Sunday, September 18, 2011

Warrior Dash - Alive, but Maybe not Well

Back in January, I decided to sign up for Warrior Dash. A 3.1 mile obstacle course race dubbed as the "Craziest frickin' day of your life." Yesterday was the day of truth. I competed in the Warrior Dash race in Manchester, TN.

I was lucky enough to have Miss Lynn who was doing the race with me and our awesome Super Stove friend, KG spectating for us. So we got quite a lot of good pictures. (Pictures at the end of this post.) We had an afternoon start time (3 pm) and in the hottest part of the day, the 78 degree temperature felt quite warmer due to the high sun bearing down on the course.

The course was actually on the grounds of the Bonnaroo Festival, which I actually enjoyed because they actually have several "fixtures" set up year-round (like the "Bonnaroo arch").

The race was a lot of good people watching with people in costumes. Our course was primarily flat on gravel and dirt paths that wound throughout the Bonnaroo grounds.

After jogging a good portion a the beginning, we came to the "Hay Fever" obstacle, which at one time was a high stack of hay bales, but at the point we got to it, it was some broken down bales of hay and we easily ran up and over it.

The obstacles weren't evenly distributed along the course. There was a lot of time between the start of the race and the first obstacle and again between the first and second obstacle. While we were walking between the first and second obstacle, we saw a guy SMOKING on the course. I mean, seriously? If you can't go 45 minutes - hour without smoking maybe you should just consider NOT DOING THE RACE. The worst thing to smell while running is smoke. People are so inconsiderate.

The second obstacle was the "Road Rage" obstacle. Junk yard cards sandwiched between two sets of old tires. This was another easy obstacle even though I did walk slowly through the tires to protect my ankles.

Soon after, we hit the "Barricade Breakdown". You had to climb over a waist high wall and then under barbed wire. There were 3 sets of these and I got caught on the barbed wire where I got a minor scratch and bled. At this point, with blood on my arm, I felt like a true warrior!

Another easy obstacle was next - the "Blackout". It was a dark tunnel set up you had to crawl through on hands and knees. It was dirty but easy.

At this point I knew my nemesis was coming up - the "Great Warrior Wall." We rounded the corner and my stomach dropped. Straight ahead was a 10 foot+ wall with ropes on one side to use to climb up and then once over the top you climbed down ladder style. Now, only those who suffer from the same fear of heights and plummeting to your death will understand the anxiety that hit me at this moment.

I'm not sure where my fear of heights and falling come from; however, I did fall off a blow up obstacle course and end up in the ER on my high school graduation night as I was racing my good friend Sarah. Maybe this has something to do with it? I don't know...

Miss Lynn insisted I could do it so up I went. At the top I had a slight moment of panic as I straddled the top of this wall, which was at least 10 feet off the ground. At any moment I could slip and fall. And be hurt very badly. Thankfully, the volunteer working this station saw my pause and climbed up to the top, with Miss Lynn not far behind him, and talked me through my panic. They got me down safely and although I was shaking we continued the course.

After jogging a little more, we came to the "Chaotic Crossover" - cargo nets you climb across, set up about 5 feet off the ground. Fairly easy, but I got held up behind some people, which made it harder.

Next, was the turning point of the race. We came to the "Giant Cliffhanger." Another 10 ft wall, this time sloped on one side and no traction. After watching one woman get half way up and then come back down, I started my climb. With no traction for my feet to grab onto, I got to the top and slipped. For a brief moment I hung from the top of the wall with both of my arms holding me there. Eventually, I knew all was lost and all I could do is fall/slide down the wall back to the ground and in the process I got a huge friction burn on my stomach, and a small one on my leg.


After this defeat, I had to take a moment to breathe. I already wasn't feeling great at this point and sliding down the 10 ft wall only made that worse. I essentially was done with the race at this point. I told my partner in crime I wasn't planning on running any more of the race. I also I didn't know if I could do any more walls. There were 3 left in the distance and I dreaded them.

The other thing was the obstacles were so close together at this point in the race. They were pretty much one right after each other. The next one was another wall you climbed up on side (there were like ladder steps built in) and then on the other side was a straight drop down. I got to the top of the first side and I couldn't bring myself to jump off the other side, so I just climbed back down the same side. All I can say is at least I tried it.

The next one was an easier wall with steps up and then a pole to slide down. I got through that one OK and immediately after was the "Cargo Climb." Another wall with cargo nets on either side. I really wanted to skip it, but I also didn't want to say I didn't try every obstacle, so up I went. It was a scarier obstacle for me in a lot of ways because since they were cargo nets you could feel everyone else's movements. And you went up really high. I got over it fine though and we were on the last part of the course (finally).

Miss Lynn and I walked up to final two obstacles - "Warrior Roast" and "Muddy Mayhem." We jumped over two lines of fire and then I reluctantly walked into the mud pit. Honestly, I could have just wadded through this calf deep and stepped over the barbed wire, but in the spirit of what the race was about I got down on all fours and crawled through the mud under the 3 lines of barbed wire. And then I crawled out of the mud pit.


They handed us a Dixie cup of water and a banana, which immediately just got muddy. After pictures and a few moments of confusion, we went to hose down the best we could before trekking back to the car.

I'm glad to have done the race. It definitely pushed me physically, and I was beat by the end. I have plenty of scrapes, burns and bruises to prove my Warrior-ness. However, I am also the most sore I've ever been in my life and I don't really
see myself ever doing one of these races again. One in my lifetime is enough, I say.

Overall the race set up was pretty well. If you are planning on doing a Warrior Dash I have a few suggestions for survival:
  • Plan for parking to take 30 - 45 minutes. We sat in traffic for a good part of 30 minutes and had to park a fair walk away from the actual race area.
  • Bring your own water / sports drinks. They only had 1 water stop and the water was hot from sitting in the sun all day. They also didn't have bottles of water or sports drinks at the end of the race for participants. They expect you to buy it at the concession stand. This was actually a huge issue for me because I was hugely dehydrated and borderline sick by time we got to dinner.
  • Bring a change of clothes, a towel AND baby wipes. They have a few hoses at the finish line but 2 hoses and a lot of people didn't really help too much.


Alan said...

Wow you are a badass!

KG said...

Excellent photos...the real success was not falling in the fire :)

Big Life, Little Blog said...

Alan, honestly I felt more defeated than badass at the end of the race, but I'm glad I finished it and tried every obstacle in the process!

KG, Of course they are excellent took them!

Denise said...

Belly...ouch! Congrats on trying all of it and not giving up. Congrats on your weight loss for the week too.

marisol said...

Damn on the tummy owie. Congrats on doing it and finishing it. That's great.

This looks like a lot of fun. I am putting it on my life list.

Diana P. said...

Great job in trying it and finishing! You have completed something that most fit people don't even think about trying! Way to go. And I love the pictures! :)

Heather said...

Now that's a HARDCORE warrior burn. Awesome job, Emily!

Jennifer said...

I stumbled upon your blog from google when I googled slanted wall warrior dash Manchester, TN. I too did the Warrior Dash on Saturday and slid down the same wall. We have matching warrior wounds. I made it all the way to the top of the wall and then couldn't pull myself over. Great job for finishing! I was able to finish too but my spirit was waivering after the injury.

Amanda said...

I also had issues with that freakin wall. BTW, I looked it up it is 15 feet tall!! You can read about my journey here

Post a Comment