This past weekend, I ran my third Warrior Dash, a 3.4-mile, muddy obstacle race where you get to leap over fire, climb cargo nets, and swim through water. Husband and I decided to run with Adventure Time outfits; he dressed in almost his entire Finn costume, and I wore a Lumpy Space Princess-inspired outfit. (If I had more time to think it over, I would have worked on a costume, but ….. lazy.)
The Warrior Dash is the original mud race, but has since spawned about 100 different rip-off variants, which is probably why the actual Warrior Dash doesn’t seem to be as popular as it used to be. In 2012, there were three separate races in Florida; now there’s only one and it includes less waves. But despite the fact that there are longer, more challenging races, some with foam, and some with nudity (really!), the Warrior Dash remains my go-to mud run.
This year, we carpooled with our friend Thaddeus, who is an insane race addict (seriously, he ran a half marathon the next morning – dude is a beast!), and he and Markus were pretty tolerant of my awful running abilities. I don’t really run anymore and in fact the last time I ran was the 2013 Disney Princess Half Marathon. Apparently MMA and weightlifting don’t equal advanced cardio running skills so we joked that I was creating the “Warrior Stroll.”
The race was on a mud ranch in the middle of nowhere in Lake Wales, Florida. I still dislike that you have to pay $10 to park on top of $6/beer (other than the free one), but c’est la capitalism. There also isn’t water before the race other than $2 bottles, something I didn’t remember from last time. This year, though, Warrior Dash really won me over with the introduction of awesome female and male shirt variances! The shirts are also much higher-quality than last year’s shirts (the arm holes were sewn so poorly last year that neither of us could wear them and they transformed into cut-off gym wear) and finally RED – woo!
The first portion of the race was mainly walking/wading through muddy water pits. Since we have had monsoon-type rains the last three days, it’s hard to say what was an obstacle and what was Mother Nature. It did get a bit tedious, though, when it was just working through shallow mud over and over again.
Most of the obstacles were fun, but they seemed to be clustered too closely with long stretches of trail running in between. I am really proud to say I completed 12/13 obstacles, with the exception being “Hangtime” – a set of high and low monkey bars over a pit of water. I took my penalty and jumped in the water since unfortunately my grip was slipping way too much.
The official obstacles we encountered were Alcatraz, the Cargo Climb, Giant Cliffhanger, Goliath, Hangtime, Muddy Mayhem, Storming Normandy, Tires, Trenches, Two X Fall, and the trademark Warrior Roast (you can see videos of the different obstacles on their main site, here.) The most challenging moment for me was when we arrived at the Cliffhanger, wherein we had to use a knotted rope to pull ourselves up a steep incline of wooden walls. It was really terrifying for me being afraid of heights and all, but thanks to an awesome, fellow runner lady at the top and my husband, I just barely squeaked by without falling on my face. Thankfully, I’ve been working on my upper body strength over the last eight weeks!
Overall, the course was muddy and fun running as a group, but it was a little lackluster from previous years. Still, it’s always a good time jumping around and crawling through dirt, fantasizing that you’re scaling Mt. Doom or sneaking through the trenches to attack some Reapers. The final obstacle for the race was wading/crawling beneath barbed wire through a muddy clay trench, which turned everything and everyone a spectacular orangish red color. (There’s just something fun about getting super filthy! Inner child, maybe.)
The medals this year were awesome and true to tradition, serve a double purpose as a bottle opener. This year’s post-race party was also sponsored by Shocktop, which is a HUGE improvement from the Miller Lite-focused events of the past. They offered a choice of five different Shocktop beers; I settled on an absolutely delicious honey crisp apple wheat beer that has earned a top place in my heart. We did manage to skip the tasty smelling turkey legs this year (I always fall for them and then immediately regret my decision) and opted instead for some granola and recovery formula, but man, those are always extremely tempting post-race!
So if you’re planning to attend a Warrior Dash this year, here are some helpful tips …
Bring plenty of towels and wet wipes! There are hoses with water and possibly open shower stalls, but it doesn’t do much and your car WILL get dirty. Bring a towel to clean off and another towel to sit on in the car.
- Bring an extra pair of shoes/flip flops (clothes, too, if you want!) Your shoes will be so disgusting that you might decide to throw them into the large shoe donation pile at the end of the race. If not, bring a spare pair for the drive home.
- Bring some trash bags! You’ll want to take all of those muddy, dirty clothes and lock them away until they can hit the laundry.
- Bring a cooler of bottled water and snacks! There might not be water before the race so you’ll want to hydrate beforehand. It’ll also be helpful to have snacks such as bananas, jerky, or whatever post-exercise nutrition you prefer. It’s also a LOT cheaper on your wallet and thanks to the concert-style atmosphere of the post-race party, you can have family/friends set up a HQ with chairs, towels, and the cooler in tow.
- Wear gloves! Your hands will get wet and gloves are extremely helpful for traction purposes. Plus, holding on for dear life to a knotted rope can be painful.
- Wear sunscreen! You’d be surprised how quickly you can get burned to a crisp before, during, and after the race so apply it just to save yourself some pain the next day.
- Bring cash! Warrior Dash functions on a cash system and you don’t want to pay those high on-site ATM fees so come prepared.
Until next year, here’s to another successful bout of mud, sweat, and beer! Cheers, warriors!