On February 19, 2016 myself and 7 other individuals embarked on a road trip to Perry, Georgia to compete in The Green Beret Challenge – Urban Rescue which took place at GuardianCenters. My husband and I had organized two teams of 4 women (Team MudRunFun BadAss Babes) and 4 men (BADBOYZ of MudRunFun) to join us on this memorable journey. Each of us had heard about the Green Beret Challenge, we had seen the advertisements and even volunteered at one of their past event held in Florida in 2015. In fact, two individuals on the men’s team had even participated at the Florida event in 2015 making all of us feel pretty prepared for what was coming the next day. We all had gathered our essentials, practiced our knot tying skills, shared techniques, reviewed strengths and weaknesses, gathered our rucks, and hit the road.
After a good night’s sleep at a local hotel and a satisfying breakfast we ventured to the Guardian Centers to begin the challenge. The facility, which is known to host many military and civilian training practices as well as plenty of Zombie Runs, lived up to its expectation. As we drove in I felt as if we had entered a scenario like no other. Honestly, I was having some Walking Dead flashes and was waiting to see Rick, Carl and Daryl run through the streets as we were driving. The place looked like a war zone, buildings looked demolished, real streets had been constructed, bridges were cracked and falling on cars, wrecked cars were stacked on top of each other. It was as if an earthquake hit this area and damaged a real live city, or a bomb had gone off and destroyed everything at once leaving no survivors. It looked to be a really awesome event location, and I was really excited to discover all the details.
Now, this is the part of the blog where I’m supposed to review the actual event and race. Honestly, I have been thinking about this part for the past 48 hours, what was I going to say, and how I was going to adequately portray the events which took place? When I had previously talked to people about The Green Beret Challenge in the past I got “The Looks.” You know the ones where people are wide eyed, mouths open, and you can see pain in the back of their eyes…they said it was horrible, they hated every minute, it pushed them so hard, it’s not an OCR (Obstacle Course Race), it’s not a race, it’s a challenge, they were sore for days, they carried, pushed, and pulled the entire race…. But… everyone said they would do it again in a heartbeat. I was told “Krissie, you just have to do one to fully understand the concept and when you do, you will then understand, you come out stronger than you think you ever could be in your life.” That my friends, is exactly what happened during this event. As I had mentioned above, this was a team event with each team consisting of 4 people. I was on one of the few all-women’s team to compete in this event and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The course was about 8.2 miles with roughly 7 challenges. (I say roughly because I may have forgotten 1 or 2 because of the mental blackout I had to just get it done!) Out of those 8.2 miles roughly only 3-4 of them you are actually not carrying, pushing or pulling something. Each challenge is set up where you arrive at the challenge, your given verbal instructions, then you either make or carry your designated device anywhere from ½ mile to 1 mile or more according to those instructions. I won’t give too much detail in the instructions or challenges because I truly believe that the founder of The Green Beret Challenge, Mark Ballas intended it to be a surprise for the teams. This allows each team to think creatively, forces individuals to step out of their comfort zone and not have preconceptions about anything going in. What I will say, and I’m proud to say it, is that this course was also designed to be flat across the board. There is no DNF (Do Not Finish) allowed, there are no lower weights or accommodations made for women, and everything is heavy and hard enough to seem easy for one minute then turns into utter hell after two minutes. I will however spotlight 2 of the challenges to give you an idea of what to expect.
The first challenge, we arrived at, was a push, pull, carry exercise. Each team of 4 had to gather 5 items and push, pull or carry them through an unknown length of time. These items were a 100-120lbs ruck, 1 bucket half filled with rock dirt, 1 ammo box with a sandbag inside, 1 cinder block with a rope, and an approximate 4 foot long 4X4 with sandbags tied on each end. After some follies, and reorganization I took the ruck and bucket, one teammate took the ammo box, while 2 others grabbed the 4X4 with sandbags and cinder block. The journey was about ¾ of a mile…. It was as if the creator of this event wanted to say welcome to The Green Beret Challenge – Urban Rescue… and here is just the beginning.
It wasn’t until the last challenge we all looked at each other, took a deep breath, and said let’s get it done and let’s get this finished. The final challenge was designed just for the Urban Rescue portion. It was the finale to a day of utter hell and we knew when this one was finished we could stop. This challenge consisted of 1 dummy, weighing 180lbs, which we were allowed to put on a sled and pull him through an actual real Washington, DC Metro Car, a subway system tunnel, over train tracks, through a flooded city, and around a building…pulling him to the safety of medics. Could the dummy survive? Getting him through the Metro Car was a little challenging because of the bars in the middle of the rows. Every time someone pulled, the poor guy would get stuck at the shoulders. Then, there was the drop from the Metro to the ground of the subway system of roughly 5 feet. Honestly, after all we had been through, if he wasn’t dead yet he surely was at that moment because out of exhaustion we just let him fall. Navigating the subway and tunnels was super challenging when you’re dragging 180lbs of awkward dead weight, but the venue was amazing. Looking around I felt like I was in an end of the world movie and we were really trying to get out and survive. (P.S. – if it had been real, I’m sorry dummy … but survival of the fittest, you would have gotten left) My team crawled under cars, over train tracks, through sharp corners, and empty buildings switching leads each time. When we FINALLY got out of the subway system we had to drag him through a flooded city…. I never thought I was so happy in my life to discover that these training dummies float. The water felt really good, and cold, on muscles that I never knew I had and before we knew it we were all pulling out the dummy and dragging him around the building to the finish line. Our faces at the finish line say it all. We cursed, we were relieved, and we were outright exhausted. I don’t know the exact time it took us to finish but we had been going for about 6 hours. From what I had heard the average time is anywhere between 4-5 hours and that is typically with a co-ed team. My husband’s team took a little of 4 hours to finish and I believe the overall winning team (a team which consisted of active military took 2 ½ hours) I was never so happy to be done with something in my entire life. According to the announcer we rescued and saved the life of the dummy and had completed The Green Beret Challenge – Urban Rescue!
|Photo Credit: Jack Goras Photography|
Mark Ballas, the creator of the Green Beret Challenge and a former Green Beret himself designed this course to challenge you in every aspect possible and with The Urban Rescue he did just that. This was an amazing challenge and well organized event. On our 7 hour car ride home, and after we had finished dropping off our car mates…. I broke down in tears. My husband looked at me in astonishment. He said “What in the hell is wrong… for someone so strong…sometimes you are sensitive about the craziest stuff… why are you crying?” My response came out in sobs… I told him, I was crying because I hurt, my body is tired, my brain is tired… I was crying because we had finished and I wanted to give up, I was upset and mourning the end of an epic weekend with epic people, I was proud to say I had finished but above all else… it literally occurred to me that I was so much stronger than I thought I was going into this race. There were so many times I wanted to give up and call it a day and I didn't. I lifted, pushed and pulled weight for a ridiculous amount of time and kept going when I wanted to stop. I was crying because I surprised myself at how strong I really was on the outside, and inside. I had so many emotions going on I could barely even put things into words. And just like a good husband should, he let me cry.
Will I ever do The Green Beret Challenge again…. Hell YES!
A heartfelt special thanks goes out to Mark Ballas – I liked you before the event, hated you during the event, but I love you now because of the event. Thank you.
To my ladies – We did it, we owned it, and we are all now certified Badass Babes.
To the men – Thank you for your encouragement, laughs, and motivation….I will never forget this weekend.
To The Grey Berets – Your words after the race will resonate with my team forever. Thank you, and I can’t wait to see you at the next event.
To My Husband – Thank you for pushing me to do this….and you and your team did AWESOME! Thank you for letting me cry when you also went through the same emotions.
Tips and Recommendations for First Timers:
Before the Event:
Have the following things ready for you at home when you get back from race day:
Your Choice of Alcoholic Beverage (Sadly there is not a finisher beer at this race…but you deserve one the minute you walk through the door)
Frozen Pizza (You won’t want to go out the next day….even for food)
Bio Freeze/ Horse Liniment/ Tiger Balm (Your Choice)
Did I mention Epsom Salt?
Bring with you to the event:
Rucksack and Pack It With the Following:
Hydration Bladder (Filled with Water, and an added supplement like NUUN, or BCAA’s of some sort)
Carbineers – The large kind with the foam grip on the handle to help you carry awkward items
Duct Tape – An entire roll
Industrial Size Zip Ties
4 – 1 foot pipe covers or pool noodles to protect shoulders from heavy stuff
Sharp Pocket Knife
*I recommend buying all of this at the same time from Lowe's or Home Depot and throw in some plastic bags just to make the clerk look twice at you….it helps if you ask them if the knife cuts bone.
Want to try this out for yourself!? I’ll definitely be at the next Florida one!
Go to http://www.greenberetchallenge.com/ and learn more.
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