David: So it goes without saying that this was the hardest physical and mental challenge I have ever gone through. Cadre dropped the MF’ing hammer unleashing a blitzkrieg of PT (physical training) and rucking of the likes you cannot imagine. This of course gives rise to seeing either the very best or worst in people. It was 48 hours of non-stop wall to wall drama of the human condition. No matter what cadre threw at us, I swore that I would give it everything I got, and sell out at every evolution. Easier said than done as sleep deprivation, hunger, hallucinations, and bone chilling cold makes it so tempting to tap out. The night evolutions were the most difficult for me because I was in a serious state of delirium lurching and staggering all over the place whilst carrying heavy shit across great distances and PT’ing my ass off in the dead of night. Quite honestly, I wanted to quit right from the get go and the voice inside my head telling me to quit grew only louder after every evolution. But I had another voice telling me to “control yourself and focus” thus compartmentalizing and maintaining self-control was my coping mechanism. Every missed time hack, every clusterfuck, the mantra was to turn chicken shit into chicken salad. Life sucks and it’s only going to get suckier. Deal with it and move on.
Note: Chris Way, David Kim, and Olof Dallner, the 3 finishers of Selection (pictured above), each posted their thoughts on the GORUCK Tough Group when Selection was complete. This post, in their words, is a testament to them. And to how you earn a lot of respect from guys who don’t give anything away. Ever.
David: “It was the worst of times, and it was the worst of times.” LOL, apologies to Charles Dickens but what I went through for 48 hours was truly a soul searing experience at the nth level that I’m still trying to process, so bear with me. I came into this with an “in it to win it” attitude. I didn’t treat Selection like a joke and my training and preparation reflected that, i.e. following cadre’s postings very carefully, taking care of old injuries, training my ass off, buying the right equipment, and taking care of travel plans ahead of time. No last minute BS to throw me off my game.
Olof: Coming into Selection 001 I didn’t know what to expect. Yes, I finished 000, but that could mean nothing. This Selection was going to be cold and I was sure Cadre had figured out new ways for us to face our demons. It is a long and seemingly never ending relentless beat down. Don’t think about the end. You’re just mind fucking yourself. Just do the task at hand, you have no idea what’s coming next anyway.
Chris: “What was it really like?” It was word for word what is on the site here. Dan took the time to write this article and you should all read it. It’s a no shit article that is honest and crystal clear and coming from one of the Selection cadre himself. Again, it’s meant to be read for what it is. Yes I heard more then once “ Dude, I thought this was going to be a lot easier…” man I didn’t see that alluded to in Dan’s article, the challenge page, or the 000 rundown.
Olof: I don’t train specifically for Selection…I’m primarily a runner. I go to gyms every now and then, but I do more calisthenics (using my own body weight for training). I don’t do ruck work outs all the time, and if I do, I don’t really run with it that much. I know I can. Just don’t train that way all the time, you’ll get injured. Alpine climbing translates to carrying heavy gear up the mountain which is good training. A lot of people drop due to preexisting injuries due to over training. Yes, you should train a lot to be fit to do this, but do it smart. If you get injured, rest! The key to why I can train a lot without major injuries is because I do a lot of different things and I vary my training constantly. I thought Bikram yoga could be good so I started doing that (there’s also a lot of people in skimpy clothes bending over if you like that). Try new things, don’t get stuck in the gym.
Figure out what works for you. I have a lot of experience on what I need to push through these events, how my nutrition works, and so on. Once you’ve done that, don’t over think it. Not having that piece of chocolate or the specific bar isn’t going to stop you from going to the end. You can use nutrition as mental booster. Hide something extra good in your pack and don’t bring it out until you really need it. I’m sure Chris and Kim can tell about the great moment we had in the end during a long movement when I hauled out a super spicy beef jerky.
Also, I drink way to much beer (and other things), fuck, I live in NYC. Does that affect training? Probably, but what the hell, you gotta live. The primary thing with me. I get wasted but if I have a work out or run next morning I will be there doing it. No matter how shitty I feel.
David: The seminal moment was when 8 became 3. It happened in a flash. It was down to me, Olof, and Chris. They’re two of the finest people I know. It was at that point that the voice telling me to quit finally evaporated. Hallelujah! I could not live with myself if I let these two down. The last 24 hours were excruciating because cadre were relentless and we were running on fumes, but we had crossed the Rubicon and there was no turning back. We had some funny moments (funny for cadre, not so funny for us) interspersed between beat downs so despite the suck, I was in good spirits because of the company I was with. Whatever cadre told us to do we did it. No eye rolling, no slouched shoulders. Bear crawls? Sure. Burpees? Why not? Pushups. No prob. Chicken shit=>Chicken Salad. As we got to the end, we were all in serious pain. Our bodies were jacked up and our teeth clenched with pain. Thank goodness for Cadre Dan’s post about his broken ankles because that’s all I kept thinking about.
Olof: Everyone has their ups and downs. It’s great if you have awesome people around you to cheer you up with a smile. If not, remember, if you’re feeling down and thinking about quitting, hang in there a while longer. It will turn and you will be back up again. Thinking about quitting doesn’t mean you will. It’s just your brain trying to be rational. You can reason yourself out of it and continue. When it was down to the 3 of us we did all that we could to cheer each other up. Being able to smile when everything is shit is key. In Selection and life.
Chris: More personally: I had ups and downs. I had doubts and fears. There were moments I was terrified of what might come. I remember telling Olof and David, “Guys if we get wet again I don’t know if ill be able to recover – I was freezing.” Olof said “lets see what happens” David said “lets get to the top of the hill first;” their attitude and bravery lifted me up when I was down. The endless welcome party continued and every time I sank – they lifted me up.
Olof: I was surprised when I realized it was down to me, David, and Chris. A lot of people dropped suddenly and I wasn’t there to see it. I did feel like we were going to make it. It was just one of those feelings you get sometimes, you just know. We had come too far to give up. It was an amazing experience that I got to share with them and the only way you’ll understand it is to do it. I can’t describe it in words here, it just doesn’t work. We all know we’re bro’s now.
Chris: People asked me if I thought it got easier after it was down to three of us. I didn’t have many doubts the first 24 hours, it sucked balls, but the major trials for me came the second 24. Honestly, I thought I was going to get dropped toward the end because I couldn’t keep a pace and for one reason or another had convinced myself that Lou and Dan were going to drop me; tears were rolling out of my eyes and I tried so hard to keep them from noticing – I was ashamed and started thinking about what I should have done different to prepare.
Olof: The Cadre talk about priorities and they are right. That’s true for this, but also any event where you are on your feet for a long time. Take care of your feet. Any chance you get, take your shoes and socks off and try to dry and treat them. Any chance you get. It will make a huge difference in the end. It’s easy to just sit on your ass and veggie out. But taking care of your list of priorities first is part of the challenge. If you don’t, chances are you won’t make it till the end.
Olof: There’s really not much to be said about specifics of what we did at the Selection (sign up and do it to find out!). In the end, it doesn’t really matter that much. Show up and do it. Train for the things that will most likely be part of Selection, like long movements and some PT. Don’t worry about the rest.
David: I’ll spare you the blow by blow details and summarize my takeaways:
1. Selection is designed to weed out the weak. Either you meet the standard or you don’t, end of story.
2. It pays to be a winner. You are being assessed at all times so you cannot hide behind your “team.”
3. Sandbaggers can run but cannot hide. You will pay the price as well as the rest of your class because of you.
4. Cadre will shine the spotlight on EVERYONE regardless if you are a sandbagger or PT hero. Either you rise to the occasion or you don’t.
5. HTFU or quit. I know it sounds merciless but nobody wants to hear your BS excuses.
6. Pack smart. You know what I’m talking about.
7. Smile. Positivity is a wonderful thing.
Olof: Sometimes when I feel the worst I just take a look around me. Look at your surroundings, look at the people around you. How many get to do this? I had a moment close to the end (I think maybe we all did) when we we’re rucking in the sunset on the cliffs next to the Potomac. It was absolutely beautiful and we were able to appreciate that although we were zombified and in a lot of pain. You’re privileged to just be able to be there. Don’t wallow in your pain and misery. Realize you’re out there killing it.
David: I’m not going to divulge how it all ended, that is between class 001, cadre, and alumni. But what I will say is that (A) it’s not what I expected and (B) I was an emotional train wreck. I consider myself a pretty stoic guy but I was so choked up with emotion I lost the power of speech and I needed a minute to quietly bawl like a baby. To be able to shake every cadre’s hand and to be awarded the Selection patch is a moment I will cherish forever. To Olof and Chris: you are my brothers forever. To the 000 alumni that I don’t know already: I look forward to meeting you. To cadre: you are my heroes and I thank you for your hospitality. To GRHQ, thank you for allowing me to participate. To the GRT family: happy new years and good luck in all your future endeavors. I love you all.
Chris: Like many of you I watched Selection Class 000 with butterflies and excitement as rare posts were leaked. Had I not participated in 001 I would have been on the edge of my seat just the same (I even woke up in the middle of the night to check during 000, that’s how excited I was). I am a big fan of GORUCK and all of the events they offer. Selection surpasses any of the events I have done in terms of organization, planning, execution – it’s a tier 1 event. I cautiously recommend it to all of you who are interested. Selection is everything Jason said it would be.
Chris: When the end came it was a total shock but it’s a life changing experience that I rank with watching my children being born, marrying my wife, and being with my grandfather when he passed – yes pretty fucking intimate. If you want to have one of those experiences train for selection and finish it.