The Ruk4HIT race was held all over last weekend, with the number one goal being to support Heroes In Transition, a nonprofit designed to assist military members moving from a life of service to civilian life. The team race, which typically sees teams compile 225 miles of paddleboarding, rucksacking, kayaking and hiking, was done as a virtual edition this year.
Rather than worry about not being together as an entire group, the racers and their teammates made the most of it and had fun with putting together their own races. Sandwich teacher Wayne MacDonald, who retired from the Marine Corps in 2010, showed the type of ingenuity his branch of the military is known for, as well as a sense of humor, last Saturday night, September 26, when his team was out hiking at Sandy Neck in Barnstable. The rucksacks that each racer wears is typically filled with 20 pounds. MacDonald filled his up just a little bit more with his 15-month-old daughter, Kathryn.
“It was a lot of fun, and I was glad that I got to include her in it, even though she’ll never remember it,” he said.
MacDonald and his Rideaway Adventures team started their three-day event with a 15-mile bike ride along the Cape Cod Canal. They then separated, with each of the team members doing their own thing to help chip away. Some did running, some hiked—like MacDonald on Saturday—while others kayaked or paddleboarded. On Sunday, September 27, MacDonald paddleboarded on Scorton Creek before the team got together one last time to finish off the event with a five-mile kayaking session on Popponesset Bay.
Jase Porter of Mashpee was on a different team but had a similar experience, as he went all out all weekend. The retired Marine, who moved to the Cape in 2018, had a great career, as he was on President Obama’s security detail for Marine One and also did counterintelligence duties.
He said being a part of the race and helping Heroes In Transition is something that makes him happy to be a part of.
“I like to do whatever I can for the community, and Heroes In Transition is a great organization,” he said. “When I was getting out, they only give you a quick course that basically tells you not to yell at civilians at work.”
Porter said he believes that HIT is important because it helps servicemen to figure out how to deal with moving on to the next chapters in their lives, which can be very jarring. “The first person that walked the Appalachian Trail was a veteran who needed to decompress. Way back when, the soldiers used to walk home, from hundreds of miles, and they had that time. Now it’s a flight away from being active to being a civilian, and you’re kind of thrown right into it,” he said.
Finding ways to deal with the stresses of moving on, Porter believes, is one of the most important things for vets. A lover of adventure sports, who this weekend will be competing in a national paddleboard competition in Florida, Porter founded a paddleboard fitness company that specializes in “boot-camp-style workouts.” He said he is hoping to launch what he calls “The Blue Marble Race” in the near future, where every competitor will receive a blue marble to remind them of the importance of the Earth and the water that covers most of it.
“I’m really into the physical health of people and the ecological health of the (planet). I hope the race will help spread the love of the water,” he said.
As for his Ruk4HIT race, the Marine went all out because that’s all he knows. He paddleboarded 10 miles each day, in Osterville on Friday, September 25, and Sandy Neck on Saturday—where he saw a whale breach while he was on the water—before then hiking the beach. On Sunday he paddleboarded 6.6 miles in “washing machine” conditions in Barnstable Harbor and then hiked with the rucksack for another 3.5 miles after that.
“I always put a little extra (weight) in my pack,” he said. “It’s to work a little bit harder, and for all of my brothers that can’t do it themselves.”
That brotherhood that the veterans feel is a real thing and a driving force behind the success of the Ruk4HIT race as it grows each year.
“It’s important, the brotherhood and the camaraderie,” MacDonald said. “HIT makes a difference.”