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Mud, sweat, and beer: The Warrior Dash

Updated on July 20, 2013

Starting line

Ready, set, dash!
Ready, set, dash!

Race day prep

Leading up to the Warrior Dash, I focused on building upper body strength, and did a ton of trail running. My reasoning for hitting the trails, aside from it being a fun way to get my cardio training in, was that I wanted to get comfortable on uneven and changing terrain. As a noodle-armed gal, I knew scaling the 15 foot wall obstacles would be a challenge, so I did a little extra homework at the gym leading up to the race. (Assisted pull-ups, push ups, etc). Other than that, I didn't go nuts. The folks at Warrior Dash provide you with a helpful checklist of what you ought to bring with you. As a fair skinned lady, I made sure I packed sunscreen. Also gals, because the water isn't treated throughout the course, I'd maybe forgo shaving the morning of the race. (Never can be too cautious, I reckon). Having some water to stow away for post-race is a good move, and there will be water stations throughout the course. I wore tall socks (the crazier the better) and that kept me mostly unscathed, although I did bring home some pretty amazing, scratches, bumps, and bruises. (Total badges of honor!) I recommend allowing plenty of time to get parked, settled in and pick up your packet, get bibbed, all that. Inevitably traffic jams will happen, and any less things to stress about the better. Also, the team nature of this event makes crazy costumes totally acceptable, encouraged, and the more creative the better. This is fun stuff.

The course

The Warrior Dash is roughly a 5k racecourse smattered with a dozen obstacles. The obstacles vary from race to race, but you can expect some kind of cargo net to climb, some 15 ft walls to shimmy over, and if you're lucky a giant Slip n' Slide (more on that later). Oh, and yes, from what I understand, most Dashes end with participants jumping over fire, and then slogging through some of the thickest mud ever, like in the history of the world.

Personally, I knew that the walls would be most likely the toughest for me, and boy was I right. I did okay using the ropes to haul myself up and over, and only once made a course attendant chuckle, at what I'm sure had to look like a ridiculously unorthodox method of wall-scaling, as I lost footing, and then frantically flipped myself up and over, kind of like a dying fish. What I didn't anticipate however, was feeling so uncomfortable being a measly 15 feet off the ground. I've done a ton of rock climbing, and never really appreciated just how much a harness creates a cozy, safe feeling. Turns out I'm not as comfortable with heights as I thought. What's great about this race is strangers pitch in and help even if it's just to cheer someone on.

So, back to the Slip n' Slide. I was most excited about this, but fuzzy childhood backyard memories have a way of smoothing over the reality of some things. Like, how sometimes Slip n' Slides built into a motocross park course may have some serious rocks hanging out under the tarps. It was definitely fun, but I left that obstacle in particular with a serious bruise on my tush.

In some ways the popularity of mud runs makes these events more social than all out physical affairs. Don't get me wrong you'll definitely be worn out after the race, and definitely a little battered, but inevitably some of the obstacles you'll find yourself waiting just a little bit to tackle. Some of this is for safety, and some of it is just because of how the waves are staggered. This is definitely an event where folks go at their own pace, and more than anything are focused on having a good time. The majority of people aren't out to destroy the course record, and that sets up a kind of laid-back tone to the Dash.

Just jumping over some fire....
Just jumping over some fire....
Oh, there will be mud.
Oh, there will be mud.

At the end of the race you'll be awarded a beer for turning in your race chip, and you can always purchase a giant turkey leg. Also, there is a hose truck provided on site to help rinse off some of the mud. What's extra cool about the Warrior Dash is it supports some great causes. If you're so inclined you can donate your muddy sneakers, and a good portion of the race entrance fee benefits St. Jude's. Each participant gets a fuzzy viking helmet, a t-shirt, and a medal for completing the race, and well, memories to last a lifetime. Have fun Warrior Dashers!

So. Many. Shoes.


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    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 4 years ago from Nottingham UK

      I have the Spartan Run in September to look forward to and this account has heightened my anticipation- tho not sure i'd let my running shoes go so easily!