Duplicated from a FB post

AAR: HCL001, Sleepless in Seattle, WA

Prior to reading you have to have met me once or understand the way my brain works… or doesn’t work, if you take offense to anything then you are reading this wrong…


Get your mind straight for this event. The HCL is the ultimate, and I mean ultimate team event that you can do.

Train hard. I’m a runner, so I can’t give you much more advice than what I did. For the past few months I did one ruck a week on either trails or the beach with 60-75 pounds loads. The rucks were for 10-12 miles each. Yes, that much weight for that much distance. Also, as you see in my pictures, my feet are pristine. This is another area where I can’t give much advice because I am normally a runner. My best advice is try things. Don’t ask people what BOOTS or SOCKS to get. Try things; be smart; see what works for your body and then proceed! Only advice in my training for your feet would be spending maybe 20 hours/week on them moving… sometimes with weight but not always. Don’t go from a mile or two a day to 20 hours per week…Be smart, work your way into it! I did not get this body overnight.

Know your body. Personally, I gained about 10# by stuffing my face with good, healthy fats and some carbs. Due to my sexy less-than-10%- body-fat physique, I do not do well in cold or water. I made sure 5-10 days before HCL, I over-stuffed myself to add some insulation for which I have no shame.

Show up prepared. If you are traveling with a group, plan ahead. Figure something out with car keys, put them in the gas cap or someplace else any member of your traveling team can access them. You do not want to think about anyone quitting, but make a plan just in case. If someone quits, make sure they stay with the car in the lot at ALL TIMES. Even if you quit, YOU STILL ARE ONE TEAM. You still have work to do. Take care of your GRT family. Sleeping in a car or minivan might be the best deal. STUFF YOUR FACE. Elevate your legs. Wear CW-X pants or something similar (that’s what I did). Get comfortable enough to feel better, but not enough to want to stay in that position. Once you finish warming your body up, you will fear ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE. Move for several minutes and it will subside.

Get ready for the PT test. If you fail, be ready to do it again…. and again…. and again. Oh, and get ready to be told that you will quit. In the words of the beast David Thomas(Seattle Selectee), “Listen to what the Cadre tell you to do and not what they say.”

The PT test is an individual event, but you are one team. Cheer your teammates on. STICK TOGETHER FOR THE RUCK. Let’s say that again. STICK TOGETHER FOR THE RUCK. Cadre make it an individual event, but stick it to them! They will stick it to you for two days, so stick it back to them and don’t make their job easy. Show them you got this…as a team, you got this.
The most important thing is smile.. smile… and Mother F***iing Smile! Make it fun. Sing. Rap. Break it down. Do what makes you smile. STOP THINKING ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR ACHES AND PAINS AND THINK ABOUT HOW CAN I HELP MY TEAM?

Know that the cadre are there to see you finish. They want you to finish. They love you. KNOW THAT AND DON’T FORGET. One thing that got me through every piece of the event was knowing they care about us. So much so that you can TRUST THEM WITH YOUR LIFE. They protected our country. Don’t think they won’t take care of you now. You’ll pass out before you die, and I doubt you will even pass out…

Cold water sucks. Up until this weekend, water and cold weather were always my biggest fears. You know what I learned? The shock is only momentary. F*** the shock and breathe! THINK OF YOUR TEAM.

Only focus on your current evolution. Then move on to the next event. Stay focused, Stay prepared. Every moment you are given to rest or fix your feet, DO IT! CHANGE YOUR DAMN SOCKS EVERY CHANCE YOU GET! Unfudge yourself! Stuff food in your pockets so you can eat on the go, help others to eat if needed! (A little side note: It does upset me that people cannot figure out how to maneuver their pack on the go! You must be versatile, if you can’t work it, make a way to make it work!)
Hydrate! You should always want to piss!

Be ready for the transition from one event to the next. Once you finish (and you will have no idea when that will be), don’t waste time AT ALL. You should have already done recon. Go to your transition area, wash and dry your clothes, stuff your face, rest and elevate. Wake up 90 minutes to an hour before the next phase, warm up and move and unfudge yourself. Get it together. Swap weights and/or rucks. Get back in the game.

GEAR LIST (seemed to be plenty and not overdoing it)

  • GR2 w/ sternum and waist straps, pin that says, “If I were a unicorn, I’d stab you with my head”
  • 3 DRY BAGS
  • Rocky C4T TRAINERS
  • FOOD:


Flew for roughly 8 hours total in the sky coming from Philly. On the plane I just tried to relaxed. I got to watch “Pitch Perfect” on my phone, which I enjoyed much before a good rucking. I landed in Seattle and stayed with Harvey “The Wolf” Doty(named the wolf by Bert during the Challenge, once astound that he was a newbie…. in kitchen cleaning gloves), who was having his first experience of GORUCK that weekend. Come mid-morning, we packed our stuff, had a nice breakfast and enjoyed the great company of his son, Levi. He’s a great kid. He gave me something to poke at Harvey about during the event for positive thoughts and mindset throughout the event. “What’s that over there? or Wassat?”…. “Oh yeah!”

After eating, we joined Matthew Otis, Ryan Lau and Matt Ruggiero to head to the start point for our meet and greet.


PT test started in the pouring rain. It was already a great start. Those who passed got to watch those who failed retake the test: once, twice, even thrice more. Motivate your team, help those who are struggling.

The 12 mile ruck went smoothly for the most part. A good number stayed far ahead exchanging the team weight around. Several took off ahead, essentially kept a good pace, but not good enough for the cadre. REMEMBER ONE TEAM, ONE FIGHT. The PT test and 12 mile ruck are mind games and usually where you lose many players. DFQ. Stay focused and stay together. This isn’t Selection. I had a strong push in me and positive attitude moving at the same pace as the 3 selectees finishers in the group. It kept me strong throughout.

Drink water, Hydrate, you must always feel like you have to piss! Have fun and smile. There were very few points, if any, when did I not smile during this event. Look at the beauty around you. Be thankful not only for what the Cadre are taking time out of their life to do, but for what the universe is offering right in front of you. Stay positive. No negativity allowed. Find something at all times and in every single moment to enjoy and embrace! THINK OF YOUR TEAM NOT YOURSELF AND YOUR SISSY ACHES!

One brother who I drove to the start point dropped after the 12 miler and needed the keys (see my notes about having a plan above). (Prompting Cadre Bert to ask how I would get a hold of him when I quit later on. I ignored that… tried not to giggle aloud of my confusion)

There was some great living going through trails, carrying weight, STAY WITHIN ARMS’ DISTANCE LENGTH. Elementary rule: don’t go potty without a Battle Buddy!!!! Staying as one team is far more important than meeting a time hack. If one man dies, you all feel that pain no matter what. Why not “die” together?

At some point came the moment of truth. I faced two of my greatest fears in life: cold and water. We hit a stream 3 feet deep at 29 degrees Fahrenheit. Might not have been that deep, Bert (leading by example) by walking in FIRST said it was 3 feet, but we could still see his chest… This was the only real thought of quitting. I manned up, took off all but base layers and moved into the water arms linked with my team. Cadre Tyler decided to show us how painful a burpee can be by dipping our whole bodies in and out for 10 reps. After, we quickly ran out, changed socks, and geared up. TIP: WHEN YOU FINISH GEARING UP, HELP OTHERS WHO ARE STILL NOT DONE!

So facing my fear was incredible. Then these bastards found a nice HEAVY log that required almost all forty-something of us. That log followed us for what was roughly 12 hours. Ouch. We got to a point where there were several parking cinders to which we paired off into for some PT. We were fortunate to have Dakota’s car jamming some EDM beats to shake our booties to in the middle of the mountainous terrain. No fear of setting off an Avalanche, psh!

With each exercise during PT, we learned how many reps the cadre wanted us to do: 0. Zero reps. That meant no end. Numbered reps mean you are getting to a number or goal. F*** that. Their challenge will not end, so 0 is the number you get.
So the log we were carrying around for 12 hours we were fortunate enough to ditch the log soon after. Once Joel and I were forced to get up on top for what was said to be “lack of effort”. The cadre then wanted us to beat them up a nice 50-60% gradient… my pleasure. Too bad we walked the opposite way; don’t ask… We helped each other to move up as one.

Once we reached the cadre and lost to them, Toby and I were made TL and ATL, respectively, in charge of bringing two large logs up a few switchbacks. Our efforts were executed with near perfection, ordering the team to make movements and we flowed back and forth. No more the a few seconds ever went by without one of us talking to the team. Once we reached one position we got potty and care breaks followed by Dakota making us lunge over and over and then bear crawl over and over. I think he just wanted some to quit so he would have a friend to eat donuts and drink coffee with!

Then the real fun kicked in. We got to go up the mountains, found a nice stump to please Dakota which would stay with us over the next few days. Going up the mountain, we traversed some real deep snow for hours. That magnitude of snow was a first for this type of event.

You’re in the mountains, that means it is beautiful. Look around and soak it in. Life is short, you can die in the next second, breathe that good living in!

Once we descended down a nice decline it was time for something special. I was baptized, literally baptized by Big Daddy (BD), who I want to call John the Baptist. This weirdo got in the water not once but twice to show us how to check the shore under water AS A TEAM, followed by rolling around. Watching this man speak to us, teaching us and LEADING BY EXAMPLE was amazing(BTW Bert went in with us for the original submersion. I guess cadre do get wet after all). After we executed that perfectly and came out of the water I felt my fears of water and cold no more. I hugged BD and thanked him for not only that, but also the hour+ of time he spent with me the day after I had quit SELECTION 015 when he explained the importance of positivity and keeping it in your mind, body, soul at all times.

So we are done, right? Ruck ¼ mile back to the start? SIKEE; low crawl those puddles, make snow angels, squat, push up, overhead ruck press, unfudge your bags, sit up.
Hey congrats, phase 1 is done! We thought we only had maybe 2 hours to get ready for the Challenge, but it was planned perfectly. We had almost a full 5 hours to rest, stuff our faces, clean, and move. A few people said at that point they were not continuing the HCL, leaving 30+ of us to continue the path. That’s what we thought until only 12 of us showed up for Challenge and became “The Dirty Dozen”.

Bert literally beat us into the ground this entire event, making sure we had what it takes. Dakota offered us mochas and doughnuts. Mike and Tyler toyed with our minds along with that weirdo from Boston (the land of average sport teams), Garet. Haha no real rivalry, just don’t let that NE accent kick in or I’ll get Philly on you. Out of them all Bert, Mike and Tyler kept the hard character pretty much the whole event. Garet with 0 reps got him and Dakota I just saw as a buddy. I will say looking into Mike’s eyes I could just feel the pain he was bringing. As far as BD, it is a whole trust thing there.

5 Hour break:

One huge thank you to Ryan Lau and Matthew Otis. Harvey Doty and I cannot thank them enough for sticking with the car and keeping it warm while we fueled and unf***ed ourselves. These men were real teammates. They help wash and dry our mutilated clothing for the next event and took us to the challenge point. We got about 60-90 minutes of rest/sleep. We asked if there was any food that they had for us to use. Not only did they have fuel, they left a giant bag of probably $50 of food to help us move on. The patches we earned involved you guys as well. We are a GRT Team. Though not physically there with us during each evolution, you were spiritually with us like all other GRTs. You don’t have to see something to know it’s there, you have to believe.


The Dirty Dozen was singled out and then joined with 31 other bastards led by no other then Big Daddy. Think of lunging a mile with weight, followed by push-ups with weight for 1000 reps, then getting ball tapped and doing a Challenge right after. Treat it like all the rest of Challenges. Yeah, you’re a part of the HCL group, but it means nothing. No special treatment. Step up.

Guess where we went right away…. yup, the beach. So we were shown the “check the shore”. Big Daddy got in the water as calm as a monk, neck deep and relaxed. You could see all the stars, North Star, Little and Big Dipper, and Orion’s Belt. As we looked at John in the water, we noticed all the fish swimming near him. Usually they would be high tailing it out, but Big Daddy’s HR had to be at a minimum for them to be moving around like it ain’t no thang.

We were then immediately instructed to get dressed and high tail out of the beach crawling through tons of muck… We later found out we executed a real-life mission perfectly. 6 cops had let cadre know a park ranger was on his way to ticket us and we had to leave. We, together, snuck not just away but directly under where the ranger was parked without being noticed. So we ended up in a grassy muckfest where we did endless burpees for 0 reps and laps.

Big Daddy found 3 nice logs for our team to carry. My shoulders were really feeling it and I realized my prickly heat was setting in. So, I did what I could by taking two of the team weight plates and packing them in my ruck for the most part. We got to an underpass where we did some flutter kicks and Log PT followed by a few moments to FIX YOUR FEET. This was the only time I really felt beat, trying to keep a low temp so my nerves from the rash would not react. We get to a trailhead where we ascended several hundred feet up to just do some PT and come back down. I heard the term sandbagging from a rucker which hit me. I decided to give up the weights to two teammates, so I could pick up our awesome stump and ascend.

I then became TL for the descent and ruck back to the start. This was when I realized sleep deprivation was setting in. I was instructing the class, but I noticed as I was talking my words were reversed. For example, as opposed to saying “We will ruck down here and take a left up this road”, my words came out as “We will down ruck and road this left up.” I caught myself doing this on several occasions. We had to stick together at Big Daddy’s pace and made a big mistake. We lost our gap, so we lost our shoes and gained some casualties. John was pushing my ability to handle stress to the max and it worked. Another golden rule: YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO TL, you don’t argue, you do. You don’t stay quiet when asked to do something, you react! We were lead to a bridge, or at that point I had called a wooden thing you crossed over (boy was I toast). We crawled under into this water which I believe included oil. That was the strong odor which I could not figure out until now. BD got his chance for us to check the shore, submerging for 5 seconds. Once I finally got my shoe on and did my submersion, I followed in the acts of the man that baptized my fears away and stuck with my team up to my neck in water checking the shore until the last man had crossed. So we get back to the start point and it was over, right? SIKE!

All 6 cadre got their own turn to play some sick game with us… PT, squats, push-ups, extended overhead ruck holds, flutter kicks, lunge, sprint, plank. Zoo games as were Garet’s favorite. Once Bert stepped up to bat we had to make sure the little man was taller than us all. Each cadre toyed with us for roughly 30 minutes apiece.

The 2nd greatest moment of this event came when Bert realized this was like an ABSOC. We had all branches of Special Ops tearing us apart. At this point my instincts, smile and charm instructed me to ask if we get an ABSOC patch for this. Seeing Bert’s reaction was priceless. He was caught and I saw a smile which was I needed to forget of my aches. Challenge ended soon after.

4 Hour break:

So this was fun, forgetting the crap from the oily water was all over our face, Harvey and I ran to IHOP getting weird looks as we were seated only to realize our hands our faces were pretty much black. So we stuffed our faces, picked up supplies for chafing and energy and a bottle of whiskey for the way.

We drove to a laundromat nearby the Light starting point, threw everything in the dryer, laid on the floor and elevated our legs. We woke up 20-30 minutes later in a complete state of delirium. It took almost 45 minutes to pack back up and find the keys. Keys were in an obvious spot yet we were so sleep deprived we tore the minivan apart to find them! Once we found them, in the clear open, I was looking for something else, but couldn’t remember what. Turns out it was my joint supplements. Harvey had to remind me. Sleep deprivation.

Drove to the Light start point where we were gratefully greeted by Liz, Harvey’s wife, who parked the car for us. Running to the start everyone got a great laugh as I stepped on slippery wood with a container of water and went down like Frazier.


Think of lunging 1.5 miles with weight, doing push-ups with weight for 1500 reps, then getting ball tapped and doing a light right after. We showed up and the Dirty Dozen were immediately singled out and forced into PT and plank until the 12 were one. We got our own personal little beat down in front of the others. I think it was cadre’s way of showing them it could be worse. Sure you were about to start a Light, but you could be one of these 12, sleep deprived, beaten fools. But we were LAUGHING AND SMILING!

Light was lead by Jason McCarthy, the founder of GORUCK. This is the guy who came up with the rucks we all know and love. What does he do? He decides not allow us to use any of the fine straps attached to said rucks…for the whole event. Thanks, Jason.
Having the GORUCK founder as Cadre was a great experience. With Jason’s love for photography, he made sure we found some great places to shoot. One fountain, in particular, had all of the water we could have ever dreamed of. Singing “God Bless the USA” for the whole city felt great, especially for us dozen that were around 40+ hours. Casualties came in left and right. Hearing those in the Light class telling me not to carry 3 rucks because they knew what I have already been through, only made me stronger. I let them know “yeah, I’m still here, no time to slack”.

Towards the endex the Dirty Dozen were separated and put through one more thrashing from the 6 beasts as the rest of the Light class sang “God Bless the USA”. While we were all in plank I received a nudge on my shoulder to get up and was handed a 2×3 patch from Bert. Right there it brought me very close to tears. Bert had always seen my antics on FB, but this was my first event with him. To show him my capabilities and to receive that patch and respect from him was a feeling I will never forget. Once hugged and LOVED by the six, we rejoined the rest of the Light class as we walked up steps to the Pike Place Market carrying our HCL Team Stump and singing once more. We topped off the night with Jason handing us our HCL patch.


I came here worried, unsure, but I dug deep and found myself again. I cannot express enough the fact that I do not believe in coincidences. The fact I could not make it to Donna’s and was housed by Harvey. We gained an amazing bond over several days that people would not have believed we just met, we pushed together and got through. This also goes for the rest of the DOZEN and the Cadre. Another thanks to one Cadre whom I met doing a challenge when I was hammered off my ass, Danny-Boy. Another person whom I’ve always looked up to since we’ve met and has always believed in me even when I hadn’t myself.

I’ve never, even when failing, have had a bad GORUCK experience. Thank you all and do you have any questions at this time?

One thought on “Joey Parente – HCL 001 AAR

  1. Pingback: Upcoming Webcast. Interview with the GORUCK HCL001 Dirty Dozen | Fitness Overload

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