Trek up steep trails. Wade through neck-deep water. Crawl under barbwire through two feet of thick mud. Jump over fire-burning coals. Climb a 30-foot cargo net. Cross over creeks. Roll down hills. Scrape up your hands and knees in the dirt. Walk the plank. Scale a rope wall. Run through tires. Puzzle through a junkyard of cars. And when you're finished? Get sprayed down by a fire hose.
Yeah, I did that all. Before lunch. And I jumped at the chance to pay $60 to be a part of it. Why? I suppose because it sounded fun.
Last weekend, I drove 2.5 hours to compete in the Warrior Dash, a Viking-themed 3.1-mile race through steep trails, peppered with obstacles along the way.
You see, as much as I still do enjoy running, I'm getting a little bored with the actual races. Each one blends into the next, and even though the courses and the crowds are all different, I need something more to get excited about. That's why every race I've signed up for this year has been something special. (Remember my Krispy Kreme Challenge?) And it doesn't get more "special" than the Warrior Dash, which takes place across the country (and even has events in Canada and Australia)!
As crazy as it sounds, what looked like a bunch of torture was actually a rolling good time. People come from far and wide to take part in these adventures—people of all sizes, shapes and fitness levels, too. They dress up in crazy costumes: I saw multiple superheroes, men in kilts, a man running in nothing but tighty whities, women in pink tutus, and young kids dressed as cavemen! Then we all get dirty (and I have the photos to prove it).
Although each Warrior Dash is a little different based on its location, and all of them do include quite of bit of running (you can also walk), the obstacles are the fun part. You have no choice but to get muddy, wet, completely dirty and soaked by the race's end. But oh the fun of it! Here are a few pics I snapped after the race was over. I didn't dare bring my camera or phone with me—and that's a good thing. Wait till you see how every single person crosses the finish line below.
Every participant gets an "I Survived the Warrior Dash" T-shirt, and this awesome Viking helmet! I took this pre-race but didn't wear it during, although many people did.
About halfway through the race, you're only wet from having crossed a large man-made pond of neck-deep water when you come to a cargo net that's at least 20 feet high (this one scared me a little at the top!), followed by a balancing series of board planks that you have to walk up and down.
I remember seeing photos and info on the Warrior Dash website about jumping over fire and thinking, "yeah, right." But there were not one, but two fire jumps! I was honestly scared of this one, but I got up the guts to do it and made sure to jump as high as I could. My husband had already finished by this point and I saw him on the sidelines cheering for me. A lot of people opted out of this obstacle (you can actually choose to walk past any of the obstacles in the race), but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it—just like these guys did!
Just when you think you're home free, you have to crawl through the thickest pit of mud ever and under barbwire before you make it to the finish line. What a way to finish!
No joke: Every single person who finishes the Warrior Dash looks like this when crossing the finish line. You may THINK you're going to stay dry or clean or somewhat clean, but no. Sorry, that is impossible. But that is why it's so crazy fun!
Needless to say, I was completely covered in mud from neck to toe when crossing the finish line, so I headed straight to the fire hoses to get cleaned off before I grabbed my camera to take a post-race picture (that's the one you saw way up top). Luckily, I brought extra shoes, towels, and a change of clothes with me!
Most people end up tossing their shoes in one of many piles of muddy sneakers that will take your muddy shoes for you and recycle them. I signed up months in advance for the race, so once one of my pairs of running shoes wore out, I stashed them in the basement to specifically wear to this so that I wouldn’t ruin a good pair of shoes. They sure came in handy!
When it's all over, racers get a free beer (it must be the official drink of warriors), bananas and water. Then a big party lasts all day long and into the night with live music, roasted turkey legs (they also had veggie burgers!), roasted ears of corn, and plenty of fun people-watching.
Overall, the Warrior Dash is a fun race for people of all fitness levels. Although I don't say this about many races, it's one I would definitely do again in the future. In fact, I can't wait for next year! It proves that fitness can be fun and that there are many reasons to get fit and be healthy. It's not always about running faster or farther or competing with others. Completing a marathon might not get you excited about running before work each day, but reaching a fun (or crazy) goal like this one just might!
If this type of race sounds fun or motivational to you, check out the Mudathlon, the Original Mud Run, or the Tough Mudder. Or the RunAmuck.
Have you heard of--or perhaps tried--the Warrior Dash? Would you like to try it?
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