Yesterday was the Warrior Dash. I woke early and headed over to Corey’s house. I knew I was excited as I woke long before the alarm went off. Picking up Corey at 7:00 we hit the road.
Corey and I have both raced more times than we could possible count, but today was going to be different, we were not racing, but rather, heading to our first Warrior Dash. Neither of us knew what to expect, at least I did not. It can be best described as a 5K meets and obstacle course. But as we had never done that before we were treading into a new area. We had hoped that Jeff and Jay might join us and have it be a real guys event, but they had passed. Too bad.
Immediately upon arriving we knew that the days was going to be a blast. We had missed one part of the description, 5K, check, obstacle course, check, and party! Wha-hoo. The place was packed and it was still early. Typical runners Corey and I checked out the course and had a few people give us the run-down of what to expect.
Just prior to the first wave going off, we warmed up and made our way over to the start line. For the next 6 hours, runners’… better, Warriors would be launching in groups of 500 every 30 minutes. That is 6,000 people and this was the second day, it had sold out on Saturday! Corey and I figured they raked in about $1 million over the two day weekend.
It was determined that this was going to be just for fun, no pressure, no racing and do not get hurt, in less than a month we would start training for Chicago. Lining up, warmed up we fell just behind some very eager runner, with a blast of fire and cannon shot we were off, I should say Corey was off… I quickly caught up and thought, ah.. too fast. But rather than voicing my concern I fell in nicely behind him as he cut a path for the first mile.
After the first mile the fun began… the obstacles upon reaching water’s edge, we traversed 2 x 10 planks submerged in the water for 25 yards, hoping back on land briefly before jumping into waist deep water and trudging, diving, swimming for the next 50 yards. Exiting onto the beach, we rounded a corner and ahead lay waiting 40 yards of tires, rather than stepping in each tire hole, I ran the side walls… much faster. A series of three walls came next and each were quickly dispatched, EZ-PZ.
A short run was interrupted by a 15 foot wall and to be climbed by rope and foot, think Batman and Robin style. A dash to the cargo nets and another 15 foot climb, first up and then down, again not too bad. A quick sprint over some junked cars, Corey had the perfect “Starsky and Hutch” slide as I leaped up and over.
Next came the ascent, not a nice even footpath, but rather an ever narrowing path, with branches and roots and rocks and mud, each of them trying to grab your ankle and throw you to the ground, if the climb did not have your heart racing, the treacherous footing did. High knees and loose ankles were in order as you bound from footing to footing. Reaching the top most people stopped and took a breather. No time for that... ahead were 20 yards of small dark tubing and the only way through was on your hands and knees, this was fitting because at this point, you were out of breath and heading into that postion anyway.
Exiting the tubes it was a now a downhill dash, speed versus safety, legs seemed to fly wildly as you ran down the hill. Racing down a narrow muddy, root and rock covered trail. Just as you gained speed you would hit a felled tree or logs to impede your path. Calculating jumps and looking downhill for safe landing were paramount to eliminating a major face plant. Too fast came to mind on several precarious jumps while trying to maintain downhill speed.
In the near distance you could hear the roar of the crowd, further calling you to throw caution to the wind. The crowd noise came at the same time you had to make a sharp left turn over a creek with a slime covered rock that begged you to take a chance and use it as a place to land, no way.... over the rock.
Emerging from the downhill run, a quick left was followed by a quick right and a 15 foot drop down an embankment. I recall looking ahead and seeing a guy hosing down the slick muddy surface as I was running at top speed. I thought briefly, “I got a bad feeling about this” smiling to myself I picked a path and made like a goat, hop – hop – hop – splash, right into 3-4 feet of mud, soupy-gooey mud. It was in my mouth, ears, everywhere, I would find a lot of it later in the shower, I was covered. No time to worry about that, there were 400 people behind me and I did not feel like being at the bottom of a dog pile in the mud.
Wading through the mud while ducking under 4 sets of barbed-wire that were progressively lower as you went forward. The first three were easy, the last one left its mark on my back like racing stripes, I did not feel it at the time, though I did hear the crowd gasp when it happened. Good thing I was not wearing a shirt, true Warrior Style!
The next 100 feet looked easy enough, mostly a muddy surface. The reality was you were running on grease. It was slick and a mis-step would put you on your ass or your face. Clearing the mud another beach and 4 lumber-jack log sitting in waist deep in water, up-over, up-over, four times. By this time you were with the crowds as they cheered you on, a quick assault of a wood and 2 x 4 wall, it was time to sprint. The cheering fueled the fire… ahead you could see the flames. Real flames, about 3 feet high, too high to hurdle completely you cleared the burning logs (Duraflame) and went right through the fire. 25 feet later, done. Warrior.
What a blast. I had a great time, Corey and I grabbed our free beers and ate turkey legs like we were, well, Warriors.
Sitting down we later hooked up with two other great athletes who had also completed the Warrior Dash earlier. Now fueled by a few beers, and having a good time, it was casually thrown out that we should run it again… a consensus was reached and we did, though this time at friendly pace, it was much more fun as we cheered and jeered each other on.
The great part about being an athlete is the cool people you meet and great things you get to do, strangers hours before and now Warriors together. Best part of running... see great places, do great things and meet great people.
More beer, music, and fun we raced one more time as the day came to a close for us Weekend Warriors. Gathering our gear we headed our separate ways each committing to race again next year or consider an adventure race some time later this year. Perhaps the Red Speedo Dash in December or the Fig Leaf 5000 next April.
The end to a great day was briefly hampered by me losing my keys, but they were eventually found and the ride home was filled with memorable stories of the day. A big thanks to Corey for hanging with me to collect first place AG and also helping me track down my keys. I’ll not live that down for a while and to our new friends, thanks for the fun time!