With Warrior Dash being my first OCR, it holds a sentimental place in my heart. As long as I am racing, I will always do Warrior Dash simply because it is the race that started me out with what I do now. It is not the hardest obstacle race out there but it is a fun day. This year was my 3rd Warrior Dash but even more so; it was my first Iron Warrior Dash. With only 3 scheduled for the entire country, there was no way I was going to miss out on this race. The description was 15-20 miles of ruthless terrain and more obstacles after you had already made your way through the Warrior Dash course.
This race delivered! We made our way through the regular Warrior Dash course for the first couple of miles. It had obstacles which were moderately easy, but fun none the less. As we made our way towards the finish line, we were diverted off to begin the Iron Warrior Dash! From this point onwards, we were going uphill with very little downhill mixed in, it seemed. The course led us over terrain which was, at some times, nothing more than course markings pointing us in the right direction. It was raw woods so you had to keep an eye on where you were running or else you would trip over a fallen tree or get smacked with a branch. Much of the middle portion of the race was on what someone else described as jeep trails. You would be diverted off the trail to complete an obstacle and then sent back onto the trail. Again, I remember thinking that all I was doing was running up hill with not much down. I can run hills being from Georgia, but never before at this distance.
Another section of the race took us in and out of a creek which started with navigation of barbed wire hanging across it every which way. It was a good indication of what the rest of the creek would be like. Although the creek was not very deep, it had a ton of large rocks and other natural obstacles which kept my pace to a minimum. Finally, after leaving the creek, you had to make your way up a hill which required the use of both hands and feet and then make your way back down….sliding, sitting or however you could.
Around mile 10, the terrain leveled out a bit and I felt myself getting a more constant pace. We came upon multiple obstacles which were pretty cool and I will later describe. After taking us into a decent run through field with lots of sun and ant hills, we were able to hear the music and knew we were on the home stretch.
I come around a corner and was diverted onto the course which connected with the runners of the Warrior Dash. Two fire jumps and then I could see the mud pit, which was a mess. Running up, it was at a dead stop with people trying to navigate through. I picked my best spot along the edge and started moving as quickly as possible which was not easy. The mud was thick but the people were thicker. After running all this way, I was a little frustrated to be stopped up at this point but tried to maintain a bit of patience.
Since this wasn’t my first mud pit I ever had to navigate, I managed to politely pass most of the people to make my way through. I did stop to assist a runner who needed help getting to the side after she decided she could not go any further. Mud pit done…picture snapped and I was done! I had completed the Iron Warrior Dash and the longest distance for me in any race so far!
The Iron had some unique and cool obstacles. Before every race, I try to remind myself to pay attention to remember the order and number of obstacles, which I am never able to do. I won’t go through all of them but some of the more interesting ones.
I had 2 favorite ones. Furious George was a roller coaster of monkey bars, literally. Not an easy obstacle but pretty challenging with your upper body strength since you had to pull yourself up after you had gone downwards. The second was the Plunge. You climbed up a cargo net and then had to make your way down by sliding your body down about a 25 foot inclined wall. There were pegs for your feet and hands but if you were short as I am, it took careful navigation to not slide into the lake below. At many times, I had a foot and a hand on the same peg sliding myself down to balance on the other leg, before moving on to the next peg. It wasn’t a fast navigation but was decently challenging especially since you had water spraying in your face at the same time. Vicious Valley’s had similar pegs but also had rope and cargo net climbs mixed in to keep you moving.
Other obstacles included multiple 6 or 7 foot walls, alternating height monkey bars, a balance beam over water called Pit Fall, the Fly Trap which was multiple cargo nets connected to each other, barbed wire and net crawl and an obstaclecoming out of the lake where you were pulling your body up a sheet of plastic with a rope with water spraying over you; not very hard but a fun obstacle. The infamous Peggy Sue…I never saw anyone complete the peg wall but heard a few did.
You would think that after all of this, I would be done. Not a chance, I still had Warrior Dash to go through. I stopped for about an hour, refueled, grabbed my racing buddy Jennifer and off we went! What a difference is all I can say. Jennifer had already done an earlier heat of Warrior Dash so neither of us was in a hurry. We actually relaxed, took our time to enjoy some of the other racers, comment on some of the costumes and had a blast. With both of us normally being very competitive, it was a quite a change of pace. After looking at our pictures, we both keep commenting on how we look like 2 young kids just having a great time! I will admit, the second go around, I opted out of the mud pit since I knew I would be leaving and didn’t want to have to take another dip in the lake to clean off.
There were two downfalls to the day which Red Frog has already issued apologies for. First, offsite parking which wasn’t so bad for the early morning racers to get to the race but coming from the race, the lines for the buses were about 2-3 hours long. Bag check also experienced long wait times of up to an hour I was told. Many people had many complaints over these issues and it seemed to overshadow the event. Luckily, I did not have to experience either, so I really don’t have anything negative to say about the event.
I have heard people comment that serious racers don’t do the Warrior Dash, and I can understand the comment. But, if you are a serious racer and you pass on the Iron Warrior Dash, you are missing out. My gut tells me that after this year, this race will gain a lot more popularity and help to bring some of the serious racers back to the Warrior Dash venues. Without a doubt, if this comes around next year, it is on my list. It is definitely a race worth doing and why not take a run through the Warrior Dash since you will be there anyway.