Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Warrior Dash Ohio II Recap

Warrior Brothers!

The Warrior Dash is the mud run that is taking the globe by storm! I took part in my first Warrior Dash last year in 2011 in Carrollton, Tuscawaras County. I struggled as I ran up and down extremely steep hills that were so muddy, they'd suck your tennis shoes right off of your feet. I trudged through mud, crawled under barbed wire, jumped over fire, and jumped in and out of trash dumpsters, among other obstacles. I felt like I would barf the moment I crossed the finish line (at approximately 47 miinutes). But, despite all of these seemingly horrible factors of the Warrior Dash, I loved every minute of it and have become hooked.

After my first experience (which took place on the birthday of my late brother Nick), I immediately decided that my brother Curt and I would absolutely have to participate in the next Warrior Dash that came our way! To make sure this happened, I bought my brother's registration as a Christmas gift for him. I am sure he wasn't too thrilled with having to wait an agonizing 8 months until he redeemed his Christmas present, but I knew it would be something he would love and would be such an amazing opportunity for us to bond as brothers. And I was right!

On August 25, 2012, my brother Curt and I, joined by his wife Regina, ran in the Warrior Dash Ohio II in North Lawrence, Stark County. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and despite not getting a great deal of shut eye the night before, I was amped up and energized to take on the muddy obstacle course. Despite this excitement, I was indeed a bit nervous as well. I was worried that that hills would beat me up just like they did last year, worried that my knee I had injured running a half marathon would act up, and worried that -- GASP -- my brother would beat me!

This year's event was clearly far more organized than the Warrior Dash in Carrollton one year prior. It was clear that the company (Red Frog Events) has been finding ways to improve the event and work out the bugs now that it is no longer in its infant stages (Warrior Dash is now in its third year, with 65 events around the world in 2012, totaling over 1 million participants). Everything about the race was smoother than last year: from parking, to signing in, to getting your beer!

Lining up at 11:30, Curt, Regina and I stretched out, threw some high fives, and went off and running! That is, until the very large group of runners began to bottleneck on the very narrow wooded trails. It was sort of annoying that we couldn't run ahead at full speed. You would think there would be a longer stretch of open trails at the start so that slower runners would taper off. But, we dealt with what we had. In addition to the narrow paths, they were also a bit rugged, with ditches, tree roots, and rocks standing in our way. Those little hiccups in the road were nothing, however, compared to the 13 obstacles that lay ahead:

List of Obstacles
1. Barricade Breakdown: Hurdle over barricades and under barbed wire
2. Rio Run: Dash down the river
3. Capsized Catamaran: Swim, climb, stumble, swim
4. Cliffhanger: Rappel down the steep ravine
5. Deadweight Drifter: Trudge through the waist-deep water and over the logs
6. The Trenches: Stay low and crawl quickly through the dirt and under logs
7. Chaotic Crossover: Climb over the tangled nets
8. Dead Man's Drop
9. Leader's Ledge: Climb on the ledge and avoid falling in the water below
10. Horizontal Hike: Voyage over the arching obstruction
11. Cargo Climb: Maneuver over the cargo nets
12. Warrior Roast: Leap over the warrior fires
13. Muddy Mayhem: Scramble under the barbed wire and through the mud as you near the finish line

The obstacles were most certainly challenging, but honestly paled in comparison to the difficulty of last year's Warrior Dash. Perhaps they were designed a bit lighter, but perhaps also I was in much better shape than I was a year ago. My brother and his wife were impressive in their run as well. Regina was better at the running, while my brother and I were better at the obstacles. We did not stick together the entire time, but ended up meeting up every once and awhile when we came to the obstacles (as you had to wait in line at some of the obstacles).

The Capsized Catamaran and the Deadweight Drifter, both obstacles that involved water, were some of the most challenging due to the depth of the water and how hard it was to pull yourself out of the water without any foot leverage. The Dead Man's Drop and Cargo Climb were a bit scary due to how high up they were (people who were scared of heights would not fare well). My favorite part of the race was the Leader's Ledge obstacle, because it involved a bit of rock climbing skills as well as teamwork with my brother and sister-in-law.

After jumping over the flames and making our way under the barbed wire, my brother and I crossed the finish line just ONE SECOND apart from each other (my final time was 43 minutes, 34 seconds). I loved being able to complete the race with my brother by my side (and loved being able to forever rub in his face that I beat him by ONE SECOND).

We celebrated our achievement, got hosed off, grabbed our free beers, chomped on a turkey leg, listened to the live music, and enjoyed being amongst hundreds and hundreds of other like-minded WARRIORS and OHventurers from across the state! Til next year!

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