Warrior Dash Revisited
“When I was at Warrior Dash” is not normally a statement that people who have been in the OCR industry for a while start a conversation with, however after this last weekend’s experience that might change.
Most know Warrior Dash as the entry level event, the festival, the beer, and the “easy obstacles”. It’s not an event that many people take seriously. Last year they announced the Warrior Dash World Championships which drew mostly fast runners and some of the top obstacle racers to it but not much else. It still wasn’t an event most “hardcore OCR fanatics” would flock to. This was pretty much my opinion until this past weekend.
My first encounter with Warrior Dash was in 2010. After that fated Spartan Race that kicked off the whole thing for me I looked for more and at that time Warrior Dash was one of the only other players on the market. I went to their Windham Mountain Race and run about 1.5 miles up the slope and then 1.5 miles down the slope. Challenging terrain, it also was the first time my mom came to see what this obstacle racing (although it didn’t have a name yet) was all about. I returned to that race in 2011, earning 2nd in my age group and 6th overall for women that day. Then I moved on from Warrior Dash.
For years I often mocked Warrior Dash among friends. It was the entry event. It wasn’t for the hardcore racer, which I so self importantly dubbed myself. I was absorbed in the competitiveness of the sport and only followed those races that were “serious”. Basically, I was being an elite asshole.
Then life moves forward, you rise, you fall, rise again, and are all the more wiser. Over the past two years, I have been broadening my OCR horizon, seeing races at all levels and of all sizes. So it was time to revisit, Warrior Dash.
I traveled to Arizona to shoot the latest episode of Obstacle and Adventure Weekly, which airs on Monday. I was there to capture the story of a long-time runner take on his first OCR and try to qualify for OCR World Championships and Warrior Dash World Championships.
After we finished shooting for the episode, myself and Brian Chumbler, owner of XRacewear, ran the course together. Chumbler gave me a pair of the new XRacewear compression shorts to field test (review coming soon on About.com). We ran the race in an open heat. As much as we ran the race I also spent the time observing the atmosphere around me.
Those of us in the OCR World who laugh at Warrior Dash and call it easy are just being elitist and really assholes. As I made my way across the course, no obstacles were super challenging, but there were fun. We helped a few people who were outside there comfort zone, cheered on others, laughed and had a great time. Every obstacle race is what you make of it.
For those looking to be the best and compete, run the competitive heat in the morning. If it’s too easy, run faster, trust me it will get harder. Warrior Dash is a great event! There is a reason it’s still around after 7 years in business. Their business model has changed over time and things aren’t the same as they were in 2011, but neither is the industry.
After the race I did a rare thing, just hung out. We wrapped up most of the filming, did a few interviews, and shot some b-roll, then headed to the beer garden. They had a live band rocking out, Shocktop Beer flowing, fuzzy Viking hats dotting the landscape, and those iconic turkey legs. People were having a great time and celebrating their accomplishment.
This is what OCR is all about. It is about doing something active either to challenge yourself or a social activity with friends. It’s about doing something different and having a great time. Warrior Dash isn’t about the most badass obstacles or toughest course ever, it is about the experience, a fun experience for people of all abilities.
My days of mocking Warrior Dash are over and should be for everyone who calls OCR their sport or their hobby. If you haven’t been to a Warrior Dash in a couple years, head out an try it either in the competitive heat or in the open heat. It’s great and in the OCR landscape is really a gem for us all.