The Jedburgh Podcast goes on location to the 1st GORUCK Games & the Sandlot Jax Fitness Festival. This compilation episode is the first of 12 interviews with some of the most prominent personalities in fitness and entrepreneurship; all recorded in the back of a WWII Land Rover British Royal Air Force Ambulance in partnership with Jaguar Land Rover of Fairfield and The Readiness Collective.
Host Fran Racioppi shares the GORUCK Games story as he talks to the winners, veteran Hunter McIntyre and newcomer Katie Knight. They discuss their fitness journeys as Katie transitions from ultramarathons to obstacle course racing and Hunter candidly shares how fitness helped him win his battle with drug addiction.
Fran also brings in the Co-Founder of Sandlot Technology BJ Naedele to explain how the Sandlot Fit app is democratizing fitness and breaking down the barriers between trainers and trainees. Finally, Fran learns from GORUCK’s Head of Community Emily McCarthy & Gold Star Spouse Sara Wilkinson how the vision for Sandlot Jax became a reality.
Listen to the podcast here
About Hunter McIntyre
Hunter McIntyre is a professional athlete and fitness trainer who has established himself as a dominant force in the racing industry. He was named one of the top 50 fittest athletes by Sports Illustrated and is the undefeated champion of CMT’s reality TV show, Broken Skull Ranch. Hunter was a Defender on CBS’s Million Dollar Mile produced by LeBron James and recently broke the Murph Challenge world record and raised over $20,000 for charity along the way.
About Katie Knight
As a qualified Fitness Coach since 2014, Katie Knight has been transforming clients into fitter, healthier versions of themselves. She has worked as a personal trainer, at top CrossFits, as well as Corporate Health and Wellness facilities, like Oracle. Katie’s background is in ultramarathons and has taken the obstacle course racing industry by storm recently winning The World’s Toughest Mudder in 2021. Her goal is to shape up together and get to work.
About BJ Naedele
Inspiring leader with a passion for creating, building, and scaling mission-driven, digitally-powered brands, platforms and businesses • Diverse experience as a Corporate Officer, President & GM, Chief Commercial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Operating Officer at Fortune 500 as well as Venture and Private Equity backed companies • Proven winner with track record of delivering material, profitable growth across multiple $20M to $2BN businesses • Recognized innovator who ignited the digital fitness and connected product (IoT) revolutions as co-creator of NikePlus while spearheading the direct-to-consumer and digital transformations at Nike • Sports management and marketing pioneer having led the Nike-NFL partnership & developed the first-ever “Moneyball” plan in College Sports • Corporate Finance foundation — closed dozens of M&A, debt, and equity transactions at GE Capital • Global experience with local market leadership in New York, Chicago, London, Shanghai, Tokyo • Expertise across all business stages — from start-up, growth, and scale to restructure, successful turnaround, and exit • Board Member, Advisor, Investor for several MarTech, FinTech, and Sports/Media start-ups • Change agent, problem solver, value creator
About Sarah Wilkinson
“My husband, Navy SEAL Chad Wilkinson, served honorably for 21 years. When Chad took his life he had everything to live for: myself and our children, extended family, his fellow brothers and our community.This is a silent disease where symptoms, triggers and warnings are often recognized too late. Chad is not alone, this is a silent epidemic with the enemy sneaking quietly into our homes and it has to stop. We want to use Chad’s life and legacy to raise awareness for suicide prevention. Our hope is to remove mental health stigmas, and encourage people to reach out, one step at a time, no matter who you are.Our goal is to honor Chad and all Veterans currently struggling this and every Veterans Day moving forward. I hope you’ll join me and our community in doing the Hero WOD that Dave Castro named after my husband Chad, supporting the Navy SEAL Foundation.”
About Emily McCarthy
Emily McCarthy is the Co-Founder and Head of Community at GORUCK. She founded the company with her husband, former Green Beret Jason McCarthy while in Africa serving in the CIA. They have since gone on to both scale the company and develop a GORUCK culture that now spans the globe. The goal was pretty simple: build a rucksack with life or death quality standards that would thrive in Baghdad and NYC, not to mention Côte d’Ivoire — and show people of all walks of life how to operate smartly and safely in some of the harshest environments in the world (using said rucksack). How to travel, how to train, how to get the most out of a life where adventure calls and tomorrow is never promised.
Sandlot Jax – GORUCK Games Champions Hunter McIntyre & Katie Knight, Sandlot Technology Co-Founder BJ Naedele, GORUCK Head Of Community Emily McCarthy, Gold Star Spouse Sara Wilkinson
Communities exist in every corner of the world, in every industry and for virtually anything anyone cares about. We define a community as a group of people having a particular characteristic in common or sharing common attitudes, interests and goals. The fitness community is one of the largest, most intense and rewarding. It’s also one of the most inclusive because great fitness communities don’t care how strong you are, how fast you can run or how many burpees you can do. Great fitness communities only care that you work hard and you try your best.
I’ve had the opportunity to highlight GORUCK, one of the most intense and dedicated fitness communities out there. In episode 56, I traveled to Jacksonville to sit down with GORUCK Founder and Former Green Beret, Jason McCarthy. We spoke about the history of GORUCK and how he’s disrupting fitness with the launch of Sandlot Technology. Most importantly, Jason shared with me his vision to reunite the GORUCK community with the first-ever GORUCK games at the Sandlot JAX Fitness Festival.
The partnership is the first step in building a community. To kick off our partnership with GORUCK and reinforce our commitment to helping people achieve their max potential, our team drove down to sunny Florida to cover the games, the intensity, the dedication of the community and the drive to try hard and do whatever it takes to win. To join the GORUCK community, we first expanded our community and welcomed The Readiness Collective and Jaguar Land Rover of Fairfield, Connecticut, into our team. Together, we activated a studio built into the back of a World War II Land Rover Defender Ambulance once used by the British Royal Air Force.
This episode kicks off the first of twelve episodes we recorded at Sandlot JAX in the back of the Land Rover ambulance. We’ll drop 6 long-form episodes and 6 short-form jumping episodes, highlighting some of Sandlot’s most prominent leaders in fitness, entrepreneurship, business and veteran support. Our long-form start with this episode, number 59, where we tell the story of Sandlot JAX and Sandlot Technology.
Our first interview was with B.J. Naedele, the Cofounder of Sandlot Technology. Jason spoke about B.J. in episode 56 and highlighted his work launching four apps for Nike in the app store. B.J. shared with me his vision for disrupting the fitness industry. He talked about the Sandlot Fit App and founding Sandlot JAX in the GORUCK games. Most importantly, what’s next in bringing trainers together with trainees simply and effectively for both sides?
Next, I brought in Jason’s wife, Emily and Sara Wilkinson, our guest from episode 55. Emily shared with me how Sandlot was an all-or-nothing gamble with everything she and Jason had. She spoke about the power of activating the GORUCK community and what we learned from the first two days of the competition. Sara and I followed up on the commitment we made in episode 55 to honor her husband, Chad, a former Navy SEAL who died due to suicide.
On a Saturday morning down at Sandlot, Sara, me and the entire Jedburgh team took to the steps and completed Chad’s workout of the day, Chad 1000X. Sara shares her drive and commitment to the fitness community and her Sandlot experience and provides the details for the 2022 Boston Frogman Swim, where she’ll be leading a team to honor both Chad and other Navy SEALs who’ve lost their lives to suicide.
Finally, I scooped up the winners of the First Annual GORUCK Games, Hunter McIntyre and Katie Knight. This fitness power couple joined me for the final conversation of the 2022 Sandlot JAX Festival to have a Yuengling and celebrate their victory. Katie is a newcomer to obstacle course racing but has already created an impact by winning the 2021 World’s Toughest Mudder. She’s also no stranger to endurance or fitness, having come from an ultramarathon background and running her training company, Knight Time Training.
Hunter McIntyre is a veteran OCR champion and among many other achievements, was named one of 50 Fittest Athletes by Sports Illustrated. He holds 7 world titles, 3 world records, 5 national titles and has over 100 podium finishes. Katie and Hunter were an impressive final interview during which we recapped the twelve grueling events and discussed what drives them to compete at an elite level and their theories on training to win.
Hunter also shared with me his battle with drug addiction, how fitness grounded him in purpose and how the GORUCK games might keep him competing past his planned retirement. Plus, the winners each gave me their three foundations for success, some of which are our first on the show. Those of you who have read all our episodes know we’ve had a lot of good ones.
I want to thank everyone who came out to Sandlot JAX to support the event, the athletes and especially the show. To all our new readers and followers, welcome to our Jedburgh team. Special thanks to our title sponsor, Jersey Mike’s, for donating 300 sandwiches for lunch. Thank you to Analytics Solutions for sponsoring our boost setup. Thank you to my friend, Kevin Edgerton, Founder of 18A Fitness and my guest on episode 40 for joining us on location and rallying the network. Great work by our Marketing Coordinator, Jenny Duclay and our Logistics Tech, John Enoch, for making it all come together. I’m forever grateful to a quiet Jedburgh who makes it happen no matter the challenge. Thanks.
In many episodes, we’ve said hard work bonds people together. The greatest partnerships are often created from the greatest challenges. I’m especially honored to not only thank but welcome The Readiness Collective and Jaguar Land Rover of Fairfield, Connecticut to our Jedburgh team. Thanks for trusting me with the Land Rover ambulance and for joining us down in Jacksonville. Get ready to turn it up later in 2022, as we take this show on the road alongside you both. The Jedburgh show, The Readiness Collective and Land Rover live by the motto, “How you prepare determines success tomorrow.”
Take a listen to this recap episode of Sandlot JAX. Don’t miss our lead-up episodes with Jason Khalipa, Sara Wilkinson and Jason McCarthy. Stay tuned for Sandlot JAX to blast the content. We have long-form episodes every Thursday, including Navy SEAL and CrossFit star, Josh Bridges, combat-wounded amputee and elite athlete, Earl Granville and BUBS Naturals‘ Sean Lake, Kelly Starrett of The Ready State and skateboarding icon, Mike Vallely, Founder of Street Plant Skateboards and Lead Singer of Black Flag.
Join us as we jump into some short conversations with MMA fighter and Green Beret, Tim Kennedy, The Green Beret Foundation‘s Executive Director, Brent Cooper and Kevin Edgerton from 18A Fitness, F45‘s Director of Military Programs, Mike Nichols, Founder of Alpha Elite Performance Green Beret, Travis Wilson and Aaron Anderson from Wodapalooza. I promise you, you haven’t seen anything like this in any show yet. Subscribe to us on your favorite platform. Follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. Check us out at JedburghPodcast.com. Don’t forget to tell all your friends. With that, let the GORUCK games begin.
B.J., welcome to The Jedburgh Podcast
Fran, thanks for having me. I’m so excited to be here with you.
We’re here because of you.
Not at all. It’s an amazing experience to be down here with 2,000 people, fitness, fun family and friends. It’s an awesome experience.
We have to highlight the launch and the coming-out party for Sandlot Technology and the Sandlot app, which you are the Cofounder of, along with Jason McCarthy, Founder at GORUCK. When we interviewed Jason in episode 56, which came out before Sandlot, we talked about Sandlot Technology and how you and Jason came together to think about, “How do we disrupt fitness? At the end of the day, where’s the opportunity and the disconnect that exists between trainers and trainees? How do you pair them up in a different way?” Can you talk for a minute about how you guys came together and the vision that went behind creating this technology?
I linked up with Jason years ago when I left Nike. I’ve been a fan and customer of GORUCK since 2013. I left Nike in early 2017. Jason was the first call that I made when I got out of Swoosh. I came down on an invite to hang out with him for a day. It turned in to be a long weekend, left with what’s become one of my best friends on the planet where, as he says, “Like finds like.” We’re both driven by the core of what Sandlot is, “How do you help people be healthier, more connected and active regardless of what your fitness interest or level is?”
That’s one of the cool things about being here at Sandlot. There are people of all shapes, sizes and walks of life with different backgrounds. We’ve been fortunate because we thought it was a good idea to bring this Land Rover discovery of World War II Ambulance and partner with The Readiness Collective and Jaguar Land Rover of Fairfield, who’s donated it to us for use in these types of events. This is our first activation. We have several requests to go to some massive events.
I’m excited and certainly be here every year that this is going on. We’ve had the opportunity to speak with so many people as they’ve come through and asked, “What are you guys doing over here? Why are they sitting in the back of that thing talking?” It is about the community. The community is so diverse. When you have come together and said, “How do we create a platform that it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from or what your level is? We just want to bring people together.” Talk about that vision.
It goes back a little bit to the Nike days. Part of what we looked at Nike was from a walk to a run, from a run to Olympic gold. If you had a body, you were an athlete. We took a lot of that original DNA into what we’re doing with Sandlot. Let me go back and talk about how Sandlot even started. It was the middle of COVID. We’re all at home and sick and tired of being on a glass screen all day. Humans were not meant to work and work out behind a glass screen. We had been trying to build the GORUCK app. Jason and I both saw the opportunity for something much bigger.
No one is a single fitness category or modality person. You do yoga, do some CrossFit or go play pickleball with the kids. We wanted to do something that broadened access and the aperture to fitness and do it in a way that you see it down here. Outside is in and social is not media.
Having arguably created the digital fitness category, we want people off their phones. Technology is a tool. It’s not the be-all and end-all.Humans were not meant to work and work out behind a glass screen. Technology is a tool, not the be-all-end-all. Click To Tweet
When you look around this field here with me, you’ve got multiple brands that are meeting for the 1st time, kids that are 2 going on the obstacle course and people that are 82 walking around. To be able to bring it all together and use this moment to launch the platform and the mission in the real world with real people is awesome.
Towards the end of the day, the GORUCK competition is going on. The women were doing the 60-pound sandbag hold above their head, so their arms were locked out. There was everything from young, professional athletes to the elderly. A lady was in her late 60s in master’s division and experienced. They’re competing together. She didn’t win but to get out there, I looked at her and said, “That’s incredible.” The fact that you are out there and you feel the confidence amongst this community and the safe space to come out here and know that it’s about being here and contributing, that is adding to the value of the community.
I keep using the word access. It’s inclusive. It’s meant to bring anyone together. My kids have been here all weekend going through the obstacle course. They did the Travis Manion WOD with us. They scaled it down and did a body weight. It’s giving people the tools, the motivation and the social connection to get outside, do something with a friend, be a little bit healthier, build a better community and build a better America.
Let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of the app itself.
There are a couple of things that go behind it. Number one, the idea is that there is no Spotify Fitness. Running is over here. CrossFit is over here. Yoga is over here. We wanted to bring all of it together under one roof. When we say, “To unite and democratize fitness,” as our mission statement, the unite side is bringing all those activities together. The democratize is the fact that there are more trainers, instructors and coaches than there are gyms in this country.
There are over 450,000 certified coaches and trainers. They’re all hustling and getting screwed. Everyone’s making money in fitness but it’s the people that we show up to see, the trainer, the coach, the yogi and the person that pushes us to be our best. We didn’t start with the notion of disrupting. We started with a problem that we felt going through COVID, that our friends who are trainers or leaders and coaches are experiencing and said, “We’ve got to solve that, bring people together and help them find new trainers, coaches, instructors, events, workouts and challenges. They can push themselves to be a little bit better. We can help trainers and coaches move up the income curve. It’s unfair that most of them are making less than $35,000 a year working their tail off.”
It’s great to have people like John Hanke and our friends at Niantic as partners and investors who know this space. We came out of beta. We’ve had great support from our team at GORUCK at three various run clubs around the country who have been giving us feedback as we’re going. The app came out of beta, on android. We’re getting started, taking the feedback from the community and pushing a release every week to make it better. You see a couple of things like a map because it’s about the real world, discovery and the ability to get outside and find an event, a bootcamp or a yoga class.
To contextualize the whole thing, you can link a trainer up with a trainee and say, “I’m going to meet you in this parking lot and out of the back of my car.” I met a guy, Wilson Washington, who started a company in Atlanta called tRUCKFIT. He was here and has spent some time with us. This is what he did. He said, “I started a gym in 2022.” Years ago, he got into GORUCK, bought a truck, started a gym in the back of his truck and gained the capital to go out and open his gym. He’s creating that platform through what you’re doing.
There are thousands of those cases. He’s got it. You’ve got soldier fit, beaver fit and my neighbor who’s a trainer who’s got GORUCK sandbags in his car. You’ve got our other neighbor who works but on the side, doing spin classes and yoga classes for moms. That democratization gives all of these trainers access to more people and discovery. They don’t need to advertise on Facebook. They can come through, find like-minded people in the app and say, “Meet me here at 10:00 at this park or playground. The class is $20. Drop-in and come meet other people.”
They can build that business with their passion and the potential that they have. They just haven’t had the tools. The $20 goes to them. We’re an enablement platform and a network. We’ll take a small transaction fee but we’re not trying to do what the big tech monoliths do. This is about democratization and empowering the people to get out there and build their businesses and brands.
How different is it from where you’re coming from and the big corporates?
I’ve been very blessed in every part of my life. Great leaders, teachers, mentors and bosses have supported us and let us do amazing things. This is no different. Even when we were back at Nike, there were 3 of us, then 13, 30 and then 300. I don’t think we understood what we were doing at the time but we were building products and services that our friends and we wanted to use. It was the Wild West. I remember being in Cupertino when Mr. Jobs pulled out the iPhone and said, “If you’re not in someone’s pocket, you’re not going to be in their life.”
That tool of being in their life has to be used for good, fitness and community connection. Building Sandlot and being here on the event side is how we launched Nike+. We launched the FuelBand in 2012 at South by Southwest. We turned the city into a fitness festival. You’ll see here in the folks that know that a lot of the same DNA from the blueprint that we were a part of back in the day.
What do the next months look like?
Growth mode, still a startup. It’s still leveraging the power of the people like every brand partner that’s here. I’ve known Kelly Starrett for years. Kelly was on our advisory board back in Nike+ days. What’s next is getting all these brands onto the map so that anyone can partake in the brand events. Number two is scaling out the rest of the group model. I can train my groups locally and nationally. I can create a subscription program off the back of that. More than anything, listen to the community, the community of trainers and athletes and make sure we’re delivering value for them.
I was saying that to Jason. We were up there watching the competition. People were coming up to him and saying, “What’s the plan for 2023?” He is like, “It’s Saturday. We still got another day of this.” I said, “What? On Monday, we start planning for year two?” He goes, “Probably Sunday night.”
We’ve got our Monday morning jump-start and after-action review. We’ll do the teardown and get going again.
This has been an incredible event. I’m so thankful that you welcomed us here, have been a part of this community and met the people that we have. I can’t wait to support what you guys are doing in any way that we can. You let us know and we’re going to get the word out. Where does someone go to find it?
First off, thanks for the support. I’m looking out here at the field and it’s the team effort. We called our friends, family and a lot of favors but it turned out to be a whole lot of fun. You can find us at Team@Sandlot.Fit. We’ll get back to you or anyone in the community within an hour. We’re just getting started here. We’re going to have a lot more fun together.
I can’t wait. I appreciate it, B.J.Sandlot is the Spotify of fitness. Click To Tweet
Fran, we’re happy to be here.
Thanks for hopping in here. We’re wrapping up at the end of day three. We’re going to get the winners in here in a little bit. We’ve already had B.J. in to talk about Sandlot Technology, where we’re going with the app, disruption of fitness. The big component here was getting this thing set up. I wanted to drag you in here to hear your side. We had Jason in episode 56 right before we launched.
We went out before the event. We got to hear him talk about the vision, why we were doing it, what it was going to look like and this concept that he created. He called in every favor that he had. I’m going to tell you before I turn it over to you for some comments, everybody showed up. It’s pretty awesome.
It’s unbelievable. I don’t know how he does it. I remember when we were doing a driveway workout and he was like, “Let’s do a big party and invite all our friends.” I’m like, “Good idea. I’ll be there.” He gets an idea and he is like a dog on a bone. He does not quit. There were times when I was like, “Are we doing this? Is this happening?” Then I’m like, “We’re getting in,” when the app started happening. The next thing I know, he is talking to Sam at Savage Race, then Rogue and getting frameworks on the event team that’s been awesome and instrumental in getting this together too.
I saw he was serious. He was calling in all our friends that we’ve made. It snowballs a little bit. It takes some time. This was a pipe dream that came to fruition. Jason is driving this train. I’m often there to be like, “Where are we going?” I’m checking the map to make sure we’re on the right track. We got there with a lot of people’s help. It’s humbling that people would show up.
Sara, you and I spoke on episode 55. You joined me. We weren’t able to do it in person, which was 100% my fault. I was so honored to meet you finally in person here and spend time with you when we did Chad 1000X. I feel good. It’s going to hit me in the car ride back.
We did the whole workout and I felt fine. I stood up this morning and my abs were roaring I’m good, already walking around. Don’t be discouraged, everyone. Chad 1000X is great.
We had an awesome time doing it. I have the honor of speaking with so many people. Your interview was honestly the hardest interview that I’ve ever had to do. It was very personal. Your story was close to the heart of so many of us who have served with so many people like Chad and the warriors that they are. I feel honored to have spent the time with you to be able to remember him. Thank you for that.
Thanks for giving me the platform and listening to his story. That matters too.
I look forward to the partnership that I hope we can create coming off of this as well. You came and got called in. How has it been?
Em and I are like this mini-team behind the team. I was here visiting Emily and Jason in August 2021. Jason is like a wizard behind the curtain. He’s like, “I’m going to do this fitness festival thing. It’s going to be a bang.” I was like, “Get in the Jeep. Let’s drive down there.” We’re driving in the Jeep, which they don’t have a top on but it rains. We were in the rain but that’s fine because we’re tough.
We get down here. He’s showing me the layout and was like, “We’re going to have vendors and campsites here. You’re going to speak at it. We’re going to have these talks.” The wizard was all going. I was like, “It sounds great.” It’s not that I doubted him but he has this big idea that he pulled altogether. He and I were talking and he referred to it as the beta year. It’s exactly where it needs to be. It was a good experience.
I could talk to a lot of people, which is cool. You walk out of every conversation and feel a little bit different about everyone. People ask me, “What’s your favorite one?” I say, “You can’t ask me that question. I truly believe that I learn more from the time I spend with my guests. I come out of every conversation slightly different and usually, almost always for the better.”
When I left you in Jacksonville, I flew to India. I got in the car. We went to the house and then packed the car. We put the kids, the dog, the boat on the back and drive 24 hours essentially down here, make the pit stop in Jacksonville to meet them and do the interview. It was so easy in a way to do that because of the energy that you both have. We hadn’t met before. That was the first time we met but you see the energy.
I had read the book that you wrote. I somewhat understood the story but you can’t help but get motivated. When I saw Jason, I said, “I talked to a lot of people. Every once in a while, you stop on the way out of somewhere and say that person deserves every bit of success that has come their way because they earned it through everything they did. I truly feel that way about what you have put together and what you’ve done with GORUCK.” People have asked me, “What is GORUCK?”
It is a movement certainly functionally in the most literal sense. You guys have taken a concept that was born in Africa. Since 2008, you have created a global movement of people who come down here. Everyone has come through this booth and we have a chance to talk to them because people like looking at this Land Rover and they get to ask what it is. We get to ask them where they are from and they’re from all over.
It’s unbelievable in some ways. I’m a little in denial about it because I feel we’re doing things with people that we like to hang out with. It’s a community of communities. When we were introduced the first time we talked with Sara, she said, “I asked around about you and Jason. I got thumbs up.” That’s what means the most with all these things. I looked around on and saw my neighbors, my family, my extended family, partners that we’ve known for decades, people Jason served with and people I went to high school and college with.
It’s humbling to know that these people are like, “I want to come to support you.” That’s what it is. It’s not just Jason and me. It’s supporting this way of life and the cause. It’s wanting to be active and trying to make the world a little bit better. Service is something that doesn’t leave what you’re doing. There are lots of ways to serve. This has been the extension of that. We both got out of the government and wanted to get back in.GORUCK is just doing things with people that you like to hang out with. It's really a community of communities. Click To Tweet
That was an easier way to serve. This has been circuitous. Sometimes we’ve had doubts. We’ve wanted to do other things. When my kids are grown, I’m going to go off to some far-off country and be a humanitarian again. That’s my dream. In the meantime, I’ll share a story. Years ago, Jason was at a point with GORUCK where he said, “I’m done. I’ve hit a wall. I’m not enjoying this anymore.” We were newly back together, pretty much reconnecting. I looked at him and said, “Give it ten years, then we can decide.” Here we are. We’re at ten years in 2022. It’s good to stick with something and not give up on it. He’s better than that than I’ve ever been.
We had Josh Bridges in here. He tells a great story and it will be in episode 60. He talks about this guy that motivated him to go into the SEALs. They both went together. On day two, this guy quit after telling him for years, “This is my lifelong dream.” He says, “I don’t understand. If it’s your lifelong dream, why do you quit on day two?”
We’re sponsored by Jersey Mike’s. Jersey Mike’s was awesome and came down here. I’m so thankful to Peter Cancro for building that company and supporting us. Peter tells a story that maybe you can relay to Jason. Two times Jersey Mike’s was done. He tells it in episode number two, where it was over. He went home and said, “We can’t go on. We have to figure this out.”
They came back, woke up the next day and said, “We will take one more step. Look to tomorrow and find a way to do it.” I met Peter in 2016. They had done $1 billion in revenue and opened 1,000 stores. He told me, “We haven’t started.” In 2020, they hit 2,000 stores and $2 billion in revenue. They are on a drive to $3 billion in revenue and 3,000 stores.
Years ago, he walked home and said, “It’s over. We don’t have anything left.” That guy bought Mike’s Subs when it was one store. He worked there at fourteen years old, making sandwiches. It’s the only job he ever had. You’re right. You got to stick with it. This right here out of the back of this ambulance, we look at the result of sticking with it.
To be honest, we’ll be in the hole after this. That’s how this works. Jason is good about that. He puts it all on the table. When he plays poker, he bets everything he’s got. I’m a little more conservative and second-guessing sometimes. I told myself at one point, “This could be a total disaster. No one could show up but the work we’re putting in and the outreach, the reconnecting with people after years of people being disconnected, even if we don’t see it in year one, we’ll see it down the line.” That’s important to know that not everything’s going to come out of the gates exactly the way you want it but it’s a starting point.
If it makes you feel better, we’re going to be in the hole too. We have taken that risk with you to do this. I feel as equally confident as you do that. It was the right decision. We took the big swing and let’s see what happens. What are we looking forward to in the finals?
Honestly, I want to make sure no one gets hurt. I want to see all the athletes feel good about what they put out there and that the cadre feels satisfied, they put on a great event and the spectators feel like it was worth their while.
Sara, we got the Boston Frogman Swim coming up soon. What are the dates? How do we get people involved?
Boston Frogman 5K is a 5K open water swim in the Boston Harbor. It’s June 12th, 2022. You can check out my Instagram, TheStepUpFoundation or my Instagram, SaraWilkinson7. Check out my website, StepUpFoundation.org. You can donate. We have a team of 13 swimmers, swimming in honor of 6 guys who fall suicide.
Emily, Sara, thanks for jumping in here with me. I appreciate it.
Thanks for having us.
Let’s talk about the event. I have the details here. I’m going to pull them up because it’s important that we quantify the amount of stuff that you guys have gone through, 12-mile rock, max weighted pullups, sandbag overhead toss, mile rock for time, max farmers carry, max overhead sandbag hold, the Savage Race course, obstacles into sandbag carries, rope climbs into jerrycan carries into burden drags into burpees and back down and then the beat down session that happened there at the end, which is straight fighting.
I honestly didn’t know until you told me how many events there were. I was trying to say, “How many things have we done?” I’m trying to figure it out. I was also smushed together near the end. I was like, “Is this even one event or is this altogether?”
They started the ramp up slowly. There are a couple of events the first two days and then they hit you with everything.
By far, the most brutal experience was the 12-mile rock. It’s not fair to any human being.
You say that but if you come from the Special Forces, that’s a morning. That’s like, “Wake up and let’s get after it.”Not everything's going to come out of the gate exactly the way you want it, but it's a starting point. Click To Tweet
Do you have to carry a flag too? That’s heavy.
We would do runs. They have the flag and the guide on. The guide is the colors and the flag that represents your unit. You go for these runs and someone’s carrying those things upfront of the big formation. That’s why on the uniform, the flag faces backward. If you ever look at the uniform and you have a flag on the shoulder, that flag is in the direction of the pole being in the front and facing backward. You said 12-mile rock. Talk to me about the evolution of what was going through your minds coming into this. What was the reason why you wanted to do it? What brought you down to Jacksonville?
I heard about GORUCK. I like to go after titles that I have a connection with. Both of my brothers are in the Air Force. That brought me down and got me excited. I started working with GORUCK a little bit ago. As an organization, it’s phenomenal. I knew they’d put on a pretty good event. I was pumped to do all the things they’d put us through, which I knew was going to be brutal. It’s been fun. What brought me here is to try to make that GORUCK champ title.
It’s important to note that you didn’t happen to come off the street and hop into here. You were the 2021 World’s Toughest Mudder Champion.
It’s true. I feel like anything they threw at me, I was hoping it would be even longer because that’s where I get my stride. A lot of this stuff was short and quick, which was fun because my background is also CrossFit. I didn’t come straight off the streets but I’m still new to this game. I wanted to come here and have fun.
In all the footage and everything that came out of World’s Toughest Mudder, they refer to you as the newcomer. How long have you been competing in these?
That Savage Race was my fifth-ever obstacle course. I started Spartan Races in Tahoe in September 2021. That was my first ever. Other than that, I’ve done trail ultramarathons. That’s it, no obstacles. You combine CrossFit, barbells and grip work with running and you get obstacle course racing. I jumped into it. It’s not a bad first year.
Hunter, 2017 Sports Illustrated Top 50 Fittest Athletes, 7 world titles in OCR and HYROX, 3 world records, 5 national titles, undefeated on the Broken Skull Ranch, 2015 to 2018, among many others, you are not the new cover for this game. I watched a number of these events. It doesn’t matter because you were challenged to the max over here.
I’ve been doing this since I did my first event of this style in 2011. I’ve known about GORUCK since that time. You have to understand to be the best in the world, you got to try to stay in your lane. I have ADHD and have gotten out of my lane many times, some to my advantage, other times not. When this popped up, it was only three weeks away from my world championships which was in Vegas. I was like, “That’s pretty close and risky.” I’m in good shape. I want to get raw, fight and feel the burn. That’s partially what I get into this for.
I don’t care about the money. If I wanted to make a lot of money, I’d work on Wall Street with my brother but I care about the competition, the process and the experience of being able to look at somebody face-to-face who I’ve never met before. Sometimes I’ve competed against them maybe 100 times before and have that incredible level of intensity. All you can do is give everything that you have at that moment when that’s all you have, honestly. You’ve worked hard beforehand. You may have more experience but it’s a match of grit and experience that wins these things.
How do you do that? I want to ask you a question about doing that over time because I work as a Performance Development Coach at Boston University for the Men’s Rowing Team. What we have is a team that we are consistently building progressively year over year. When you come in at a freshman-level or a rookie-level, they’re at one baseline. The expectation is that with each year, their baseline is elevated when they come back in the fall until they get to a certain peak.
In our world, by the time they’re seniors and then some go off to do great things on national teams all over the world. When you look at your career since 2011 and you have an event in a few weeks, how do you balance going all-in at the moment? If you’re not all in in the moment, you won’t be sitting here with me but also know that you have to be able to perform again in a short amount of time.
Did you ever get to see those videos in James Bond? Nitroglycerin is very volatile and explosive. If it even gets one ray of sunshine on it, it will explode. That’s what it is like. It has so much incredible potential that it’s risky to hold onto. If you tip too far in the wrong direction, you blow it. When you talk about this ascension ladder with all these athletes, you have to understand that if you push those guys too hard at an early age, they may crack mentally. They may never get to that third year where, all of a sudden, you start to see the real peak and then through the 3rd and 4th year, where you see greatness.
I’m lucky. I had an interesting experience when I was younger that I had to go to rehab. I wasn’t focused on athletics at a young age and I never tipped too young. I got beat up and lost too many times at a young age. I never was able to develop fully. I got too scared and got out early. My saving grace was coming out of drug use and getting back into athletics. It was so important to me to have this value over this value that I put everything into it.
Many times, I’ve gotten myself in trouble because I put so much intensity behind the focus of athleticism that it’s challenged other aspects of my life. Mike Tyson is a great example. You saw him. There is so much raw potential, a world champion at the age of nineteen but then shortly there afterward in jail. That raw potential became a raw problem. He then came back and fought again. You have to be able to control it and be consistent with it. If you can ride that line and keep continually sharpening the sword to the point where every single time you do enough work and it’s perfect for battle, you’ll become a champion. You’ll build a record as I have. It’s just consistency.
We talk about these nine characteristics of performance as defined by Special Operations Forces. It’s what special operations use to recruit, assess, select and develop elite talent. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Green Beret, a Navy SEAL, MARSOC, Raider or Ranger. These nine are used there and weighted differently, drive, resiliency, adaptability, humility, integrity, curiosity, team ability, effective intelligence and emotional strength.
Everything you’re talking about, I can break down somewhere into these nine that I mentioned to you. There’s a big one in here about resiliency and adaptability. That’s what you had to demonstrate to make that change. What changed in your mind when you went to rehab, made that decision or maybe didn’t make that decision and then it turned you back onto athletics to become a competitor?
The best way of describing it was like a mountain valley. My level of success was climbing the mountain, falling off of it drastically and then climbing up another mountain to get out. It’s like almost being lost in the wilderness. Your plane crashes. You have to get back to humanity again but you find a false peak in the middle of it. It’s either you have the strength to get through it and go up another peak again to find your way out or you crawl up in a ball and die.
I’m not trying to be so drastic about it. I had this conversation about this. It bothers some people. I was in rehab, doing heroin and had reached the point where I wasn’t even into heroin. I was doing heroin but I was in rehab with other drug addicts. They were so into drugs that it elevated my level of drug use. I started injecting heroin and realized, “I can’t do this. I’m going to tear myself to shreds if I continue down this path.”
I made a promise to myself. I was like, “What’s the only thing you ever thought was interesting in this world? What was your only shred of light coming through the clouds?” I remember recruiters used to come in and come to tell us about being the Navy SEAL when we were in wrestling camps. I was like, “I’m going to become a Navy SEAL.” This makes me sound crazy to some people reading this. I decided to go out and make a promise to myself. I tattooed and tried it on my back. It bothers a lot of people in the Special Forces.To be the very best in the world, you really need to try to stay in your lane. Click To Tweet
My promise was not to continue to do drugs and to follow this path. I went out and got out of rehab. I immediately applied to the Navy and got my contract. Two days later, my recruiter told me, “Lie about everything you’ve gone through because they’re not going to take you.” They wouldn’t accept me. I got in. They gave me the contract because I lied about everything. They found out about my record and then dropped me. I went back to drugs.
Never listen to the recruiter.
I didn’t know anything. I was living in New York at the time. It was the Harlem Recruiting, which is probably the number one churn and burn recruiter agency in the United States. Kids coming in with probably terrible records have nothing ahead of them except for maybe the opportunity to join the military. There’s me. I come in and crush all the PT tests. They’re like, “Let’s try to shove this through the pipeline.”
They booted me out. I’m back out in the open. I have no objective, goal or future because I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t want to do anything other than this. It got me through this hard time and I’m like, “What’s my purpose?” I went back to using drugs and started working out again. I had a couple of opportunities that kept me afloat. It seemed like I was somewhat of a human in a society that was not a hot mess but I was. I overdosed and it was one week before a competition that I had.
I competed against the two prior world champions that week and I came third to them. I was like, “The difference between myself and 2nd or even 1st was the fact that 1 week before, these people were resting in a bed and I was high on cocaine with my heart jumping out of my chest.” This may sound like a crazy story to many people but this was my life at the time. I’m in Miami doing an 8-ball of cocaine and then I’m doing your 8-ball of cocaine because you’re too tired to take it on. The next week, I fly back to California and I’m in a championship.
I had to have that moment where I had a loss. I realized the difference between greatness and myself was that week that I was doing drugs. I swore off right then and there. I have a beer in my hand because I understand balance at this point in my life. Back then, I needed to have this hard line in the sand where I had tattooed “Macho Man” Randy Savage on my ribs because it was his mindset. We all know wrestling is somewhat fake. It’s not entirely fake but it was his mindset. It was this thing on my back that got me through rehab, through competition and created a character that I used to compete.
They’ll call me The Sheriff when I’m in wrestling but I had to create these things. I’m a man of extremes. It is these extremes and things where I’m willing to ink my body with a message in a mindset to get it done. I’m not telling you guys to go get tattoos but that is the difference between greatness and somebody who reads books about great people.
Thanks for sharing that. I find that story to be extremely compelling. When it comes to what motivates you, every person is motivated by something different, whether that be a tattoo, carrying something with them or the memory of somebody. Whatever you can latch onto, that’s going to help you to find success and bring you back in. We talk about drive and purpose in a lot of conversations. Without purpose, nothing else matters.
Purpose and passion are my two words.
That is what gets you up and what gets you to the next piece. Katie, it’s your turn. Tell us about Knight Time Training. What are your purpose and passion?
I have worked in the world of fitness for quite a while. My purpose and passion are getting people to be where they want to be.
Whether that’s someone learning to do a squat for the first time or whatever it is where they feel good about themselves, that’s where I like to help them. The only thing I was thinking during that whole story was, “Do you have a tattoo artist? Do you have one that you would recommend to our audience?”
No. I got this one in Montana, Venice Beach and Portland, Maine. Every single one of these people did not have talent. They were there at the time and they had tattoo guns. I would not suggest any of these people, especially not to you.
I have no tattoos.
I don’t either. People say to me all the time, “How do you have no tattoos? You spent thirteen years in the Army.” There are two things I never did. I never smoked or dipped and got a tattoo.
That is the bane of my existence. I have been a tobacco fem since probably twelve years old. I still chew irregularly but I used to smoke cigarettes like crazy. I was a logger in Montana, smoking, getting snuff and packing lip all at the same time. Katie and I have spent a lot of time together over the past years. I haven’t even given her a bad habit.
I’m born and raised in Iowa, so dipping is the thing. Sadly, that’s impressive. You haven’t because I even have quite a bit.
You’re from Fairfield, Connecticut. I live in New Canaan but I grew up in a town called Weston, which is about 15 miles west of Boston. I didn’t even know what dip was. I go to the Army and it’s one of the infantry schools after basic training and officer candidate school. A guy takes the dip. To me, he takes some out of his mouth and throws it on the ground. I’m looking at him and looking at it. I must have been sleep-deprived or something because I start touching it. He is like, “What are you doing?” First, I’m like, “I have no idea what I’m doing because you took that out of your mouth and I’m touching it. What is that?” This guy had explained to me what dip was.
I had my first experience in military school. I ended up on the toilet, going to the bathroom for my back end and throwing up on my front end my first time. I didn’t know any better. I was 13 or 14 at the time.
I grew up with a ton of wrestlers and that’s what they did but a lot of them did throw up into college and stuff. When I tried for the first time, I was terrified because everyone was like, “You’ll throw up.” I was like, “That was fun.”
You’ve got a competition coming. What’s next for you, Katie?The difference between great people and those who read books about great people is the willingness to get things done. Click To Tweet
It’s the same thing but instead of individual like he’s doing in Vegas for HYROX National Championships, it will be double. It will be a male and a female pair doing the same course he does but you split the work.
Who are you doing it with?
I’m doing it with a partner named Julian from California. He is buff. He is a collegiate runner and is good. We’re hoping to take the title there as well. That’s the plan.
Will you guys come back in 2023?
I was planning on retiring in May 2022, to be honest.
I’ve been doing it for many years. I realized that there’s this work-life balance. I’ve been competing for a long time and I only look at this from the standpoint of winning. I could care less if they gave me a couple of beers and an ax versus $15,000, $50,000 or $150,000. I’ve won all of those things in competition before. Other than the fact that you can spend the money, it’s worthless. I don’t care about it.
Plus, he’s got to crew me for some 24-hour races. That takes his time away.
I used to be a spin instructor to vape. I’ll go back and teach some spin classes.
He’s good. It’s fun. You should all come to a spin class.
I’ll read, work out, focus on my businesses and home and have a good time. I told Jason, the guy who owns GORUCK, “I did not consider competing after May 2022 but after this, if you guys hosted again, I will strongly consider it. I’ll be back.”
From the programming to the standards and the rule enforcement, everything was phenomenal. That can make or break a competition. They did a good job.
Jason and I talked about GORUCK standards and the standards that you have when you come out of the Special Forces Regiment. One of the things that you guys have highlighted that you take away from the exposure to this world is that once you leave service in the Special Forces Regiment, whether you serve as any special operator, SEAL or Green Beret, it doesn’t matter, that standard lives within you in everything that you do.
You always represent the regimen and everybody that stood beside you then, before and now. You never want someone to come in and say, “That person no longer lives up to the standard that earned.” I say earned for a specific reason. Earn them the ability to wear that Green Beret. That’s demonstrated here.
It’s a huge thing. You can notice it. We come from organizations and I’m not trying to bash them. I made a post probably that was not so colorful, saying the difference between some of the companies we work with compared to this. Even though we’re going through stuff, knowing that it’s straightforward to get the work done, hear the rules and here’s how we do it, it’s an incredible experience. We all came out here to give our hardest. The one thing that’s going to get between me and get to the finish line faster than somebody else is the fact that you guys who are putting on the event were a little bit fishy about the way you orchestrate it. It’s tough but that’s being an athlete.
The events were amazing too. It’s like a true test of everything, in my opinion, at least for my body and my skillset.
I was with Jason’s wife, Emily and Sara Wilkinson. We were recording right before the final event started. Jason came running down here and said, “You guys got to come up here because they’re crushing each other up there.”
Wrestling is savage and that’s what you have to do to win.
Hunter, you went straight. The final event was five rounds of some combative style sparring and MMA sparring, no punches or anything. I didn’t think they allowed that. You defeated the guy who came in second. It was the best of five. You took him three times. We were saying that the only way that guy was going to get you was if he punched you in the throat right off the next one. I said to the guy next to me, “This dude has got one shot. Unless he punches him clean into the throat, he’s not going to win.”Sportsmanship is very important. Everyone deserves love in this world, and what comes around, goes around. Click To Tweet
He put up a good fight though and did what he could.
I was listening to his interview after and he was very humble about it. He’s a great guy. He said, “I didn’t have the skill. I had the heart and desire but sometimes it comes down to skill.” She gave you a run for it.
I’ll still say I had the headlock throw up. That’s okay. I was trying to do too much and that was my issue. I wanted to do some fun, cool entertaining things. I should have stuck with the basics.
I watched it. You went for the highlight reel. You tried to go for the flip and you were high. She’s a bit smaller than you are. She was lower than you, which allowed her to push you out and then you figured it out after that third one. I looked at the guy next to me, Kevin from 18A Fitness and I said, “She just figured it out.” You went in there and fought her. You didn’t try to move her around. You said, “I’m going to straight attack you and fight you.” You beat her, figured out and did a couple more punches.
What’s funny is that I talked to all my family from Iowa and they were all watching on the TV, even the little kids and everything. I grew up in a big wrestling background. All of them, even the little kids, were like, “You didn’t stay low enough.” I was like, “I know. I got it.” It was a cool finale for the entire weekend. Win or lose, it was a cool thing to do at the end.
As we close out, I asked every one of my guests this question. The Jedburgh was in World War II and had to do three things as core foundational tasks and habits. They had to be able to shoot, move and communicate. They did these three things as foundational elements. When more complex challenges came their way, they didn’t have to think about those three things because they knew them at the back of their hand. They could focus on solving their complex challenges. I want to ask each one of you, what are the three things that you each do every day to set the foundations for your success?
My greatest lesson to the world that’s reading is that you need to do tons of research. That means reading, watching, listening and calling people that could potentially be a resource to you. You need to have the gumption to assess yourself. You need to be able to look at yourself in a raw way that you look beyond people’s ideas of you. Look at the raw aspects of who you are as a human being and be able, to be honest like, “I’m weak in this. I’m strong in this. I’m missing here. I’m growing there.” You need to be able to do that and do it often.
Last but not least is that you need to be able to push your limits. Do it in a way that is going to create a shift that your body would not do for itself. You need to reach beyond what your body’s normal limits are and find some way to create growth. I do that as often as I possibly can in the way that I’m training in the gym and working myself mentally, physically, whatever it may be. If you can continue to do that rotation over and over again, every single year, you’ll become incredible.
I appreciate that one so much because we spend a lot of time on this show doing research. It matters and people don’t realize that. We have done 56 episodes released. I have 58 ready for release. We’ve done a whole number here. We got a bunch of short ones that are out there. No one has ever said, “Research.” Thank you. Honestly, assess yourself and push limits beyond what you think you’re capable of. You’re in the hot seat, Katie.
First of all, work hard. Hard work does triumph over everything. How you push yourself in any aspect, business, work, family, anything, you set a goal and accomplish it. I would then say focus. There are so many things to do in this world. As long as you focus, you find what’s important. Whatever your priorities are, focus on and accomplish them. Third of all, it’s somewhat cheesy but love everyone. That’s so important. Everyone deserves love and grace in this world. What comes around, goes around. Sportsmanship here, everyone is here to have fun. It’s important to be kind to everyone.
I don’t think we’ve had that one either.
That’s good. I hope everyone follows that.
That was a shift for me, too. I used to be a brutal competitor. I used to smash you and then smash you mentally.
That’s okay as long as after that, you congratulate the person.
I never did the after.
The after is very important. Congratulate that 2nd person, 3rd or whatever it is. It’s phenomenal because Chris put in just as much of an effort as I did and then the winner trumps, so it depends. Their hearts are in it and sometimes the skill isn’t.
It’s a better experience overall.
It keeps people close. The growth is tremendous.
I have a reputation for being somewhat of a bad person.
Right after the finals, I was talking to somebody. We had that conversation because they were talking about interacting with some folks here who had different personalities with different people. They didn’t understand how it worked. I looked at them and said, “Do you know what you got to do? Be a good dude.” At the end of the day, be a good person. Smile at everybody. Make friends because it’s so much easier to be a good person than it is to have to fight one million battles.
At the end of the day, that’s what matters. It’s not if you won this or lost it. It’s who you are as a person, which probably goes against military mentality but I’m going to say it here.
There’s a team ability aspect that I brought up a little bit ago. If you can’t assimilate with the team and get along with anybody, it doesn’t matter how great you are. In any organization, business, military or athletics, you will not succeed to your full potential if you can’t get along with others and do the right thing. That’s what matters. Congratulations to both of you.
The work that you put in is truly tremendous. It has been inspirational to watch. I’m honored to have been a part of it and that you took the time to walk down here, me being the only thing standing between the after-party and yourselves. You spend some time with me. I appreciate it. It’s great getting to know you.
Make sure that we connect when you come to Connecticut. I hope to speak with you, Katie, again in the future in whatever way we can. However, the show and I can help you both. Let everybody know before you go how they’ll get in contact with you and where to follow you? We’re there for whatever you guys ever need.
If you type in Hunter McIntyre, good, bad or ugly, you’ll find me.
You can follow me on Instagram, K80_Knight. Come join my Knight Time Training. Get fit, get ripped, do a squat and the whole thing.
Katie, Hunter, thank you.
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