Last year, I did the Warrior Dash up in Huntersville, NC. I more or less did it alone, so I buzzed through it as though it was an actual race, finishing in 35 minutes. It was a whole lot of fun, but it was over quickly and I didn’t have as much fun as everyone else racing, who did it in groups.
I even whipped up a graphic for us, which said “Running for the Hell of It” a reaction to some shirts I saw at a race that said “Running for Jesus.” (Yes, I’m sacrilegious, but I don’t care. I liked the play on running being a certain kind of hell.)I even gussied up the whole outfit with devil horns and striped stockings (thank you Party City. Oh and bonus: stockings did NOT rip and they helped protect my knees. Must be made of tyvek or something.)
Here’s what was different this year:
- I ran a whole lot slower and I didn’t care at all. We ran as a group and had a great time. We stood on top of obstacles and yelled “I’m king of the world” and felt like we were. So much better to do it with friends.
- I brought the wrong shoes. When push came to shove, I just wasn’t ready to part with the old running shoes. Instead, I went with old Jazzerciseshoes. Huge tactical error; NO tread on these shoes whatsoever and when you were on very muddy trails through the woods, well, you’re gonna slip. And boy, do I have a bruise on my ass to prove that.
- I forgot my own advice.I didn’t bring a towel AGAIN even though I told everyone else to bring a towel. Clean up was in a lake instead of from a water truck, so you were going to go home still fairly muddy no matter what you did. I did bring just about everything else: change of clothes (including undies), flip flops (a MUST), water, vegetarian food (although I appreciate the Bear Naked granola!), my photo ID. I forgot the plastic baggies, but then they had those anyway, which I then forgot to grab one. I managed to pack it in the bags that the hats came in. (Where does my kid get her ADD? No idea.)
- It was muddier. Much muddier.I chalk this up to the change in location. Last year, I believe there was no natural body of water around. This year, they had a nice little lake. So, water was central. We waded through a football field length, getting to points where I had to swim. We jumped off a dock, onto some sort of wobbly plastic floating thing and back in the water. As a result, the ensuing trails were soggy. I feel for those that went after us, as it was only going to get much worse!
- It was still in the middle of nowhere,but not as much in the middle of nowhere. It was north of Clayton (which is a cute little mountain town), where we were shuttled up in school buses. Mountain City is a bit of a camping spot, with lots of cabins and grounds and the like around it. As a result, there were lots of small businesses set up: lemonade stands, showers, pretzels, you name it. So, it felt a little more like a carnival, which was very cool!
- I swear, there were a lot more obstacles this year. Still, this was also awesome. I lost count around 7. We climbed walls with rope ladders, up blocks, with ropes. We trudged through water and mud, even swam. We climbed over cars and walls. We crawled under nets (which will catch devil horns) and barbed wire. Heck, we even slid down gigantic water slides, which is the reason I have angry red scratches on the other cheek, because at the end I slid into a mud puddle with a lot of grit.
- It was a little less organized-feeling this year. Maybe it’s because the registration table was right next to a slope. Maybe it’s because the dude that got my registration looked for it under PARDO despite handing him my ID. Maybe it’s because the gear check line was crazy because they couldn’t find someone’s bag for 20 minutes. It was still GREAT but a little more chaotic than the one in NC.
There was a LOT less running this year. And I don’t think this was because we were hanging as a group, either. Lots of this went through what really wasn’t running trails, but hiking trails. Plus, the thing was dense with obstacles, so it wasn’t like you were going to sprint 50 feet and stop to wait in line. Still, when we broke out of the woods, I flew down the hill, arms over head yelling, ready to leap over fire, which I gleefully did twice. A crawl through a fairly long mud pit and I had another Warrior Dash medal, which I made sure to mark with lots of mud.
I’d advise anyone to put this on their bucket list. It’s just the silliest, funnest day ever. A gigantic adult playground for those that aren’t afraid of dirt and mud and germs and heights and water. I’ll be showing off my warrior wounds with pride. (OK not the scratches on my ass. No one really needs to see that.)
UPDATE: a video of this reminded me of all we did, so here’s the breakdown:
- Water walk: get wet right at the start! Your shoes are trashed half a mile into this one, folks. And, if you’re short, you’re gonna be swimming briefly. Still, nice and cool, felt good.
- Net walk: you crawl through mud under barbed wire into a net that goes across sand until you are able to stand. This was the only obstacle where the horns were a problem.
- Barricades: under barbed wire and over (what for me is) chest high walls. Piece of cake.
- Rope wall: secret: I LOVE this wall. It makes me feel strong, climbing up it. It was a little precarious at the top, as you had to figure out the end of the rope and putting yourself over the other side.
- Tire walk: a mere blip of an obstacle.
- Water dump: jump in and it’s deep! You climb up on this plastic thingy and crawl over them, jumping back in the water and swimming across. Note: good core muscles pay off here.
- Muddy hill: don’t know if this was an intended obstacle or not, but it was one of the toughest. Uber-slippery!
- Rope ladder wall: no problem! Fun fact: top of wall, where you could stand: totally muddy from previous obstacles.
- Climbing wall with pole: another obstacle that was just tougher on us short folks (I’m a hair under 5’2″.) Here I am grateful for Jazzercise and my natural flexibility as my knee was under my elbow as I reached for blocks to haul myself up the wall. The pole was more intimidating than it looked. I looked to the volunteer for advice on sliding down. This was the one obstacle where I hesitated this year.
- Spider walk: awkward but fun.
- Water slide: this looked to be a blast! It was, except unlike others who got stuck at the bottom, I made it all the way and right into the mud at the bottom. I’m not scared of the mud but my backside got some fierce scratches on it. No flesh-eating bacteria today; they’re healing up.
- Junkyard: so hilarious to crawl over old cars. “I’m King of the WORLD” hell yeah.
- FIRE: once you’re done with the cars, you’re in an open field. I ran past that, down the slope with my arms in the air and leapt over the fire. My absolute favorite moment.
- MUDPIT: not only are you crawling under barbed wire to a very watery mud pit, you get commentary. Fun fun fun.