Several months ago, I learned of the Warrior Dash.
"…a mud-crawling, fire-leaping, extreme run from hell. This fierce running series is held on the most challenging and rugged terrain across the globe. Warriors conquer extreme obstacles, push their limits, and celebrate with kick-ass music, beer, and warrior helmets."
And it was coming to our area for the first time! In September!
It was fate.
We would be celebrating our 5 year anniversary with 10,000 muddy, war-painted crazy people in Tulsa. 3.23 hellish miles through 12 obstacles in the Oklahoma heat.
A few notes about pictures before we get started:
- There are entirely too many pictures of this race and in this post.
- We each ran with a waterproof, disposable camera so we would have shots of the course itself. (Additional note: Jeff was mostly a little ahead of me during the race so all of his pictures of me are of my face — when he would stop and turn around. All of MY pictures are of Jeff's back as I tried to keep up. And – in trying to keep up – there was no time to stop and stand still for picture taking. So my photographs are blurry and headache-inducing. Sorry 'bout that.)
- My sister Becky and my friend Tena came with us to witness the madness — and they each had at least one camera.
- The race takes professional photographs of the finish line — so, duh, I had to buy them. In fact, I might frame one of them for a wall in our house.
- Feel free to click on any of the photos in this post to enlarge them.
We anticipated parking issues, but didn't really have any. In fact, the pre-race information tells you 47 times to bring money for parking because you WILL HAVE TO PAY FOR PARKING.
We didn't pay for parking. We didn't even SEE anyone pay for parking.
Then it was time to initial our lives away. This waiver covered it all — fire, mud, injury, wild animals on the course, diseases in the water. Lovely.
Above: In "typical" races, I attach my timing chip with a few twist-ties. For this one, they recommend actually unlacing your shoes, threading the timing chip, then lacing them back up.
Below: This is the only picture I have of (half of) our entourage — Becky and Tena. This was Tena's first trip ever to a Porta-Potty. Glad I could be there for it!
Look how nice and clean we are! I found those shoes in the back of my closet – never been worn. They weren't particularly comfortable (which is probably why they were in the back of the closet…) but they got the job done.
And we're off!
The first mile or so was straight running – no obstacles. And shortly after this picture was taken, the pavement ended and the rest of the race would be on trails. I'm really starting to like trail running — but some of this was ridiculous. There were portions of the course that were such steep scrambles we had to use our hands to climb up the hills.
After about a mile of dodging stumps and branches, the obstacles started.
Obstacle #1: Barricade Breakdown
Hoist yourself over a 4-foot wall then roll under some barbed wire. Repeat. Aaaaand again. And one more time, for good measure! This one wasn't too tough as we had just started and we weren't tired yet. The hardest part – which would become a theme throughout the race – was the other people all around us. It's hard to get a rhythm worth a darn when there are people everywhere for you to trip on. (I stole this picture from the website. We weren't paying attention and didn't get any of our own.)
Obstacle #2: Rubber Ricochet
Run through a field of hanging tires. I remember seeing this one on the website and thinking it looked a little rough. I prepared myself for bruised arms and possibly a tire to the head. But it ended up being alright – as we went through with so few other people that the tires didn't do any serious thrashing back and forth. This turned out to be one of the easiest obstacles of the day.
Obstacle #3: Road Rage
This one included a few rounds of high-stepping through tires (mostly filled with mud, of course) followed by climbing over junk cars. I kinda loved it. Getting a running start before jumping up on the back bumper of a car and running right over the top – hooligan style – was pretty fun.
Obstacle #4: Cliffhanger
Climb or pull yourself up this wall. Honestly, after our recent trip to Half Dome this was a cinch. I don't think either of us even used the ropes.
Quite a bit of running between #4 and #5.
Obstacle #5: Chaotic Crossover
Crawl across cargo nets. This was another one that I struggled to get a rhythm behind someone slow. Not that I'm fast… but the longer you linger on this thing, the harder it is to keep your balance. Quickly does it!
More running. And then some more running.
Obstacle #6: Deadweight Drifter
The website describes this as a "trudge through waist-deep water". More accurately, it was a SWIM through NECK-deep MUD. The idea was to hoist yourself over these logs while trying not to swallow any mud. Harder than it looks when you can't touch the bottom of the river…
This was almost exactly the halfway point and the cold dip in the river was WONDERFUL. We had done plenty of running and climbing and jumping — and it was about 1:30pm so PLENTY warm. We both came out of the water with a second wind!
Obstacle #7: Cargo Climb
I came out of the water feeling awesome and after a minute of walking through the woods, we came to a clearing and saw THIS.
Not only is that about 20 feet in the air but we were now completely soaked and muddy — read: SLIPPERY. We had to climb up this cargo net wall. AND BACK DOWN the other side. And – again – the other people crawling all over the place, shifting the ropes and knocking into you with flying feet and elbows. It was a little unnerving.
Then I think it was between #7 and #8 that we ran down this enormous hill. It lasted forever, but it was nice to have a little downhill after all the uphill during the rest of the race.
Obstacle #8: Giant Cliffhanger
This was Obstacle #4's mean older brother. Not only did I use the rope to pull myself up this time, but – unlike #4 – this wall wasn't built into a hill. What goes up must come down.
And the "down" side was a set of slats that didn't even ALMOST resemble steps. They were pretty far apart, and thin. And – remember – still slippery! I needed some pretty serious coaching from the ground to make it down this thing. And here is a terribly flattering picture of my behind, coming down the "steps".
Obstacle #9: This net thing
It was a short crawl under barbed wire then about 50 feet of running hunched over under this heavy nylon net. Not too terrible, but I saw several people lose their balance and get tangled up.
Obstacle #10: One more wall
Another wall to climb, but this time the back side had a fun surprise — no way down but JUMP. It's hard to tell from this photo, but I'm standing on a ledge about 10 feet off the ground.
Obstacle #11: The Mud Pit!
What you've all been waiting for! This was near enough to the finish line that Becky was able to get pictures of us coming through the mud — and under the barbed wire.
(Above is a good shot of the crazy hill we ran down.)
and Obstacle #12: The Warrior Roast!
The big finale! Two rows of fire to hurdle!
I'm thinking maybe every 5K should end that way!
We were met at the finish line with a medal and as much water as we could drink. 3.23 hellish miles? Check!
Honestly, the race is only half the story at this event. There's music (the louder the better) and food (giant turkey legs) and awards for Best Warrior Costume and Best Warrior Beard. But we came for the race. So after our tour of duty out on the course, we were ready to call it a day and head back home. After a hose-off in the "Warrior Wash" and a few more minutes of excellent people-watching, we headed to the car to strategically strip our muddy clothes into a double-bagged plastic sack and towel off enough to be presentable during our post-Warrior feast at the Cherokee Casino buffet halfway between Tulsa and Fayetteville.
Remember the clean white sneaks? They found a new home.
So there you have it. We survived the Warrior Dash. And this is what 5 years of marriage looks like in this house!
We loved it! A big thanks to Becky and Tena for taking some photos and being good sports — even after I ASSURED you that you wouldn't get muddy standing on the side lines… We are already looking forward to our next Warrior Dash adventure.