Like any good son, Anthony Mazzio goes to visit his mom and dad whenever he can. Unlike most offspring, the 30-year-old places a 40-pound “ruck” on his back and speed walks the 38 miles between his Richland sanctuary and the Del Haven home of Kathy and Anthony Mazzio Sr.
The younger Mazzio is a proud and appreciative American who combines his love of exercise with an enduring respect and admiration for military members.
“I started that walk at 5 a.m. and ‘rucked’ to my parents’ house with about 40 pounds on my back in my ruck sack,” said Mazzio, a Flyers’ hockey enthusiast who also enjoys basketball. “I did this for the challenge and to honor the troops who every day keep us safe and help keep our nation great.”
A few years ago Mazzio heard about a military-themed workout organization called GORUCK. When he discovered their events and products, he was immediately hooked.
“I am very excited about my next challenge in September when we’ll honor those we lost in Sept. 11,” said Mazzio, who shares his Buena Vista Township farm with spouse, Jena, and a plethora of animals. “On Sept. 10, my birthday, I’ll be doing a GORUCK 24-hour event in New York City in honor of the Sept. 11 victims.”
GORUCK runs heavy, tough and light endurance events categorized by 24-, 12- or six-hour military-themed, physical-fitness activities. The 5-8, 180-pound Mazzio is striving to complete three consecutive events, back-to-back-to-back, culminating at Ground Zero where he’ll get his first look at the Memorial. That’s 42 hours of carrying the ruck pack and performing calisthenics.
“The events run Sept. 10 to 12 and we’ll be all over New York City doing many crazy exercises,” said Mazzio, who works as an armed officer at a nuclear plant and serves his community as a volunteer fireman. “This is all in tribute to those who sacrificed everything on that horrible day of Sept. 11, 2001.”
Anthony’s mother is very proud of her only son’s accomplishments. A South Philadelphia native, Kathy Mazzio and her now-retired spouse moved to Del Haven in 2011. She’s a security officer for the Middle Township Public Schools.
“Our son is very driven so this does not surprise me in any way,” she said. “We are so proud of him on so many levels. His resolve is evident in all that he does. He gives 100 percent to everything, whether it is his wife, his job, his farm or his firefighting.”
Aside from their energetic son, Kathy and Anthony Sr. have two daughters: Dana, 36, and Christina, a 33-year-old San Diego resident.
“Anthony is my only son, my baby, and I love him so much and I am so glad he is ours,” said Kathy. “I pray a lot for his safety. This is a crazy world we live in. He has had rucks in Atlantic City in February when it was 10 below zero and they had to go into the ocean. He has been on the streets of Philadelphia overnight and had some crazy things happen to him up there. God is probably sick of hearing from me by now!”
Kathy said her son “loved video games” as a child and also enjoyed fishing and swimming. He graduated Washington Township High School in 2003.
“What we’re most proud of is that Anthony is there whenever or wherever he is needed,” said mom. “No questions asked.”
For his part, the younger Mazzio loved competing in “mud runs” but aspired to a “bigger challenge.” About three years ago someone mentioned GORUCK and he’s been hooked since.
“They have many events that are led by retired Special Forces members,” said Mazzio, a vegetarian due to his love of animals. “You ruck over many miles and do exercises with a large team. It’s all about team effort. To me, carrying the ruck symbolizes the toughness of our military and all that they do to keep us free. They never stop and always complete their mission.”
Mazzio said a ruck is essentially “a fast-paced walk,” with a heavy-duty, military style backpack of the same name.
“In my ruck I have a 30-pound steel plate to simulate the weight of what military members carry,” he said. “Rucks are very well made for packing lots of stuff in all types of weather. I also have water in a camel pack, food, money, extra clothes and boots. A cell phone is good to have in case of emergency.”
Like many physically exerting endeavors, Mazzio said the grueling yet rewarding ruck events are more mental than physically challenging.
“It is mind over matter,” he noted. “The most enjoyable thing about rucking is completing a daunting task. When others say ‘no way’ and ‘you’re crazy,’ that’s what fuels me to push harder. I know I can physically do it, but many times my mind tells me to stop and give up, but you have to push past that and move forward. I always think of the military men and women and what they go through. I do this for them.”
stay in the know