Tough Ruck finish line

Training- when you don't have to thin

The Boston marathon took place last Monday 15th April 2013. This was where two bombs went off killing  at least three people and injuring more than 140. It is being treated as an act of terrorism.

It is also a day on which people acted on auto pilot as result of their training.

15 US soldiers decided to run the 26 miles and 385 yards with full combat gear. At 5:20 a.m. on Monday, five hours before the Boston Marathon's elite runners took off, the group of 15 active-duty soldiers from the

Massachusetts National Guard gathered at the starting line in Hopkinton.

a Tough Ruck soldier marching the marathon course.  Military Friends Foundation

Each soldier was in full combat uniform and carried a "ruck," a military backpack weighing about 18.5 kilos. The rucks were filled with camelbacks of water, extra uniforms, Gatorade, changes of socks—and first-aid and trauma kits. It was all just supposed to be symbolic because were doing the Marathon to honour their comrades who were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, or lost to suicide and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related accidents after coming home.

Some of the soldiers ran and others walked the marathon, but they did it.

The Boston Marathon is different from other races in a number of ways.  For example, the qualification times required of the runners.  With the exclusion of the Olympics and the various championship races, the Boston Marathon is the only marathon in the United States that requires qualifying times for its participants. For example, a man aged 45- 49 must have run a prior marathon that year in a time of 3 hours 25 minutes or faster in order to register.

The only exceptions are for those walking or running for charities, officials, local running clubs and marketers.  The majority of the exceptions are reserved for charity runners.  These soldiers also got an exception.

They are part of the “Tough Ruck”.  This is where soldiers every year walk or run the marathon for their fallen comrades.  All Ruckers who raise $250 or more by 5th April receive a Boston Marathon ”GO RUCK” 2013 T shirt.

Apart from the food and drink, they didn’t expect to use anything else in their rucks.

Allowing for the different times they will each take to do the marathon, they planned to meet at the medical tent.

One soldier in the Boston group walked the marathon in honour of Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo, who was 20 years old when he died in action in Iraq in 2004. Cpl Arredondo's father, Carlos, was waiting at the finish line to greet the ruckers, wearing a cowboy hat and a Tough Ruck T, and carrying pictures of his two deceased sons, the second of whom succumbed to depression and suicide after his brother was killed.

carlos arredondoThen the unimaginable happened.  The battlefield came to them.  When the explosion went off, Three guardsmen, First Sergeant Bernard Madore, Staff Sergeant Mark Welch and the Tough Ruck leader, 1st Lieutenant Steve Fiola and his group immediately went into tactical mode. "I did a count and told the younger soldiers to stay put," Stephen said. "Myself and two other soldiers, my top two guys in my normal unit, crossed the street about 100 yards to the metal scaffoldings holding up the row of flags. We just absolutely annihilated the fence and pulled it back so we could see the victims underneath. The doctors and nurses from the medical tent were on the scene in under a minute. We were pulling burning debris off of people so that the medical personnel could get to them and begin triage."

“It’s drilled into us, what we need to do. We run towards it, not away from it.” Said Mark.

“We just tore that fence down and just allowed us to get in there and pull what was remaining of the burning debris, burning clothes – all the stuff that was on these people, just try to clear it the best we could” so that medical personnel could reach the victims, Stephen said.

One of Monday's most harrowing images shows Carlos, with his cowboy hat and long dark hair, and two others frantically wheeling a young man who appeared to have lost parts of both his legs.

Bernard was then able to find clean rags and water that the emergency workers needed.  Mark Welch cleared the belchers across the street getting those spectators to safety while Stephen Fiola actually extinguished a man whose clothes had caught on fire.  Then they all started helping with the triage where they could.

Stephen Fiola saw Carlos Arredondo in the distance, assisting more victims. One of Monday's most harrowing images shows Carlos, with his cowboy hat and long dark hair, and two others frantically wheeling a young man who appeared to have lost parts of both his legs.

In a video shot by a bystander moments later, Carlos trembles visibly and grips one of the American flags Stephen had handed to him.  Now drenched in blood, he explained what he saw and did after the explosions. The right sleeve of his Tough Ruck T-shirt is red up to the elbow.

These soldiers had their training drilled into them. They went on automatic pilot when the explosion happened and they did what had to be done. 

Employers will have little to worry about in terms getting the work done if training in most businesses is as good as that.  It has to do with culture, how they do things and company politics.  We can learn from this.