Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reflecting on the Warrior Dash

A few scattered thoughts on the Warrior Dash I ran in on Sunday. I'm aiming to write a column about the experience for Monday's health & fitness page as well (if we can't fit it in there, I'll just post it on my blog instead):

  • Biggest regret of the day: Not getting a waterproof case for my camera. I should've been carrying it around all day taking photos like crazy, but instead I had to check it with the rest of my belongings out of fear that it'd get ruined in a mud puddle. Consequently, none of the photos here are my own (though the first photo is a pre-race shot of the group I was running with, I'm the classy guy wearing warrior horns).
  • Grandma's Marathon is the biggest race I've ever done in terms of runners racing at one time, but the Warrior Dash blows Grandma's out of the water for overall participation. The wave I ran in alone had more than 250 runners, and waves were sent out every half hour from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. on both Saturday AND Sunday. There weren't any sparsely-populated waves either, as registration filled up almost a month ago. Collectively, almost 20,000 runners completed the Warrior Dash, or roughly the population of St. Peter and Waseca combined.
  • My favorite parts of the race: Climbing up the cargo net (all those years of unabashed tree climbing paid off!) and crawling through the mud (every little kids dream, though my shoes were pretty much shot afterwards). My least favorite parts of the race: Running up all the steep hills (it was at Afton Alps ski resort, so that makes sense) and having to crawl through a 50-foot long black-colored tent (it was sweltering like a sauna inside and it reeked of livestock and b/o).
  • The Warrior Dash had the most comprehensive -- and strangely comical -- waiver form I've ever seen. Check out some of the clauses participants had to agree to: I understand agree, and accept that some of the obstacles may go through water that has not been tested for chemicals, disease, or any contamination whatsoever.......I understand that the Warrior Dash course may contain wild animals, insects, and plants, and I assume the risk of participating in Warrior Dash by and among the Warrior Dash course’s content.......I agree not to dive into or enter the mud pit head first.......I agree not to consume alcohol prior to Warrior Dash or ingest any medicines or substances that will inhibit my mental or physical ability to safely and effectively participate in the Warrior Dash (I can say with assurance that the alcohol portion of that last clause was not obeyed by a sizable number of runners. After all, the beer garden WAS right next to the starting line).
  • I think it's really cool that the Warrior Dash had areas set up for race participants to donate their mud-covered racing shoes to the needy (pictured right). Though I have no idea how they're going to clean them (power-washing perhaps?).
  • The costume choices at the Warrior Dash weren't as out there as the Monster Dash I raced in a couple years ago (remember, that was a Halloween-day run), but some of them were pretty ridiculous. One guy had blue body paint on and looked like a dead ringer of one of the Avatar creatures. A couple of guys racing in my heat were wearing full suits (slacks, button-up shirt, tie and suit coat) and kept them on for the entire race despite it being pretty hot and humid that day. A group of girls dressed up in super hero attire (Wonder Woman, Bat Girl and Laura Kroft from Tomb Raider, to name three); a group of guys donned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes. There were also a countless number of runners dressed in warrior outfits, be it Norwegian Vikings or Native American regalia. In hindsight, I should've been more concerned about a costume and less concerned about getting through the race.
  • This is the only race I've ever been in were prizes were awarded for best costume AND best warrior beard. I didn't stick around for the award ceremony, but I'm guessing the guy rocking the ZZ Top-caliber beard in my heat got some serious consideration.
  • This was also the only race I've ever done where I didn't really care what my time was. I told myself when I signed up for the Warrior Dash that I wasn't going to concern myself with race times; that's what regular 5K races are for. This was about breaking away from the norm and enjoying a rock concert-like setting. My only goals were to keep jogging for the entire race and not injure myself on any of the obstacles. It wasn't until my mom congratulated me on finishing 63rd out of 1,119 in my age group that I actually got around to looking up the results. At a quick glance, I finished 487th overall out of close to 20,000, though I'm more proud of the awkward belly flop I did in the mud pit at the end of the race.
  • As you can probably guess, the free beer that came with race registration did not go to waste for yours truly. After crawling through the mud and running up some pretty wicked hills, that Shock Top Ale tasted pretty darn good.

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