Written at the (winsome) request of Posse about GTE 24 – The Mutha
Our world teaches us to focus on ourselves: our reputation, fitness, looks, wealth, and power. Hundreds of organizations and gimmicks offer to help. From a distance, F3 can appear the same: “Join our free workout, get fit, make friends, and become a better man.” But unlike those organizations and gimmicks, F3 does not make you a better man through self-focus.
You might have a similarly incorrect idea about the Growruck: that it is a personal test of fitness and endurance. Again, the truth is different. It is the opportunity to serve your brothers by encouraging them, carrying their load, and sparing them pain by taking it on yourself.
Nearly 120 men arrived at 4pm at AG Middle School and lined up with rucksacks with a 30 lb weight, 6 liters of water, and other gear for a total of ~ 50 lbs. Then the PT test: 40 hand release merkins in 2 mins, 50 buttlerfly sit ups in 2 mins, and a 2 mile run in 18 mins. It was hot and we stood in the sun while each man passed or failed. Then we did exercises at stations at AG and got messed with for another hour or two. I did the minimum to pass the PT test. This generated cadre mocking, which I welcomed. Every extra rep for myself (to show how strong I was) was strength marginally less available to give to my brother later.
We lost 18 at AG from a bad mix of the heat, the PT, and the exercises. Then we divided into 4 platoons of 24-25 men each and set off for 20+ miles over the remainder of the night (16 hours total). Each platoon started burdened with sandbags of 120, 80, and 60 pounds, plus less heavy water coupons, ammo cans, and a shovel flag. Along the way, we heard about leadership, personal journeys, and some military instruction. We went to Freedom park, got in the lake for shenanigans, then went to Community Matters in part via ~1.5 miles wading through the slippery rocks of Sugar Creek. At Community Matters, we traded the sandbags for a phone pole (log), went up to the top of the Muthaship & down a couple times, and then traded the phone pole for a “dutch baby” contraption made of pallets and some kind of heavy machinery. Along the way, I made new friends and was particularly impacted by my new friend Mr. Fixit, a constant encourager. It was also good to be under the anvil with old friends like Uncle, Titan, CSPAN, and Kid Rock. I missed the opportunity to be with others in other platoons, and particularly missed not being able to lend a hand or word of support to other brothers, like my man Radar (who crushed it without me).
We headed home with a sunrise stop at the Myers Park CC tennis courts. At this stop, Moonshine got up and spoke, quoting from Romans 5 (with permission but without attribution):
We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
This passage was impossible for me to understand until I had truly suffered. Now it is impossible for me to understand life without it.
Not that a Growruck is true suffering. Nor will a Growruck produce character, even though some of the guys left feeling that way. That 16 hours was but a dim reflection of real pain.
But which of you was able to run a marathon without training? Or to excel in whatever you do at a high level without practice? That is what a Growruck is. Practice. Practice enduring a small amount of suffering in order to train in how to respond. What I have learned that is my response to the suffering of others should be sacrifice. And the Growruck was practice for that. So if you are considering a Growruck, I suggest you consider it for that reason: one type of practice responding to pain in others by taking their pain upon yourself.
You will transform that way, and in few others.