Lincoln’s Rucking Story
Eight year old, Lincoln Watling, aka the KidRucker, has just finished rucking the virtual Camino de Santiago challenge – a 480 mile pilgrimage though Spain. He is also more than 500 days into a daily rucking streak, along with his dad, Julian. Together they’ve been rucking a mile a day (sometimes more) for almost two years, without a day off.
Their journey started in 2019, after Julian was diagnosed with PTSD because of work related trauma. Daily rucking became part of his therapy when he started a virtual rucking challenge in August of that year to keep himself active, long before COVID and everything became virtual! He soon became mates with another crazy Rucker, Joe Molinari, from New Hampshire. They realized they had a lot in common and kept each other motivated via Facebook messenger and email.
“We finally found a way to use Facebook in a positive way!” Julian said.
After the first 100 days, the wheels almost came off due to the black dog, but that’s when young Lincoln stepped up, deciding he was going to join Dad, to “keep an eye on him” and make sure he kept going.
Lincoln spotted the virtual Camino challenge on a YouTube video and they signed up. Since then, there have been ice cream rucks, pumpkin rucks, hot chip rucks, and night time rucks. He has rucked in Australia, New Zealand, and even on a cruise ship! He’s rucked on days when he didn’t feel like it, days when he was ill, Christmas Day rucks, Easter rucks, Birthday rucks, and he even rucked on the day he had surgery to remove his adenoids, much to the bemusement of his mumma! The KidRucker finished the Camino challenge in exactly 365 days, every mile rucked.
“I’m going to keep rucking forever. If I don’t stop rucking, I think I’ll live until I’m about 500!” he said. “One day I’d like to ruck in as many countries as I can, and collect a patch from each one.”
Rucking has really become a lifestyle for this Aussie family: Lincoln had a rucking party for his 7th birthday, and a rucking cake to celebrate one year of his rucking streak. His most prized possessions are his V2 Rucker, which he also uses as his school bag, his Ruckstraps, and his Source Hydration water bladder.
“Rucking every day with Lincoln, and seeing his determination to complete the Camino challenge, has been a great way to connect with him, and to learn about goal setting,” Lincoln’s dad, Julian, explains.
“Normally, if I ask him a direct question, I get a one word answer, but when we are rucking shoulder to shoulder, I can’t stop him from talking! He often opens up and tells me about his friends and what is going on for him at school. It’s also a chance for us to discuss how he can handle different situations that he encounters. Having struggled with my own mental health for a while now, it’s very important for me to make sure Lincoln can talk about how he feels, and to recognize the different emotions he may be feeling, and how to manage them. Rucking has been a great platform for building that foundation.”
“As he gets older, I hope he remembers that if he needs to talk about anything, we can just go for a ruck.”
“Lincoln may not realize it, but he has taught me that if we can just find one thing that excites us enough to get out of bed every morning, then everything will eventually be ok. For me, rucking is that one thing, and I encourage everyone to introduce their kids to rucking as a way to get fit, and connect with them.”
Lincoln may have a point too. Could it be that the the simple act of getting up every day to go for a ruck, might make you live longer? Wouldn’t that be cool? Lincoln ponders this question carefully. “Yes,” he says slowly, deliberately, “but not as cool as the Camino medal!”
By the time you read this, Lincoln and his dad will have notched another day on their rucking streak, and they will be waiting patiently for Joe to post on Facebook that he has done his ruck on the other side of the world. If COVID ever eases up, Julian says they hope to eventually get their families together, somewhere in the world, so they can ruck together in person.