Memorial Day Murph

Here’s a quick backblast for today’s Memorial Day Murph out of Railroad Park.

30 PAX including one walk-on FNG (welcome Smelt) answered the call to honor a fallen American hero.  Rabbit circled us up in the rain beside the Railroad Park pavilion at 0600, and led a healthy warm-up.  We made a last minute change to a straight line 1-mile run down the Rotary Trail, instead of running around the park’s path.  Keep in mind if you are ever to use this park for F3 workouts that it officially does not open until 0700, and it does have 24 security.

It’s a good little run down that urban trail.  Rabbit stopped us a mile out at a nice little overgrown fire ant field (I only have about 40 bites on my thigh, which are burning as I type this – thanks Rabbit).  In groups of 6, we got to work on 20 sets of…. 5 burpees/10 merkins/15 squats.  A walk-on steel worker we found in the park (now F3 Smelt), was in my squad, and he did quite well.  We took this photo before heading back.

Photo May 28, 7 52 25 AM.jpg

On the way back, one more photo of Rabbit’s design.

Photo May 28, 6 59 57 AM

Rabbit capped off the fitness activities with a group set of 5/10/15.  After that, name-o-rama, announcements, and Sparrow prayed us out.

YHC mentioned in the COT, the Kohima Epitaph.  I have found it to be very moving since seeing it on a plaque in Canterbury many years ago.  It occurred to me over the weekend that although Memorial Day was created to honor American service members who made the ultimate sacrifice, many of them – were they here with us today – would likely themselves also seek to honor those who served in allied forces, either side-by-side with our American heros, or separately, but for the same cause – freedom.

In April through June of 1944, British, Indian and Nepalese forces were fighting the same cause against the unyielding Japanese, but in a theater apart from most American forces.  The Battle of Kohima (India), part of the larger Burma Campaign, was called the “Stalingrad of the East”.  The Allies saw over 4,000 casualties in that battle.  The Kohima Epitaph, which can be found at the cemetery for those fallen allies, and has been reprinted on plaques throughout the world, is as follows.

“When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.”


– Fife

Photos: Korean Memorial in Washington.  A war that claimed over 33,000 American lives.







The second Bird Dog-led overnight ruck is coming up on Friday, July 20th.   It appears that we will have a larger hiking party this time around, maybe 15-20 PAX, and possibly even some prospective F3 men.   Recently, I’ve had several guys ask me questions about backpacking gear in preparation for this second ruck into the Sipsey Wilderness of Northern Alabama. I’m a bit of a gear hound, and I have some backpacking experience. This post is my attempt to be helpful to the PAX in this domain.

I’m going to list a bunch of cool/recommended backpacking gear below.  Let me be clear: you do not need any of this gear to complete a summertime overnight ruck.   You do need: some sort of shelter (tent), some sort of pack, a sleeping bag (although a light blanket might suffice in July), and a few other mostly obvious items (flashlight or headlamp, containers for water, food, etc.).  If you want to join this ruck and don’t have everything that you need, borrow gear if you can.  I’ve got some extra gear, and I’m willing to bet that a few others do as well.  If there is a piece of essential gear that you do not have, a tent for example, and you want to purchase for use this summer and in the future, then this guide may be of some help to you.

I can claim some backpacking experience.  However, the standard disclaimer applies: I am not a professional, read on at your own risk, and modify as needed.  My backpacking experience includes many single overnights on the Appalachian Trail in Western Maryland, a 5-nighter in the Shenandoah region of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, a few overnights in the Catskill Mountains of New York, in addition to back country overnights in the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Utah’s Canyonlands, South Dakota’s Badlands, Aspen, Colorado, and for me most memorably, 4 nights in Glacier National Park, Montana.  I’m no expert, but I do have enough experience on trails, and under load, to be moderately useful here.

Photo: Bird Dog’s 2017 summit of Mt. Whitney – the highest peak in the lower 48

Photo Aug 28, 8 30 24 AM

I had a more lengthy post in mind, but I’m going to break this up into a couple of posts. For now, let’s dive into the primary components, what they call the “big three” of backpacking gear:

  • SLEEPING SYSTEM (sleeping bag and sleeping pad).

Before pressing further, I’ll mention the natural phenomenon that weighs quite heavily in backpacking gear discussions: gravityWeight is important to backpackers, and the further you go, the faster you go, or the more often you go, the more weight matters.  Whether you are out in the wilderness for a night, or for two weeks, to some degree the weight of your gear will make a difference to you.  I would loosely carve backpacking gear into the following categories based on weight #1 regular old backpacking gear, #2 “lightweight” gear, #3 “ultralight” gear, and #4 “hyperlight” gear.  For this discussion, let’s completely ignore ultralight gear and hyperlight gear.  First, any gear with “ultralight” or “hyperlight” apt to be relatively expensive.  Those items (tents, packs, etc.) are for hard core “gram counters” and are generally a lot less durable than other classes of gear.  Regular old backpacking gear we could use to label anything a novice can put his hands on such as a small tent, any old backpack, etc.  “Lightweight” gear is the next step.  This is where you decide that you do not want to carry a 15 lb 4-man camping tent on your back, through the mountains, in addition to all of the other gear you need to survive and be comfortable.  We’ll focus on lightweight gear.

****SALE****  One reason I wanted to get this gear guide out now is that REI is having their biggest annual sale for the next couple of days (ends May 28th).  Why does this matter?  Right now, backpacking gear is discounted 25-30% at every online store, in order to compete with REI.  Moosejaw and Amazon have to follow suit and lower the price (by the same amount) on most tents, packs, etc. during this sale.  If you need a piece of gear for this ruck, or just for a future adventures, save some real money by purchasing NOW, during this sale.  

F3 Birmingham’s next planned trip is a single nighter. For an overnight trip into the wilderness on which you need only carry your own load (not your kid’s or your lady’s gear), nearly any pack will suffice. Any good size “book bag” or “day pack” type backpack, of which most people have, or can put their hands on, will get you in and out of the Sipsey Wilderness for a night.

On Sipsey One, I used a GoRuck GR1 – GoRuck’s primary rucksack product.  These things are 26 liters in volume, 3.2 lbs, beloved by the F3 Nation, bombproof, useful for all sorts of endeavors all year long, and at $295 (except when on sale) — crazy expensive. I can only recommend one of these packs to you if you plan to do GoRuck events in the future, or will find a lot of other use for it throughout the year, and can pick it up on sale. It is not really a backpacking backpack. However, it performed surprisingly well for me on Sipsey One – comfortable the entire time. I had the thing overloaded (a bit over 40 lbs) with too much water, a .40 cal pistol & ammo (for hogs), tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, food, and everything else.  My GR1 was very comfortable, even without utilizing the optional waist belt, which I had attached, but did not need on that ruck.  I lashed items to the outside, and it all worked so well, I hesitate to bring anything else on the next overnight. I really love this pack (can you tell?). The bottom line is: if you have one already, and some of you do, you can use it, though you may need to lash tent and/or sleeping back to the exterior.  I believe Rabbit used his too on that ruck.  You can do the same with really any other similarly sized pack.

Photo: under there somewhere is a GR1, a workhorse of a pack

Photo Apr 08, 3 56 33 PM.jpg

Next, let’s move on to top rated backpacking packs.  There are loads of these on the market.  If you think you are going to do some backpacking in the future and really want to invest in a 65 liter pack, two of the best on the market – both of which have offer tons of features and comfort, are the Gregory Baltoro and the Osprey Atmos AG 65.  These packs can carry days worth of gear for extended hikes.  However, if you plan to ever backpack with family and expect to need to carry more than your share of the load, the volume and comfort offered by these types of packs will be very useful.

REI has on sale for 50% off (probably not for more than a couple more days) a really nice looking full-featured 65 liter pack, the Co-Op Flash 65.  This pack looks to be an excellent value at $99 and the reviews are good.

Here’s another option to consider.  Owing no doubt to low cost overseas manufacturing, there are loads of sub-$50 packs on Amazon that look very appealing.  These are “no name” type brands, probably not too durable, loaded with features, and very well priced.  Take a look at a couple of these and you will see what looks like a perfectly good, very low-cost option for a backpacking pack

VBIGER 60L Hiking Backpack

Teton Sports Summit 1500

Scandinavian Gear 65L

Photo: a $39 60-L pack on Amazon

electon 60

You need a tent.  If you want to be a bad ass and sleep on the ground in an Alabama forest in the summertime, acting like a juice bar for thirsty mosquitoes, in the rain, etc., then…. well, I’ll actually be a bit impressed.  Everyone else should utilize a tent.  hammocks and tarp combos are an option too, though certainly less popular than tents.

If you have a reasonably light weight camping-type tent (under 10 lbs, I hope), that will do.  If you do not, here are some things to consider.  Several of the guys, YHC included, used 1-person tents on Sipsey One.  I did not have a suitable tent for the 14 mile overnight ruck, and had always been a bit fascinated by 1-person tents.  Before that hike, I did some research and picked up an ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1-person tent.  It worked very well.  This thing is $84 on Amazon (I’ve seen it a bit lower too, and I think I paid less), and it is highly rated.  You can buy more expensive 1-person tents, but as far as I can tell, those are not much better than the Lynx.  I’ve only spent one night in it, but my kids have spent several nights in it (inside the house).  I can strongly recommend this item, if you want a 1-person tent…and you will fit in it.  If you are 3PO tall, check the dimensions before buying.

Photo: the Lynx with the rain fly off – a very cool little tent.Photo Apr 08, 8 52 53 AM

But here’s the rub.  This tent is a great buy and it appears to be well constructed.  However, at 3 lbs 15 oz it is not that light for a 1-person tent.  Here is why that matters.  Although the Lynx has a decent size exterior vestibule to keep gear in, there is definitely not room inside for a grown man AND gear.  Your gear sleeps outside with tents like this.  This drawback may seem trivial, but to me it is much easier to pack up in the rain, etc. when your pack is IN your tent with you.  For not much more money, not much more weight (maybe 1 more pound), and a bit more  packed size, you can sleep in a small 2-person tent, and likely be more comfortable, and with better convenience.  Bonus: you can use a 2-person tent to bring your kid or your M on an overnight trip with you sometime.  I took my 9 year old boy recently on an overnight into Oak Mountain Park’s back country.  We would certainly not both fit in the Lynx, so we brought a heavy/large camping tent, which was not ideal.

So unless you really like the idea of the 1-person tent, here are some recommendations on a 2-person tent.

REI Co-op Passage Tent
On sale now for $99 (a co-worker in NY who backpacks AT quite a lot, just bought this on sale at It’s roomy, a great buy, and at 4 lbs 13 oz, it doesn’t weight that much more than the Lynx 1-man tent

REI Half Dome 2 Plus
This is a top rated tent. I just bought one on sale for $159 so that I can take my boy (maybe the girl too) out into the wilderness sometime. This tent weights about the same as the Passage (neither are particularly light by backpacking tent standards), but it is larger – quite roomy actually. It has two large vestibules for gear and a door on each side of the tent. After lots of research, this is what I went with.  I’m loaning out my 1-man Lynx to one of the PAX for the overnight ruck.

Photo: REI Half Dome 2 Plushalf dome

If you want the top of the line 2-person backpacking tent, the single highest rated tent, might just be the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2. This is a $450 tent (ouch), but it is on sale this week for $335. If you have the dough (I’m looking at you dentists), and want a great tent, you’ll probably love this one. One thing though about a large 2-person tent that only weighs 2.12 oz — it’s made of very light weight material and it is not going to be as durable as a tent like the Half Dome 2.

Worth a mention: the Sierra Clip Designs Flash Light Tent. Highly rated, and on sale this week for $150.  However, the front egress on this tent is not for everyone.

Your sleep system is a sleeping bag plus a sleeping pad.  I’ve not made much of a study of the latest in sleeping bags, but I would like to do some cold weather backpacking later in the year.  For Alabama summer backpacking, a light fleece blanket might suffice.  I took a sub-$10 rectangle camping sleeping bag from Academy on Sipsey One and into Oak Mountain.  It was big (even when compressed in stuff sack, heavy, and way too hot.  I found a low cost solution for the upcoming Sipsey trip.  You can spend A LOT of money on lightweight backpacking sleeping bags.  However, for under $30 you can purchase a summer weight, very small, low-cost bag from Amazon.  I picked up an ECOPRO Warm Weather Sleeping Bag.  At $26.99 (less in some colors), it isn’t high quality, but it will do the trick.  There are many manufacturers on Amazon selling lightweight bags like this, and some may even be at a lower price.  This thing packs down very small and weighs only 1.7 lbs.  If you don’t have a sleeping bag and need one, I recommend one of these.

Photo May 23, 9 05 22 PM Photo May 16, 9 03 04 PM

You can sleep on the ground without a sleeping pad, but don’t. Your sleep is important. Be comfortable. Like bags, pads can get very expensive for uber-ultralight gear, and gear with a higher R value for cold weather. There two primary types of pads in use today: closed cell foam and inflatable. Closed cell foam is durable, doesn’t risk getting a hole and deflating on you, and often warmer (R value) for cold weather. Closed cell foam pads that fold up like an accordion, like the Thermarest Z Lite ($39) seem to be the most popular. This is a very good choice for a pad. You can also use it as a seat at camp, or to block the wind when cooking on a camp stove. However, these closed cell pads are generally not considered to be as comfortable as inflatables.

z lite

Without breaking the bank, you can still get a good inflatable sleeping pad. Unless you want a $200 version that will keep you warm in very cold weather, I recommend the Outdoorsman Lab Ultralight Sleeping Pad. I have this pad, it is comfortable, and seems relatively durable. These things come in all shapes sizes and costs, so look around Amazon a bit if you are in need on one.



For me, the “big three” of backpacking gear is now the “big four”. I never hiked with trekking poles until we recently went to Sipsey. Like all of the rest of this stuff, you can spend a lot of trekking poles. However, I have a set purchased from Amazon, BAFX Anti Shock Trekking Poles, that seem to be an excellent value at $22. I cannot recommend trekking poles strongly enough. In Sipsey there is rugged terrain, it was wet, and I felt sure footed the whole time. I felt like I moved faster and surer with these in hand.  Using poles also turned out to be a great upper body workout (I was not expecting that). Since that trip, I’ve done some research and trekking poles seem to be widely considered to have a major impact on saving your knees, as they shift weight and stabilize your gate on uneven terrain. Hook yourself up with a pair of $22 trekking poles. Seriously.

quick lock

These BAFX poles are not the most durable due to the friction lock joints, though I think they will last quite some time. If you are convinced about the use of trekking poles, you can spend a lot on super light weight high end poles. My research indicates that the best low-cost poles with very high end features (cork grips, quick locks), are these Cascade Mountain Tec Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Poles.

If this is determined to be helpful, I could dive deeper in a following issue and get into hydration/water purification, cooking, food, lights, footwear (spoiler alert: just wear running shoes), and a few odds and ends.

See you in the gloom,

– Barney Fife

PS – if you have questions on this type of thing, hit me up on Slack anytime

Photos: a couple more shots from Sipsey.  None of the photos that I brought back do this place justice.

Photo Apr 14, 8 12 24 AM.jpg

Photo Apr 13, 6 01 30 PM.jpg

The Snake (and a word on 2nd F)

YHC enjoyed what I believe to have been only my second Q at The Forum.  Here is a quick Backblast to commemorate that workout.

Conditions: 50 and warming, dry, full sun…as good as it gets.
PAX: 16, including FNG “Roadrunner”
IC Imperial Walker
IC Arm Circles > Raise the Roofs
SC GF (“Good Form”) Merkins
(YHC caught some flak during the mosey for referring to Walmart’s small grocery store format as a “supermarket” – not be confused the company’s larger Supercenters. After a quick google search, I stand by the chosen terminology. )
In front of the…market…we did, to the amusement of a few early arriving employees:
IC Shoulder Taps
SC WWI Situps
SC Sumo Squats
Slow GF Merkins
IC Flutter Kicks
The meandering climbing sidewalk that cuts through the eastern edge of Wald Park (and on through that section of Vestavia Hills), was dubbed “The Snake” for that day. After moseying to The Snake, we took off on a run up the path, in pairs, roughly 15 seconds apart. Each telephone pole along the way was a “snake bite” requiring 2 burpees. As PAX finished at the end, The Donald led everyone in that planking/arm lift thing.
At the steep grass hill at the end of that portion of The Snake, in 2 waves, we bear crawled up and shuffled back down. Rinse and repeat.
After moseying to the bottom of The Snake, we went the full length, in new pairs. This time, we lunged the whole distance. The snake bites were 5 GF Merkins at each pole. YHC was paired with 3PO and got to listen to his watch periodically inform him in a female C3PO-like voice, how many calories he had burned. We planked again at the end, were PAX got a preview of the 3PO’s enthusiasm for leading something called a “core workout”.
Here…dips and declines…repeated a few times

Back at the flag, YHC called on unsuspecting PAX to command us into another 10 or so exercises. It worked out well.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but one man among us, Copay, had not been around in quite some time. He was at our very first workout, a founding father of F3 Birmingham. Welcome back Copay. During the name-o-rama video, The Donald knocked my water bottle all over me, and pretended it wasn’t intentional. Jiffy closed us out in prayer. We put in some work that morning, and I really enjoyed my time out there. I hope that most others can recount the same.

We’ve got a couple of 2nd F events coming up. Please prioritize these, particularly the Anniversary Toast on May 4th at 8 p.m. at Oak Hill, being Q’d by Stuntman. We’ll have workouts this week, next week, the week after that, and the week after that. We are doing great with getting in 1st F. But the 2nd F opportunities are just as important, and there are much fewer of them. We’ll have two workouts during our F3 Birmingham Anniversary weekend. We’ve also got PAX doing a CSAUP (Homewood 5K). If you can only get to one event — make it to The Toast. Even if you just stop by for one pint, and even if you don’t drink….make an appearance. #FELLOWSHIP

– Barney Fife

F3BHM One Year Anniversary Celebration (Stuntman)
Stuntman has wisely moved the event to FRIDAY NIGHT, MAY 4TH to avoid crossover with the We Love Homewood Day celebration on the 5th.  May 6th marks the one year since the first F3 workout in Alabama.   To celebrate this triumphant occasion PAX will likely raise a glass in a toast (hopefully several toasts) at 8 p.m. (exact time and confirmation location coming soon).  If you can bring your M, or girlfriend, do so.  If you can only manage to duck out alone, after the kids are in bed, that will do.  Just be there to join your F3 brothers in celebration. Don’t miss this.  berghof-wine-3rdID-flipped-to-corect

The Gear

3/3/18.  The Vulcan.


It was fun to bring the gear out again, and get our pump on.  The field was a bit squishy, but the sun was out, the air was crisp and the company was excellent.  With a big group (38 PAX) we did a short warm-up, took two laps, divided into four squads, and descended upon the four stations of 7+ exercises each.  Except for some sprints at the end, we spent the whole morning rotating through stations of dumbbells, jump ropes, bricks, pavers, rocks, ruck plates, flutter kicks, merkins, big boy situps, squats, burpees, etc.   The scheme was designed to rotate through alternating body parts, which seems a great way to limit fatigue, so as to get in MAXIMUM REPS.

I’ll take the rest of this backblast to comment on the topic of…backblasts.  First, thank you to those men who take the time to write back to the PAX, following a workout.  It really doesn’t take too long.  I was able to type in the 38 PAX names in the “tags” field here on WordPress, almost as fast as the names were being spoken in the video name-o-rama I listened to.  I checked out the WordPress stats and the most popular recent backblast was Skeletor’s rather professionally described account of his 2/19 “Block Party”.

Here is something worth keeping in mind about backblasts: take the opportunity to write what you want to write to the PAX.  While the central theme of a backblast is traditionally a recap of the workout, such recap does not necessarily have to be detailed and complete.  You may decide to write a very brief description overall theme of the workout, and fill the space with other observations from the day, such as interesting things discussed there, jokes overheard, or a particularly amusing thing that happened.  It is also a great vehicle for writing to the PAX some thoughts that you might have about F3, what it has meant to you, where you want to see it go next, etc.  If you have the opportunity to read some backblasts from elsewhere in F3 nation, you’ll come across detailed accounts of workouts, but you’ll also be fortunate to read some really deep compositions by some men, and some very entertaining musings by others.

“You can make anything by writing.”
― C.S. Lewis

Saturday’s workout was closed-out with announcements, name-o-rama, and a prayer by Blue Angel.  Welcome FNG Grunt and visitors Torrey Clark and Snots.  I thank you men for Saturday’s opportunity to LEAD.

– Barney Fife


Photo Feb 28, 9 42 25 PM

No Theme

Gloom Mountain, Hoover, Febuary 21

No Theme today; just work.  10 PAX gathered in humid 68 degree February air.  An anticipated FNG (that some of you met in the parking lot after the Braveheart Race) no-showed.  However, he actually did post today, at Gwin….at 5:30 p.m.  True story.

IC Prisoner Squats
IC Ray Lewis
IC Imperial Walkers
SC Slow Merkins 1-2-3 Count
IC Hello Dolly
IC Shoulder Taps
SC The Sparrow (this became a “thing” quickly)
10 Squat Jumps OYO

Double Lap Indian Run passing a soccer ball (that’s just a warm up for something Franklin has planned for Monday)

Bear Crawl up Gloom Hollow with new twist: burpee for the 6 at the bottom
Lunge up Gloom Hollow: big boy sit ups for the 6 at the bottom

At the benches…
Alternating sets of dips and decline merkins. I heard plenty of groaning during this.

At the bottom of the school bus parking lot (down past the tennis courts)…
Altogether sprint to the top. At the top we did some stuff. Rinse and repeat 3x.

I had some more, but looked forward to getting back to circle near the flag for a little PAX CHOICE to wrap it up.

Announcements, namo-rama, Guy prayed us out.

A reminder to PAX at announcement time: FNG naming rights & responsibility belongs to that workout’s Q.  Asking for suggestions is perfectly acceptable. However, the Q calls it. This also means that if a guy gets a humdrum nickname, the Q bears full responsibility for it. So think hard and be creative.


Fife out.



Pre Blast: F3 Birmingham’s New Year’s Day CONVERGENCE

Yes, “pre-blasts” are a thing.  And they are warranted on occasion. This is such an occasion.

On January 1st in the Year of our Lord two thousand eighteen at 0600 at Birmingham’s Railroad Park F3 Birmingham PAX will converge for a one hour boot camp-style workout to welcome the New Year with dauntlessness and determination.  YHC will co-Q the athletics with the esteemed Brad “Tinactin” Acton.  The setting is a 19-acre urban playground (courtesy of Brasfield & Gorrie) that is, verified by yesterday’s reconnaissance, very well-suited to F3 operations.

Photo Dec 30, 8 53 22 AM.jpg

It will be COLD, the sort of cold that many most men would not voluntarily venture into for a recreational activity.  We all know already that F3 men are not much like most men.  F3 men see self development and feel a sense of boldness when confronted with a forecast of dry ground, clear skies, 17 degrees, and a “real feel” of …4 degrees.  Yes, the air is predicted to feel like 4 degrees at 0600 on New Year’s Day.  Are we a bit crazy?  Maybe.  Have we conditioned ourselves toward a toughness that is uncommon?  Probably so.  Do we do what we do for reasons that are good for ourselves, good for those around us, and good for our fellow F3 brothers?  Absolutely.

Photo Dec 30, 8 48 15 AM

The work promises to be challenging, but the mood shall remain festive, as there is true joy in waking up in America – able to participate in such an activity.  You, the Men of F3 Birmingham, are invited to join your brothers in a triumphant way to begin your next year, in the arena, and during the first hours of light that 2018 brings to us.  If you are in town and able-bodied, post with us.  Feel resolute.  Start the year accomplished.  Be able to say “I did it”.  Enjoy your freedom.

Yours faithfully,

Barney Fife


If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, sir, should keep his friendship in a constant repair.

Samuel Johnson

Photo Dec 30, 8 52 23 AM.jpg



31 Flavors

Saturday, November 4, 2017
The Vulcan

Here is a recap of the crazy 31 Flavors workout at the Vulcan. Following a record turnout from the pre-workout ruck, several PAX helped YHC get this overly elaborate shenanigan setup. 31 cones were in place in 2 long parallel lines (designed to make conversation easier during this circuit type workout). Before each cone lay an index card indicating the exercise to be performed and workout tool. Tools included dumbbells, a round river rock, jump ropes, kettle bells, a burpee stick, a ruck plate, a pumpkin, etc.

Following a short warm-up (Arnold says: must take care of the shoulders) and a two-lap mosey of the park track, 35 PAX set up on the cone-marked workout stations. We definitely looked like a bunch of crazies trying to save money by avoiding a gym membership. Perhaps we are. At the end of the long rows of stations was the command position – the simple squat station. The guy on the squat station controlled the tempo as PAX were instructed to perform their stations exercise until commanded to MOVE by the man on the squat station.


Thanks to Sparrow for requesting that this be documented in a photo.

And that’s how it went down. PAX rotated clockwise to the next station on command to move and save for a few begged for (really) “20 counts” the fun went non-stop until the clock ran out. And yes… YHC played music. You’ve got to have music for a stationary F3 workout (that should be a top 10 rule). As some PAX have already explored, the more unexpected the music – the better (call it part of the “pain”).

I haven’t seen a large group of PAX laughing so much in a while. This workout has a touch of the ridiculous. Hopefully, there was profitable work in it as well. Name-o-rama…FNG naming (welcome Bumble Bee, Mr. Ed and Rambler)…a couple of announcements including an upcoming charity run…and Blue Angel closed things out with a prayer.

31 Flavors, or Gloom’s Gym, or whatever it is to be called, this madness will be improved upon and reprised as it was – at least to YHC – a fun change of pace.

HAVE FUN out there,

– Fife


Pre-dawn Police- escorted Ruck, Team Orienteering and Bag Pipe Closer

October 7, 2017 – The Vulcan

Pre-workout RUCK
A record 11 PAX +1 took the 50-minute R/T walk just past The Vulcan statue. The +1 was on-duty Officer Kitt, who pulled up on us in the parking lot, asked what we were up to, and after about 2 seconds of thought (really) announced to this group of strangers “I’m coming”. Before we knew it, he pulled a tac vest (his weight) out of the back of his Tahoe and headed up the road with us. Kitt turned back after a while and apparently ran (in uniform) at full speed across the park field coming suddenly upon straggler Bird Dog in the darkness. Kitt transported Bird Dog in his patrol vehicle up the road at high speed to the marching PAX.

(not pictured: Slumlord)


Warm Up

(Breeze takes down one of three shovel flags…PAX pays the price with F3 Birmingham’s flag down penalty – 20 O.Y.O. burpees)
IC Side Straddle Hop
IC Should Rotations Each Way
IC Shoulder Taps
IC Hello Dolly
IC Single Leg Merkins
IC Alabama Ass Kickers
IC Sumo Squats

Orienteering (not exactly, but the best way I could think of to describe it)
YHC + 4 other Q’s selected on the spot, each took (5) 6-man teams to different locations within a 2-mile R/T from Homewood Central Park. Each Q was handed an index card with his team’s destination and the work to be done along the way.

Homewood Board of Education Building
Spring Park (it does exist!)
City Hall
Piggly Wiggly
Trak Shack

On the way to destination AND on the way back, all on each team must complete:

50 Merkins
100 foot Bear Crawl
50 Squats
15 Burpees
50 IC Ray Lewis

At destination teams were to do an exercise of the team’s choice. The index cards also had 4 “get to know you” type questions to ask of the team members. YHC wrote up all of this voodoo, carried our team’s laminated index card and somehow forgot about the questions at the bottom of the card. Nice. But our team’s chatter was good, so the time still seemed well spent.

F3 Birmingham’s Scotty welcomed the PAX to the COT with bag pipes (video here), announcements, prayer requests, and prayer by Blue Angel.  Welcome FNG Halftime.

As always, it is a privilege to Q an F3 Birmingham workout and a pleasure to do so on Saturday at The Vulcan.

Thank you,

– Barney Fife


Gloom Mountain – 10/2/17

12 PAX gathered in the gloom to kick off their October with some body building.  With music already playing as we assembled on the cherished AstroTurf playground, the Star Wars “Imperial March” was this Q’s que to start a quick warm up to last through that piece.
Imperial Walkers > Ray Lewis > Arm Circles each way

Stations were set up along the length of one side of the turf playground. At each cone an index card specified a workout.
1. Merkins
2. Pick up rock (overhead)…put rock down
3. Kick backs with bricks
4. Bicep curls with 20 lb dumbbells
5. Flutter Kicks
7. Bent over rows with 30 lb GoRUCK plate
8. LBCs
9. Overhead (military) presses with 30 lb dumbbells
10.Sprint to other side of playground and back
11.Side Straddle Hop
12.Burpee stick

File Oct 02, 10 21 13 PM

With tunes playing, men took up stations and performed each exercise until the man at the SQUATS station (who was heads up and facing the line) chose to say “shift” at which time everyone shifted to the right and took up the next exercise.  We did this for about 42 minutes. It was work.

The PAX endured an eclectic mix (visible to iTunes users here: )  that included Colourmusic, Shannon, Imagine Dragons, Chaka Khan, Joy Division, Iggy Pop, Foster the People, Madonna, Bleachers, and Teena Marie’s “Lead Me On”.

Prayer requests, announcements, and Tinactin prayed over us.  To YHC it felt like a fun morning – something a bit different to kick off October.



9/11 Q at Gloom Mountain

Gloom Mountain Workout- 9/11/17

Jean-Luc has the face palm covered for you, but go ahead and boo if so inclined.  I deserve it.  YHC did Q Gloom Mountain on 9/11 and this late BB is to counter the F3 maxim “if there is no backblast, the workout never happened”.  Had I taken 10 minutes to write this up on that day, I’d have recalled precisely which other 7 men stepped up and posted in the incoming tropical storm.  No more tardy backblasts for me.

NO WARM UP (nobody got a warm up on September 11, 2001)

Mosey to the fire station 
To honor first responders we set up right in front of the fire truck bay doors…

10 SC (good form!) Merkins
IC Flutter Kicks
10 SC Merkins
IC Rosalita
10 SC Merkins
IC Copperhead Squats
10 SC Diamond Merkins
IC Shoulder Taps
10 SC Single-leg Merkins

Mosey to Simmons Middle School
Lined up at the bottom of front parking lot and with instructions to not run alone (partners not necessary, but don’t be alone)…
Bear crawl halfway up to the parking lot stairs,
then carry another nearby PAX the rest of the way and up the stairs,
then jog down the other side of parking lot
Rinse and repeat. We did a few of these with no defined number of round trips, but rather for a set amount of time.

Mosey to the wall in front of Simmons with benches
9 SC Decline Merkins
11 SC Dips
Repeat 4x (a round for each plane full of lives lost on 9/11
To recover, People’s Chair against the wall.

Mosey to Gwin Elementary playground
11 pull ups (aid another PAX if needed…nobody needed help)

Mosey to the track and field
Sprint/Walk (sprint the full length of the field as a unit/walk back together
We repeated multiple rounds of these, again with no set number of trips, but rather for a set amount of time. YHC read about this exercise somewhere and enjoyed trying it out.  I think it’s a keeper.

That was most of it. We may have done a few more Merkins before wrapping up at the flag. We discussed 9/11 a bit during the morning and remembered those who lose their lives on that day and the MANY who have sacrificed in the wars ever since that day.

Thank you to the PAX who left their homes that morning to workout with their brothers outside in the oncoming TS Irma.

Best regards,


Photo Sep 17, 6 37 32 PM