GoRuck 50 mile StarCourse After Action Report : Kodak

Preparation – Going into this, I prepared a 12 week training plan that focused on rucking and running; nearly 200 miles of rucking and approx. 125 mi of running. This also included supporting workouts with a range of F3 bootcamps to heavy weightlifting and mobility work including yoga and lap swim. I’m aware that too much rucking is hard on my knees so I limited frequency, but also tried to maintain a 10 minutes of stretching/durability for every hour of exercise. I based my rucking distances and speed off of Stew Smith’s ‘Strong Swift Durable : GoRuck Heavy Training Plan’. 

I didn’t complete everything planned, but I did hit a few key points: 

  • 1st workout was an 8mile ruck (for time) that determined my training pace
  • Multiple 12 mile rucks
  • Several 3mi interval speed-rucks during the same workout to push pace.
  • (2x) 12 mile rucks to develop ability to move-rest-move again
  • – Marathon ruck to get a feel for a long time under weight

While rucking, time and availability was a factor and several sessions I just rucked at the most convenient time, so I never had a consistent packing job and therefore was scrambling prior to the event to put things together. My final package included O.G. Bricks in my GR2 and still had too much room to pack supply options; too many options for supplies. My ruck weighed (including water) 40 lbs prior to the start. I considered packing a 15L Bullet, but that ruck does not have an inner-mole so keeping the weight high on my back involved some problem-solving : too much for my concern. 

One gap in preparation was that I never really planned out my food, including leading up to this event as well as during. Our plan all along was since the event was taking place in an urban area, we could find a 24 hr convenience store rather than over-pack w/ food+water. The morning of the event, I kinda panicked over my lack of preparation as I listened to a podcast convo Friday morning regarding the value of carb-loading and importance of carb intake during an extended event. I ended up packing: 

  • some pre-made almond-butter balls
  • thick-cut bacon for mid-event motivation
  • had some almond butter packets on hand for an emergency.
  • throughout the event, I was planning to regularly consume salt pills (with and w/o caffeine) plus the occasional NuuN tablet for minerals and electrolytes … and maybe an occasional advil. 

In the end, I did fine. 

Conditions – The conditions were perfect. A little chilly, some initial rain but sunny during the day that gave me a lot of energy. 

Event – Our plan was to set-out for the furthest waypoint first and then chip away at the other stops. When we finally received the course information, Northwestern University was the furthest at 11 miles from the start point (Goose Island). It appeared that some participants decided to head south first (Stockyard Gateway : Exchange+Halsted) however most headed North. Our team of 5 mostly knew each other pretty well and we came to agreement quickly. Looking back – every decision we made was the right call including skipping nearby 2nd City along the way and saving for the southbound return trip because it was near a 24 hour starbucks; we came through approx. 4am and that was the right time for coffee. Staying on Halsted North meant that our team was in sync with several other teams and team-captain Denari pushed the pace – he was the most-trained for this event, so he was the best choice to set the standard; we all fell in line.

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Waypoint 1 – Wrigley Field

Waypoint 2 – The ‘rock’ at Northwestern University (above)

Our strategy was no stopping in 1st and last 12 miles. Following that we’d also try to complete a 12-13 mile chunk prior to each break, but bathroom and water stops and even foot care broke up some of those goals. 

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Waypoint 3 – The North end of the Lakefront Path

Waypoint 4 – Second City (above)

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Waypoint 5 – Water Tower

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Waypoint 6 – USS Illinois(?) Anchor at the East end of Navy Pier … fortunately, the Pier was closed for another 4 hours, so security would not let us walk the 1 mile in/out to record the required photo; this was sufficient to the event coordinators.

One teammate began struggling during the 2nd 12 miles for his own reasons and it became a little bit of a physical and mental struggle to slow our natural pace knowing that we were prolonging time under weight and quite possibly slowing beyond the event time-hack. In the end, he decided to quit near the half-way point and still receives a lot of credit for getting 26 miles / 9 hours under weight. I’m sure it must have been a tough decision because this guy is a strong dude who put in all the training, but sometimes it just isn’t your day. 

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Waypoint 7 – The Bean

Mixed feelings to see him leave, but trying to finding the positive in the situation was knowing he’d have fire to attack this event again sometime soon plus the remaining 4 could complete the remaining 26 miles at a quicker pace and that’s just what we did : immediately set into a ruck/run so that we actually passed one of the downtown check-points. Fortunately we didn’t get too far before the nav. realized the error and we doubled back, but even after that check-in, we maintained a quick pace towards Hyde Park, hitting a few stops along the way. 

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Waypoint 8 – The beginning of Route 66

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Waypoint 9 – Buckingham Fountain

Waypoint 10 – Adler Planetarium (above)

Highlights along the way included 

  • the ability to move efficiently in quiet city streets
  • good convos during the long hours (before ‘the hurt’ set-in)
  • that 4 am cup of Starbucks
  • 5 am almond butter/apple treat
  • 6 am dawn sunrise on the Lake Michigan horizon
  • 7 am along the LakeFront Path

Honestly – I was riding high all day long that I became concerned it was adrenaline and I’d soon drop energy; I never did, it was a natural euphoria… and maybe a bit related to the caffeinated salt-pills I was taking. Reports have come back to me that I was ‘quite chatty’; kinda unusual for this introverted Scando to be described as ‘chatty’. 

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Waypoint 11 – Statue of the Republic

We hit the Statue of the Republic at 9:30 am and later University of Chicago Fountain of Time. BACON snacks came out at the southern-most point and that salty treat was a lift for me. As we took a photo and posted for credit at the Fountain of Time (2nd to last stop), the boys took off while I straggled briefly. I had some communication responsibilities to fulfill and knew two or maybe all three were hurting and needed to keep moving, so I posted the required info and caught up to them, thankfully w/ help of Apple’s Friend-Finder app I knew where they were headed in the meandering Washington Park landscape. 

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Waypoint 12 – Fountain of Time

When we took a pic and posted for credit at the next and final location – Chicago Stockyard Gate, I took too long replying to comments of support and posting on dual platforms .. the boys had REALLY moved toward the finish line… by the time I started out towards them, there was probably a 1/4 mile gap so I just had to put my head down and shuffle to catch up. Hoping/praying for them to get caught at a red light, their gait was smooth and steady, but I finally caught up by pulling a 13-14 minute/mile pace – I still had a lot in my tank!

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Waypoint 13 – Chicago Stockyards

We finished the remaining 6 miles together, through University Village, Greek town, getting into the dense City center and then out towards Goose Island. In this period we came across 2-3 other teams each battling their own demons. In fact, one pair had actually been stopped by a Chicago Fire Ambulance rig who had checked in on them (likely due to their limping gait); we didn’t question to much, but offered salt and advil as we passed. I was glad to see them finish later in the afternoon as I was slumped in a taxi toward a beer+meal.

Insignificant ending, team photo and guys departed kinda quickly to see their families. I woulda appreciated a team completion dinner, but that’s okay – I did that solo. I think the tight unit of the team made this event unique, however there was a little to no connection to the Cadre leading this and those guys add a special element to the GoRuck events. 

CSAUPs are what initially got me interested in F3 (Crazy Stupid and Utterly Pointless events) as I have been seeking guys who are interested in chasing new/unique challenges. These events are long and are mixed boring/painful to train for, so glad to have buddies with same goals and companionship on occasion. Special thanks to my team for without them, there is no way I’d be motivated to complete this challenge :

  • Denari
  • LadyBug
  • Homer
  • Carl (yet to be given F3 nickname)

Big ‘props’ goes to Lavender who met us at the crack of dawn w/ a supply change-out that we each packed for as a mid-event option. A few key items were new footwear for some and different food options for the crew.

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This event was a ‘B’ race for my 2019 schedule as my main goal is a Spartan Ultra race, later this Fall. I think the GoRuck StarCourse forced me to build a strong base and set a platform to build on throughout this summer. On to the next!