Backblasts

GoRuck Tough – Bataan Memorial – April 2-3, 2021

PAX: @Tiny Dancer @Frisbee Buff @Foosball @Lone Star @Ginsu @Bogo @Cosmo
QIC: Cadre Hand
We arrived at Centennial Park about 40 mins early, which was good because we had some time to stretch, use the facilities, and get our gear setup. We then walked over to where Cadre Hand was and begin meeting our fellow Ruckers for the night. About 3/4s of us were F3 HIM from various regions but Spring Hill proudly had the most representation. We had HIM from Nashville (Blue Mule), Lexington KY (Boo Boo), Franklin (Sanctions), and of course our battle brothers in Nolensville (Kermit, Front Bits, Nimbus, Bieber, and I’m missing one or two).
Cadre Hand started us off with admin stuff like disclaimers and roll call. He then checked our packs to make sure we brought what we were supposed to. Satisfied with that, he told us to dump everything out and we had 30 seconds to put it all back in. We quickly failed this task. Punishment was 10 Merkins. We tried again, yet another failure. 20 flutter kicks. Another failure. 30 mountain climbers. We finally passed the time back but barely.
Cadre then let us get our gear squared away and asked for two volunteers for team leaders. Proud F3 moment when Tiny Dancer, Foosball, and 3 Nolensville guys immediately stepped forward. TD and Foosball were selected and Care hand began showing off the weight we had for the night…
2 stretchers
1 wooden ammo crate named “Ark of the Covenant” by Cadre (we named it the soul snatcher) that weighed approx 60-70#
2 buckets filled with sand
4 water jugs totaling 250-280#
2 120# sandbags
6 80# sandbags
4 60# sandbags
2 40# sandbags
2 20# sandbags
1 Badass Guitar team weight of 26#
2 flags.
My count is probably off there but Cadre Hand at the end said we had a total of 1,000# of sandbag weight. Here was the big kicker…it quickly dawned on the 21 of us there that there would be no “downtime” off weight. We had more weights than men. In other words, we were in store of a long night. We quickly put the awkward stuff like buckets and water on the stretchers and one of the 120s too. 
We received our first mission. Get to Love Circle in 25 (I think) minutes. Off we went. Things were going well until we got to the uphill climb and we started to struggle. We weren’t cohesive really and our strategy for weight rotation was FUBAR.
Love Circle is this steep and tall lookout spot with an amazing view of Nashville from the south. When we finally got to the top, we were gassed and struggling to get into formation with seconds to spare. We barely started the count off before we had 2-3 errors and Cadre failed us. We did an after action report (theme for the night after each movement) and then Cadre handed out punishment. We had to push out in 10 mins so he gave us 4 mins to duck walk DOWN the steep ass and wet hill then bear crawl back up, 4 times. We all ate it going down and even going up. We ate into our 10 mins significantly and were smoked by the end.
We got new team leaders and a new mission (carry ammunition and supplies as we retreated Japanese forces), with some incentive this time. If we made the time hack to the next location (Dragon Park near Harris-Hillman school and VUMC), we’d get to empty one of the 120s. We were all in on that deal. We decided to rearrange ourselves on the weight so the stretcher carriers were all the same height to avoid lopsided weight. The unofficial “Tall Guy Team” formed of Sanctions, TD, Blue Mule, and YHC. This would differ here and there but throughout the night, the TGT spent what felt like eternity under this stretchers.
We made the time hack, got some history about Bataan, and then had some time to prep before pushing out. Next mission was to continue a fighting retreat and delay action to slow down advancing Japanese troops. Our destination was Reservoir Park over on 8th Ave South.
This is where things took a wild turn. Around Belmont, we had to cross the road. First attempt was no bueno as our traffic blocker almost got smoked by a car going 50 down Wedgewood. We finally got across and some Range Rover (hella nice) started following us with some dude shouting wildly at us. When we got to Reservoir Park, it was revealed that this guy was Cadre Hand’s Hapkido instructor. He saw our Facebook live bear crawls and got out to check us out.
At Reservoir Park, Cadre Hand had us get in formation and explained the 3-5 second dash concept with an advancing team and a covering team. We split into 3 groups of 5 and 1 group of 6. Cadre then went to the top of the hill at the park and informed us that we’d need to advance to the top in alternating teams (cover and advance). Rucks on of course. We’d sprint for 3-5 seconds then drop down. I can’t recall who was in what team, but Foosball, Kermit, Blue, and I were in Team 3 together. Foosball was our squad leader to give us vocal direction. We were told that the first team to finish would receive a reward and the losing team would suffer. It pays to be a winner.
Off we went and we were HUSTLING. Kudos to Foosball for his leadership here. We reached the top, knees bashed to hell, and Cadre said Team 3 tied with Team 1 (I think). Cadre pointed out that Team 4 technically reached the top first but the entire team crossed the finish line together which meant they weren’t alternating and were missing covering fire, thus they were DQed and declared all dead. Their punishment was to head to the bottom and repeat while everyone else rested.
Cadre then instructed us on a high crawl (hands and knees) and we were instructed to high crawl (still alternating cover and advance) down to the bottom of the hill. First teams to get there would be rewarded by getting first dibs on weights to grab to bring back up. Team 3 got there 2nd probably and grabbed an 80#, a water jug, a 40#, and two 60#. We then made our way back up, this time low crawling and dragging our weight with us back up the hill. When we got to the top, we could tell the later to arrive teams were struggling because they were left with stretchers (the heaviest weight the entire night). Kermit (T Claps) asked Cadre if we could go help the Six. Cadre said yes and off we went. When everyone got to the top, Cadre had us dash with the weights back down and get back into formation to push out. By now we were all a good bit weight from crawling through the wet grass.
This was when the Hapkido instructor talked up Cadre Hand as someone “harder than a woodpecker’s mouth” and said we were “tough as walnuts” to be out there “sucking the F*&k” with Cadre Hand.
We got new team leaders and were sent off on our next mission to get to the Nissan Stadium by crossing the pedestrian bridge. This meant crossing the interstate and going north past the Adventure Science Center and weaving through downtown. We had a decent system going but we were obviously slowing down. The weight was wearing on us and we were grinding now. Everytime that stretcher was lifted onto your shoulder, you’d have to shift until it hit a dead spot and then you just gutted it out as it bounced on your shoulder.
We stopped by the bad ass Titans Nashville mural downtown and got a group photo and Cadre Hand let us dump the sand out of the buckets but informed us we were way behind schedule so we were going to shift our destination to Riverfront park at the base of Broadway. I think Cadre said we were 30 mins behind schedule/time hack!
We passed some amazing smelling hot dog carts downtown and funny looks from the lingering workers and tourists before arriving at the riverfront. Cadre joked he was going to have us swim across the Cumberland and to be honest, probably half of us (YHC included) seriously thought that was next because why not?
Instead we were given time to refresh, empty some more water out of us and out of the jugs, and enough time to actually grab a bite of something and stretch out some.
New team leaders were added (YHC and Sanctions now) and given a timehack and mission to get to Bicentennial Park. Our mission was now focused on full blown retreat of American and Filipino forces to our last stand point, knowing that the end of this battle was in sight but every minute of delay bought valuable time for other forces to retreat.
YHC and Sanctions decided we were NOT going to miss this timehack so YHC started barking orders and told people to stop standing on their dicks and grab some weight. This is when Nimbus had the idea for us to do 6 minute shifts on the stretchers/bags. Basically when the shift ended you went to a bag if you came off a stretcher and vice versa. This would be one of the best ideas all night and worked really well.
We made the time hack to Bicentennial Park and formed up. Cadre Hand said we were going to do some good PT near the Tennessee WW2 Memorial and honor the 500 Americans killed on the march with 500 reps of exercises. We’d do 25 reps of 10 exercises twice. They were…
Merkins
Situps
American Hammers
Ruck Swings
Burpees
Flutter kicks
Leg lifts
Iron Mikes
Ruck Curls
Mountain climbers
We were smoked after this and form was degrading throughout, but Cadre encouraged us to dig for that 10-20% we had left and to tell that voice in our head to shut up and stop being a b***h.
After this, we went to the memorial and Cadre played first-hand accounts of the death march from survivors. This was really sobering and I’ll try to find the link or get it from Cadre. One story had a man strung up by his thumbs for 3 days until he stretched to the floor again. By now it was sub-freezing and we were told to keep moving so we didn’t lock up and to be cautious that our hydration hoses may start freezing. Without PT or moving, we all started shivering and feeling the cold.
New team leaders were appointed (Ginsu was one of them!) and we were given another mission, this time on the death march and encouraged to walk or die because stopping meant a bayonet to the back. We were to climb the steps of the State Capitol, cut through upper Broadway, and head down Demonbreun to Owen Bradley Park next to the Music Row roundabout. It felt like we were moving slower and slower, BUT THEN IT APPEARED! After we climbed the steps of the capitol and entered downtown again, we saw the sun begin to rise and a chance passing of Union Station’s clock showed it to be 6AM. FOURTH QUARTER! Everyone got some welcome Captain Planet energy with that sunrise.
At the park, we were to try to capture some of that essence of torture and pain that the POWs faced on the death march. We held a high plank for one minute, Warrior Pose for one minute, leg lift for one minute with ruck overhead, and low squat with ruck overhead.
We got situated again and pushed out for the final movement, the long march back to the Parthenon. The closer we got the more we realized that the end was possibly in sight. After navigating around all the new construction at Centennial Park, we got to a formation point right next to the Parthenon on a beautiful Saturday morning. We briefly thought we had more PT in store (like bear crawling the half mile field in front of us) but then Cadre began the wrap-up.
He informed us he was proud of the work we put in. We had to modify our route but he said we probably had more weight than we should have had, but that’s life and we came for a Bataan Death March experience so he delivered. We got a patch, a handshake, and a bud light. No more, no less.
And then we were done. Some of us went to Waffle House off 96 and reminisced on our shared war stories.
I’m going add in some personal “Moleskin” bits below and encourage the PAX to do the same.
1)   This was the most physically taxing event I’ve ever done but my personal highlight was the 4 mins of “Torture” at Owen Bradley Park. I didn’t think I had any left but I mustered up what I needed to get it done and surprised even myself.
2)   Tall Guy Team for Life. I took moments throughout the night to intentionally grab lighter weight, but I tried to challenge myself to lean into the experience and so I frequently found myself under those two stretchers having my soul sucked away. I feel like I spent a majority of the night under those stretchers. I can’t fathom how those POWs must’ve done this carrying actual wounded comrades for miles and days.
3)   I was so proud and impressed of F3SH and our F3 brothers. I feel like we formed the legit core leadership and back-breaking work of the night. In fact, the non-F3 guys I feel like either faded fast and early or were periodically pains in the ass. We absolutely were leading from the tip of the spear on leadership and sacrifice. I’ve never been prouder to be locked in the shield wall with you brothers.
4)   That Hapkido guy was intense.
5)   Frisbee Buff muscled a 120# bag like some Viking Berserker in the homestretch and inspired everyone to muscle up for the final push.
6)   Ginsu and I traded several laughs and looks throughout the night that said “Are we really out here doing this? Let’s embrace the suck.”
7)   Foosball was a leader even when he wasn’t, constantly moving throughout the group to lend help or encouragement.
8)   Lone Star pushed the entire way and was always near the front to ensure we didn’t veer off course.
9) Bogo was also frequently throwing himself onto weight, a welcome sacrifice.
10)   TD delivered an expected TD performance. Everytime I groaned and walked towards that dang stretcher, he’d be walking there too like a boss. No complaints, just getting shit done.
SYITG Roughnecks. Cosmo out.

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