The idea first came from our care group leaders, Paul and Carrie – they found out about the Tough Mudder, which is the Warrior Dash on steroids. The main deterrent from that race? The hefty price tag. Once we heard about the Warrior Dash (and the more reasonable cost), there was no question.
Travis was originally going to go on a fishing trip with a couple of buddies that weekend so I signed up to go with 2 other couples. I have no problem being the fifth wheel. Once the fishing trip was off and Travis decided to do the Warrior Dash, it was sold out. Boo!
Anyway, Paul and Carrie, and Leif and Karen stayed up in the mountains Saturday night so me and Charlotte (the best spectator slash cheerleader ever!) drove up Sunday morning. We left my house at 6:30 and arrived to Copper around 7:45. After a round trip on the shuttle because I forgot my ID, we got up to packet pickup, where we found Paul and Carrie. Soon after, Karen and Leif arrived and after bathroom breaks, checking bags, and decking ourselves out in star stickers, we took a picture in front of the Warrior helmet and headed over to the start line.
In case you haven’t figured it out, I dressed up as Rainbow Brite.
Before we knew it, the start line was shooting flames and the race had started. The first approx .5 mile was an out and back dog leg on pavement.
Then we encountered our first obstacle: hanging tires. Amazingly, I emerged on the other side having not gotten hit in the head (totally something I would do). After walking up a hill and running down, we encountered the second: a 4-foot wall to jump over, then another topped with barbed wire to duck under, times 5. The walls were high enough that I had to sit on top and swing my legs over. Other people (including Paul from our group) could swing their legs over. I tried but got rejected.
We walked/jogged around the bend and there was the third, most infamous obstacle: the mud pit. As we watched athletes emerging covered head to toe in mud, we knew we were in for it. Surprisingly, I was all about the mud (I generally don’t like being dirty). As I got in, I sunk in the mud up to my knees. The first thing I noticed was that it was ridiculously hard to walk. My feet were stuck in the muck! (I saw a guy later who had lost his shoe in the pit.) I was able to unstick my feet and wade slowly through the mud. There was real barbed wire strung across the pit, so you had to either crawl on all fours or duck down. I chose to duck down, as I thought it was too deep for me to crawl on my hands. I still got plenty muddy though.
The muddy group
The next .25 mile was slippery, slimy mud. You couldn’t run so much as you could waddle, trying not to fall over. We were still slipping and sliding when we came upon our next obstacle: a spider’s web of bungees. The tricky part about this one was not stepping off the bungees too quickly and tripping the person behind you.
Up another hill and across a very muddy puddle, we came upon #5: a plastic tarp stretched across a wooden frame, which you had to go under. The clearance was about 3 feet so you had to crawl through on all fours. We were surprisingly winded when we came out.
We walked up a hill, turned the corner and there was another obstacle: the plank – 2 x 4′s with rungs set up across a frame. You had to walk up the first board on an incline, across another board, up another board, and down the other side. This was definitely a test in balance – it’s surprisingly difficult to walk the line while going up an incline. But everyone made it!
Then, we came upon the Mega Hill. We walked it. That was perhaps the most surprising thing about the race: all the people walking. This is definitely a race done by 95% of participants for fun (I’m sure there still are hard-core runners who do it) – much more so than a regular race. Oh and there were way more hills than a regular race.
We reached the top of the hill and ran down to the next obstacle: a wooden frame with ladders on both sides and a cargo net across the top. I saw one lady do the roll to get over the net. I opted, once again, for the all fours approach. Another obstacle done!
The next obstacle was soon after: a 15-foot upside-down V with a ladder on one side and then on the other, 2 rungs and a solid piece of plywood for the bottom 6 feet. I got myself over the top, got my feet to the bottom rung, and then slid down as slowly as my little arms would let me. Done!
As we ran back into the Copper Mountain village, we encountered a similar obstacle – another (taller) upside-down V covered in a cargo net. This one was a little tricky because the net moved around a lot. And the top was very high off the ground. Leif was not a fan.
We continued on through the village and came to the 2nd to last obstacle. This one was, in my opinion, the hardest – or should I say the most technically challenging. It was another upside-down V. The side facing us was solid wood with ropes strung down to the bottom. The back was a very widely spaced ladder. I was a little skeptical that my wee little arms could pull the rest of my body up the side of that steep ramp but amazingly, I did it! But then the trick was to get over the top. My strategy was to swing my left leg up and get my foot over the lip for leverage. Then I pulled the rest of my body over. And done! I’m pretty sure I pulled a muscle on that one though.
Finally, we were on the home stretch: the FIRE! We ran past some condos, crossed a bridge and there it was. The flames were higher than I had expected so you definitely had to jump plenty high to ensure nothing got singed.
A few hundred yards more and we crossed the finish line to be greeted with water, bananas and a medal. We did it!
The race was definitely a blast, especially because I did it with 4 other people. I don’t think I would’ve enjoyed it as much doing it by myself – it was fun to talk about the difficulty of the obstacles, to watch each other complete them, and cheer after each successful one.
The race organization was some of the best I’ve seen (especially for a 5K distance) – all of the volunteers knew what they were doing, packet pickup was set up perfectly to avoid long lines and confusion, email communications were informative and timely, and they have plenty of useful information on their website. There were hot showers at the finish line (the Warrior Wash), they had lots of options for food and swag, and their music and announcements were loud enough to be heard. I have to say that I was impressed. (And I worked for a race company last year so I know a lot of what goes into an event like that!) It’s obvious that Warrior Dash organizers have gotten this race series down to a science. Case in point: their medals, while still cool, aren’t specific to the location you do – perfect for organizers because they can order 100,000 or however many racers they have and use the same medal for all races. Genius for a series like this!
So, all in all, this was a great experience and I would recommend this race series to anyone interested in doing a mud run. Can’t wait to do another!