Some how, some way, I found myself standing in the rain with my oldest daughter at the start line of a Warrior Dash at 9:30am. In hindsight, that wasn’t as weird a moment as maybe it should have been. But staying true to my 50-54 age group, I was very happy to hear I had time to warm up by running over to the row of honeybuckets to empty my bladder.
For just a little more than two weeks prior, I had been doing my best to prepare to participate in (I just can’t justify saying that I “ran” it) the Warrior Dash in North Bend, Washington last weekend. I had undertaken to walk/jog upwards of 4 miles at a time around town in the hope of quickly building some essence of endurance that would allow me to at least finish the course unassisted in an upright position. During those two weeks, I think I was able to drag my lazy ass out to run all of four or five times, justifying the days in between as healing/recovery periods that would help make me stronger.
Back at the start, I advised my daughter not to look back once the group was released onto the course and to feel free to clean off, get something to eat, write home, etc. before looking for me at the finish. And this was even more important since she had brought a video camera to document the day with. Video evidence of my participation was not something I was going to encourage.
If you’re not familiar with what Warrior Dash is, it’s an obstacle course strewn across over 3 miles of pasture land and woods. It’s become very successful, being held at dozens of locations around the world. The obstacles include
- Barricade Breakdown
- Climb over 4′ wall, crawl under 2′ beam, repeat and repeat.
- Road Rage
- Run (?) through dozens of tires, climb over junker cars, repeat
- Warrior Wall
- A too damn high vertical wall with meager footholds and a rope on one side and a framework of 2x4s to climb down on the other side, no repeat thank gawd
- Cargo Climb
- Cargo net rope thrown across another too damn high vertical framework. Climb up/down the netting.
- Chaotic Crossover
- Cross a cargo net rope laid horizontally. Think elephant walk
- Crawl across wet dirt under 2′ beams while in total darkness. If crowded expect to be nose-to-ass with someone and not able to know when to avoid contact.
- Deadman’s Drop
- Climb vertical wall only to discover no footholds on the other side. Nothing to do but slide down the slight incline.
- Warrior Roast
- Jump over line of raging fire, repeat
- Muddy Mayhem
- This is the finish line photo prep stage. Crawl on all fours through deep mud. Failure to stay low in the mud will risk an encounter with the barb wire set overhead.
Sounds fun right? It is, if you’re conditioned to hoof four or five miles in a reasonable amount of time. My challenge was I could run a little more than a mile before needing to break stride and walk a bit to recharge (read catch my breath). Also, I suffer from an irrational (is there a rational version?) fear of heights. This made the too-damn-high vertical obstacles extremely foreboding and I’m sure my facial expressions while making the transition from climb to descent (read flopping over the top) were great entertainment for those silenting urging me not to seize up in a frozen terror.
Much to the benefit of my pride, I accomplished all the vertical obstacles on the first attempt. Surprisingly, the one that tripped me up and I aborted was when I had to navigate some uneven 2x6s laid 3′ above the ground. I envisioned slipping off and straddling the beam. That likelihood was just too much and I bailed about 1/4 the way through. Heck, I’d just climbed a bunch of walls and shit. My pride could handle walking away from this little teeter-todder obstacle.
Near the end of the course, slippery uneven terrain become slopes of deep shoe-sucking muck. I thought I was weary by that point but I had no idea how tired I’d get over the last quarter-mile. Plodding through deep muck is the most tiring thing ever. It sucked the very life from me at that point. Another wall to climb over, check. Fire barriers to hurdle, check. Enter the Muddy Mayhem, holy hell…
Somewhere in the crowd I heard what sounded like my daughter yipping and yelling, “Go Dad! Woohoo! Here he comes!” I looked over (a real trick at this point because it was all I could do to slog forward without tipping over) and there she was with that damn camera in hand. I feigned a smile and a salute (seeing the video later you can see my hand barely reaching my chin so it looked more like a John Wayne impersonation). Someone ahead of me layed down in the mud and started making a mud angel. “Make a mud angel Daddy!” I heard from the side. “Oh hell, no,” I thought. “I’ll never get up.” I went belly down under the barbed wire and made it to the finish line (enough said). I sincerely believed that I couldn’t have gone another fifty feet in that mud. I was spent.
In true warrior fashion, the means of washing off the muck was to stand by a water truck and wait until they unleash a 4″ pipe of icy-cold water on the crowd. I couldn’t breath. It knocked the wind out of me so I quickly (?) staggered away only a little less muddy and swearing that I had a newfound appreciation for my mud coating and I didn’t need it gone after all.
So that’s the long and the short of it. After about fifteen minutes or so I had returned to a less zombie-like appearance, could speak in complete sentences and most people had stopped pointing.
This is definitely one of those things that “seemed like a good idea at the time,” “I am glad to say I did it,” and I sincerely doubt I’ll do it again.
My daughter did really good and not just in comparison. She finished 278th out of 559 in her age group. Consider she accomplished that videoing all the obstacles while providing narration.
My time and rank? The top ranking warriors finished the course in 23 minutes. There were 105 warriors in the males age 50-54 bracket and I finished 98th in that group taking over an hour to finish.
Yea me! I’m not last! I’m good with that.