Lessons on Good Livin’: Inside the GRHQ with Sophie Pollitt-Cohen No.1

Hello from sunny GRHQ.

Lou and Jason are at the store buying food for tonight’s BBQ, so I’ve got some time to get the creative juices flowing – meaning, of course, turn on my fight song Rack City and eat my second lunch.

Roughly 70% of my day is spent on growth of the Challenge…

This week has been all Trek all the time, as the first one is this weekend. We are excited for it, but if I say anything more about it I’ll probably wake up murdered. While the Challenge will always be my first love, it’s been exciting to move towards new events, offering insight into different aspects of the Special Operations community. I’m especially excited for Selection in Jacksonville this summer, because it combines my loves of GORUCK Events and sitting on the beach while other people suffer.

I’m Sophie, and I’m the Director of the GORUCK Challenge. Roughly 70 percent of my day is spent on growth of the Challenge – working with our partner gyms, helping bring new Cadre into the fold, etc. The rest is spent overseeing the day-to-day, like figuring out which Cadre will lead which Challenges.

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Final route review at the hotel in NYC

Today I’ll debunk a few myths about life at GORUCK.

Myth: GRHQ is full of Green Berets eating steak, doing pushups under their desks, and polishing their pistols while taking shots of Jack Daniels.

Truth: Yes, there are some badass dudes at GRHQ, but it’s probably not the muscle-fest everyone thinks it is. Yes, we have a lot of fun and drink beer, but we also are all about buckling down to work, and we are passionate about what we do. I think people would be the most surprised about how much actual work goes on here. My favorite days are the ones that turn into nights – where the Good Ideas Club comes together over pizza and beers. Ask Brian about when we hit up the clubs of DC before his 5 AM flight.

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Jason brushing Java's teeth - a common scene at GRHQ

Myth: Cadre are chosen via a mythical process in the vein of the cutting of the Gordian knot, the sword in the stone, or Voldemort marking Harry Potter.

Truth: Some of the Cadre were introduced to us by other Cadre who were already here, but plenty are just guys who heard about the Challenge, thought it sounded like a good time, and sent us an email. After getting that minor Special Operations background dealie out of the way, it comes down to personality and how they lead Challenges. If they can hang with Lou but not with me – or vice versa – it’s probably not going to work out. Our participants come from all walks of life, and Cadre have to be able to hang with every type. They’ve got to have a schtick, too – that standup routine that keeps people smiling even though they’re cold, wet, and carrying some heavy-ass coupon. If you’re wondering what I mean by schtick, refer to anything Beaux has ever said or written.

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LA route recon with Beaux

Myth: Cadre fly-in 2 hours before a Challenge in a Blackhawk and drop down with a ka-bar between their teeth ready to ravage the city.

Truth: Challenge weekends are a ton of fun – like when Lou and I had lunch in Charleston with my cousins or when Beaux showed Polly and me the, um, scenery of Hollywood nightlife – but there are also plenty of unglamorous hours spent at FedEx. To start a 1 AM Challenge class, the Cadre arrive in the city by noon. They spend six hours doing route recon, a boots-on-the-ground review of the route we made here at HQ. Then they hit up FedEx to print out the all-important waivers, get the gear, etc. Ask Patrick about getting locked in a FedEx during a tornado, only a couple hours before the Challenge. Then they’ll hit up dinner somewhere and take a very glamorous combat nap at their hotel. Then it’s Challenge time. After the first class, they crash at their hotel for a combat nap – six hours if they’re lucky- and then another Challenge. When the second class is over, they jet to the airport to go home and hopefully not call me to tell me the police shut down the Challenge. It’s fun, but it is exhausting. (Sorry, I mean it would be for us humans.)

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Lou and FedEx have had a long romance

I hope I didn’t crush anyone’s vision of what life here is like. Tune in next time, and hope to see you all at a Challenge soon!

GORUCK Challenge

6 comments… add one
  • Carl

    Sophie, you make me happy!!!!!!!!

  • Kim Knaisch

    Sophie, keep doing what you are doing! It is working and we love it!

  • Pat Devine

    Insightful article. Hoping to hang with you folks in September. Lots of training to do before then though.

  • Denise Phillips

    I dig the fact you guys do what you do for a few reasons. 1. I like where a portion of my $$’s are going to, good cause. 2. You guys are giving me some cool, adrenaline junkie stuff to do and I get to meet some awesome people. I have met more Good Livin, team lovin people over the past month than I have in a long time. TANTA ROBA (good stuff)!!!!!!! I’m hooked.

  • Todd

    I was really hoping to see our Charlotte cadre drop out of the black hawk helicopter. Oh well 😉

  • Update: This weekend everything everyone thinks about GRHQ in Myth 1 came true. But that was a very special occasion.

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