The Warrior Dash
I consider myself an athletic, in shape, twenty-something. I run, I eat healthy, I work out every week. So I may gorge and knock back a few beers on the weekends, but I am far from feeble and frail. So when a college friend of mine called and asked me to run a 3.17 mile race with him I quickly agreed. Little did I know, the race was the Warrior Dash.
The Warrior Dash is a 3.17 mile race that has strategically placed obstacles along the way. Now, these are not your mother’s obstacles. These are tough, muscle-tearing, bone-crushing obstacles. This is my account of my hellish day at the Dash.
Leaving home and heading to Joliet, I had no clue on what to expect. It had rained extremely hard the three days prior to the race, and I knew it would be extremely muddy and hot. At 2pm it was humid and in the upper 80s. As I pulled up into the race area an ambulance pulled away. Great omen.
Getting out of my car I quickly realized I did not get the memo on race attire. I dressed in my normal running attire and was surrounded by people dressed as professional wrestlers, cheerleaders, bananas, Borat, priests, and a lot of people in jorts (jean shorts). This was a people watching mecca. The race area had beer tents, big ass turkey legs, and live music. I tip-toed through the muddy ground to the check-in tent — this would be my last moment of cleanliness. My check-in packet included a commemorative shirt, nutrition bar, a ticket for a free beer and, best of all, a warrior viking-esque helmet.
Two giant flamethrowers expelled fire into the air to signal the start of the race, and we were off. Positioned in the back of my heat, I had to weasel my way through the crowds to get to my proper pace. During this process I passed the lady cougars — a group of middle aged women wearing shirts proclaiming “lady cougar” on the front and “we eat your young” on the back. They slapped every young guys ass as they passed them. That smack might have been my only motivation to not slow down later.
When I came to the first obstacle, a bunch of junkyard cars, I decided to barrel-roll over the roof of the first one yelling in the process. The second, I used the window as a step to walk over. After hurdling three or four more cars, I had made it past the first obstacle with success. Next stop: the forest. The ground in the forest was very wet and slippery from the rain. I soon was standing in front of large wooden spools (think of the ones you see along the road). This was a hard one to conquer. I threw myself over the spools and then had to quickly move across a plank that was over a large gully. As luck would have it, at this point I had been separated from my friends… I’m certain they would have pushed me in!
I continued my forest run up and down muddy slopes and hills. One of the hills had a large vertical incline and I kept slipping down it because of the mud. Later I found out there was a rope to help pull yourself up the hill but it was buried in the mud. When reaching the top of the hill I could see the sun shining from outside the forest. It ended up being, quite literally, a light at the end of the tunnel — as the next obstacle was crawling through large tunnels! A nice touch: being on your hands and knees following a 250 pound man in a fairy skirt.
Out of the forest, I ran along enjoying the relatively flat dry ground — this was until I approached the mud pit. The mud pit was a waist deep pool of mud and water that is 30-feet long. Only one thought crossed my mind: ‘I need to hit this pit hard and fast.’ Taking the pit at full steam, I made it halfway across when my feet began to stick in the soft muddy bottom. I almost lost both my shoes (apparently a common occurrence). Exiting the pit, I was soaked in heavy wet mud from the waist down. My shoes now felt like they each weighed ten pounds from the excess mud clinging to them and my shorts where falling off. Pushing on, I ran between a makeshift town and up to a set of 4-foot walls. There were approximately six walls and I threw myself over each one ramming my shins into two of them.
With the finish line in sight, I rejoiced that only a few obstacles laid between me and the end. Little did I know how wrong I was. First, a 15-foot tall pyramid of hay bales. Next, a 20-foot cargo net, followed by a dozen 6-foot mounds. I could feel I was close, though. All I had to do was jump over two rows of flaming logs and crawl under 30 feet of barbwire in mud.
Done. 30-minutes later, I finished the race and was exhausted, covered from head to toe literally in mud and sweat — the uniform of a true warrior. I hung around the Warrior Dash grounds people-watching and participated in the festival for a few more hours. And of course, I claimed my free beer… because, damnit, I earned it. At the end of the day, though, it was back to the city… to my normal, non-warrior life.
*Special thanks to Kevin Hoak, UPchicago Guest Writer*