By Kathryn Musumeci
On September 25th, 2010 GORUCK class 001 completed the first challenge in San Francisco. Now, a little over two years later, the company is pushing class 400 with challenges occuring nationwide and internationaly almost every weekend. Furthermore, the company, which was degisning and manufacturing a solitary backpack in 2010, now creates an entire line of equipment, inluding bags, kits, clothing, and home accessories.
“I started GORUCK as a napkin sketch of the GR1[backpack] and before you knew it, the challenge came about,” says Jason McCarthy, GORUCK Founder and CEO. “The challenge pushed us to test the gear under extreme circumstances, but it also quickly became about people.”
McCarthy started the company as he was leaving the military after serving as Green Beret. Although McCarthy has achieved major entrupanerial success in a very short period of time, he modestly insists that he didn’t build the company as much as buyers and participants did.
“People have built GORUCK and people will build GORUCK,” McCarthy says. “GORUCK isn’t just a company. It’s a people brand. It’s a journey, and it’s a force for good. ” In the way of gear, GORUCK manufactures all of it’s own products in a company owned manufacturing plant in Montana. The company proudly boasts on it’s website that it produces “military-grade gear built in the USA that has a lifetime garuntee.”
Ralph Pimentel, a self-proclaimed GORUCK fanatic, firmly believes that GORUCK gear outlasts its competitors. “I bought a backpack and filled it up but when I went to run with it, the straps broke in the first thirty minutes,” says Pimentel. “That kept happening until I bought a GR2 backpack from GORUCK. I’ve done seven challenges now and it is still good to go. It’s the best backpack I’ve found.”
Pimentel uses the gear in the GORUCK challenges, which typically consist of 8-10 hours of running, rucking, doing pushups and situps, and going in and out of water all while carrying 6 bricks on your back. Pimentel was hesistant to sign up for his first challenge, but has fallen in love with the experience.
“I was literally crying when I finished the first challenge,” says Pimentel. “I’ve done eight GORUCK Challenges, two GORUCK Treks, and a GORUCK Scavenger.” Pimentel is refering to the “alumni only” events offered for those who have completed a challenge. These events range from city-wide scavenger hunts to weekened long special-forces-esk training. Each challenge is lead by a GORUCK “cadre,” all of whom serve or served in the military special forces.
“I think that given enough training and dedication, anyone can do a GORUCK Challenge, but you have to decide to do that,” says McCarthy. According to the website, GORUCK is about “good livin’”, but true to McCarthy’s word, the company has also made a point of giving back. Besides participant-organized fundraisers for a number of charities, GORUCK pledges a portion of all sales to the Green Beret Foundation to serve returning veterans.
Most recently, GORUCK manufactured the “Brave Charlotte” pink backpack in support of a participant’s daughter who is fighting cancer. “Back in class 049 there were only 6 people in the class so I got to know everyone during the challenge,” says McCarthy. “There was a man who told me that he signed up for the challenge because his three-year-old daughter, Charlotte, was battling cancer at the time and he wanted to do something in his own life that he had to overcome.”
McCarthy doesn’t want to reveal a lot about GORUCK’s future, but he promises that the company will continue to grow around the demands of its clients. In the meanwhile, he encourages people to sign up for a challenge and really push themselves to the limit, and then a little further.
“I think GORUCK is going to be a really postive voice. We like things like the US military, US manufacturing, local pride, and dogs,” says McCarthy. “We’re trying to show people what they can do.”