First of all let me just say, I am not a fan of obstacles. I sold my mountain bike three years ago because I got tired of clipping in and out of my pedals all the time whenever there was a giant boulder or tree root in my way. I don't have a lot of skills and would rather just go as fast as I can go whenever I race; whether it be a bike race, running race, or triathlon.
So how did I get sucked into doing a Warrior Dash in the first place? My husband and I have been involved with the Palm Beach chapter Team in Training since 2006. Team in Training is the main fund-raising program for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. We are currently training for the Disney half marathon with Team in Training. A bunch of our Team in Training friends decided they wanted to do the central Florida Warrior Dash, which took placed in Lake Wales, in January 2011. My husband and daughter did that race together and had a blast. I was taking a brief rest from racing around that time and didn't want to put another race on my schedule.
But then a few months ago we saw the website had scheduled a race for south Florida in December. The south Florida Warrior Dash took place on Saturday, December 3 at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach. The Lake Wales race was a couple hour drive from our house, but Deerfield Beach is about a 20 minute drive from us. So of course I said sign me up when my husband and daughter said they were doing another Warrior Dash. Silly me.
What is the Warrior Dash?
The Warrior Dash, which can be classified as an adventure race, is put on by Red Frog Events. The Warrior Dash is a 5k, that's 3.1 miles, off road race with 10-12 obstacles scattered throughout the course. Depending on the location, the Warrior Dash is either a 1 day or 2 day event. Racers go off in waves of 500-600 people every half hour. You pick the day and time you want to race. My group picked the 1 PM wave, that way we could even get my 16 year old daughter, who normally sleeps until noon, to do the race. There were over 7,000 racers participating in the south Florida Warrior Dash, awesome!
The obstacles include mud pits, water crossings, fire pit and lots of climbing. They post up a course map for each race on the website including the types and locations of each obstacle. The obstacles listed on the website didn't match up exactly what was on the course the day of the race, but at least it gave us a general idea of what to expect.
Obstacles; Friend or Foe
I'm not a fan of heights so I was pretty sure there would be a few obstacles I would skip. The funny thing is, I love climbing! It's the turn around at the top and climb down the opposite side part that I couldn't do on some of the really high obstacles. So I would climb to the top of most of the high obstacles then climb back down on the same side. My friends all laughed at me, whatever. I'm not the only one that avoided some of the obstacles. On Sunday morning I was waiting in the bathroom line before the start of the Palm Beach Marathon. The girl standing behind me did the Warrior Dash, she said she didn't like the obstacles and went around almost all of them. Must be my long lost twin sister, we should start a club; chicken shit girls that like to race - LOL!
I loved the tire, wrecked cars, water, mud and fire obstacles; they were all a piece-of-cake. I even did the highest obstacle, a climbing wall which had a fireman's pole you had to slide down at the top. There was a solid platform at the top of the climbing part which you stood on before flinging yourself down the fireman's pole. I couldn't really see the ground from the solid platform so, although I was a lot higher than I would normally be comfortable with, because I couldn't see the ground I didn't freak out. I couldn't do the cargo net climb because I could see the ground through the nets. I'm just weird.
Above: the mud pit at the end of the south Florida Warrior Dash. Photo by Jacey Biery.
Name Your Obstacle
Some of the obstacles you might run into at the Warrior Dash include:
- rubber ricochet
- road rage
- giant cliff hanger
- dead-man's drop
- chaotic crossover
- tipsy tightrope
- storming Normandy
- vertical limit
- great warrior wall
- cargo climb
- warrior roast
- muddy mayhem
Bring a Change of Clothes
The very last obstacle at the Warrior Dash was the HUGE mud pit. If you managed to stay clean on the rest of the course, well, get ready to get muddy. There are chains strung across the mud pit so you had no choice but to go through it crawling on your hands and knees. You could keep your face/head/hair out of the mud, barely, but a few wacky participants dove head first into the mud pit or belly flopped at the end of the pit, fun times!
Everyone in my group picked out old clothes and shoes to race in. Trust me, you probably don't want to go home in the clothes and shoes you were racing in. Bring a change of clothes and shoes to change into after the race. We also brought along beach towels, garbage bags and wet wipes. There were showers/water trucks available at the end of the race. But the lines were pretty long. The south Florida race took place at a large park with a few lakes. A group of us went down to the water and cleaned off in one of the lakes rather than wait in line to be hosed off by the water truck. As we made our way down to the lake, we saw one of the water trucks refilling from the lake. Just make sure one of your friends goes into the water first, this is south Florida and alligators love lakes. :)
Used Shoe Collection
Green Sneakers sets up a tent at the Warrior Dash and collects donations of every ones used shoes at the end of the race. They clean up the sneakers and send them to groups of people in need, both domestically and abroad. Green Sneakers asks that you tie your shoes together, so they have matching pairs of sneakers. Sneakers all look pretty much the same when covered with mud. The parking lot also had large areas of donated shoes waiting to be picked up. We didn't want to walk back to the race start after getting cleaned up, so we started a pile of shoes right next to our car.
I would also suggest bringing a cooler with you filled with cold beverages, mostly beer in ours, and snacks. Each warrior over the age of 21 gets a free beer at the end of the race but the beer tent was way too crowded and we couldn't bring our 16 year old daughter with us so we skipped the free beer and made our way back to the parking lot where a friend of ours had lots of ice cold beer and snacks waiting for everyone. We were still starving as we left the race site, so some of us ended up driving over to BurgerFi in Delray Beach to stuff our pie holes with burgers and fries, mmmmm!
To Race or Not to Race
I wasn't going to do the Warrior Dash as a hard core race for a number of reasons.
1. I participate in 15-20 events per year. The end of November through end of January is normally the time of year I am winding down my race season and even taking some time off from my usual workout schedule.
2. I was racing a 10k the next day at the Palm Beach Marathon. I had a goal to go for a 10k PR so I was using Warrior Dash as more of a warm up than an actual race.
3. The Warrior Dash took place mainly on the mountain bike trails of Quiet Waters Park, so that meant off road/trail running for the majority of the race. Trail running mixed with 12 obstacles on the course sounded like it would be too easy to twist an ankle which I didn't want to do.
4. I ran the Warrior Dash with a good friend of mine that was just getting back into running after an injury. I knew she wasn't going to be going for a land speed record so we did the race at a slow jog/brisk walk. Also, almost every obstacle had a clog of people waiting to go through the obstacle so we usually had to wait for a minute or two before we could actually get through the obstacles.
Above: we used our house for the staging area before leaving for the race. This is a photo of my VIP lounge sign I placed on the front door - HA-HA! Event parking was $10 per vehicle, so we all managed to fit into our mini van and friends SUV to car pool to the race. Meeting at our house allowed us to finalize war paint application, grab a cup of coffee and take photos.
The Warrior Dash website currently shows 38 races planned for 2012 with additional locations to be announced later in the year. The race is not limited to the United States, you can also participate in a Warrior Dash in Great Britain, Canada or Australia! Warrior Dash swag included a t-shirt, viking hat and finishers medal, SWEET!
Lynn Smythe, AKA the Run Diva