Warrior Dash Review, 6/11/11

While this was my second Warrior Dash, my thoughts on running still haven’t changed.  It’s mentally boring, and it’s inefficient as form of exercise.  That being said, I love the Warrior Dash.  It’s not just a run, but it’s a five hundred kilometer obstacle course, and you’re filthy when you finish.  That sounds fun to me.

In my first race, I was one of the last hears of the entire weekend, and the course was a mess by the time we got on it.  This year, I wanted to avoid that, and ran in one of the earlier heats on Saturday morning.  A handful of alumni from Phi Mu Alpha ran, and I completed the 10:30am heat with Tim, who I ran with last October.  He also ran in the Maryland event in late May, and we were both looking to run faster times than we have before, and have more fun.  We only accomplished the later.

Thanks to over-night rain, the course was a mess from the very beginning.  The woods and fields of Central Pennsylvania turned into a slippery, muddy, swampy hybrid, and while the race organizers designed muddy obstacles, there wasn’t a patch of dry land to be had.  This reflected in the race times, and they were much slower than the times from October.  The best finish this weekend was by Eric MacEdo, who finished in 26:44.25 at a  7:38 mile pace.  In October, Enos Benbow finished in 17:56.35, which is a 5:42 pace.  That’s a huge difference!

Personally, I finished this race in 3.5 mile race in 37:37.60 at 10:45 per mile, which is much slower than my previous time (27:47.05, 8:49/M for a 3.1 mile race).  Without considering the difficulty of the course, I might even say that was too slow and I’d need to actually run a little bit.  Good thing I’m not thinking that way.  The obstacles on this course were certainly more difficult than my first race, and the trail running was a lot more difficult with the course conditions.  Everyone seemed to deal the same way, and I improved from 744 out of 5111 to 419 out of 8262.  That’s okay with me!

Despite the fact that I had planned for the event months ago, I forgot which day I was registered for, and spent some weeks planning on a Sunday morning run.  Well, Friday afternoon I learned that it was actually Saturday morning, and quickly scrambled to get on the road.  Maria planned on coming with me, (because she’s awesome like that) and after quickly packing my backpack, we stopped by her house so she could grab her things.  We had planned on camping the night before the race, but we had to figure this out on the fly.  Hickory Run State Park was a files miles away from Skirmish USA, where the race was held, and for a cool $25 we got a nice camp site in a beautiful state park.

When I was younger Boy Scouts was a big part of growing up, and I’m glad I spent so much time learning outdoor basics.  This made pitching the tent a breeze, and it was up and we were moved in within a few minutes.  After eating dinner, and going through half a can of Off! because Maria hates bugs, it was bed time.  Sleep didn’t last too long, because we both woke up at 3:30 to the sound of rain beating on the tent.  Despite the ground cloth I put down, and the seemingly ‘water proof’ bottom of the tent, the rain was too much, and water seeped in underneath my sleeping bag.  Maria didn’t get wet, and the rain drove all the bugs away, so she was happy.  I was wet, but warm, so we both eventually got back to bed.

Come 8am, it was time to go.  After draining our wet supplies and packing them back into the car, we ate some Chobani and almonds and headed to the race.  Skirmish USA bussed racers from a massive field turned parking lot down to road to the event site, and while waiting for a bus we met up with my friend Tim, who ran in October with me.  Tim also ran in the race in Maryland this past May, and has run in a few other short distance obstacle courses as well, and he’s got some more experience than me on the matter.  We ran together the entire race, and it was nice having a good friend at my side throughout.

This time around, there were several new obstacles that I didn’t see in my first pass, and they were really fun.  The course snaked through several of the paintball arenas at Skirmish USA, and running through the “Crusaders Castle”, a giant wooden castle, was pretty cool.  Just prior to the first patch of thick mud was the “Teetering Traverse”, which involved a series of connected balance beams of different lengths and angles.  Halfway thorough the race, we entered a lake and scrambled through the water, both walking and swimming, to get back to dry land.  After this first foray into the water, we crossed water two more times, once running across a shallow stream, and the next time walking upstream against current.  Yea, that didn’t suck.

Towards the end of the event, obstacles were packed in tight, which was a thrill for both competitors and spectators alike.  After leaving the woods, the first obstacle was a giant cargo net, which required more balance than strength.  10-20 people were on it at any given time, and the net shifted every time someone came on, got off, or crossed over at the top.  After the cargo net, a car graveyard was sandwiched between grids that were 50 tires deep.  After high kneeing through the tires, we went up and over 2 rows of destroyed cars, and back through another set of tires.  From here, it was hurdling over two rows of fire during the “Warrior Roast”, then off to the mud pit to crawl beneath barbed wire before crossing the finish line.  Along this finishing stretch, spectators and muddy finishers gathered to cheer on racers, and after Tim and I got cleaned up we stopped by to cheer on a friend running in a later heat.  We got to say high to Mike after he finished, and then it was time to go.

Maria and I stopped back at the camp site so I could shower, and I ended up just throwing out the shorts and socks I ran in.  Totally kept the T-shirt though, it’s a keepsake.  It took an extra shower when I got home to really feel clean, but I’m already looking forward to the next race.  A few friends from Adelphi have asked me about the Warrior Dash in New York in mid-August, and I’m not quite sure about it yet.  Maria said she might do one with me next year, which is awesome, because we saw a number of adorably dirty couples coming out of the mud pit together.  I’d love to run with her, and to get as many of my friends having some fun as well.

I certainly didn’t run in the Warrior Dash for a good time or to be an athlete, but I do it because it’s a great deal of fun.  If you have the chance to participate in a race, I’d definitely recommend it, and bring your friends and family with you as well.  You’ll have a blast getting sweaty, muddy, and being active outside.  Doesn’t that sound like a great time to you?

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