The Block Island Times

GoRuck Challenge coming to B.I.

By Judy Tierney | Oct 10, 2012

They’re coming, and they’re bringing bricks.

But if you hear strange voices and see groups of dark figures moving around the island all night after midnight Friday, Oct. 12, you don’t need to fear a riot. They’re most likely participants in a GoRuck Challenge, who will have bricks in their backpacks — but to carry, not throw.

GoRuck Challenges are grueling military-style physical and mental endurance tests, and they’re also voluntary team events that participants claim are fun.

GoRuck is a manufacturer of military grade rucksacks and other endurance equipment, all made in Bozeman, Montana. Owner Jason McCarty was a Green Beret and is an Iraq war veteran. He also has an MBA from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

McCarty has taken his Green Beret and educational experiences and used them to build the successful company. He also dreamt up and developed the GoRuck Challenge, and set up the Green Beret Foundation, which provides unconventional support to wounded Green Berets, their families, and Gold Star family members of killed Green Berets. A portion of the fees for the GoRuck Challenges is donated to the foundation.

Each GoRuck Challenge event is led by one or more Green Berets, called a cadre. A map of the United States on the company’s website,, shows that events have been held in almost every state of the union. Challenge participants who weigh over 150 pounds carry six bricks, those under that weight, four. They also carry all the food and water and anything else they think they might need for the duration of the event, which could run from 12 hours to four days.

Christine and Kevin Zelenski, island visitors who have participated in several of the events and organized the details to get this GoRuck to Block Island, said of the challenge, “It is, quite literally, [among] the hardest things we have ever done.”

The Block Island challenge will last anywhere from eight to 15 hours and, said Christine Zelenski, “We have no idea what to expect. All we know is that we will be running around the island, carrying heavy stuff, and will not know when it will end.”

There will be approximately 30 participants for the Block Island event. Not only do they not know the details of the exercise beforehand, which are planned by the cadre in charge, they are told the exact spot to meet only four days before the event.

What happens during a challenge? The GoRuck website states, “Our Special Operations Cadre teach every class what a team feels like, how to stay cool under stress, and why camaraderie in Special Forces is so high. In our estimation, people are good, and capable of much more when they work together, for each other.” Training is similar to that used in training Special Operations Forces.

The Zelenskis were not sure there would be room for additional people in the Block Island challenge, but anyone interested in this or future events can go to the website to contact GoRuck.

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