Monday, May 03, 2010

race report: warrior dash


Let's start at the beginning, shall we? After a solid week of wondering whether the Warrior Dash would take place, the organizers finally got their ducks in a row and the event was on! We left for Forney, Texas Saturday afternoon, after recovering from the Fredonia 5-Miler (and maybe drinking a few beers). We stayed at David's sister's home that night, and the next morning we woke up at 6am, fueled up with peanut butter, toast, fruit and soymilk (probably not the stereotypical warrior fare, but if it ain't broke...) and made our way to the race!

Shiny and clean, but not for long!

Our packet pick-up went smoothly and we had plenty of time to gawk at all the people dressed up in kilts, business suits, banana costumes, viking beards, tutus, and various other warrior costumes before it was time to race. Since 18,000 people had signed up for this event (!) we raced every half hour, in groups of 500. As we were not racing to win, we got in the back of our group. That didn't make it any less exciting when we counted down and flames shot into the air, signaling us to start dashing!

For the next forty-odd minutes, Nathan, Amy, David and I - along with 500 other people - ran, crawled, climbed, swam, and jumped our way along an obstacle-ridden course. Highlights included: sliding down a muddy bank and running through a creek, knee high in the water, and then having to climb up a steep muddy bank to get out of the creek; scaling a cargo net; swimming through a lake and climbing over floating, spinning logs; leaping over fire (yes, fire!); climbing over bales of hay; and crawling on our hands and knees, through the mud and under barbed wire, before finally sprinting/sliding towards the finish line. Obviously, this was not a camera friendly course but I was able to snap some photos from the sidelines after I cleaned up, and a friend who wasn't racing even got some shots of Nathan and I during the final obstacle!

These are the burning logs we had to jump over. I could see the flames as I approached them and I'm not going to lie - I was scared! Fire is hot! And it burns! But Nathan was beside me and he said, "Whatever you do, don't stop running!" I took his advice and was able to clear both fires, no problem. Nathan actually did a cartwheel over the second fire, which drew a roar from the crowd. Awesome!

This was the last obstacle - the mud and barbed wire pit. About ten minutes earlier we had swam in the lake and gotten fairly clean, and I thought we'd finish the race looking halfway decent. I was so naive. When we got to this section, there was nothing to do but dive in and make a go for it. This was also a great part to watch once we were all done!

People laughing, cheering and jeering their fellow warriors!

Nathan and I stuck together for the most part. He got ahead of me a few times, but would wait after each obstacle for me to clear it and catch up. Here, he has just emerged from the pool of mud and is hoping I don't snag myself in the barbed wire.

And I'm out! It was very hard to get stable footing - the ground was thick and slippery. But the finish line was so close!

Here we are sprinting towards the end. I don't think I've ever been so filthy in my life - it was liberating! After we crossed the finish line we were handed water, Gatorade, bananas and medals. We waited for Amy and David to finish (and even got to see them jump the fire and trudge through the mud!) and then the four of us hosed off and washed most of the mud away.

The only downside of the race was the free beer. I was very much looking forward to drinking a beer while wearing a viking hat (our race schwag). We raced in the 9:30am wave on Sunday morning, and by 10:30 we were ready to enjoy our drinks before heading home. Alas! It was Sunday morning in TEXAS, a state where it is illegal to serve beer until noon on the Lord's day. Bollocks! I thought surely this was a cruel joke - after all, we weren't buying the beer, it was free! - but no. We either had to wait nearly two hours for one beer, or find someone willing to take our beer tickets and head home thirsty. We chose the latter. Stupid Texas.

As far as downsides, the beer thing wasn't so terrible, and next year (because I am totally doing it again next year) I will time my race accordingly.

Go Warriors!