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April 8, 2012 / Sarah

S.E.R.E Boston 3/30/12

Hey! As promised here is the write up of my experience with SERE challenge in Boston last weekend.

The basics:

15 hours (10pm Friday-1pm Saturday). 20ish miles. 3 teams. 1 class, 003.

Go time:

Everyone met up before the event started at Ducali for food/drinks. Obviously I went straight for the drinks. Our rally point (RP) was at Paul Revere Park in Charlestown. We made sure everyone had the necessary gear, having to empty our rucks and hold up each items for the instructors viewing. Two of the items on our gear list were a white t-shirt and a sharpie, we were told to take both out at write “S.E.R.E” on the chest and our # on the arms. I was 008, this was determined by where you were standing when they went through, 001-023 (23 people total).

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PT time, well the first of it. Squats, presses (with our rucks), push ups, planks, ect. My ruck weight was 45# total, the sand was 22#. I struggled pressing that damn thing above my head, that right there is a weakness I will be working on in the upcoming weeks.

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Pressin’ sand bags!

Three people were then chosen to be team captains and then pick who they wanted on their team, picture high school dodge ball style team picking. I was the only girl on my team, the other teams had 2 girls and 3 girls. At first I was a little nervous because I didn’t want to let my team down or hold them behind. Self doubt at it’s finest ;). After the first “challenge” though I knew I was with the right people.

Challenge #1: At Paul Revere Park.

With A ruck (note, the whole team used mine seeing it weighed the least)

Each member must complete: low crawl to other side of park, lunge back to starting point, run/climb up a slide over on the playground and go down a different slide and then run the perimeter of the park. The low crawl was the worst because the pack doesn’t stay centered and will hit you in the head, but I knew there was much more of that to come. This challenge determined our team weight, aka which “object” our team was left with to carry. We came in 3rd and were left with the lovely SERE storage container. Shit sucked to carry but I can’t complain as I did the least of the carrying…. remember big strong men 😉

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After we are given our team weight the class is given lesson number 1. We are taught first aid from some basics to pretty extreme cases.

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One of the few times I had that darn team weight!

Our team instructor, John, then gave us the first mission, to collect intel from both Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution. Intel being, who, what, when, where and why.

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After visiting both places we then headed to Old North Church where we were allotted a short time to put all intel together and send our team leader, Eric, to be quizzed by instructors. After success of the quiz we were told to low crawl (like real low crawl, not elbows/knees…picture dragging) with our packs across the backside of the Church. It was not fun and drunk people kept proceeding by probably curious as to what the hell we were doing. Upon reaching the other side we are given a 300 piece puzzle. Now I don’t care what other say but putting together a puzzle in the wee morning hours is NOT FUN. Our team placed ourselves in a good spot, underneath an entry way (light and an overhang). We finished the puzzle before the other two teams and had started last, crunch time.

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This was my first time really needing to pee so I went off with a team mate and found a nearby playground/small tree. It worked.

My memory gets a little foggy here so bear with me!! We then went off to Christopher Columbus Park to receive another lesson, this one being on surroundings and escaping. We learn how to break free of a zip tie with a shoe lace. Clearly had fun with this one after I got back home! Also, we learned how to build a rope traverse for water crossing, a wireman’s knot and bowline knot. We then had PT from hell from Lynn. She’s a beast. After just that quick PT session I can say with confidence her hour bootcamp would end with me passed out on the floor.

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We were about to get going on our way when told the largest member on your team just died and you have to carry them. Hello there, Luke. I did not help in this what so ever because Mr.Luke is about 2.5 of me, that’d be quite the sight. Talk about impressive buddy carries. Mark, Eric and Freddy took on the job. Mark is also a beast. Actually I’m lying, every single person at this event is a beast.

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Our next stop? The Granary Cemetery by way of Fanuel Hall. Which by the way I had totally erased from my memory so thank you Paul for your review, without you this write up would be incomplete! Here we had snack time, and I found a nice smelly alley way to pee in. I can’t even begin to explain the amount of strange places I went to the bathroom that night. It’s disturbing.

We then headed over for visit number 1 to Boston Commons. What’s better to do in all that open space than…. somersault race. It was an interesting race in that we had very skilled somersaults and we had people flipping their bodies in directions that didn’t even remotely look like a somersault. Whatever works.

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After the infamous somersaulting we headed off to Fenway. Our team split up into groups of 2’s, each group was assigned a different side of the building. The task was to gather as much information as we could. After doing a lap around the building we were asked what the largest sign displayed was? We answered Budweiser. WRONG. Run around the building again, at this point it’s drizzling out but in a way it felt pretty nice. Incase your wondering the correct answer is the Citgo sign.

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After the Fenway shenanigans are over we are headed to Corey Hill. This was a fairly long walk. Our instructor had up doing PT for 1 minute every 5 minutes. Lunges, burpees, push ups, side lunges ect. Half way over we took a pit stop at Trader Joe’s, girl had to pee and alley ways are no longer an option seeing it’s daytime. The final part or the walk is uphill, a very long hill. A member of the team is no longer aloud to walk, that member was me. Eric, the leader proceeds to buddy carry me the remainder of the hill. I was thoroughly impressed with his efforts. At Corey Hill we had to low crawl down the hill and do walking lunges back up. After this we took 5 minutes to sit and eat. By eat I mean shovel in the goods.

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Once done chow time we are headed off to Leverett Pond. We get there and are told to take off whatever you don’t want getting wet. I strip down to socks, coldgear leggings and my sport bra. Quick PT to warm up our cores and into the pond we go. We have to do 3 divebomber push ups and then get out of the pond. Another quick PT session to warm up: squats (the cure all) and jumping jacks. At this point I just want my clothes back on. I had another pair of leggings in the dry bag in my pack so I changed them and put the rest of my gear back on. I didn’t have another bra and mine was soaked so took that off (remember, daylight out in the open) LOL! Felt way better with it off 😉

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Next we are headed back to Boston Commons. Each teammate is tested on their ability to make both knots that we learned earlier in the challenge. The bowline and wireman. After everyone passed we had to build a rope traverse between two trees. We were told one member would have to hook on and go across, but could not hit the ground. No problems and quickly move on.

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It was probably around 12 and we are almost done. We are now as a class and will remain that way for the rest of the challenge. On our way we stop to be tested on the teams ability to provide aid for a chest wound. All teams passed. We then are headed back to Old North Church.  The instructors have something to show us. We arrive and behind the Church there is a monument with a set of dog tags for  the soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a very moving sight and definitely had you appreciating everything.

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WERE DONE! Our team did not win but it’s not about first place. It’s about team. It’s about keeping going and working together to finish. We all finished. Everyone in the class is given a S.E.R.E Basis dog tag.

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What I took away from it:

Having never done a real team challenge it was a new experience for me. With growing up competiting in Jump Rope I was on a team but most of the events were individual. The support from team members was there but we never really had to push past mental struggles as a whole. With SERE lasting 15 hours I know I was struggling a bit to keep going but my team kept me focused.

The biggest thing for me was pain in my back and my team figuring out a way to take my two sand bags out and carry them for me. These guys already had more weight than me and they took mine on. I was and am so thankful for that. It helped me so much and I was definitely slowing down.

Overall I am so happy I had the opportunity to do this challenge. It taught me about team and also basic survival skills. It allowed me to both mentally and physically challenge myself. I was able to pick up on some weaknesses I want to work on now before the Death Race to better prepare myself.

Thank you class 003, you guys are the best. And as for my team, “Team Fu*king Awesome”, you guys are PHENOMENAL. Also a big shout out to the instructors, thank you all for all the hard work you put in to make these events possible!

If you would like to read another review please check out my friend Paul’s 🙂

OH, in case you were wondering…. This was our finished masterpiece puzzle.

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2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Alexandra / Apr 8 2012 10:59 am

    Oh man what an incredible team building event! I gotta say, you and your teammates are total beasts for surviving the cold AND that cold water part, I would’ve literally keeper over haha! 😀

  2. lifttorun / Apr 8 2012 3:13 pm

    Dude. I want to do this. I feel like I have done something like it in bootcamp though. Hah.
    Sounds amazing minus the cold and wet part. I would be like, hell no.

    Were you the youngest person there?

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