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.
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…
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
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.
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
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