Last weekend, my wife and I along with an eclectic team of friends and family tackled the Warrior Dash race in Logan, Ohio, along with numerous other residents of the bend area.
According to the results posted on their official website, about 14,450 people (a number roughly equivalent to the combined populations of Gallipolis, Middleport and Pomeroy as well as Point Pleasant and Mason, W.Va.) completed the event, which was held June 2-3 at a campground outside of Logan.
Warrior Dash (organized by Red Frog Events) bills itself as the “world’s largest running series” and also as “the craziest fricken day of your life,” but in reality the best way to view Warrior Dash is as a festival of sorts where the party-goers just happen to run wild through the woods while wearing kilts, wedding dresses and other assorted costumes. They do a great job of promoting a festive atmosphere.
The rewards - other than a sense of accomplishment - are a fuzzy hat with horns, a finisher’s medal and a “free” beer. I put the word “free” in parenthesis because nothing at WD is truly free; the purpose behind WD is to make money for the organizers and they are pretty efficient at doing just that, but once you accept that reality and focus on having a good time, it really doesn’t seem to matter.
I will mention that WD supports assorted charities including the Green Shoe initiative, where competitors are encourage to donate their used running shoes (there is a generally a mountain of used shoes at the end of each event) and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Warrior Dash is an adventure obstacle race, where participants run across country, negotiate military-type obstacles, mud holes, water and barbed wire. Races are generally 5-6K in length and contain obstacles with such names as the “Great Warrior Wall,” or “Stormin’ Normandy.” There are tougher adventure-themed races out there (the 10-plus-mile Tough Mudder comes to mind), but none are quite as popular. Is it popular? The organizer is expected to host 65 Warrior Dash races this year with more than 1 million participants.
Costumes are not required, but are highly encouraged, and competitors are individually timed in assorted age divisions. The women in our group wore multicolored tutus while I sported some camouflage face-paint.
This was actually our second Warrior Dash, the first one ended badly for me after I took a solid glob of mud to the eyes at the last obstacle practically blinding myself for several days.
First off, the Warrior Dash isn’t that hard - at least not if you are in what I call 5K condition (able to run or mostly run a 5K or 3.1-mile race) and have a modicum of upper-body strength. The obstacles break the run into manageable intervals, so even if you can’t run 3.1 miles non-stop you can still do Warrior Dash.
If you thinking about attempting the Warrior Dash and wondering if you can do it, chances are you probably can. In that sense the Warrior Dash is an inspiration for people who register and take the time and effort preparing for the event. They get a great sense of accomplishment from completing the dash, and rightly so.
However, simply completing the Warrior Dash, and trying to compete are totally separate things, and this year I meant to compete.
So at the beginning of our “heat”(the event featured 16 heats on Saturday and 18 on Sunday with up to 500 “warriors” per heat) I took off at a pretty good pace with the lead pack of runners and headed into the woods, passed a group of Speedo-clad exotic dancers and attacked the course with gusto.
We negotiated obstacles like the “Capsized Catamaran,” “Barricade Breakdown,” “Deadman’s Drop,” the infamous “Warrior Roast” (burning fire logs) and finally my nemesis from last year, the “Muddy Mayhem. However in my estimation the most difficult part of the course isn’t an obstacle at all; it is the terrain. It could simply be called “The Hill” and I will leave it at that.
I am happy to report that neither I nor any member of my group suffered any injuries as a result of the race with the exceptions of some bruises, scratches and sore muscles. I placed thirtieth in my age group for Saturday’s races, out of 900-plus people, so I was pretty content with that.
So if you are looking to challenge yourself physically, I would recommend giving Warrior Dash or some similar race a try. Completing the race is an attainable goal and lots of good dirty fun! For more information about this racing series, simply Google “Warrior Dash.”
Jim Freeman is wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District and his column usually appears every other Sunday. He can be contacted weekdays at 740-992-4282 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.