Trail running and ski mountains are great on their own for their traditional roles: I’m always one to enjoy a jog through the woods and a snowboard ride down a mountain (though I am not at all good at it.) But what happens when you take a location like a ski mountain, subtract the snow, add some crazy obstacles, dump a lot of mud, start a few fires, and distribute beer, chicken legs, and merchandise? You can get almost anyone to run a 5k for that. (Even those people who claim they’d rather die than run more than half a mile.) This is the Warrior Dash, and a lot of adventure races are springing up in the wake of this race and others like it that pioneered the movement.
Outdoors lovers who are used to taming the wilderness with a few friends, by boat or by their own steam, will enjoy this change in pace. It’s an event: a celebration in combination with its focus on athletics and competition. And that’s making more people than ever get out there and become “warriors”.
Warrior Dash has been around for 3 years, and it’s been testing the limits of outdoors events since it began. Red Frog Events, the creators of the race, expects to host a total of 65 races in 2012 spanning across the entire country. So it you’re interested in running, there’s bound to be one near you within the year. And there’s a hell of a lot of reason why you should sign up. Now.
First of all, it’s just plain fun. For everyone. Seriously. I ran the Warrior Dash on Windham Mountain, a ski mountain in New York last August. I heard about the race from various friends and family members, and, being a pretty active and fun-loving 19 year old at the time, I decided I had to sign up. And I got my parents to come along and run with me in addition to my good friend! While we were there we saw a man dressed like Avatar, teams of people in tutus and other crazy outfits, younger kids celebrating with their older sibling or parent who had run the race, and older men and women who kicked my ass during the race itself. There’s a place for everyone in the race, and it’s not like they’ll kick you off the course if you don’t finish in a certain time.
So now that I’ve convinced you to do it:
Here are A Few Tips From Experience:
1. Wear shitty sneakers you aren’t too fond of. Nothing that’ll split in half and injure you during the race, but nothing you spent a couple hunnits on. You can donate them after the race to Green Sneakers, a great partner of the Warrior Dash that donates shoes to the less fortunate. Just make sure to tie your laces together, and toss them onto the heap to be donated! It’s a fantastic cause, and you really don’t need that pair of sneakers you’ve had for 15 years that the dog chewed on anymore.
2. Duct Tape your sneakers on. Trust me. The mud will gladly take them if you don’t heed me.
3. Don’t wear anything you’re hugely attached to, but do wear something fun. If you’re doing it with friends, make some kind of uniform. Decorate shirts. I spray painted shirts for me and my parents, and it got me really excited weeks before the race.Cheap white shirts at Target or Walmart are the perfect candidates. Cut, style, and paint.
4. Bring. Dry. Clothes. It feels like Christmas morning putting clean socks and new shoes on post-race. The “showers” provided are more like crowded sprinkler systems that just spread the dirt around. DON’T wear a bright sports bra, its life will be over.
5. Take advantage of the post race celebrations. Have a beer, have a chicken leg, and wear your fuzzy helmet and medal. You deserve it, and it’s a party!
Once you get there and check it, the fun begins. Because the locations are places like ski mountains, parking shouldn’t be too difficult. Waves are released about every half hour, and it’s not too strict which heat you run with (despite what the website says).There are usually about 12 obstacles per course, including things like barbed wire and a mud pit, a slip ‘n slide (watch out for rocks under it!), a trench of muddy water, ropes to climb, and fire to jump over. None of them are too hard, and as long as you don’t mind getting a little (okay, a lot) muddy, you’re just gonna be enjoying yourself the whole time. In this case, everyone really is a winner. And there are pictures taken of you during the course that you can order and hang on your wall and brag to people about how bad-ass you look. I mean, who doesn’t look bad-ass jumping over fire?
So in total, if you choose to run the Warrior Dash, you’ll receive:
1. A fantastic experience with the fantastic company (friends, families, rivals) of your choice
2.A 5k-6k run/workout.
3. A furry warrior helmet.
4. A medal.
5. A timed chip that you can trade in for a FREE beer.
6. An awesome shirt and race bib. (I collect the bibs from my races.)
7. Live music.
8. Awards to the top three finishers in each gender/age division.
9. Opportunities to fund-raise for charities like St. Jude’s.
10. A day long festival with food and friends.
Be a warrior!!!
P.S. Next up on my race docket is hopefully the Tough Mudder…If I can find someone to do it with me and a location I can get to, I’m totally in. I probably won’t train, because you know, I do things live. It’ll be awesome. Outdoor adventures come in all kinds of packages.