First Star Basic Ruck in Munich
This AAR is divided into three sections. You can choose to jump ahead to the specific section.
Prep for the event
There were only two things I did to prepare for this event.
- I followed the GORUCK 4-weeks training plan by the MRC1.
- I adjusted my sleep schedule to fit as on event weekend.
I recognize that most people don't have the fortune to alter their sleep schedule to fit the event weekend. Though I was able to adjust it in such a fashion that I followed a bi-phasic sleep schedule. It took a good two weeks until the schedule aligned as wanted.
The sleeping times were from
11:00 - 14:30 and
23:30 - 04:30. The last couple of days prior to the event, I moved
the night portion by 30min, so that I can wake up fully rested at
Additionally, I scheduled the workouts in such a fashion that I would get one in the evening around
19:00 and another
in the morning around
06:00. So that my body could at least get used to the phyical strain with little rest between
The only alteration I did to the MRC training plan is that the Day 6 were long rucks. They were usually at least twice as long if not more and the distances ranged from 10-30km. This gave me the chance to play around with different breakfast and snack practices. In the end I chose small breakfast followed by nuts and dried fruit every hour plus salt capsules.
12 mile star course
The star course started in the east part of the Westpark2 of Munich. Yes the starting location was described as this vague description. I wish they at least added the geolocation data aka latitude/longitude.
Nonetheless it wasn't that difficult to find the others. One just had to keep a lookout for the minion crew aka as the Munich Rucking Crew in their yellow t-shirts.
My plan was to arrive extra early with 40min to, so that I can get a power nap in before the event, because I was awake since midnight. I tried to pre-load sleep, the science says that it is not possible, thus I will have to deal with the consequences. Additionally, I barely ate anything concrete throughout the day. The only thing I had going for me is that I already trained for such circumstances.
Before the event I downed a Monster Rehab and a package of macadamia nuts, which are high in calories. I refrained from standing up for as much as possible to save energy for the event. My body was shaking and going through hot flashes. It definitely wasn't the ideal circumstances. Selfishly I knew I could allow it, since I was part a larger team, which on average rucked just a bit faster than my comfortably rucking pace.
You get a list of waypoints and need to confirm that your team was there by sending a group picture to the Cadre.
20min before the official start at 19:00, we got the waypoints. They are:
- National Museum
(If you like you can try to find the optimal path. It is about 18.5km. This is the route3 we took.)
The only thing I really want to do throughout the event is navigate. I bet our team lead saw the thirst in my eyes when he got the list. With no hesitation he gave it to me and I was overjoyed.
I kind of knew where all the locations are, though I still double-checked most of them. We got the hint from the Cadre if our route is 12-13 miles, then we did a good job. But if it was 15 or more miles, we better remap it.
I made a mental list of the order I wanted to walk before entering them into the Osmand4 app. The route I got was 19.9km and with quick view of it, I already saw that it wasn't optimized, so I will be doing that on the fly.
The only thing I was questioning before the event were the app suggestions GORUCK5 gave. Most of them used the same database, which is open street map. Though the app I used wasn't on the list. Plus a lot of the suggestions came with a fee. Some of the apps even used Google maps and I am questioning how they can afford that, since each API call to Google costs money, if you are a business.
On top of that I did all my mapping and tracking in airplane mode. I am really wondering how much the battery was drained from the other participants.
Altering the route on the move
Three minutes till 19.00 the Cadre gave everyone a head start. I bet he was just as impatient as the rest of us.
Half of the teams first went north while the other half went east. I instantiated with a fairly good pace from the get go plus I cut corners wherever it was possible. Meaning if the path went around a grass patch, I went straight through it. The other teams already commented on this observation. All I really wanted to achieve is a route that was less than 12 miles.
Right before arriving to our first waypoint at the Nymphenburg Palace6, one of the team members asked why I was crossing over the street when going straightforward would achieve the same result. I replied "I want to take as little steps as possible. So if there is a curve, I am taking the inner lane."
Although we were the second team leaving the starting area, we quickly lost sight of the first team. But fortunately while taking our selfie at the waypoint, they came up behind us with the comment that we aren't even touching the palace.
Our next waypoints are in the east and on the way, the team lead mentioned that we could optimize the order of the waypoints a bit, since we were coming fairly far north onto the city center.
I took his remark into consideration and optimized the route on the fly. The good thing of the alteration is that we didn't have to go on the main pedestrian roads, thus we could keep the pace.
Making sure to hydrate
On our way into the city center, the team lead made the suggestion that we grab a beer at the Hofbräuhaus7. No one was against it and he called out to our pit crew with the order.
At the location, we got a ten minute break to down our orders, but first we needed to take the selfie. A couple of us just chugged it from the get go.
Nightfall killing the pace
Soon nightfall was upon us and slowly we were losing concentration. The pace was slowing down, the feet were getting heavy, the chafing has become painful, and some just wanted to stop.
The route was being critized that going the same path twice is not optimal. It definitely isn't pretty, though it can be optimal.
Caught the last waypoint and got the feedback that we were only ten minutes behind first. The suggestion was made that we could shuffle the rest to catch up to the first team. Though we weren't able to keep all our members in reaching distance, so we quickly killed that suggestion.
The last meters
We just made it back to park entrance. We were still in our time hack of 3.5h. The last meters we ruck shuffled as a team and coming over the finish line just below 3h 15min.
Quite impressed by the time, especially considering that traffic lights steal a lot of time and we took a beer break.
The only remark we got from the Cadre is that we were having way too much fun.
AAR star course
Probably if I only rucked with the other speed rucker, we could have broken 3h, though even like this I can't complain about the time.
The only thing that worried me throughout the event is the lack of urge to urinate and when I took the opportunity the color was normal. Considering that it was fairly warm, this would conclude the observation.
I think what also helped to keep the fluid within the body were the nuts I ate and consuming a salt capsule every hour.
After the event, I enjoyed my treat, which was 500ml of red beet juice plus a beer.
Didn't stay long and caught the bus around 23:00. It took me a good hour to get home and went to bed right away.
This will be the first GORUCK Basic in Europe. The Basic in comparison to the Light is quite similar with one small difference, the dry weight has increased by 10 lbs. Also the Light doesn't exist anymore.
With only two hours of sleep, got up and made breakfast while packing the ruck and getting dressed. The gear choice was similar to the previous day with a focus on dry proofing all equipment. I also packed a secondary bag that I could change into before meeting up in the beer garden later that day.
Sadly getting ready took longer than expected thus I had to take my breakfast in a go-bag.
Just in case I left the house earlier than usually to catch the bus shortly after 04:00. I was expecting the night bus to be early, since no one is on the streets at this time on a Saturday. Good thing I did, since the bus left 3min earlier than scheduled.
It took me almost a good 90min to get to the start point and I wasn't even the first person. Most others arrived 10min prior to the event.
Today's welcome party was a deck of cards with
- 8-count body builders (ruck on the back, crouch down, get into the plank, spread legs apart, bring legs back together, lay onto ground, pushup back into plank, bring legs to hands, stand up again and bring arms above the head),
- brick layers (ruck clean, ruck squat to overhead hold, and 2-count lunges while holding the ruck above the head),
- ruck swings, and
- 4-count flutter kicks with ruck hold overhead.
The jokers were a speed ruck around the lake and all face cards plus ace were only considered as 10 reps.
I tried my best to follow the exercises as strict as possible though after the first 10 cards my perfect form broke and went into cheat mode. The only two exercises I cheated at were the first two mentioned. Like for the brick layers I skipped the squat in between and used the rebound from going downwards to raise the ruck straight up over the head, then I rested it on my head. The lunges I didn't complete at all and barely broke 180°.
I noticed in the first round that my concern of my knees from this morning flourished. It was a sharp aching pain on the joint. Totally overdid it yesterday. Nonetheless I gave my best to fulfill the welcome party to the best of my ability.
Before the party started Cadre Cleve told us not to drop the ruck in such a fashion that the plate is above the bladder. And while some were getting tired he constantly reminded us to be weary of this circumstance. Because the last thing you want is your bladder to explode. And if such a case happens, hopefully you packed a backup hydration device or else your struggle will be so much more harsher.
Filling up the sandbags
After the welcome party we had the joy of filling up the sandbags. There was a pile of dirt with some stones, which was weather pressed. I kind of wished that I packed my shovel instead of Paracord. Nonetheless I had an ace up my sleeve, since I took my boots, I had a sturdy heel to use to soften the mound.
Although I was able to create softer mounds the fillers were too slow and we kind of had a time hack. So to take a break from all the hacking, I quickly got onto to my knees to become a filler before reverting back to a hacker.
In hindsight, I should have just sticked to the one task and not switch among them. Since I was internally complaining that the fillers were too slow while the fillers were verbally complaining that no one is hacking. I tried to do two tasks at once and in the end probably not the best solution.
Ruck to the Isar
The first team lead (TL) made the decision to have the heaviest sandbags in the front of the convoy which were two 120 lbs. Then came the 80s, 60s, and 40s. The team weight disappeared among the rest of the participants, which were behind the coupons (sandbags).
We were about 30 participants, which was large enough to have a co-captain. Their strategy was to randomly choose who could overtake one of the coupons, make them shuffle to the front and change.
I was appointed as the navigator to get to the Isar8 from the Westpark. I was the only one allowed to stray from formation which were two columns. Just because I was navigator didn't mean I didn't have to carry any coupons. I did my part as much as I could, the navigation part was just a psychological add-on to the experience.
Midway through the Theresienwiese9 I was cycled back to the rear to rest. I told the TL that I appointed another team mate as the new navigator, since I realized I can be more help carrying other loads in the middle.
Cooling off in the Isar
Once at the Isar, we did a debrief of what the first TL and their secondary did well and what they could improve. They were fairly good at getting people to cycle through the sandbags, though one thing that they were lacking was they chose randomly who should grab the coupon.
The only thing we had going for us is that it was only a Basic. During a Tough one wouldn't have gotten so much leeway and would have received a punishment quicker.
After a quick story from Cadre Cleve and two new leads, the convoy was back on the move.
Some of us were expecting to do some exercises in the river while others didn't know what will be coming upon them. Almost half way to the next bridge and the Cadre found a good location for hydro immersion.
He gave us the opportunity to leave our electronics and other valuables on land. I compared to the majority wanted a real Goruck experience and left all my electronics that were not on the gear list in a friend's car.
The good and bad of this method is that in the case you drop the event early, you can only go to the car and wait. So since you are going wait anyways why not combine it with paid suffering?
Off we were getting only half shin deep into the river. I felt my boots create an air pocket before filling up with water. I kind of knew they were going to get fully immerged during the event and was weighing out the pros and cons compared to barefoot shoes. I went with the boots because of ankle health and the ability to carry heavier with less worry.
The Cadre told us to get in the high plank and explained how we will be doing push-ups until everyone's head is fully immerged. Without thinking twice I quickly dropped to my knees.
Cadre Cleve said "down" and lots of us were fully immerged waiting for him to say "up". He quickly realized that we were not introduced to the fact that we can come up whenever we want and don't need to hold our breaths, we are not in the navy. Plus if you were further away from him, there was noway that you will hear him saying "up" with all the noise from the water movement.
I don't know how my left neighbor achieved it, but every other time he went down, when he came up, his ruck left his body. The Cadre was commenting on it till the point that he finally closed his chest strap.
It took us a couple of rounds until everyone got the memo. Some us already were shivering and chattering our teeth. Although the air temperature was above 20°C, the river was much cooler. You got to love the chilled Alps water.
After we accomplished the task of getting our heads completely wet it was off to the next challenge of ground inspection. Cadre Cleve gave us the instructions to roll to the right. Explaining "if your neighbor is too slow to just roll over them."
Above the task of rolling, it was important to be familiar with what was below the surface. Sometimes there was a large boulder where the teammate prior would warn you about it.
I had the unfortune that exactly as I rolled over I landed on the large boulder. And then the Cadre said to do a push-up. Well that physically didn't work, so it meant that I had to go into deeper waters. That is when I realized that the push-ups became easier. I should have gone in deeper from the get go, though originally I went into the river with the mindset of not getting wet.
Getting out the water was joyous with the fact that we weren't shivering anymore, though on the other side I got to deal with gore-tex water filled boots. With each step I could feel my foot losing hold within the boot.
Carrying the coupons was a struggle after being soaked. The apparel was still wet and sticky on the body. I just wanted to ruck in the sun so that my body could heat up and the clothes dry up quickly.
The cold water woke up the rest of us who weren't already awake after the welcome party, though at the same time it felt like a mental struggle for the team.
We were now rucking in the inner city. We weren't able to use the prior tactics of two rows and had to drop down to single file. This made it very hard for the TLs to manage the squad without being too noticeable.
The Cadre was astonished in how well we were able to split up into small groups and tackle the challenge without any further instructions. He mentioned, how in the States it wouldn't be obvious on how to do this. The idea of having the team captains as sparsely separated flagpoles for the participants to clearly cluster around would be a foreign concept.
The only trouble was figuring out how to split up the coupons. Though it didn't take too long.
I was one of the satellite leaders and since I and another mate were able to carry the 120 pounder coupon, we first grabbed that one. We also took a 60 pounder, which was migrated among the other three team members.
Of course the challenge wasn't complete without a time hack. To fulfill the complete task at hand one had to do it in under 15min. We did it exactly on time.
Ruck to the Bavaria
The sun was high, lots already had a sunburn or were shortly before. About 5h into the event and lots were tired. People who were previously carrying the coupons alone were now doubling up. Those in the back were chitter chattering just like throughout the whole event. The feeling was perceived that they weren't carrying their load. It was always the same bunch of mates.
I tried to avoid the back as much as possible to not be associated with a negative connotation.
One of the teammates was commenting to the Cadre on how poorly the new coupon style was created. With that spark of interest the Cadre grabbed that sandbag to get the full experience.
He reasoned it later that he wanted to portray no matter what rank one has, that he will still put himself in the shoes of lower ranking mates to get the job done.
At the Bavaria12 we got one of Cadre Cleve's war stories.
Time to get beer
There was only one more thing to do to fulfill the full potential of an event and that is to grab some beer.
The previous coupon tactic continued. I was paired up with another mate and we carried the coupon until the pain in my lower back was 50% bearable. This is not advised in any shape or form, and fortunately it didn't cause any long-term damages. Ideally one should pass off the coupon at 80% of capacity and not at 110%.
At the store we grabbed 3 cases of beer, meaning three more coupons.
To not be forced under another heavy coupon, anything above 60 pounds, I quickly grabbed a 40 pounder. I also grabbed the case of beer which was able to be split in half. Though that was sadly quickly removed from my possession with the argument that I was already carrying a coupon.
The last couple of meters I was really feeling it. My limbs were feeling the lack of sugar and there was the remark of the Cadre still in the back of some of our minds of the 78 burpees we will get to do, due to all the infractions we did between the town hall and the Bavaria statue.
Some of us were hoping for the final soul crusher, so that the newbies can feel a full fledged event. While others have already forgotten of that horror, especially since the Welcome party was so fun.
I felt bad, while the others were emptying out the coupons, it gave me enough time to stuff a couple handfuls of nuts into myself. Though in hindsight the team is only as strong as the weakest link and my main goal throughout this event weekend was not to be that person.
The only thing left to do were the burpees and the ruck to the bottom of the hill. As soon as we got down there, the Cadre told us to line up in formation and it was time for the patch ceremony.
After everyone had a patch, beers were passed out and we got to enjoy a round of good living.
The only negative thing I got from the event was a sore throat. First I thought it was from raising my voice throughout the event. Though later I realized it was from eating the nuts that got some Isar water on them. So probably it was an E.coli infection. Took some turmeric capsules and it was gone 72 hours later. Next time I know to waterproof also the food.