If you are familiar with TNL, you have heard either Chris or myself say: Think it. Be it. Do it. Or, some variation of that mantra. Simply put, we think it is a great challenge to yourself to try and do the things that you think you cannot do.
I have a few friends who have completed mud runs and obstacle courses in the past, such as Tough Mudder, Mud Hero and Warrior Dash. They basically all involve pushing yourself to complete some kind of challenging obstacle course, whilst basically trudging through disgusting swamp mud. Needless to say, I could not wrap my brain around exactly why someone would do this by choice and just assumed my friends were just a little bit loco.
Last year, a group of friends and I headed to Blue Mountain on Warrior Dash day. Some friends were doing the dash, while others like myself were content to spend the day tanning and eating Beaver Tails. I was extremely surprised by the vibe of the event. I expected to be surrounded tons of competitive and intimidating super athletes. Now, the super athletes were there, but there were also so many different kinds of people participating in the race! I was so pleasantly surprised to see that the event was incredibly diverse and inclusive. Also, there was a positive infectious energy. Feeling inspired, I vowed to sign up for the following year’s dash.
Fast forward to 2014, and what had seemed like a good idea last year was now mildly terrifying. So here is the thing- as freaked out I was about doing this that is what fuelled me. It was something I felt I couldn’t do, and I was excited to prove myself wrong!
Warrior Dash is the world’s largest obstacle race series. An event company called Red Frog Events (the same company that put on the Great Urban Race) put together the first Warrior Dash in 2009 in Joliet, IL. Since then over a million Warriors have stormed The Battleground and raised $7.5 million and counting for St. Jude Children’s Hospital. More than 150 Warrior Dashes have taken place on the most rugged terrain across six countries and four continents.
Warrior Dash Ontario takes place at Blue Mountain. The 5.6 K course is mountainous with 13 obstacles.
Let me just be clear in that I had no delusions of killing this race. I just wanted to finish it. We had fun with it, paced ourselves together and took breaks when we needed them.
On race day, we arrived at the venue and parked our car. Parking is ten dollars and it is located down the street from the actual course. There are shuttle buses that run back and forth from the parking lot all day.
Arriving at the venue, there are two long lines to wait in. One is to register and the other is to check all of your personal belongings. Although both lines were long, volunteers were efficient and organized. I would suggest arriving at the event at least an hour prior to your race start time. At registration, we were given t-shirts, warrior Viking hats, and race numbers. Super crucial not to lose your number as they are the key to a FREE BEER after the race is done!
When you purchase a ticket to Warrior Dash, you choose a heat time to start racing. However, on the day of the race, no one checks your time so you can really race any time you would like, with the exception of the 8 am competitive heat.
If I had to describe the course in one word, I would say…long! Somehow the indicated 5.6K distance on the Warrior Dash site didn’t register with my brain. For some reason, I thought we would run to one visible obstacle, complete it and then the next. But, oh no. The obstacles are pretty darn spread out. We walked/ran/crawled for what felt like a good half hour before even hitting the first obstacle. The other big surprise- they weren’t kidding when they described the course as mountainous. At times it felt like we were running straight up mud dunes. This is rocky terrain and there are some super steep points. Supportive shoes are a must, and be mindful of stumps and rocks along the way.
As for the actual obstacles, they were so much fun but some were incredibly challenging. Most of them were wooden structures that we had to climb. A bit unnerving, as they were extremely high up with nothing to cushion a fall. Luckily we managed to slay them, with the exception of one pesky rope wall. This inclined wall was literally our nemesis. We spent so much time trying to get up this beast. I literally cut my fingers open trying to complete this. I have to say, it didn’t help that we overheard Warrior Dash volunteers discussing how many people had been badly injured trying to scale it. No Bueno.
I was impressed with how supportive and encouraging everyone was to one another during the course. There was one woman literally crying because she could not complete the rope wall either, and a husband and wife vowed not to move on until they helped her to get past it. My friend got her shoe stuck in the mud and it took two people to pull it out! Lucky because another girl we saw got her shoe completely stuck and had to complete the race with one bare foot. I literally had a man push my butt over a wall when I was stuck. Thanks, man.
My favourite obstacle was this giant net that had to be climbed near the end of the dash. We also enjoyed getting dirty crawling under barbed wire through mud trenches to get to the finish.
After the dash, we were literally caked with mud. They have giant dumpsters on site for people to throw out their shoes afterwards.
As for rinsing off, there are firefighters to do the dirty work for you. Very helpful! My friend brought her Tide pen. Alas, this was a little too much for the Tide pen to handle.
There is a DJ and food for purchase. Also, let’s not forget about the beer that we earned. Hanging out afterwards was a great way to dry off after the race. We opted for giant turkey legs, warrior style!
I am so happy I challenged myself to do the Warrior Dash. I had fun, pushed my limits and made great memories! I posted this picture on my Instagram a few weeks ago.
This is THE TRUTH.
I encourage everyone to take advantage of opportunities that allow you to step outside of your comfort zone because that is absolutely where great things happen. My little challenge to myself was Warrior Dash. I am proud to say that I can now check that one off my list!
On to the next one…