Four Carpex PAX posted for the Capital Ruck Tour, 2017 edition in Raleigh. This was the 44th stop on the tour of all 50 US capitals, plus DC and NYC.
The event is put on by Linus from F3 Tacoma (who is also known as Cadre Danny in the world of GORUCK.) The goal is to raise funds and awareness for Operation Enduring Warrior, which helps adaptive athletes do awesome things. More on that later. It’s neither a GORUCK nor F3 event, but both communities have supported it in force.
Banjo, Yogi and YHC posted for the “Rx Ruck,” with an advertised distance of 20 miles, minimum 20# dry weight. None of the usual GORUCK stuff, no coupons, not much PT, just a walk with some fellow ruckers. We were among 56 PAX to start the 20-mile event, the largest headcount of any stop yet. Danny was impressed – “Wow. Most are single digits. We’ll see how this goes.”
As we milled about at the start point at Athens Drive HS, we got to know a couple of overflowing clown-cars of Carterico PAX, a bunch of other F3ENC’ers, a few guys from Charlotte, Raleigh, Churham, and a healthy sampling of other non-F3 Raleigh rucking folks I’ve gotten to know. A lady I ran into in O’Hare coming back from Chicago launch was there – it was Teresa’s 12th stop on the tour.
Danny started us off with a few words about the goals of the evening. The main goal was to get out, be active, and have some healthy 2ndF. He introduced John, who was standing a few feet from me, and Danny let us know that John is blind. He encouraged us to close our eyes for a minute while on the walk later just to let that sink in. He also encouraged us not to get too close to John while he’s practicing his karate (he tests for a black belt next month) – “He *will* kick you in the face.” We believed it.
We started with a WoD to get things going:
- 4 PAX teams
- 2 PAX do bropees. No high-ten, no rep. Jump not coordinated, no rep.
- 2 PAX do partner carry; Rx was firefighter style. Carry about 30yd and back, then flapjack carry/bropee with other half of team.
- AMRAP bropees in 14 minutes. (Each pair counts 1 as they high-ten.)
YHC’s team with Banjo, Pigpen and Candlestick cranked out 106. Not bad but not in the top 3 either.
We then got in formation and broke into three squads. Red, white, and blue (naturally.) Red squad had the guys (and gals) from the Crick. White had Yogi and YHC, and Banjo was on Blue. We were assigned team leaders and briefed on the route, and set out in 5-minute staggers. Coordinating 56 PAX at road crossings would’ve been awful, so teams of 16-18 made sense. We also had John on our squad, which was awesome.
Leg 1 – 5.5mi
Our first objective was to take the trail around the south end of Lake Johnson and get to the Centennial Campus Disc Golf course. We set out and quickly found ourselves on a very technical, uneven trail. The lead elements were told repeatedly to slow the pace – “we have a blind guy back here.” Right. Quickly our assistant TL advised that we should put John up front, a common tactic at GORUCK events (slowest items up front). To our surprise, John started tearing up the course and our pace quickened.
We added about 1/2 mile to our first leg when we took a wrong turn. YHC pointed out the error, to the momentary disbelief of the TL, and was rewarded with navigation duty for the rest of the night once proven correct. We caught up with Red team after a 6-mile first leg and got a few minutes of R&R.
Leg 2 – 3mi
Danny briefed the TL’s again and told us we’d be heading to the McDonald’s at Gorman and Western, along a prescribed route. We’d gone no farther than about 600 yards when we were corrected on our navigation (oops!) and trekked through Centennial campus.
We hit the golden arches at around the 9-mile mark, and once again had some tough decisions to make. Certain elements were lobbying Danny for a stop at Raleigh Brewing, but we also knew we needed to make it to our next rally point at Whole Foods on Wade Ave by 10:30. It was only 1.2 miles, but as we were bearing down on 10pm, we needed to push on and hope we could find another 2ndF location along the way. Still, we got to refuel a bit and have a few minutes off our feet, which felt good.
Leg 3 – 1.2mi
We headed out along the path we’d just come in on, then up Faircloth to Whole Foods. This was pretty easy going and the crew was in decent shape overall.
It was great to link up with the scaled ruck participants – this was billed as 5 miles to the Capitol. We met Gopher (the Raleigh/Churham/ruck one), Singlewide, Pet Sounds and some other folks. Singlewide and Pet Sounds got put on team white. We kept John on our team, and another OEW PAX, a single-leg amputee, joined team red.
We were now sitting at 10.1 miles, having bypassed one check point due to our slow pace. I felt for the PAX trying for their 20mi Pathfinder, as we were going to be a little short anyway, but now it seemed we’d be way short. Some foot care, calories, and water did us good, but we were starting to feel it 5+ hours into the night.
Leg 4 – 1.6 mi
The next leg would take us to the Raleigh Rose Garden. Once again, calls of “where’s Bartman” preceded the navigational brief. Luckily with guys like Singlewide to navigate ITB and Candlestick on NCSU campus, we were well-covered.
Once we got off Wade Ave at Dixie, we were in residential area and had to observe some noise discipline. Candlestick had chatted briefly with one of Raleigh’s Finest back on Centennial Campus, and as soon as the words “wounded veterans” were uttered, everything was cool. Still, we’d rather avoid any calls from residents about weirdos walking the streets.
We rallied briefly at the Rose Garden and were given our next objective, Fletcher Park.
Leg 5 – 1.7 mi
We rolled in to Fletcher and took a seat at the amphitheater. Here, Danny shared with us some of the “why” about the tour. He shared how OEW enables guys like John to “do awesome stuff” like skydiving, OCRs, and GORUCK challenges. He shared how he had four adaptive athletes complete a GORUCK Tough, and how he needed to do precisely zero scaling of the event in order for them to pass. He shared how the OEW guide athletes wear gas masks while assisting the PAX, as to remain anonymous and not draw attention. Danny himself is one of the masked athletes, a grueling selection process itself.
He talked a bit about suicide, and how it’s hard for guys who are used to being part of a tight-knit unit to adapt to a life on their own, inactive, and isolated. It sounds a lot like Sad Clown Syndrome but cranked way, way up. OEW’s mission is to give these guys a way to get active again. A group of #HIM to be sure.
Final leg – 1.8mi
We were briefed that the next leg would take us to the Capitol. Singlewide adepty maneuvered us around the Glenwood South bar scene via West St, and we arrived at our ENDEX at about 1:15am. A couple of group pictures and some words from the OEW PAX, John and Ed. Ed is a force of nature; he rucked the 5-miler with us, then posted to the handcycle division of the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday. “Leg day, then arm day.” Sure.
We did a COT, and Danny gave us patches and Cadre hugs. A few PAX had earned their 6- or 12-pack patches as well. #tclaps on that! Danny earned a Minivan Centurion patch from Carpex.
At that point, we had missed last call anyway, so the PAX dispersed quickly to find Lyfts back to the start point.
Final tally for team white was 14.9 miles, moving time 5:05, for an average pace just north of 20 min/mi. Our pace was remarkably even; once we figured out the kinks in how to organize, we got faster, but that was offset by fatigue later in the night.
All in all, it was a great 2ndF opportunity – though I’m feeling the 1stF even tonight as I write this. #foamrollerFTW I’m amazed at Danny and guys like Cornhole who’ve done 6 or 7 nights of this in a row on this leg of the tour.
TL;DR: Get up, do something. Bring some friends. Pick up the six.
Donate to the tour if you’re so led. PayPal firstname.lastname@example.org. Or hit up OEW at enduringwarrior.org to see what they’re about and how to get involved or help out.