My friend Nicola ran the first Warrior Dash that was ever held in Ontario (back in July 2011). I was out of town that weekend so I didn’t get to see her in action, but it seemed like fun. For those who don’t know, Warrior Dash is a 5k mud run with obstacles. In Ontario, it takes place on a ski hill (Horseshoe Valley) so there are lots of crazy hills. So when Nicola signed up to run Warrior Dash again, I signed up with her. She told me from the beginning that she’s “not a runner” and that she does it mainly for the obstacles. For someone who’s “not a runner” I think she’s pretty good. We decided to do the entire run together. I don’t care about time and I think people think I’m a much faster runner than I really am. Plus it’s fun to finish a run with a friend.
Another advantage of doing this race with Nicola was since she had done it before, she knew all the ins and outs. For example, she knew how much parking would cost, so we filled our car with the four of us (me, Dan, Nicola and her friend Connie) so we could split the cost. Connie came along to also cheer Nicola on, which was good since Dan refused to sign up for a run that required crawling through mud and leaping over fire, so he at least had someone to keep him company.
The race was really well organized. Parking was in an empty field so there was plenty of space, and it was well signed and easy to find coming off of the highway. From the field we took a shuttle bus to the run. The buses were efficient and ran frequently, so you were never waiting for very long. We were really impressed by this. The only downfall is that since it’s in a cornfield you have to really memorize where your car is parked since every spot looks the same. If that’s the biggest downfall, I’ll take it!
I can’t remember what wave we were signed up to run in. The year before, Nicola had just gotten into a random wave and ran. So after picking up our race kits and getting our timing tags and bibs on, we went to see if there was a wave ready to go. We ran into the back of one just as they were counting down to start.
I should mention that it was also a very hot day. We took off with the pack and started running. Nicola had warned me that a few minutes into it, you end up in a giant mud pit, and if you stop for too long you risk getting your foot stuck and losing a shoe. Unfortunately when we hit the mud a lot of people slowed down and got in the way. So it was tricky to navigate through. I saw a few people lose shoes too. With the mud your legs feel heavy and it eventually dries onto you. I guess that’s why it’s called a mud race.
There were a lot of crazy hills, some of which had really narrow paths so we were almost single file going up and down them. When we reached the first obstacle (almost like a spider web that you had to navigate throw) I saw a girl pull off to the side and start heaving. She said she needed help and the medics were with her very quickly. We ended up seeing a few people throughout the race who were just wiped out (due to the heat and exertion). I also heard that a lot of people who don’t generally run or aren’t that fit run Warrior Dash because it’s not a traditional race. I wouldn’t recommend it. Even if it’s not a traditional race, it’s better to have some fitness level to do it. Especially in the heat.
Another obstacle involved us climbing over a wall and then crawling under barbed wire, over and over and over again. Each time the walls got higher. I think we also had to climb under barbed wire again later, but it was nice because it felt cool on the ground. One problem with the Warrior Dash is that they don’t give you water until mile 2. That seems really late in a 5k, especially on a hot day with lots of hills. We also didn’t have the option of carrying our own water because of all of the crawling and climbing.
At one point there was a volunteer who had a bucket and he kept dunking it in water and then pouring water on people as they ran by. People loved it because it was so hot. As we got closer though, he seemed to miss and accidentally hit a runner in the head with the bucket. Nicola and I joked that we wondered if our waivers covered this.
Most of the obstacles were working. The one that looked like a giant slip and slide was dried out by the time we got there so we just ran down the hill. As we approached the end, there was a guy climbing up one of the obstacles near us with a Charlie Brown shirt. He said “This is just like when the cops are chasing you and you have to climb over the fence to get away.” I thought he was with some other girls who were climbing near us but nobody responded. Then he said “No? That never happens to you?” Nicola and I called him Charlie Brown because of his shirt.
Finally we were near the end. The end of the course is set up so that spectators can see the final cargo net climb, the fire jump and the mud pit.
As we ran to the fire jump I started to feel a little tired but also excited to be nearing the end. I may have been a little overzealous in my jump.
I don’t know what happened because the next thing I knew I was sliding on the ground! The race photographers were also awesome in that they captured it perfectly. Good thing I wiped out in Nicola’s picture and not a random person’s picture (though that would have been funny too).
It was a pretty spectacular wipe out if I do say so myself.
I was so embarrassed. People asked me if I was ok, and Charlie Brown, who had caught up to me at this point helped me to my feet. I shook it off and continued running, took a deep breath and jumped over the second fire pit.
After we conquered the fire (or at least I half conquered the fire) we had to crawl through mud under barbed wire. The mud was really hard to crawl through because of the rocks in the mud pit. They dug against your bare knees and hands and really hurt. I also slid and ended up with my entire chest in the mud. It felt like it took forever to crawl through. We were so slow.
Having survived Warrior Dash we quickly claimed our medals and grabbed some water to drink before posing for our after picture.
They had a firefighter station where you could get hosed off, so we headed over there next (otherwise Dan wasn’t going to let us back into the car).
We had a lot of fun at the Warrior Dash and are signed up to do it again. This time Dan will be joining us because he was clearly envious of all of our fun. I will be more careful at the fire jump this year! And who knows, maybe we’ll see Charlie Brown again!