The Warrior Dash was not nearly as intimidating as the BarefootFunRun 5K (my first ‘competitive’ run) in November. That’s a bit strange, considering the first 5K didn’t include mud, palmetto trails, a hay climb, tires, junk cars, over-under walls, a balance beam, a mud tent, cargo nets, raised logs, more mud, typhoon winds, more cargo nets, more palmettos, 2 fire jumps, and a mud swim under barbed wire over 3.02 miles.
We drove 1 ½ hours to Triple Canopy Ranch in Lake Wales, FL on 1/30/11 to join over 5000 participants (more than 6000 racers on 1/29/11) to compete in Florida’s first Warrior Dash. We made our way toward the spectator area in anticipation of the first wave of runners. From the viewing area, people could only see the final two obstacles: the double fire jump and the mud swim under barbed wire. The rest of the course was a mystery. Although the website gave us an indication of the obstacles awaiting us, we quickly learned that the site wasn’t being 100% straightforward.
About 20 minutes before our 12:00 PM heat, we secured our patch of grass at the start gate, which was an area sectioned off for racers to assemble leading up to their respective start times. Apparently, there were approximately 600 racers per heat, although it didn’t feel that crowded. We took this opportunity to warm up and marvel at people’s costumes. We had a 10-second countdown before the fire torches blew, indicating the start of the race. We ran for a bit before we hit mud, more mud, and even more mud. FYI: deep mud is heavy and shallow mud is heavy and slippery (just in case you were wondering). We continued running over the hay pile, over the junkyard cars, and through tires. The legs that came with my 5’0” frame found the tires to be quite far apart.
After running a bit more, we hit the over-under walls. There was a plank that we had to scoot below then a few feet later, there was a wall that we had to go over. Repeated several times, that’s what I call the over-under. Next was the balance beam, where we ran up a wooden plank, walked across two thinner wooden beams that were parallel to each other and to the ground, then we ran back down the wooden plank to the ground. We made our way to the mud-tent, which was a long, dark tunnel of quicksand-like mud. Several people lost shoes, but since we were sporting our Vibram Sprints, we were good to go. Next were the horizontal cargo nets that kept shifting with everyone else’s weight, followed by knee deep mud and several overturned logs.
Nearing the end of the course, we braved typhoon-force winds (well, Eric braved the winds and I hid behind him), then onto the vertical cargo nets. We had a “relaxing” jog before reaching the double fire jump and the final obstacle: swimming through the mud pit under barbed wire. The mud was so heavy that all I could think about as I was making my way onto dry land was whether or not I was still wearing all of my clothing. I did a quick check before Eric and I ran together through the finish line covered head to toe in mud.
We show up around 20 seconds.
Maybe it was because it wasn’t my first ‘competitive’ run, or maybe it was because I didn’t have expectations for my finish time, but regardless of the reason, I wasn’t nearly as intimidated as I was gearing up for my first 5K. We finished the Warrior Dash at 38:25. Out of 5159 participants on Sunday, Eric finished at 2023 and I finished at 2024. Of 343 females in my age group, I finished 75th (top 22%) and of 526 males in Eric’s age group, he finished 237th (top 45%). Granted, Eric would have finished long before me if he had run it by himself, but I’m glad he agreed to stick with me. It was more rewarding doing it together. He can run the Flatwoods Ramble 5K at his own pace this weekend and the Gasparilla 5+3K at his own pace in two weeks.
More Photos and Videos
For more photos, visit our Facebook pages.
Watch Eric’s graceful dive into the mud bath via this video, courtesy of Moverati.
Watch us cross the finish line in this video, courtesy of Moverati.
If you want to see the obstacles, one participant (mblitch) wore a helmet cam on Saturday’s course and created an excellent video.
Warrior Dash 2012 – I’m in!
Originally posted on February 12, 2011 on MicheleAndEricGetMarried.com.