View Full Version : Dealing with the cold in a Goruck Challenge.

10-09-2012, 17:41
Jayson here and in two weeks I will be competing in a Goruck Challenge in Toronto. I have been training for it over the past few weeks (prior to signing up I had been training for a Tough Mudder so my physical fitness level was decent before I started to train) and am confident that while I will feel lots of pain and be pushed to my limits, I should be able to complete the event.

What I am concerned about is how to better prepare for the cold. I have read several reports about people who have completed the GRC, but all of their experiences have been during summer months. Given the temperature may drop below zero (my event is at 10pm so there is zero chance of seeing the sun) I want to know how to best prepare for such low temperatures – especially given there will probably be water obstacles. Coming from an outdoors background, whenever I found myself cold or wet I would simply add clothing or change altogether. For this event I feel I am totally out of my element and have no idea what to even wear. Do I wear a thermal top and bring a fleece to throw on when stopped for breaks? Do I need to worry about my salt intake as I will not be sweating as much in hot weather? Is it best to bring a change of footwear? Is hypothermia something to be concerned about? So while I do not want to sound like I am looking for easy solutions, I just do not want to bring a knife to a gun fight – so to speak. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks.


Red Flag 1
10-09-2012, 17:48
I can not speak to the prep work, however; hypothermia is a serious issue, it can kill you. Search this site for "hypothermia", and you will have around 40 threads to look through. It is as important as any prep work you can do.

Best of luck, Longstreet.

RF 1

10-10-2012, 12:55
The cold is usually only an issue when you stop or get wet. Stay dry and keep moving... Sorry, I wasn't trying to be glib. You need to work out a way to keep your feet dry or have an extra set of footwear and a change of clothes. I don't know what kind of load you will be carrying or if you will have Bear Martin or Richmond Nails messing with you the whole time but this is were I would focus.

10-10-2012, 15:14
Concur - i freakin' HATE the cold!! but as long as you're moving with a purpose, don't worry about it. The water fills and mapchecks are what will get you; keep them brief and keep moving. A fleece beanie hat and some lightweight gloves; a few extra pairs of socks and you should be good. Wear some polypro or some merino (wick sweat off you) and have a shell to pull on if you stop. Keep pouring in the calories into you and you'll be fine.

10-10-2012, 19:38
Jayson here and thank you all for the advice. To clarify I will be carrying my pack with six bricks in it - which I have made a wooden 'caddy' to hold them. It adds some additional weight, but I will gladly deal with it rather than ruining my pack. I will be carrying a water bladder, several gels and powerbars. I also have some electrolyte tablets that I intend on using too. While I do not know for certain if I will be dealing with wet conditions, I would be a fool to totally rule them out. So to add to my pack, I now plan on carrying a change of shoes, socks, fleece, toque and gloves. The good news is that the forecast is calling for temperatures to be in the 10 degree Celsius range. The bad news is the weather man often lies.
Thanks again for the advice.


10-11-2012, 12:20
Being a FOG- I am a firm believer in salt. We used to take salt tablets but now, I just eat sunflower seeds. Plenty of sodium plus if I get lost, I can follow the trail of hulls back to where I started. And you thought Hansel and Gretel was a fairy tale?

10-11-2012, 12:22
Don't stop walking. Drink water.

10-11-2012, 13:59
I wouldn't worry about carrying an extra set of boots in your ruck; maybe a pair of down booties for the end of if you stop for a long time; but if you're moving, you won't have too many issues with your feet if your boots get wet. Change socks when you can and keep moving.

10-11-2012, 19:14
I wouldn't worry about carrying an extra set of boots in your ruck; maybe a pair of down booties for the end of if you stop for a long time; but if you're moving, you won't have too many issues with your feet if your boots get wet. Change socks when you can and keep moving.

I do not plan on wearing boots, but rather a pair of running shoes. I have been training in my NB Minimus shoes, but question if I will be able to tolerate them after several hours or rucking. So I will probably be wearing my regular running shoes. Carrying another set of them will be no biggie . . . or will it? This really will be a challenge for me as I have never done anything this intense for such a long period of time. Do you think I should still not worry about a change of footwear? Will simply changing my socks make a difference?

Mark46th I might borrow your idea of simply using sunflower seeds for salt. The tablets I have are great, but getting them into my bladder would be a challenge as I would have to open my pack to do this. Would a 'regular' sized bag of seeds suffice?


10-12-2012, 08:17
You are being obsessive. No more questions. Relax, you will be fine...

10-12-2012, 08:53
Concur with Mark. Just keep drinking water and walk. You'll be fine. The warm-gear is for when you stop. If you get cold on the hump, just hump faster -

Did I mention I hate the cold!!??

10-13-2012, 19:56
I was in an early winter class. There are pics of us doing flutter kicks in a frozen creek. Quite the experience - btw, we warmed up & dried off quite well carrying logs.

1. show up rested, hydrated, ect
2. you will get wet
3. proper gear helps astronauts & firefighters do their job. as such, bad shoes/socks/pack ect will wear you out.
4. weather check says lows of 48-50 degrees so if you moving or doing PT, you won't freeze too bad.
5. did I mention that you WILL get wet?

From SEAL buddies & my experience, dehydration turns cold discomfort into muscles hurting & not functioning. bring enough food/water for yourself & to share. Good luck


10-13-2012, 22:23
You are being obsessive. No more questions. Relax, you will be fine...isn't it Supposed to suck? Get wet, be cold, enjoy!

10-15-2012, 19:06
Originally Posted by mark46th
You are being obsessive. No more questions. Relax, you will be fine...

isn't it Supposed to suck? Get wet, be cold, enjoy!

Jayson here and I know it is supposed to suck and I would not want it any other way. The way I see it this is my chance to get a twinkling of an idea what it is like to go through SF/SOF selection. While I know I do not have the dedication that QP's have to be SF/SOF, I have always wondered if I was mentally and physically tough enough. So for me, there is a lot riding on this experience. I have been training to the best of my abiliites and situation, but I just want to make certain that as mentioned before I do not bring a knife to a gun fight. I have never experienced anything close to what I will be this Saturday night. There are just so many unknowns for me. It all scares the hell out of me and at the same time I have not felt such exhilaration in quite awhile. I am concerned about it sucking where I can no longer participate because I messed up on something that I could have controled (ex. choosing the right equipment, hydrating properly, dealing with the cold, constant calory intake), but did not because I simply did not know better.

That all being said, I have read everything I can, asked questions and prepared myself accordingly. Thanks for all the help received from PS. Now it is time to just give'r . . . but not before I squeeze in a run tonite!


11-20-2012, 16:52
Jayson here with a follow-up to my Goruck Challenge adventure. Well it did suck, but not as I had imagined it would. The PT was killer and some of the activities we had to do would be best described as “I hope I never have to do it again.” I am still amazed that I did it. It was definitely way different than the Tough Mudder event I did. The cold was not as much of a factor except for our 6am dip in Lake Ontario. The water was a balmy 57 degrees and as expected woke us all up. My group and Cadre were a great bunch which helped during the ‘dark’ times. I will admit that during the event I considered packing it all in and going home – especially when part of the event was about 2km from my house; however the thoughts of abandoning my team and dealing with the idea of quitting quickly dissolved such ideas.

For those interested, here are some lessons I that learned:

Taking my woobie rather than a fleece or coat turned out to be a good idea as it was easy to throw on and could be stashed into my pack fast. This could all be worn without having to take off my pack (which is a major no-no) and only required the help of a teammate to put it away. It also came in handy as a fellow teammate became cold so we were able to use it at the same time. Wearing a toque proved to be sound too. At times I wore rubberized gloves which also helped when I had to carry heavy objects.

My pack though turned out to be a nightmare for the PT sessions. I took my Kifaru Zulu as it was the best pack I had. After weeks of training with it – mostly running – I found it impossible to do any PT where I was to be on my back. Its belt greatly hindered my ability to lay on my back and I had to undo it to continue. Rolling with it was also difficult – especially without the belt. If I was to do it again, a smaller assault type bag would definitely be worth looking into.

I was fortunate to have a fairly crisp night (50 degrees) so sweating was kept to a minimum. We did not run as much as I had planned and after the PT session, we mostly just walked quickly to each objective. The final objeective was the exception – which will be kept a secret – but was welcomed after our dip. I planned on packing 3L of water, but only took 2L which lasted me the entire time. I literally ran out on the way to our ‘ahem’ closing ceremony. For food I took several jells and protein bars. I ate them all (about 6 bars and 4 jells). My footwear held up fine (New Balance Minimus) and only changed my socks after the swim. No blisters or hotspots developed.

So all-in-all it was a good night. Our cadre was interesting with his extremely sexual dialogue and his even better explanation about the differences between the various SF/SOF forces – from my understanding it was a definite Marine POV. I know I was very worried about the event and would like to thank all of the support and advice I received from PS. I was micromanaging certain parts, but I just wanted to make certain that only my mind would have been the deciding factor about completing the Challenge. I definitely learned a lot about what my body is capable of and how my mind works too. I also gained a lot of insight as to what the QP’s are forced to deal with. When my spouse picked me up after 12 hours of Goruck bliss, I kept thinking to myself that if it had been Hell Week, it would have continued for another 4.5 days of the same type of exercises. This later developed a question that I hope to have answered. When I got home I changed out of my wet clothes and then began to shiver in an uncontrollable manner. I crashed and woke up with the chills. I ended up taking Monday off work and also dealt with a sore throat – which I am certain came from eating a protein bar that had been exposed to Lake Ontario water. It appeared the wrapper had a hole in it and despite thinking it was not a good idea to eat it, after the swim I was so damn hungry I ate it anyway. Ahh a true weekend warrior, heh-heh. So my question is, when in the field and sickness occurs, what do QP’s do to deal with it? I swear from the shivering I was doing, had I been in the field I would have shot my own team had bad guys showed up because I was just shaking so much.

Once again, thanks for all the advice!


11-20-2012, 18:11
Welcome to a taste of our world. ;) Nice job getting through it. I have my GRC in Jan here in Flag, AZ. (Yes, I'm bored). Your description brings fond memories of a world past for me, yet to be re-lived soon.

12-19-2012, 23:18
I'll be doing my first GRC 20130223 at 0100. I'm excited. I'm sure we'll be playing in the ocean a little. And I hope we'll be carrying logs.

12-19-2012, 23:39
Longstreet, in retrospect is there anything you would do differently in the future?
Getting wet can at times be inevitable ,so how could you have been better prepared for that? How did you treat your feet?