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Thursday, January 15, 2015

The SAS guy ran me into the dirt and then...

So there I was back in the day, 1988, in southern Germany, attending the ILRRPS Basic Recognition Course, while assigned to the 3rd Armored Division's Long Range Surveillance Detachment. 

The course taught Soviet and Warsaw Pact vehicle and equipment identification to the LRRP / LRS / SOF elements of NATO. 

One of the fun filled events in that course was a 5K recce run. Over the 5K course, there were multiple stations setup where you and your running buddy had to momentarily stop and identify different vehicles and weapons. 

At one station, you even had to look at scaled models of vehicles across a pond through binoculars. 

The goal of the team building, competitive run was to finish with the fastest time AND the highest score on the identification stations. 

Normally, you were paired up with a soldier from another country to maximize the interaction between the NATO members. 

It was actually a very cool thing and fun.

I got paired up with a British SAS (Special Air Service) guy. Brits are known for their love of running and the SAS is well known for being real good at most things, especially endurance events. 

So as my crappy luck would have it, this SAS guy loved to run and was real good at it. Like scalded dog, gazelle or cheetah good at running.

Now back then, I was a young, highly motivated LRS soldier. I could run pretty good, I thought.

This SAS guy, however, showed me how not good at running I was.  

The idea was for it to be a buddy team event. You know, like buddies who complete the event together as a team. 

Well, this SAS guy tells me to try to keep up as he does not slow down for slackers. The cadre yelled "go" and off we went. 

I hung with the SAS guy for about a 1/4 mile at a sub 6 minute pace. Then I died or at least I thought I did. 

I slowed down without choice and watched the SAS guy blast down the road. Lumbering along at a 7 minute per mile pace, I finally met up with the SAS guy at our first station. 

He was fully rested and ready to go as soon as I arrived.

I asked him if he got all of the vehicles? He said no, in fact he didn't know what any of them were. 
Naturally, I knew all of them so I jotted the answers down on our scorecard. 

Then the SAS guy took off again and boom, like the flash, he was gone from sight. 

We played this game until the end. He crossed the finish line by himself and was one of the first ones back. He impatiently waited for me to cross the finIsh line (with all of the answers on our scorecard).

I turned in the scorecard and got 100%. We still placed in the top 3 even though we scored at around 21 minutes for the 3.1 mile run. They counted the time the last team member crossed the line. 

The overall score was a combo of time and test answers. 

The SAS guy didn't get one vehicle, not even the easy ones, like a T-55.

Now to me, finishing a 5K around 21 minutes with 100% on the identification test was an awesome job. I was proud of myself. Until the SAS guy gave me his 2 cents on our dismal failure because of me. 

He scolded me up and down in the most authentic British accent ever heard. I failed the team due to my terrible physical conditioning. I would get people killed because others would have to pull my slack. 

Unbelievable, coming from a supposedly elite warrior of the elite SAS. He got there quick as all get out  and then couldn't do the job at the objective. He didn't see it that way.

I told him that he was the failure and didn't have a clue about team work and that if anyone would get someone killed, it would be him. Needless to say that we didn't see eye to eye. 

At the end of the course, I got honor grad and he failed out and got dropped from the course. 

Now in all fairness, I attended 4 more courses at ILRRPS after that and I worked with numerous other British SAS and PARAS and they were some of the most high speed dudes I ever met. 

There is always that one bad apple.....

So did that add to my dislike of runners in general? Why yes, yes it did. 

I don't care how far or fast you can run. If you can't execute the mission when you get where you are going, it is useless. 

I'd rather it take me a few more minutes or more and then be able to execute a high level of proficiency on whatever the task was, rather than get there super fast and be useless. 

So that is my version of the tortoise and the hare story. 

Over the 25 plus years that I was involved with endurance training and challenging cardio events, I went through many experiences similar to this one with the "runners". 

So regardless of how fast or far you can run, make sure that you can bring the thunder, when you arrive at the objective. 

Eric Dempsey
Master Sergeant, U.S. Army Retired
NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Weight Loss Specialist
Masters Degree in Exercise Science from Cal U.
Dempseys Resolution Fitness
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