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.

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

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

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