Warrior Dash 2016: My First Competitive Wave

For the first time when I woke up I wasn’t looking forward to racing. It may have been the fact that I was nervous about it being my first competitive wave, or it may have been the 40 degree cold weather that was on hand to greet us Saturday morning; although I love doing long runs in the cold, I don’t really like obstacle races with lots of water obstacles in that kind of weather. Whatever the reason, my mood about the race didn’t really improve until I was lining up in the start corral.

The race wasn’t too far from home- about a 45 minute drive. I arrived on site around 7:40, parked and met up with my team in the festival area. Everyone was shivering and huddling together to keep warm! Many of my teammates elected to run the competitive wave- several first timers like myself and some regular competitive racers. It made me feel better to know that many MudRunFunners would be out there with me, even though we weren’t ‘racing’ together.

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Before I knew it, it was time to line up in the start corral. There were no walls to climb or jump to get into the start corral, nor were there volunteers checking our bib times- just a bunch of cold, somewhat nervous competitors queuing in front of the start line, waiting for the race to begin. After a short start line speech, it was time to run. The first mile went by quickly- there was only one obstacle- Alcatraz, a buoy in the middle of a lake. We had to swim to the buoy, climb on top of it and walk/crawl across, then swim to the other side and get out. The water was pretty deep- many times I couldn’t touch the bottom with my feet so I was swimming a lot of it. It was slightly challenging on my breathing- I don’t do well when my chest is submerged in 50 degree water.

Right past the first mile we hit the second obstacle, Shocktop Unfiltered. Shocktop is one of Warrior Dash’s sponsors, so it made sense to have an obstacle named after them on course. This one was a short slanted wall to climb up, over a shorter wall, under another wall, under a large tarp, then over/under walls again before finally climbing up over a wall similar to the first slanted one. It wasn’t that challenging to be honest.

Next came Diesel Dome, a large structure built with 2×4 boards across wooden beams that we had to climb up and over (this was slightly challenging for me due to my fear of heights), Trenches, muddy water pits, and Giant Cliffhanger, a large slanted wall with a rope we had to climb and then lower ourselves down the slanted back portion of the wall. This was probably the only obstacle I would have considered to be a more physically challenging obstacle on course.

Right after mile three we finally started coming to a barrage of obstacles- Mud Mounds were large mounds of sand that fell into muddy water pits. These were challenging only because the sand was sugar sand and loosely packed so every time I tried to get a foothold in one of them I fell back down into the muddy water. Eventually I made my way out of them to come to High Tension, a cargo net stretched horizontally across beams. We had to climb across it or traverse the length of the obstacle using several hand held grips that were positioned above; on the first lap none of us noticed the hand held grips so we simply climbed across on our hands and feet, trying to avoid getting stuck between the holes in the cargo net.

Coming out of the High Tension obstacle
Coming out of the High Tension obstacle

Pipeline came next, a balance beam with water hoses shooting water over them, making the beams slick. It really wasn’t that hard to get across them though. This was followed by a short jaunt through the wooded paths and over some hills (where Brian made a ‘sand angel’) and then Warrior Roast, the fire jump. Honestly, this was probably my favorite obstacle. I love any chance I have to jump over fire during a race!

Pipeline
Pipeline
Warrior Roast= epic fire jumping!
Warrior Roast= epic fire jumping!

Hard Rain came directly before the slide, Goliath, so it was a climb up wooden boards with water pouring on us to the slide, where we all slid down into a water pit before crawling through Muddy Mayhem to get to the finish.

Goliath slide
Goliath slide

My first competitive wave was over very quickly it seemed- it took about 43 minutes for us to finish, which is significantly better than my other 5k OCR times (normally about an hour and fifteen minutes). Those previous OCR’s were done with “shenanigans” on course though, so I wasn’t actually trying to race them. I didn’t make the top 10 (the time needed to qualify for the OCR World Championship race) but I honestly didn’t expect to on my first time doing competitive, so I wasn’t too disappointed by this. I thought I did my best out there and I completed all the obstacles which was one of my goals going into this event. This was a good event to make my first competitive wave because it gave me a ‘base’ time I can use to improve my skills.

After we received our medals and met back at the benches with the team, we arranged a group to go on a “fun” lap where we just fooled around the entire time. This was the part I looked forward to- group shenanigans. There were lots of photo ops, laughs and of course, fireball.

Team finisher pic! Well, that's a quarter of us at least...
Team finisher pic! Well, that’s a quarter of us at least…

Warrior Dash is a great event for first timers- it’s untimed, not a very competitive race (unless you opt for the first wave) and the obstacles are great for beginners. I would definitely agree with their description that this is a “gateway” race into the OCR world. Many of my teammates, in fact, had their first obstacle racing experience at Warrior Dash. While I’m thankful that I chose to do this for my first competitive race and glad I received my fuzzy warrior helmet, I was somewhat disappointed by the lack of obstacles on course. I didn’t expect them to be too challenging, but of all the 5k OCR events I’ve done, Warrior Dash had the least amount of obstacles. It was definitely more of a runner’s course the first two miles, with the majority of the obstacles on course at the end. The medals were definitely cool; they double as bottle openers. And of course, the fuzzy warrior hat is a great addition to my collection of OCR memorabilia.

@prettylilmudder runs her first competitive wave @warriordash- what did she think? Click To Tweet
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