SGPT Interviews GORUCK Heavy Finisher Jay Shephard

SGPT interviews GORUCK Heavy finisher Jay Shepherd

SGPT: Tell us about yourself? JS: I am 55 years old, raised in Wisconsin and have lived for the past 20 years in Kensington, Maryland (close in suburb of Washington, DC. We live near Bethesda Naval Hospital and NIH). I work in affordable housing development for the County, am married, and have a 20 year old daughter who is currently studying in Stockholm, Sweden. I have been with SGPT since 2019. I’ve been to every state in the US – except two.

SGPT: Did you have an athletic background growing up?

JS: My Dad was a District Ranger for the US Forest Service and so as kids we grew up playing and working outdoors all the time. I became quite comfortable with being dirty, cold, and eaten alive by mosquitos – otherwise known as “a typical Saturday with Dad”. In school I played baseball as often as I could, wrestled and played football (defensive end) until I tore my ACL and stopped playing football. I got into triathlons when I lived in Colorado completing a half Ironman (1/2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) at elevation in Evergreen Colorado. I also completed a 30 day Alpine Mountaineering course in the Sangre DeCristo Range of Colorado with Outward Bound.

SGPT: How did you train for the GoRuck Heavy event?

JS: Seal Grinder PTs 365 Day Program and the 45 Days BUDS Challenge prepared my body and mind for the event.

SGPT: Tell us a little about the event? Where was it?

JS: The event was the GoRuck 30th Anniversary Mog Mile Heavy-Tough-Basic (“HTB”) in Pittsburgh, PA. Participants can sign up for only one or two or all three of the events.The Heavy is 24 hours, the Tough is 12 hours, and the Basic is about 5 hours. It started at 6PM on Friday night and finished Sunday at 6:30PM. There are 4 hour breaks between the Heavy and Tough and the Tough and basic to mostly allow you to resupply food that you will be carrying for the event. This event commemorated the Mogadishu Mile and Battel of Mogadishu which took place on October 3 and 4 in 1993 in Somalia. It was the 30 year anniversary of the battle. For those that aren’t familiar, the movie Black Hawk Down is based (fairly accurately, but with some events modified for film editing reasons) on the battle.

SGPT: What was hardest part of the event?

JS: Showing up for the Tough at 10:00PM after completing the Heavy at 6:00PM on Saturday night was mentally hard. I had a hotel room and had planned out the details I would need to take during that 4 hour break. It helped me focus. I got my gear in order, prepped my food and water, and addressed personal hygiene. I took a little 1 hour napand ordered an uber back to the start point. At one point when leaving the hotel, I saw some folks entering and said to them “Good morning” and just started laughing because I really had no idea what time it actually was! Once back at the event, we started by stretching and then PT and then I knew I was going to make it all the way.

SGPT: What is one thing you wish you would have done to get ready for GoRuck Heavy?

JS: These events are centered around a historic battle and are meant to take a deep dive into the circumstances of the event and honor those who had fallen. For this event, we were assigned one of the fallen from the battle. I chose SFC Randy Shughart United States Army Delta Force operator who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Once I learned more about him, I wished I had gone way deeper into his background. His selflessness and commitment to duty and the other team members is so admirable that I will deep dive into his story for my own personal reasons but would have been great to share more at the event when it was my turn to talk about him.

SGPT: Any tips for up and coming athletes that want to do GoRuck Heavy?

JS: Your training should be in all types of weather conditions. You should be familiar with your gear and have tested it during training to work out bugs and defects. There is a high mental component too, and that is built up over time by doing daily discipline. Coach McCleod has much more information on how to build this up and prepare yourself for the rigors of endurance events.

SGPT: What kind of boots did you use for the event?

JS: GoRuck Macv-2 (normally wear size 11 in boots but bought size 11.5 in these boots to have a wider toe box to accommodate inevitable foot swelling from rucking lots of miles with heavy weight)

SGPT: Did you use double socks or body glide on your feet to prevent blisters?

JS: I used compression socks from Rogue Fitness, single layer. During training and lead up to the event, I experimented with double socks, and various materials. Normally I wear a thin polypro liner with a wool sock over it but in a 12 mile ruck two weeks prior to the event, I got two blisters from that arrangement. I eventually decided to single layer the sock and use KT tape in areas I know there is friction, along with Salty Britches which is a good anti-friction lube. Also heavily used the Salty Britches on private parts and nipples because nothing can ruin your day faster than if you get chafing in those areas.

SGPT: What kind of ruck did you use for training and the event?

JS: GoRuck Rucker 3.0 (25L). GoRuck now has the Rucker 4.0 which has some cool adjustments but still the SCARS lifetime warranty.

SGPT: What good book are you reading now? Are you listening to any good podcast?

JS: Read BlackHawk Down for the Mog Mile event and want to next read “In the Company of Heroes” by Michael Durant which gives even more detail about that mission from the perspective of the pilot of Super Six Four, MH-60L. Podcasts: I enjoy listening to the Jocko podcast, 3 of 7 Project, and the Last Good Fight.

SGPT: Many thanks for the interview Jay, you are a big inspiration to many of our SGPT athletes.

JS: Thank you. You are a great coach and this is the best team ever. I like that we do team oriented things as well as pushing ourselves individually to be the best we can be. This training makes me a better family member, community leader, and overall better American. Hooyah!

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