55 Miles + – Charlotte GORUCK Star Course

55 Miles + – Charlotte GORUCK Star Course

Workout Date:



All of us


Team Alpha - Hoser, Bling, Lombardi, Weedeater; Team Omega - Valvano, OneCall, Headgear, Boxcar

The Thang:

Charlotte Star Course


Where do you start with a BB like this?

I’ll start from my perspective.  We ruckers love to ruck.  We love the camaraderie, the fellowship, the push – physically and mentally.  We do crazy stuff and we do it at all hours.  Overnight events and training.  Pre-beatdown training.  Post-beatdown training.  Whenever.  Wherever.  Coupons like logs and sandbags and anything else we find.  Buddy carry each other.  Lunge around a track with weights.  Ruck in the sand.  Crawl around and do tunnels of love.  Jump in the fountains to get our feet wet to know what rucking like that feels like.  Latch ourselves together and walk around.  Sing Christmas Carols and ruck.  Ruck with our dogs.  The list goes on and on.  We do all sorts of “callouts” from GORUCK.  We honor the military and other service related professions, particularly first responders – both from GORUCK and in our normal #WaveRucker workouts.

And what do we get for all of this.  Well, if successful, a patch for completing a challenge or an event.  But really, it’s the fact that pay honor to others, and we accomplish something that many of us never thought we could/would accomplish. We form amazing bonds of brotherhood/friendship with these men that we spend countless hours with.  We know one another’s strengths and weaknesses.  We know what to say and when to say it – to help, to get a guy out of his dark zone, to lift him up, to encourage him.  We know when not to say something – which is oftentimes more important.  We know about each other’s M’s, 2.0s, careers, life issues, struggles.  We know about everyone’s favorite song/music genre (and yes I love 80’s music, Christian death metal, and teeny bopper songs, so my playlists are whack!)  We truly rely on our team to help us through.  Anyone that has done an event, and just hit the wall (or hit the suck as they say), knows they can look to the man that has trained with them for help, for a reprieve.  And know that they too will reciprocate when needed – no matter how miserable you may already be.  Whether it’s a 4 or 5 hour event, a 12 hour overnight event, a 24 hour event, or this one – a 50+ miler in 20 or less hours, at some point, you must know your WHY and beat those demons telling you to stop.

That’s a broad stroke of rucking and these events.  I know each of us has something similar and some things different in their thoughts.  In addition to this, when I ruck, I have my M and 2.0’s name on my plate.  I have one of my favorite verses on there – Ephesians 2:8-9 –  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.”

I ruck for fitness and the bonds I talk about above.  But I am also thankful that God has blessed me with the ability to be strong physically and mentally, and to have these men with me that I can count on 24/7 with anything.  Knowing that means the world to me.

Anyhow, last year, a bunch of us signed up for the 1st Star Course in DC.  We got patches and shirts and had a brilliant plan and we were so excited!  We trained and we went.  And the majority of our men killed it!  Despite AWFUL conditions.  I was 1 of the ones who did not kill this event.  At 36ish miles in, I could no longer walk and I had to withdraw.  It really messed with my head at the time.  Looking back now, I definitely made the right decisions as I could have wound up with a permanent injury.  But at the time, dark zone for sure.  I won’t go into details here…those that knew and cared, know the details.  I just put that here to say that without these BROTHERS, it would be easy to get in that dark zone and stay there.  But with these men, one cannot.  One is forced to get out of that zone.  So that DNF was forgotten (sort of as these Brothers (jerkoffs that I love) kept making snide comments up until Friday morning about DC).  But that’s the kind of encouragement and camaraderie I talk about.  We can josh with each other.  Anyhow, at the time, I really had no intention of trying another one of these.  I mean, 38 miles is a lot!  Why do more?  For what?  How many times have we all said that?  Then Valvano signs up.  Then Bling.  And they don’t stop harassing the rest of us.  Sheesh.  Alright, I signed up.  Lombardi signed up.  And somehow we convinced Headgear and Boxcar to start rucking and sign up!  Weedeater has rucked a bunch and we convinced him to sign up.  And Hoser was able to sign up after a family trip got cancelled!!  So we had 8 men.  (side note – Meatball was supposed to join us, but work conflicted him out and he was missed!)

Training got serious a few months before (for most of us.  I don’t think Weedeater came to any)

We started #ElevationMondays (name courtesy of Bling) – where we did 1 hour+ beatdowns.  Rucking bridges, stairs, and the Hulk trail.  Various things with rucks, with rucks and sandbags, and we even incorporated sprints to build up every aspect we could to prepare for this event.  Wednesdays took on distance and/or distance elevation with not a huge focus on PT, if any.  We needed miles under our feet, and we wanted to get elevation training in, as best we could in MB.  Fridays we got in some miles and elevation and sprints either before KB’s, or instead of.  And Saturdays we started doing 10 -12 milers a few weeks in a row.

We had a planning meeting – teams were drawn from a hat.  Bling came up with the team names – WaveRuckerAlpha and WaveRuckerOmega.  Perfect.  He also had some amazing shirts made up so we would all match and look adorable.  Or in GORUCK terms – cool.  Rule #1 – ALWAYS look COOL!

We all hydrated like mad the week before.  Pedialyte stock went up by 185%.  So did stock in Vaseline ‘cause Bling covers his entire body in it.

The event itself – get there at 7:30pm.  Check in.  Get some instructions.  Start at 9PM.  You have 20 hours.  There were 12 waypoints.  Various miles apart.  They require you to use a navigation app, which Valvano perfected at his 2nd Star Course in Jacksonville.  Total mileage at start per app was 54 miles.  Cadre said should be closer to 50.  We had no idea, we just headed out.  Longest movement 1st.  While we were fresh.

Here are our way points – go plug em in an app and see where we went!

  1. Bank of America Stadium – 800 S. Mint St., Charlotte #carolinapanthers
  2. Queen Charlotte Statue – 200 N. College St., Charlotte #queencharlotte
  3. CLT Airport Overlook – 7300 Airport Overlook Dr., Charlotte #CLToverlook
  4. Norm Nine Miner – 9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte; 35.306863, -80.733746 #normnineminer
  5. Historic Rosedale Plantation – 3427 N. Tryon St., Charlotte #frewfolly
  6. Sunset Memory Gardens  Mausoleum – 8991 Lawyers Road, Mint Hill #sunsetmemory
  7. South Charlotte Crossfit – 5046 Old Pineville Rd., Charlotte #SCcrossfit
  8. Firebird on the Arch – 420 S. Tryon St., Charlotte #firebird
  9. Evans Clock Tower – 1900 Selwyn Ave., Charlotte #evansclocktower
  10. NASCAR Hall of Fame – 400 E. MLK Jr. Blvd., Charlotte #nascarhalloffame
  11. Billy Graham Library – 4330 Westmont Dr., Charlotte #billygrahamlibrary
  12. Carolinas Aviation Museum, 4672 1st Flight Dr., Charlotte #carolinasaviation

Team Omega completed 55.6 miles in 18:47.

While Team Omega and Bling and Hoser were waiting at the finish line, a horrendous storm came out of nowhere.  Tornado like winds and brutal rain.  We sat in the van while things were blown everywhere.  Lombardi and Weedeater got stuck out there in it.  Team Alpha completed a little bit longer route in 19:45.


Best memories/NMM

  • Weedeater has no idea how to tell time. We were to leave (LEAVE) at 12pm.  This was coordinated for 2 weeks.  He didn’t get to our meeting point til 12:45.  But he finally got there, and the 2 cars loaded with men and weights and nutrition and everything else hit the road for Charlotte.
  • His mantra on the ride up – “if a homeless guy can do it every day”
  • Hoser was already in Charlotte with his family and wound up that Headgear booked the same hotel that Hoser was at, so we went there to hang in the lobby. Huge TClaps to Hoser and M for offering their room for tv, shower, toilet, rest, etc.  But we didn’t wanna destroy their room, so we stayed in the lobby.
  • Valvano’s BIL is AWESOME. He met us at hotel, and took our drop bags to meet up with us sometime Saturday morning.
  • We wanted to eat obviously before the event. Couldn’t decide.  Google maps, restaurant.  YHC pulled up something right across the street – Post Sports Bar and Grill – 4.7 stars with 16 reviews.  Bar and Grill I thought – chicken, fries, burgers, pizza.  Good choice for all.    This place was sketch.  It was all bar.  Smelled like a bowling alley and was overall absolutely disgusting.  There was a nice toothless patron trying to sell us his Gary Fisher bike.  We declined to eat/drink/buy the bike, and we went back to the hotel and just ate at the hotel restaurant, which was actually pretty good.
  • As time got closer, we began our prep. Everyone was changing, getting ready, etc.  As all were dressed up, bathroom trips accounted for (4 stalls, 4 men – good advice to stay out!), lube, tape, powder, and everything else we all used was done, we were sitting in the lobby of the hotel getting sneakers on.  A lady walks up to Headgear….hesitantly says, “excuse me…do you speak English?”  Now Bling and I start laughing like heck…like that’s a pretty presumptuous first question to ask a complete stranger just cause a guy has a little darker skin.  But Headgear is ridiculously nice.  “Yes ma’am I do.”  Which was a mistake.  He would have been better to say no or un poquito.  Cause this lady had a ton of questions and Headgear tried to explain what we were about to do in a very clear and nice manner…she was utterly confused.  She eventually walked off.
  • Off to the start point! Met some other F3 peeps, and some other competitors.
  • While we were waiting in the ruck inspection line, there was a guy that pooped his pants next to a guy with a mace?!?!?
  • At various waypoints, Weedeater, before he got to the deathmarch mentality, was doing merkins and flexing!!!
  • Throughout the race, people stopped to ask what we were doing and they were funny. We usually said – 50 mile race – reactions were mostly on the WTH side of the scale.  Some asked more questions and when we explained military idea of GORUCK, they were all stoked – honking screaming USA, Go America.  Things like that!
  • Valvano met an F3 PAX named Natasha from Rebound AO (homeless shelter) He said was named after the villain from Rocky & Bullwinkle. He was sitting on the steps on the way down the light rail station after CVS and saw our F3 shirts and shouted out to us.  #ONENATION
  • At the drop point, Headgear went into blister care mode. Got the awesome 1st aid kit from Hoser and went to work. Using alcohol to clean everything and being very cautious.  YHC on the other hand, just took out my knife and pierced my blisters and threw more tape on em.  By the end of this break, Hoser’s entire med supply kit was done! Way too early!
  • Another set of HUGE TCLAPS to Valvano’s BIL here – met us, brought drop bags, brought McD’s sandwiches, brought coffee. Took our nasty stuff back.
  • At one of our last gas station stops before the CLT Overlook waypoint, we ran into some 26.2 milers who looked so fresh, and more importantly, a homeless guy walking by talking to people and seeing what we were doing, and he said, “I do that everyday”…clearly not impressed with us.
  • As Team Omega’s last stop at the QT. Valvano was there early and waiting on us.  YHC got there and dropped my ruck to go get drinks.  We had all been black on nutrition and water for 3-5 miles.  I had my cash is a clear ziplock bag which I carried in while barely walking, sweaty as heck, looked like death.  Grabbed 6 drinks, no cart ($2 for 4 – great deal)….dumped them on the counter with people looking at me wondering what was going on, paid out of my ziplock….put change back in ziplock, grabbed everything and shuffled out to many many stares.  Went back to Valvano, Headgear was there but no Boxcar – he has gone on ahead.  We chugged some drinks.  Getting ready to finish.  Valvano is like – change your shirt.  Originally, plan was to wear our green shirts for the finish.  Who the heck was thinking about this now?!?!  6/10th of a mile to go.  Well, they were and they changed.  I don’t want to move.  But I get out my shirt, take off, more like peel off, one I am wearing and put green one on.  Figuring I’d fix it when I stood up.  As I am packing dirty shirt in ruck, I get bit like all hell from something that I have no idea what it was.  I jumped up screaming it hurt horribly.  Valvano immediately thought it was fire ants, so I start pulling my shirt and shorts off but no fire ants.  So something….we looked and saw those pincher things walking around so maybe one of those.  Who knows.  Anyone, thank goodness I am not allergic to anything.  I told Headgear he’d be jamming a needle in my heart to resuscitate me with 6/10th of a mile to go!
  • Per Headgear – OneCall’s unwavering support for post-secondary education to the point he was willing to pay twice as much as market value for a watermelon and add an extra ten pounds to the last 4/10ths of a mile back….might have been that bug bite venom causing some hallucinations. By the way, I cut that watermelon with the same knife I used for everything!
  • Blisters.  Blisters.  Be sure to see the video!
  • Headgear is very very sanitary. He bought sterile needles to pop his blisters.  Valvano on the other hand: “I couldn’t find a sterile needle yesterday so I just bit off one of my fingernails and used it to pop my blisters.”
  • Boxcar in the van after the event – I am selling my ruck. I am done.
  • $80 worth of CVS bandages went to good use!!! That and some cleaning thing Headgear wanted called Hibacleanse.  What’s wrong with spit?  Or soap and water?  Fancy pants!
  • Lots of debate about what to do Saturday night. 2 PAX were out cold, so they did not vote.  Lombardi – shower, clothes laid out neatly, passed out next to them, half on bed, half off.    Weedeater – all 6’1” of him, out cold no pillow or blanket on 5’5” couch.  Valvano and Headgear in my room.  All kinda dazed, but I was ready to go out to Suffolk Punch and try some F3 Nation beer!  Bling was too, but we got smart, ordered mellow mushroom, got some beers, and just chilled out watching Jack Reacher and ate and drank and……were all out cold in 20 minutes!
  • Weedeater said he would have an office day Monday!
  • Amazing breakfast Sunday am!! All of us walking around like zombies.  People looking at us like we were crazy.  As long as there were 2 of us together, it was ok, but 1 alone was weird.
  • Driving home, stopped at McLeod Farm for unbelievable peaches, peach enchiladas, peach ice cream, and more!!!
  • Most common questions at work today for us: Why are you walking like that? Why are you wearing flip flops?  What do you mean you can’t get up?  Is (name) sleeping in his chair?  What is this puss on the floor?  Why is there a box of 100 Band-Aids on his desk?
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, although he will deny this – Valvano stepped up AMAZINGLY to help his brothers. At 2 different times, for 2 different PAX, he carried their weight!!!  To help them get through it.   I would say a solid 12-14 miles, Valvano had DOUBLE WEIGHT.  At one point, I tried to help with the extra weight.  I took a plate for as long as I could – which wound up being around ½ mile.  And it damn near ended me.  Valvano carried that weight around for 12-14 miles!!!  An absolutely incredible beast, Brother, #HIM.  Thinking nothing of himself, but only of those 2 men who needed help.  Sacrificing his all for them.    And as I followed him (usually a minute+ behind his pace), that also helped me keep going.  Sure, I hurt like hell and I wanna stop.  But friggin Valvano is smoking my pace, with 20 extra pounds!!!  How in the world can I not keep going and try to get to him and help him?  And I am sure he had that impact on others.  All I can say to Valvano – is you are the absolute epitome of a #HIM and an incredible Brother!!!

When’s the next one?

4 Replies to “55 Miles + – Charlotte GORUCK Star Course”

  1. Makes me want to buy Boxcar’s Ruck, sign up for the next challenge, & write a BackBlast!!! Sounds like an awesome event & experience! Well done.

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