before you criticize a person, walk a mile in his or her shoes.” This saying was first coined by the Cherokee tribe of Native Americans as “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.”

Henry Ford also said, “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”

In other words, when you understand what drives another person’s perspective, you’re not only likely to have a complete view of the subject but are likely to regard the other person’s viewpoint with greater empathy. 

That’s what I’m doing now. I’m walking in the shoes of the elites: What’s the issue with the rule Spartan has put forth and how does it negatively impact the elite athletes we’ve helped develop over the past 7 years? I suspect they’re concerned that if they have to take a photo on our podium in standard Spartan gear, it will hurt their chances of earning sponsorship dollars. I suspect they also believe that being told what to wear is not American. 

These are valid concerns. I realize now that I should have fully explained this rule, along with the reasons for it, before we released it. I take complete responsibility and hope this message helps create clarity around these changes.

Here’s why we are putting this rule in effect: We believe obstacle racing is a sport. We also believe that for it to be recognized globally as a sport—not only by the elites, but by civilians, military, and the Olympic Committee itself—we need to start acting like a sport. 

This is not just an opinion. I have been working for 6-plus years trying to get us recognized by the Olympics, so that we can be included in the Games. I have had countless meetings with individuals who know what it requires, and several who are involved in decisions like this.  

The common themes in all these conversations: professionalism and consistency—in everything from how our elites dress to the branding of our events. To that end, it’s vital to the brand and our sponsors that we not allow our podium to be hijacked.

Your turn: Walk in Spartan management’s shoes for a minute. Imagine how taken aback we are when an elite quickly rips off his shirt to slip into one from another brand in front of our NBC cameras? Or how we feel when we get a call from one of our sponsors, which help finance 200 races in 30 countries annually, berating us. Lets be clear- there is NO Spartan Race without these sponsors. Luckily, we are Spartans. We move past it and don’t get upset. You can forgive in one minute or carry anger for a lifetime, that said- not everyone is like us.

The bottom line is this: We all want this to become a legitimately recognized sport, with participation and spectator rates as high as the other major sports. Together, we can continue to grow Spartan and make the world a healthier place along the way. We are well positioned to take that next step. Professionalism and consistency is a small price to pay. 

In fact, from my perspective, it is logical, and helps us all win. I hope this email will help you begin to see it in much the same way. Stay tuned for more updates. 

Joe- your friend in good times and bad.

Joe@spartan.com

We’d love to know your thoughts on Joe’s statements. Please comment below and let us know.

*Photo credit: Trek and Run

History Channel’s – The Selection: Evolution 8 Recap

Evolution 8: March of Tears

As we start the 8th and final episode of the show, lets do a brief review. In episode 1 we were introduced to the 6 instructors, all with special ops backgrounds, and the 30 candidates. During the past 8 weeks, we saw many of them drop for various reason. Many of them became fan favorites such as candidate #30. Unfortunately, he just could not handle the swim and dropped in episode 2.  We saw the sisters, #8 and #9 also drop in episode 2. The show started with 7 female candidates and we saw the final female candidate #3 drop in episode 6. We were told of the backgrounds of some the candidates, ranging from a firefighter to OCR racers, and that the group consisted of various ages, with our oldest candidate, #11, being 45 years old.

We learned, though the interview segments of the episodes, what motivated each of them to do this. Many of them started out strong but just could not handle the mental and physical punishment they had to endure. When all was said and done we are left with 5 candidates going into tonight’s final evolution. If you want to read more about the instructors and candidates check out their bios here.

Because some of the episodes occurred overnight as we begin episode 8, we see it is day 10 of the selection.  Candidates #2, #11, #12, #17 and #19 remain to face the final evolution. The candidates are told that this is is the start of FTX, Field Training Exercises. This will be utilizing many of the skills they have been taught in the past 10 days in order to successfully complete the evolution.

The candidates are loaded into a helicopter and are first told they will be dropped at a LZ (landing zone) but like a true mission, things can change in a moment. They are told there has been a change and that will be doing a helo-cast approximately 1 mile off shore from a height of about 20 feet. Awaiting them will be a zodiac to take them to the next portion of the mission. Now remember, while they did a couple of evolutions in water (both beach and pool) nothing really prepared them for a drop of 20ft into the ocean. In fact I thought they would have to swim towards shore, not get into the zodiac. So overcoming any fear of heights they all safely made the jump and got into the zodiac.

We see them next heading to shore where the instructor Haggerty is awaiting tells them they have 3 hours to build a hide-sight to conceal the boat and themselves. Failure at this would mean a drop for them all. They appear to do a good job at this and at this point we see an unknown person approach the group and tells them to move out and head over to a van where they put on blackout googles and a hood to be taken an undisclosed location.

Once they arrive they are promptly placed into wooden boxes, similar to the resistance exercise they experienced in episode 4. Candidate #12 was placed in a box by himself while #17 and #19 were put into a box together as were candidates #11 and #2.  The goal of this portion of the evolution is to attempt to escape when the time is right. We see that candidate #11 has the ability to slightly lift his lid despite having a carabiner on the clasp holding it shut. He is able to unscrew the carabiner and after discussing it with his mates (they are talking in a low voice) they decide to wait for the proper time to escape.

After about eight hours of being in the box, and getting some rest, they decide that now is the time to escape. It is now day 11 and about 7am in the morning. While they had no idea where to escape to, they make their move. Candidate #11 is able to screw loose the carabiner and release his team mates. They are seen scurrying up a nearby hill when they are called back by Instructors Bowen and Kuntz and told to come back. Oh shit… What next??  Fortunately they are told that they completed this segment of the evolution. Next up is the evasive aspect of the evolution; they need to get out of enemy territory.

We now enter what will be, unbeknownst to the candidates, the final challenge of the episode; the evasive portion, which consists of a long distance ruck march. The candidates will be carrying 55 lbs. of gear on their back as they begin a march of undetermined time and distance. While we the audience are told that it is a 16.5 mile march with about 1000 ft. in elevation change that must be completed before sundown, the candidates don’t know this and this adds to the mental aspect of the challenge, the unknown. They have gone 27 hours with little or no sleep and the starting temperature for the march is 90 degrees.

As they start, they of course are looking strong and go out as a group. But soon the heat and distance starts to take it’s toll. There are checkpoints, basically ammo cans, along the route that each candidate must go to and retrieve a slip of paper with their number on it. Along the way there is talk about what to do with slow team mates, should they drop them? As they get farther along the group spreads out into 2 group; lead group consisting of candidates #12 and #19 and the trailing groups consisting of candidates # 2, #11 and #17.

About 12.5 miles in, the heat gets to about 104 degrees and they are facing a 1/4 mile climb of about 900 ft. to the top of a hill and checkpoint #4. An instructor is there to make sure they hydrate and to let them know that the toughest part is still to come. At this point candidates #2, #11 and #17 decide to rest a bit and re-hydrate. Here #2 is heard saying that he is going to keep going.. gotta try.

It is here that candidate #17 decides to turn in his patch. The heat and uncertainty of the march just was too much for him. He has done well, despite the issues he faced in episode 7 and receives some well deserved accolades from the instructors.

By now candidate #12 has moved to the front of the pack and you can see that he is struggling. At this point the instructors are wondering if they will have a “Black Class”, a class in which no one finishes. We finally see instructor’s Bowen and Kuntz on the side of the road as candidate #12 approaches. He is told to drop his rucks and you can see that he is wondering what is next. It is at this point he is told he has completed the Selection. The tears of joy are obvious on #12’s face.

Candidates #2 and #11 are seen struggling on the climb but finish that part of the march. And once again we see instructor;s Bowen and Kuntz on the side of the road, this time as candidate #19 approaches. He too is asked to drop his ruck. Candidate #12 comes over and congratulates him but he still does not know that the journey is over. Finally he is told that he has successfully completed the Selection. A look of shock comes over his face.

As the final 2 candidates make their ways to the end, doubts on the part of #11 start to set it. While he will not leave #2 behind, it appears that he just might quit.  Candidate #2 keeps them both going and eventually we can see them as they near the finish. They both seem relieved to see the instructors and candidates #12 and #19 waiting for them. It is obvious by candidates #11 voice, when told that they have completed the Selection, that he is both surprised and shocked that it is finally over.

Lots of hugs and congratulation between the candidates and the instructors. As they finish the episode, and the show, we hear for the first time the instructors refer to the candidates not by a number, but by their names. Congratulations to the final 4 candidates;

#2 – Cliff Braun

#11 – Christian Griffith

#12 – Ryan Kent

#19 – Logan Nagle

And so their grueling 11 day trip to hell and back has finally ended. We have seen these 4 men overcome many demons, issues and doubts to make it across the finish line. Well done my friends.  And a shout out to Christian Griffith, aka #11, “How Does It Feel Old Man?”

Read recaps of previous episodes here:

Watch the episodes here.

Final Words… I want to say thank you to the editors of Obstacle Racing Media for allowing me the opportunity to write and share the recaps and to A&E Networks and the History Channel for allowing me access to the episodes prior to their airings. And a big thank you to, the readers’. I hope you enjoyed them.
All photos courtesy of A&E Television Networks  ©2016 A&E Televisions Networks

History Channel’s – The Selection: Evolution 7 Recap

Evolution 7: Integrity and Humility

With only 2 episodes left, there are 5 remaining candidates: #2, #11, #12, #17 and #19. They start off the episode with the candidates doing more PT, and then, we are transitioned into seeing the candidates receiving medical attention for various issues. Candidate #2 has knees that have been worn raw. Candidate #19 has a blood blister (and we also learn that while he has a size 10.5 foot, he is wearing size 8 boots. WTF?), and we get to see #11’s medical issue: butt blisters. I am sure there are jokes and comments to be made on this issue, and I will leave that up to the audience.

At the same time that medical is going on, the instructors are reviewing the candidates. This is one of my favorite parts of the episode. They feel that #2 has transformed himself. They feel that #19 is not excitable. They wonder if there is something eating at #12, but they also comment on the passion of #11 and #12. They also comment that, despite his age, #11 is being carried through by his passion.

Candidate #17 is taken for an interrogation and when asked, “Why are you here,” he replies with the same answer he has given in the past and this irks the instructors. He opens up and reveals that he believes he is the weakest link on the team. He also states that he has thought about becoming a SEAL and felt that this was a good experience to prepare him for that path if he so chooses. He also mentioned that he was bullied growing up because of his small stature. The instructors tell him that he needs to step up if he is going to make it to the end.

We finally come to the episode’s evolution: INTEGRITY. Basically, the candidates are going to run a 2.1-mile course with 6 PT stations. At each station, they are to do 50 reps of a predetermined exercise.

  1. Squats with ammo cans
  2. Shoulder presses with ammo cans
  3. Push-ups
  4. Burpees
  5. Jumping Jacks
  6. Return the ammo cans to the pits and then run to the top of Flag hill and back.

What they aren’t aware of is that they will be filmed at each station and that the instructors are looking for integrity violations – candidates who says they did all the required exercises but really did not. It is during this segment that instructor Ray Care says something that resonates with may of us who do OCR’s, GORUCK‘s, marathon’s etc.: “People want to get dropped off at the top of the hill and look down.” We have all heard of how others want things handed to them without working for it, but instructor Care said it best. Plain and simple, if you want to make it to the top, you are going to have to climb it. Good words to live by.

The candidates seem to finish the evolution with no issues and are seen relaxing for a while before they are back in the classroom. It is here that # 17 is asked to stand and read from the board: what is the meaning of integrity? The class is asked why it thinks the instructor has asked #17 to read the meaning of integrity aloud. Yes, it appears that someone has broken the integrity rule. Someone did not do the required 50 burpees at station #4.

When asked who might not have done all the burpees, at first no one replies, but then, #17 stands up and states that he may not have completed all 50. He stated that he was overheated and may have missed a couple. This does not set well with the Instructor who states that #11 was overheated as well and did all 50 of his burpees. He gave kudos to #11 for doing it all despite his age and the heat.

As they finish up in the classroom, you can see that #17 is upset at himself for his infraction. The team is very supportive of him and #11 can be heard saying, “Everything is a learning experience.”

Candidate #17 later has a one on one with Instructor Care who asks, “Why did you not complete the 2 burpees?” He really could not provide a good answer. He is disappointed in himself and feels that he should quit. The instructor tells him not to quit (I was a bit surprised, but then thinking back, again we learn from out mistakes. He admitted he made a mistake and was willing to accept his punishment), but he is told that he owes the instructor 50 burpees and that he will have to pay his debt later. The instructor believes he has integrity and #17 is seen leaving to go apologize to his teammates for his failure. Like a good strong team, they are very supportive of #17 and forgive him.

The instructor then calls out #17 to “pay back” his 50 burpees, and we see the whole team come out to do burpees as a team. This is what teamwork is all about and what the instructors strive to instill in the candidates. You win as a team and you lose as a team. When all is said and done, the instructor and #17 are all squared.

In reflecting back on this episode, there seemed to be a lot of “down time” for the candidates. Was it time for reflection on their part or part of some mental game being played on the part of the instructors?  Making the candidates wonder when the other shoe drops? As the evolution ends, we see instructors interviewing the candidates; #2 is emotionally weak and thinking of quitting; #11, when asked about his role in the group, states that he thinks he is a leader  and is able to share his life experiences with the team; #12 still feels that he has to prove himself to his dad who has never told him how proud he is of him; and we close with #19 when asked what one thing he has learned from his experience so far he replies, “Humility.”

Next week’s episode appears to be the culmination of everything the candidates have been taught and experienced during the past 7 episodes. In the previews, we see what appears to be the return of the box, and based on the comments made by the instructors in the preview, does anyone make it through? Looking forward to seeing the final episode.

Read recaps of previous episodes here:

Watch the episodes here.
All photos courtesy of A&E Television Networks  ©2016 A&E Televisions Networks