My Ingress GORUCK Experience
If you know me… I’m a bit of a Ingress medal collector (I’ll get you someday OLW!). I had been hesitant to do the GORUCK, even when they had one in my own state.. After talking with Niantic CEO, John Hanke, over some details of a past Ingress Report, the topic of GORUCK came up. John had mentioned he was doing the GORUCK in New Orleans, and then challenged me to do the one in Oakland! I don’t know about you guys, but when a CEO of a gaming company challenges you personally, you kind of have to do it, right? This was the final push I needed to take the plunge. I’d like to share my initial hesitations, my experience doing the GORUCK, testimonials from other agents, and a short Q&A I had with John Hanke after the fact.
The Initial Hesitations
I am a gamer
If you would have asked me 4 years ago, “Do you see yourself playing a video game outside, and further more, carrying a weighted ruck and doing exercises for it… After buying a plane ticket to another state… In Oakland of all places…?” HELLL NO. Getting me from chair to walking was a big enough step, but this? I’m probably one of the biggest naysayers of them all. Though down to the core, I am a gamer, and gamers love achievements. I wanted the GORUCK medal.
Two people were playing Ingress at the Persepolis anomaly and got pushed to the ground by GORUCKers in PDX. None of the ruckers stopped to help them up either. Being in a leadership position at the time, I was involved in getting help from the officials. An apology was given from GORUCK officials on the ground at PDX, but the damage was done and nothing would have been said unless we brought it up. One of these agents quit playing Ingress after the anomaly, and that scar remains to this day.
Miss out on the core anomaly experience
I have always loved Ingress anomalies! The intense game play with everyone on the ground giving it their all is such a rush! I did not want to give this up this experience in trade for another, but I’ve been enjoying play during measurement periods less lately with slow servers, AXA’s that are too dang sticky, and spoofers/bots. While Niantic is busy balancing and addressing some of these issues, perhaps it was time for me to try an alternative experience at the anomalies.
Cost & Gear
If you don’t have the gear, be prepared to break the bank. All I had laying around was a 15 year old Nike sport backpack that is falling apart, and my Niantic handbag/murse. With zero gear, I had to purchase:
- A ruck
- Water bladder
- Weight (bricks)
- Reflective bands
I also should have purchased a head lamp, but wasn’t hassled for it. Pro tip: Get waist and sternum straps. This extra support was a life saver! If I were to do it over again, I also wouldn’t have gone cheap on buying weights and purchased a ruck plate instead. The bricks were a hassle to obtain, hassle to prep, bulky, and hassle to dispose of (I don’t think you can take bricks on a plane). Luckily I had work out clothing and good shoes, so I did not have to invest in those items as well.
Another thing to note is the cost of the event itself, typically ranging from $65-75 USD to register.
Event registration discounts
Before breaking the bank look for discounts and sales for registration and gear discounts! I got lucky while purchasing gear during their Black Friday sale and saved a fair amount on my gear. Here are a few things to help save on the cost of the event registration (I think they all stack):
- $5 off when sharing to social media at time of registration.
- 10% when using this discount code at checkout: SOUNDSCRAZY
Update for the discount below (2/4/16): GORUCK contacted me letting me know this discount was supposed to expire already and will be expired shortly.
Update 2 (2/5/16): Team Regiment contacted me letting me know the deal has been revised and that you can fill out a form at the previous address I listed for instructions on how to get the discount. Since it’s a human behind the processing of the form, they ask you be patient and they will get back to you.
- Use this link and fill out the form. Await a reply from Team Regiment on instructions for saving 25% off your registration.
I have some chronic wrist pains and can barely get off a few push ups without sharp pain shooting up my wrist and arms. Other than being a lazy gamer, this is what caused my biggest hesitation for doing the GORUCK. I modified some weight lifting braces for my wrists and had some elbow/arm suppression sleeves to help give support.
Calm before the storm (prep/meetup)
Our team met up prior to the GORUCK at a coffee establishment to fuel up and get organized. Some of us had met before, some just through Google+, and others we had never met in any capacity. We all wrote our names and agent names on tape to help identify each other and prepare for faster communication during the ruck itself. Our team leader m0ngie brought blue bandannas for the Resistance GORUCK team as a gift to help show our unified colors. In retrospect, maybe wearing colors in Oakland was a bad idea, but pretty funny to laugh at after the fact. After most of the team had gathered, we headed to the main event area where the rest of the anomaly attendants were gathering. The event organizer/cadre for our GORUCK, “Big Daddy”, was waiting for us there.
BD (Big Daddy) had our team leaders get us all organized into lines and made sure there were no medical issues or disabilities that needed to be addressed. The anticipation, the build up, it was finally here. Out of no where, BD started having us do push ups. The chronic pain in my wrists made sure to remind me it was still there, but I powered through it. “The Suck” as seasoned Ruckers like to call it is the physical pain and exhaustion that is endured during a ruck. I had major regrets not preparing for the event physically, and my body was sure to remind me of this. They told us to embrace the suck, and so we did, moving from challenge to challenge for more suck.
The various challenges included memorization games (study your glyphs), push ups, lunges, flutter kicks, weight lifting (rucks and sand bags), bear crawls, carrying of other ruckers (either individually or as a group), and a few others I’m probably missing. I heard BD also likes to get people wet, though was VERY thankful he didn’t take us into the body of water next to the starting area as there were used needles and garbage floating about.
Meat Heads vs Nerds
BD and seasoned Ruckers often referred to us Ingress agents as “Nerds”, and seasoned Ruckers as “Meat Heads”. This was an interesting dynamic to say the least. For many of the Meat Heads, this was their first Ingress event, and for many Nerds, it was our first GORUCK. At times I could tell the Meat Heads were getting upset at the lack of physical finesse and understanding of exercises and events that were second nature to them. When it came time to bust out the phones for Ingress, I noticed some Meat Heads would join us, and a few actually took the time to level up and check out the game prior to the event! There were some Meat Heads that offhandedly mocked us when it was time to battle over portals. I think some of them forgot that they had come to an Ingress event with GORUCK on the side, and not the other way around.
The event started with Meat Heads and Nerds kind of clashing, like two cats circling and hissing at each other. Over time though, we began to understand and respect each other. This not only helped us power through the suck, but assisted us in winning challenges together. Where us Nerds lacked in physical challenges, the Meat Heads picked up our slack, and vice versa when it came time to bust out phones to battle for portals. Over time, people started peeking outside their comfort zones and embracing all aspects of the Ingress GORUCK challenge.
After the final anomaly measurement ended, BD stopped us for a speech. After some damn good motivational words from BD on what it means to be a better person, it was time to for the home stretch. There were a few twists though!
A large amount of people were selected as “casualties”, meaning they had to drop their rucks, and lay on the ground to be carried. We had experienced this during the ruck itself in smaller numbers, but there was one big difference this time. There were no longer teams, opponents, or factions. There was now a single team of people that came together to embrace the suck, complete the challenge, and come out stronger than they were before. I gained HUGE respect for the Meat Head that carried me about half a mile. I could tell he was embracing the suck, as I am over 6 feet tall and around 240 pounds, and he didn’t ask anyone for help.
WE MADE IT! As we marched back to the original meeting spot, the announcer on the mic asked the crowd to cheer us on. I don’t know about you, but when you hear a crowd of 1000’s cheering you on it’s a surreal experience. BD gave his final words of motivation, along with our awards for completing the challenge.
Q&A with Niantic CEO John Hanke
How did the partnership between GORUCK and Ingress come about?
I became a fan of their products and we were introduced by a mutual friend.
I am adding a testimonial section to the article and wanted to know a little about more about your personal experience doing the Ruck. Was it what you expected, did it change your outlook on the anomaly experience, life, etc?
I think it was a great complement to the ‘old style’ anomaly. I loved the physical movement and challenges mixed with Ingress. At one point I was sprinting down by the river trying to get to a volatile cluster with my weighted ruck firing bursters as I ran. It was also great getting to know the other agents doing the GORUCK as this kind of activity really brings you together.
There are whispers of a new GORUCK in-game scanner medal (in addition to the current one), and that it might even be tiered. Is that something you’d be willing to touch on?
Note: This was asked before the announcement of the Stealth and Urban challenges.
No comment although I will say that the new ‘stealth ops’ missions are super cool.
How will GORUCK be integrated into future anomalies? For instance, will winners of GORUCK events influence the anomaly outside providing volatile portal info?
Anomalies are hard to predict. You never know what kind of havoc XM will wreck or how the NIA will react. I am glad that GORUCK Agents will be there to help handle whatever challenges are presented.
While I went in kicking and screaming initially, it ended up being a pretty awesome experience. I think Niantic might have some wizards or something stored away getting us “Nerds” from couch to ruck. It’s fantastic how Ingress and GORUCK help push people beyond what they thought were their normal limits, and help them become a better person overall. I’d recommend everyone do one at least one GORUCK in their lifetime. Though the cost can add up, it’s worth the experience.
Tom Mangum (TomsVortex)
GORUCK is an awesome experience. The team work, camaraderie, and accomplishment that it brings is amazing. I traveled from Virginia Beach to attend Oakland. I’d do it again and I hope to help with future events closer to home!
I plan to use my ruck in combination with my scooter for long ingress runs in the city. It’s just practical to carry every thing I would need.
Max Meier, III (GiMpStEr)
“You’re crazy! Hardcore, but crazy!” That’s usually what I hear from people who ask me what I did the past two Anomalies when I answer “I did the GORUCK challenge – I’ll do it again and more, no question.”
Being in a wheelchair for almost the entire event makes team-building and communication key, but when you’re in the middle of a PT evolution and you hear both sides cheering you on; that’s something special. I’m sure at times I slowed my team down, but ask any of them if I shirked away from a challenge or let them down; you’ll see that it didn’t matter. In the end, we all pulled together and supported each other; Enlightened and Resistance as one.
Improvise, adapt, win. That’s what we did, and I’d gladly Ruck it all over again with them without hesitation.
Cam Walton (blakulus)
I really enjoyed the GORUCK/Ingress challenge. I will be doing it every anomaly from here on out and it got me to sign up for normal GORUCK challenges. Here’s to extra doses of “Good Livin” and Viva La Resistance!
Simon Miller (Squishie)
Prepping for GORUCK was a great experience for me, almost as much as the event itself. In the process of getting ready I lost 20lb and reached a level of fitness I had never achieved as an adult. I see GORUCK as a welcome addition to the ingress landscape and can’t wait to see where it goes.
Alastair Gilfillan (Appastair)
Abaddon Okinawa was a very different experience to every anomaly I’ve been to since Cassandra because of the GORUCK x Ingress challenge. Initially there were to be around 100 agents involved taking part but that figure grew and there were 300 of us waiting nervously in the registration line at Shintoshin Park – the meeting place for this primary site.
This partnership is as unique as Ingress is, in that it blurs the lines between two very different worlds. As agents, we’re armed with our scanners and perhaps an external battery yet we were standing in formation with our packs, weights and water. All of our badges and levels we’d earnt in the scanner didn’t give us the advantages that we were accustomed to – teamwork was our tool and our mind, the weapon.
Over the course of the day, we weren’t trying to capture portals – we were working together to overcome real-world challenges as a single unit. This coordination is the foundation of the amazing feats and successful Ingress operations that agents around the world are for.
GORUCK x Ingress empowers agents that may have never met, cannot all speak the same language and have varying levels of mobility to use their personal strengths to complement the team and come out on top. Ingress is #notjustagame
Dean Nielson (REDMAN247)
For me it was a walk down memory lane, the camaraderie, the structure, the teamwork, the overcoming of obstacles and succeeded. Knowing I had someones back and they had mine. All this reminded me of my time in the service.
I observed this event having a profound and lasting effect on my Agent teammates as many of them went on to do more GORUCK events, I myself will be doing more as well when my health improves. I recommend to anyone to try this event at least once as it is nothing like anything you have done in Ingress to date. As they say, there is no “I” in team. Get out there and get some good livin!