The Warrior Dash is the largest and probably most well-known obstacle race or mud run. Not only is it one of the first OCR series out there, it has also been made famous because of its turkey legs and 40 foot mud pits at the end of the course. These make for great photo opportunities. Costumes and groups of runners are welcome as are the individuals going for times and awards. The Warrior Dash is partnered with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A portion of your entry fee goes toward the charity and you can join the cause by becoming a St Jude’s Warrior to raise donations.
Each Warrior Dash event is set up similar to others and almost all other mud run/OCR series. There is a large registration area, a “base camp” with food vendors, live bands,
merchandise for sale and a place for spectators and participants to gather and party. The starting line has an announcer to get the runners ready to go. Waves take off every 15 minutes with over 200 runners per wave. The finish line is also spectator friendly with the Warrior Roast and the Muddy Mayhem obstacles. Another important part, there were ample port-a-johns to keep the bathroom lines to a minimum. The parking for this particular WD was offsite, in a series of fields about 15 minutes away. Some WD’s will have onsite parking if the venue setup allows. Buses were running regularly to keep the flow of people going back and forth at a steady pace.
This particular Warrior Dash was on the Clear Fork Ski Resort in Butler, OH. The course was well laid out and marked with easy to follow tape and signs. It contained the regular WD obstacles but the ski resort terrain was the biggest challenge. Starting out up a slope quickly thinned out the pack. There were about 4 good hills that gave a challenge to get to the top. Along with the hills were obstacles such as the “Hard Rain,” water splashing down from pipes above a small set of 2×4’s to climb up and over, the standard cargo net climb, the Great Warrior Wall (6 foot wall) and the mud mounds.
The Warrior Dash had over 8,200 participants on Saturday and over 1,300 on Sunday. From my experiences those numbers are a little lower than normal; there are usually 10,000 on Saturday and close to 5,000 on Sunday.
The swag for the Warrior Dash is pretty standard. You get a WD t-shirt and medal. One item exclusive to the WD is the fuzzy “warrior helmet” and at the series this year they handed out capes sponsored by the National Guard promoting the new Man of Steel movie.
My Race Day
As we entered through the main gates displaying the Warrior Dash name and helmet logo we came immediately into the registration area. It was well manned with lines
separated alphabetically for the runners. I was able to pick up my packet quickly and get prepared for the race. I received a bib number and a track chip to be laced into my shoe. As I was lacing up I heard my name called as another mud runner approached. It was a friend who runs these crazy events as well. After catching up on some of our other activities we parted ways and I headed to the start line.
I ran in the 9:45 heat, the 8th of the day. Many of the faster runners went in the earlier waves. I was just hoping there wouldn’t be a backup at the obstacles, which can happen as more and more waves put runners onto the course. I made my way to the front of the starting line. They have it sectioned off where only participants can get in. As I walked through I saw groups of pink tutus, a couple runners who I assumed were serious by their Salomon and Vibram shoes, and I met a 14 year old running his first WD with his dad. They cut us lose with a countdown and fire spewing out from the starting line arch. We quickly made our way to the first hill which quickly thinned out the pack.
There didn’t seem to be a large number of obstacles, the biggest challenge was the hills. There weren’t any large backups at the obstacles except the very last one. It was a cargo net set lengthwise away from the runners and you had to cross it like a spider on a web. I felt strong on the course; only two runners from my wave were in front of me. I pressed on through the hills trying to run where others walked. The crowd was polite,
making way as I came through. One difference I see in OCR and trail events are the politeness and camaraderie. Yes, we are competing but we can also help each other and work together to stay safe.
Coming around to the end of the course I ran as fast down the final hill as I could. When rounding the corner t the bottom I found many safety workers asking me to slow down when approaching the Warrior Roast fire jump. I found out later a person had slipped, fell, and been burned slightly. I found it to be an easy jump, no slipping and headed to the mud pit. A quick trip through the muddy water, which was odd as most WD’s have a thick, foamy mud at the end, led me to the finish line.
I crossed, was given my medal and met back with my family who came to watch. I made my way to the wash off area which was a pond we could dip in. The water was nice and cool, refreshing after the hill filled run. It was a good day; weather was slightly hot and humid but better than the predicted storms. I saw a guy who was hurting rather badly, limping across the spectator area. After removing my timing chip, which can be returned for a free beer, I approached the man. I told him he looked like he needed this more than me and handed him my beer chip.
Results would later show I came in 221 out of almost 8300 that day. I was in the top 3% which was my goal for this one. Next? Top 100. Until then, I’ll have to do what all of you should be doing and train harder. GET SOME!