GORUCK is an organization that runs various active events put on by Special Forces. The events range from learning some self defense, scavenger hunts, but mostly physical challenges. There are also special events such as the 9/11 Tough Challenge – a tribute to the heroes. A lot of their events require you to be pretty fit because they’re quite physically brutal. I know people who have done some of these events and although they continue to participate, it may be a question of their own sanity :).
GORUCK was started from a member of Special Forces wanting to design a bag that was tough enough for Special Forces to use but could be used by adventurers all over. They make super durable gear with a lifetime guarantee. The development of the gear further developed into running events all over the country for other citizens that wanted to come together to test their physical abilities and have fun!
I was invited to participate in GORUCK Constellation, which is essentially a 12 hour marathon of “urban survival” skills lessons and drills. I participated in the NYC event which started and ended on Randall’s Island (east of Harlem). The event began at 9pm and ran nonstop until the morning around 8am. We were in groups of 8 (which you self-designate if you showed up on early) and the entire group was involved in most of the tasks. The primary purpose of this is to teach you skills that would give you the best chance of surviving an urban disaster. As a resident of NYC, this is sadly possible and I think it’s best to be prepared for anything.
I won’t dive into every detail so you can check out your own GORUCK Constellation event with an element of surprise, but I am going to briefly describe some of it because I think it will get you excited to try it yourself!
Lesson 1: Optimize your route and use a map
We started out on a team mission to get to 4 pinpoints on a map within a limited time frame. Since we had gathered on Randall’s Island, part of the task was to get into Harlem/Upper East Side of Manhattan. We had just a couple minutes to plan our route and figure out how to meet the other teams back at a set location. For proof we took group selfies at each point.
Lesson 2: Use your resources
After meeting at a park (in the dark in the middle of the night!) we had a mini lesson on survival resources. The “Cadre” (Special Forces men) divided us up to share their survival approaches and what they have packed in their emergency bags. We then had to go collect a short list of items from around the neighborhood.
Lesson 3: Basic medical training
Before the GORUCK event, everyone received a long list of seemingly random items to bring along. We learned how to use tourniquets and built stretchers with collected items (like long pieces of wood). Deemed the lightest member of the team, I was selected to be the victim carried back from Harlem to Randall’s Island. I had to put a lot of trust in my team!
P.S. This is NOT me.
Lesson 4: Survival 101
By now it was easily around 4am! A lot of people were exhausted but the rest of us ran on adrenaline, excitement, and 5 hour energy drinks. We learned some basics of building fire with household items like a coffee can. Another task was to build a face mask out of 2-liter bottles and a couple other simple items. We even tested the masks with pepper spray!
Lesson 5: Hide good and run fast
Was the sun coming up yet? Not quite. As a group we were given 5-10 minutes to find a hiding spot on the island. We had to be clever and quiet to not get caught by the Cadre for 30 minutes. When the time was up we had to get to a meeting spot about a mile away. This was the most running we had to do which is pretty minimal compared to most GORUCK events.
Morning time – we made it!
Are you ready to try your own local GORUCK Constellation event?Bonus: if you make it til morning, you are now an “alumni” and get special privileges if you choose to participate in one of the 24-hour survival events.
Note: all photos courtesy of my team members and participant Paul Luciano (flickr).
I am Rachel, an early 30's Midwestern girl residing in NYC with my husband and dog. I have learned to appreciate the city but am also a huge adventure girl. Follow along with my outdoor adventures as well as my city adventures and fitness journey. I'm an advocate of empowering other petite women not to be limited by our size!