Official Race Recap: Warrior Dash Edition

Last Saturday, May 18, I took part in one of the most fun running events I've enjoyed so far: The Warrior Dash. The Saturday before that, I did a Color Run. I disliked that event so much that I don't even plan to write a recap. Let's just say that inhaling colored corn starch for 45 minutes and looking like I have gangrene by the end were SO not my thing. Mud, on the other hand, I can totally get behind that!

Our start times wasn't until 1:30, so I woke up at a reasonable time and bummed around the house until my running compatriot and her husband, Karin and Jeff, came to pick me up. What a nice change from waking up at 5:30 (or earlier!) to get to most of my recent races.

Earlier in the week, the weather forecast was calling for sun and temps in the 80s but it turned out to be sort of a dismal day with rain and clouds. That suited me just fine since I sunburn like nobody's business and I hate running in hot weather. Anyway, rain couldn't help but contribute to all that glorious mud!

We arrived at Budd's Creek around 11 and were checked in well before noon. The check-in/finish area was filled with people who'd already run and were coated in mud, people waiting to run, and a healthy number of people in strange, hilarious, and even scandalous costumes. My favorites were: 1) a group of women dressed as various super heroes, complete with capes, 2) a pair of guys dressed as Princess Leia and Lara Croft, and 3) a group of older women wearing flannel nightgowns and hairnets over their curlers. Least favorite: the insane number of men in nothing but Speedos.

Before - we were so clean
Karin, Jeff, and I had fun observing while we waited for Michelle and Cassie, the remainder of our posse, to arrive. They showed up around 12:30, we donned our black headbands with "I am a warrior!" printed on them and dyed pink, knee-high tube socks, took some before photos, and got into the start corral to wait our turn.

After about twenty minutes, the starting flames flared and we were all on our way.

I knew we were going to be running through the woods but I had no frickin' clue that we were going to be climbing and descending incredibly steep hills for the first two miles. As far as I'm concerned, this was my very first trail race. The running was difficult, to say the least, then there were giant mud pits, walls to climb over and under, and a little barbed wire thrown into the mix.

Karin set the precedent of waiting for "the team" so we all pretty much stuck together throughout the run.

The majority of the obstacles were in the last mile of the race, which followed a motocross track. Though the motocross surface was a lot smoother than the woodsy trail, the hills did not let up.

I skipped the wall you had to climb with just a rope and some tiny footrests and skinned my knee while descending another obstacle. I managed to climb over and slide down most things quickly and with some grace.

My favorite obstacle, by far, was the huge slip 'n' slide. I would have repeated it if doing so hadn't meant climbing a giant hill and waiting in line for 15 minutes. My least favorite came right after the slip 'n' slide and consisted of five back-to-back A-frames that seemed like a compound fracture waiting to happen. Karin didn't even attempt it. The rest of us skipped out after making it over the first A-frame.

I don't remember much between that and the end, where we ran over fire and then crawled through a mud pit. The mud seemed like straight up clay. It threatened to claim your shoes whether you tried to walk through or crawled on your belly. Like snow, the heavier a person was, the deeper she sank and the more difficult it was to move forward. Also, there were sharp rocks in the mud, which made me ever-so-grateful to get through it. By the time we were done, an hour and a half after we began*, Karin and I were so covered in mud, we looked like we had boots on. It was sort of amazing.

After - 'nuff said
After collecting our medals/bottle openers, we met back up with our entourage, got some muddy pictures with our fuzzy viking helmets, and headed to the hose-off area. I'm convinced that this part, though lovely for the runners, is also a perk for the spectators. Plenty of people were standing around watching dashers hose themselves and others off. There was mud everywhere. It reminded me of returning home from trips to the beach and discovering sand in crevices I didn't know I had. My toenails are still a little stained the same baby poo shade as the mud.

Though part of our race fee covered a complimentary beverage, we decided to head home rather than heading to the party. As we walked up the path to the parking area, some folks asked if we'd enjoyed our beer. They seemed scandalized that we would pass them up but all was right again in the world when we offered them our beer tokens for the low, low price of retrieving them from our mud-caked shoelaces.

Before we even thought about getting in the car we had to change into dry, clean clothes. We created a makeshift changing station with the car door for one wall and a towel for the other. Even with that, I'm pretty sure I flashed the couple "showering" with buckets of water they'd brought along for the purpose.

Some of the scrapes and bruises were evident right away. Others took a couple days to show. My legs have looked like someone beat me with a stick all week. The first day after the run, I felt pretty good. The day after that, though, I felt like someone had worked me over. My sides and arms, muscles that I don't use heavily, were particularly sore.

Despite the pain, I really enjoyed the Warrior Dash and would definitely consider doing a mud run again as long as I had partners in crime. It wouldn't have been nearly as much fun without my running buddies. I loved the trails (I've already signed up for two more trail races this summer). The obstacles added some interest and being able to skip them made them less scary. Everyone there (except one woman who didn't seem to know beforehand that she was going to get dirty) was having a good time. The race shirt is awesome. And, like any seven-year-old, I love showing off my scabby knees and bruised legs.

*Before we began, they announced the fastest times so far. The fastest woman had completed the run in just over 27 minutes. One of the rules is that you can't win an award unless you've completed all of the obstacles. I call party foul on Warrior Dash in only this one respect: with the delays at various obstacles and the fact that there was no way to monitor whether people actually completed all of them, I find it almost impossible to believe that the male and female top finishers actually followed the rules to get the times they did. I could be wrong - there are really fast, agile people out there.
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