The fifth annual GRT Reunion has come and gone and my 10-hour drive home from Jacksonville to Richmond provided me with ample opportunity to contemplate not just the physical and mental trauma experience as a result of low crawling through a 174-person tunnel of love, but more importantly I found myself reflecting on the extraordinary nature of the GORUCK community, which is the true heart and soul of GORUCK.
The GORUCK community, family if you will, is remarkable. As I thought about what I saw on display during the GRT Reunion I realized that it was just a microcosm of the larger GORUCK community and what happens at countless other GORUCK events all the time. In particular, as I drove home, I was struck by the diversity, toughness, and humility that are hallmarks of the GRT community at large.
To the surprise of no-one, the GRT Reunion’s first stop was the ocean. I will add that the sounds created when 174 people enter the surf at 2 AM for water PT is nothing short of amazing.
Of course, the best way to dry off and warm up a wet bunch of GRT is sand PT and my group was blessed to have Jason himself assist us in bringing up our core temperatures and ridding us of those cursed goosebumps.
In the midst of taking special care of us, Jason called our group of 43 GRT in nice and tight. He asked, “where are you from?” The answers were varied. From the north, south, east, and west. Near and far, we were from everywhere. He followed up with, “and what do you do?” Actuaries, accounts, CEOs, small business owners, sales, technical support, pastor, non-profit employee, and countless other jobs that I can’t remember.
As Jason admonished on the beautify diversity of our group I looked around. The people I saw were young, old, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, short, tall, ripped, uh… less ripped, male, female. It was a glorious hodge-podge of people. No doubt in that group was a diverse spectrum of political, social, religious, and ideological thoughts and beliefs. And, here we were, huddled around this guy who was about to send us back into the ocean for some more flutter kicks.
It hit me that there are not a lot of places you can go these days to find such a diverse group of people not just gathering, but truly enjoying being together and working towards a common goal. The GORUCK community really does possess extraordinary diversity.
As I lay on my belly halfway through that world’s longest tunnel of love, I looked at the shoes of the woman in front of me. I thought about how much I wanted to quit. About how hard it was. About how bad it hurt and how long we still had to go.
And then her shoes moved. And moved again. And didn’t stop until we finally broke free on the other side after what felt like 15-20 minutes of intense work.
The toughness and perseverance of that woman (whoever you are) made me push harder to persevere, not give up, and keep moving. Every time she moved forward, I mustered whatever strength I could find and pulled forward to keep up with her. Her toughness inspired the heck out of me and kept me going.
But, here’s the thing: That is normal in this community. I mean, think about it, 174 people got in the ocean at 2 AM for 20+/- minutes of PT followed by easily 30+/- minutes of beach PT and NO ONE QUIT. For those reading this that are GRT, that statement might seem unremarkable. But, for much (if not most) of the world that fact is unbelievable.
Add on top of that hours upon hours of rucking, PT, sprinting around a field, pushing a sled, and all the other shenanigans we did over the weekend. And still no one quit. Each and every one of them embraced the challenge and stood up to the test, often with a smile on their face.
And this is just “normal” for those in this community and it can be seen over and over again just about every weekend of the year. Simply put, this community is extraordinarily tough.
Cadre JC gathered the group together in the parking lot of the Jacksonville Police Department. He explained that he had arranged a service project for us and that we were going to be washing several cars for the department. Cheers erupted.
Now, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that some of those cheers were related to the fact that we were washing cars and not getting another PT session (though JC did work plenty of PT into the car wash). But, also mixed in those cheers was a genuine desire to do good and serve others.
This humility in service can be seen everywhere the GORUCK community goes. From rallying to support Cadre Rooney (be sure to grab a Rooney t-shirt and patch), to ruck clubs partnering with TMF Operation Legacy, to the hundreds of other acts of service that happen all throughout the country in GORUCK Clubs.
You don’t have to look far to see that the mantra of “team above self” getting played out in a thousand different ways within this community. This humility was on display at Reunion, but indicative of what it means to truly be GRT.
This Community in Your Community
As I was writing this piece, I was reminded of a quote from Dan Metcalf who wrote an AAR on Ruck.Beer about his very first GORUCK experience. He summarized how he felt about the event by saying, “In a time when it often seems like society’s greatest challenges come from an inability to work together, it was tremendously reaffirming to see and feel so concretely that we can attain remarkable feats through collective effort.”
I think that about sums up what I experienced at the GRT Reunion and, for that matter, at every GORUCK event I go to. The GORUCK community is simply an amazing family and I eagerly await our next reunion. Till then, keep going out there and being extraordinary in your community.