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Waxtravaganza Part Deux Rucking Edition

TLDR: I flaked. We rucked. 10 Pax enter, 7 Pax leave. Stronger together, sharing weight, sharing burdens. These coupons don’t save you anything. I struggle, “leave no man where you found him” gets proven again.

Just before lunch, just a few days before the start of the year I got a message from Carb Load about helping him with rucking Waxtravaganza. I was having a tough time when I received his message. I was dealing with some mental and physical health issues and had been continually crying out “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24) to God. I left Carb Load hanging until the middle of January and when I finally responded, I told him that I would help, but I made excuses why he should want someone else.

Carb Load let that sit for a little more than a week until he came back with a more direct “You’re the Q, make it happen.”

Back in the summer of 2021, I did a series of ruck events in preparation for the Charlotte GrowRuck. I learned a few tricks, like using waypoints as places to pick up and drop off equipment, and I met some interesting Pax along the way. One brother in particular is Snoop from Metro who did a series of evening rucks. I learned that he has a vast collection of ruck friendly coupons – logs of all shapes, sizes, and colors; in addition to other toys.

I got about two weeks out from this year’s event when it hits me, I have some work to do! First step, see who is coming with me; I have three Hard Commits and myself. Time to put out some additional advertising, but I have a plan and I’m flexible so I can adjust as needed. Next up, connect with my brothers, get some fun coupons and set them out along the route.

I arrived at the start/finish point around 0630 and Turnbuckle and a Girl Scout mom were already there. A few minutes later ruckers start rolling in; by 0700 we are up to ten ruckers – double the number from last year. I am nervous as I go through the DiCCS (Disclaimer, CPR, Cell Phone, and Safety brief). In my initial freakout, I also forgot to grab the flag as we rolled out. Just as we begin our adventure, Carb Load calls a quick pause for a pregame family photo.

I laid out that we would start with a 60lbs sandbag and carry that to the first waypoint then swap out for a two-man log. Conversation starts out light; we have some experienced ruckers, some first timers, and some out of towners – the makings of a magnificent event.

As we make our way to the first waypoint, we move the sandbag around from one Pax to another. I announce that the theme for this ruck is shared burdens. The Pax do not seem too excited about the theme, but they are in it to win it. Just before we arrive at the first waypoint, my brother Chicken Little shows up with Old Glory and we are looking good.

As we pull in for our first gear transition, Jingles spots something out of place and raises a red flag – “that two-man log waiting for us is contraband from Metro”; he says it does not belong in Waxhaw. He and I have a good laugh because we have been under that very log together on one of Snoop’s evening rucks and he remembers that it is a challenge.

I call out that we are dropping the sandbag and that two of our taller ruckers are to pick up the ‘contraband’ and start moving to the Millbridge pool. As we make our way through the mean streets of Millbridge, Pax are moving in and out from under the log. I am seeing first timers and rucking veterans jump at the opportunity to help their brothers shoulder the burden of that log – it is a beautiful thing. We are looking good and keeping everyone together; everyone gets some time under the log.

As we draw near our second waypoint, I start seeing some obstacles amongst the Pax. Sledge-O-Matic is having some ruck struggles; he is one of our first timers, but some of our experienced Pax are talking him through how to arrange and adjust his straps so that the ruck rides differently. Schedule C is also having gear misbehave, he is one of our more experienced Pax, but his hydration bladder is leaking – could be an easy fix or a real problem.

We arrive at the Millbridge pool and drop the log. We rest for a few moments so that everyone can check their gear and take in some hydration and calories. The boot camp runners have not caught up with us yet; I suspect that they will overtake us as we reach the next waypoint, same as last year. Sledge says he is good to go, and Schedule C is all fixed up; time to ruck up!

We swap the two-man log out for a long heavy chain to carry along the Carolina Thread Trail and make our way to the Walnut Creek clubhouse. I selected the chain for the trail because it will ride close to the body and not throw off our balance as we travel the uneven terrain yet still provide a challenge. The trail is mostly single track, and we are getting a little spread out, but the conversations are getting a little bit deeper and heavier burdens are being shared.

As I suspected, just as we were leaving the trail for the Walnut Creek clubhouse the running Pax came upon us. Two brothers, Chastain and Dunkin, grab me up as they pass by – I’m grateful for the encouragement. The runners and ruckers are arriving at the clubhouse together – everyone is swapping encouragement. We are losing two ruckers at this waypoint, Sun Drop and Sledge, they have other obligations, so they are unable to ruck the full event. As the sweep, by the time I arrive at the waypoint the shovel flag is already planted with the chain resting next to it and the other ruckers were able to grab a few moments to rest and regroup. We are not staying (like the boot campers) so we grab up our flag, shoulder the chain and head back for the trail.

We are down to eight Pax, and I expect another rucker to drop at the next waypoint; Jingles must bow out to take his son to a basketball game – good man. What I did not expect was to pick up a Pax, Falcon, who has started walking to take a break from running. Falcon takes up Old Glory and carries on.

As we are making our way to the next waypoint, the running boot campers pass us. We are spread thin again but regroup as we arrive at the boot camp location. Most of the ruckers are enjoying refreshments provided by Turnbuckle and the support team when I arrive at the waypoint. Falcon is still hurting so we advise him to drop and not cause significant injury; we leave him with Turnbuckle as we prepare for our next movement. My original plan for this stop was to swap the chain for a single man log – however where I stashed the log and where the Pax stopped for the Commitment bootcamp were not the same. I did not want to fall behind the boot campers, so I called an audible and we dropped the chain and moved on out. From this point forward the runners and ruckers are neck-and-neck; they will pass us and stop for a bootcamp, and we will pass them as we drive on by.

We carry only our rucks and Old Glory for the longest portion of the ruck – the movement from Harvey Clay Nesbit Park to Waxhaw Elementary School, with a quick stop at 701 Main. This is no loss because I have something special planned for our last waypoint. At The Lycan we will have two coupons waiting for us, another single man log and the 60lbs sandbag for the final leg to the finish but… we gotta get there first.

My navigator, Jingles, has dropped as expected and I am a little concerned about our path out of the labyrinth that is Millbridge. I am quickly relieved to learn that Schedule C is also a Millbridger, so he takes on the navigator mantle. As we head out on the Millbridge trail I realize that I have done a poor job of managing my nutritional needs and hydration. I am quickly trying to overcome my mistake by eating and drinking some calories, however by the time I reach the trail exit at Creekview, I am totally gassed. Schedule C and Dana can see it all over me; they hang back with me as I try to recover on the move.

I am still trying to eat sports gummies and drink electrolytes when I receive a call from Jingles. Ever the loving brother, he is checking in to hear our progress out of Millbridge. I give him our current location and he is satisfied that we are on the right route. I am starting to feel a bit better, and we begin to close the gap with the other ruckers.

Animal is in the front – he is in beast mode for most (if not all) of the ruck and showing no sign of slowing down. Kojak and Mighty Mite are hanging right there with him. I caught up with High Hat and checked in with him. He is another first timer, but he is rolling like a veteran rucker. We have covered over eight miles by now; he says he is feeling strong but is battling some aches and pain. He is just giddy that we did not have to go all the way to the Blackhawk AO when we reached Walnut Creek.

It seems like the journey to 701 Main is all uphill, so I am falling behind again, and I am starting to question my life choices. I am feeling overwhelmed and underprepared. Schedule C sees me falling behind and having experienced more than a few rucking events, he knows what to do; he gets me talking. One thing we discuss is how I have stepped out of F3 for a season while I fought some mental and physical battles. I told him that I had convinced myself that I was alone in the battle (a lie), but several brothers reached out to me to remind me that F3 is about shared burdens, and I am not alone. I have been truly humbled and amazed by the outreach of compassion, prayers, and encouragement from my F3 brethren.

Once my mind is off my pain, Schedule C encourages me to start catching up with the rest of our Pax. As we reach 701 Main, I noticed that Mighty Mite has fallen a bit off his original pace. I check in with him and he is dealing with some expected aches and pain as well. We keep pushing forward to our next and last waypoint, Waxhaw Elementary.

As we near The Lycan I am beginning to wonder if I should call another audible and move on to the finish without the coupons awaiting us. We are a few men short and some of us are already experiencing pain. After we arrive at the waypoint, we plant the shovel flag and circle up; we take a few moments for rest and refreshment, then we have some real talk. “Where are we at?” “What is our status as a team?” I lay out the final mission. “Can we complete it?”

Everyone steps up; we are golden. Animal hits his tunes to get his mind right as we prepare for our journey through the pain cave. Dana goes and retrieves the 60lbs sandbag, we have the single man log – we are ready to roll. Old Glory in the lead with the log close behind. We are staying tight, and I am watching as these brothers are passing the coupons back and forth to “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way […] fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2)

Dunkin’s family rides by us and brings shouts of encouragement. We see them again as we cross over the bridge. Last bit until we finish, everyone is excited. Runners have been passing us along the way, but we all finish strong and together. I am feeling spent, but the rest of the team is looking strong – these Mighty Men!

Thanks to all the ruckers who joined me. Thank you for letting me lead. Thanks to all the Pax who have come back for The Six, who have not left this man behind or left me where you found me.

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