Mud, Sweat and Beers

My wife, Cindy, told me about the Warrior Dash and immediately I said, “Register us!”  By the time we registered there were only two heats open. Once I committed to doing the Warrior Dash, I decided to do it all the way and hold nothing back.

Cin and I drove to the parking site and I was amazed at the level of organization.  Everyone parked in the raceway field and queued up to ride a continuous line of buses to the actual event site. We got to the Warrior Dash several hours early to soak up the atmosphere and wrap our heads around the event.

Arriving at the site, the most overwhelming feature was the mud. Mud everywhere. The previous night torrential rains had soaked the area. The grounds crew laid straw down to make the festival grounds walkable. Step off the straw and end up ankle deep in mud soup. Everyone was covered head-to-toe in mud. It was a badge of courage.

Eventually our heat time arrived. As I anxiously waited to start, the MC shouted gibberish and pleasantries. Finally, fire cannons shot a blaze high into the air. This marked the start of our run through the obstacles.

I am not a pace person, especially in a race setting. If there are people in front of me I will chase them. I know this. I am not a real runner. I started the Warrior Dash too fast–way too fast. As I said, I planned on doing it all out. So I figure, “oh well.” I chug out, passing weaker links, running with reckless abandon and not even considering what else I had to face–the obstacles.

My memory of the order in which the obstacles occurred is hazy (at best) and different from the route shown on the web site but I do remember running through a winding, muddy tree maze that begged to roll an ankle. I remember climbing over a giant wire spool (thankfully there was a bottle neck at the spool allowing me to catch my breath).  Next, I think we went down a hill which opened up to the rows of junked cars we had to climb over. No hood sliding like the Dukes or Hutch.

Over the cars, up a hill, to a series of four-foot tall walls to hurdle. One hurdle caught my knee. I retained a souvenir in the form of a sliver. Next, we went up a muddy, rutty hill leading to a crawl-through tube (with another fortunate bottle-neck breath catcher). Then down a steep muddy hill and across a deep ravine on a six-inch wide board. At the base of the next hill was a twenty by twenty-foot mud pit. The pit was three feet deep. An event volunteer guy was yelling, “Just keep going or you’re gonna lose a shoe!” I made it about half-way across before the slippery mud got the best of me and I face planted. Weighed down with slick mud, we charged up yet another hill. Time for another bottle-neck break at the “climb over the corrugated plastic tube” obstacle.  The girl in front of me was having some trouble with this one and I was able to give her a hand over.

Over the Hay and through the woods!

I turned to face the next obstacle and for a minute I was afraid I was in a zombie movie.  The little abandoned city set was eerie. Then I remembered I was running. The city-thing rambled and meandered. I’m sure there were a couple of hills in there too. I ran a bit. I ran up and over a straw mound like a flight of stairs, in two mighty steps.

The end was getting near.

I sprinted to the cargo net climb–piece of cake. I saw the finish line and got a little charged up. It’s just through the tires, around the corner and done! I picked up my pace again. No rolled ankle on the tires! “Keep rolling,” I tell myself, “I got this.” Then I hit the series of ten-foot tall hills that wind and wind and never seem to stop. I was so close to the finish but I had to stop and suck air. I dashed over the two fire bars, dove under the barbed wire, waded through two feet of mud and sprinted to the finish.

After finishing, I sensed a camaraderie with my fellow warriors. In our mud-covered flesh there was family. Really weird.

Maybe it was the beer.

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