It is Monday and I am still excited from my Saturday adventure. I did the Warrior Dash in Joliet, Il. I have stories, bruises, and other souvenirs from that day.
My best friend, Liz made me do it. Well, she kept mentioning it to me until I signed up, so that makes it her fault. We traveled together, but didn’t do the course at the same time. She trains for obstacle course racing (OCR) and I stick to my crossfit and running. She went in a competitive wave at 8am and I chose to go at 9:45am when I registered.
We showed up early and parked in the first row (but still fairly far down). We went in to a table and initialed and signed away our lives on a waiver in order to claim our bibs. Once we had the bibs, we got our tee shirts and I stashed mine away to ensure no post race mud would touch it. We had to go back to get the hats they’d neglected to pass out. The setup was like a fair. There was a stage, a DJ, food tents, people giving samples of things, games with giveaways, a zipline, a kids area (with dirt to play in), a place to buy souvenirs, a beer tent, and all of the race related tents in one large area.
I watched Liz start and tried to see if I could locate her anywhere on the course. With no luck or understanding of how they set up, I camped out under a tree until the first person approached the final 2 obstacles. After watching Liz finish, we took pictures and made our way to wait near the start for my wave. I was getting antsy and almost took off in an earlier wave to avoid waiting, but I went with the 9:45 wave.
Mrs. Muddington’s Mounds: The first obstacle set my mood for the course. It was mud puddles and mounds to climb. People were lined up to drop into a pool of muddy water. After entering, the mound to climb before me was higher than my hands could reach from the water. It was also higher than the person in front of me. When we got to the mound, I laced my fingers together and told her to step up. She asked me if I was sure and I said, “I’m already muddy. Yes.” I helped another and then they turned around at the top and pulled me while someone else pushed from behind. Upon reaching the top, I turned around and grabbed the next person and pulled with all of my might. I was so proud of myself for being able to pull another person toward me as I slid down the other side of the hill into more muddy water. We repeated a similar task with the help of others and helping others up. It was energizing and I felt strong. The final muddy pool was just a short climb out. Upon returning to running, I thought about how incredible it was with people working together with strangers and being so kind to one another.
Fo Shizzle My Drizzle: The next obstacle was a soaked balance beam, or a wet wooden 4×4 interrupted by a wet ramp climb back onto the board to the end of the pit. The water turned off upon our approach. We didn’t get rinsed by the water, but the boards were still wet to walk upon. I walked gingerly across the board, but the climb wasn’t bad once I turned myself around to go down the other side.
Oscar the Ouch: This obstacle was a slanted wall, climb down the other side and belly crawl over grass and under barbed wire. I was a little surprised at how high the barbed wire was from the ground and crawled on my knees through it. I had anticipated the need to crawl on my elbows for this one.
Devil’s Crack: This obstacle was bear crawling in covered muddy trenches for 20 feet, then through muddy water into another 20 feet of muddy trench and back out. I probably did it faster than some since I stayed up off of my knees and kept my hands on the trench sides. I hit my head on the 2×4’s that were across the entries and exits of each trench. I was slightly pissed off when I did it exiting because I’d put my hand on the board to prevent braining myself again and I still did it.
The Damn Dam: This is also known as a warped wall. There were people waiting in line to run up the center of the 40 foot tall vertical wall to grab the top and descend the other side. There were strategically placed boards on either side to climb on, so I asked people around me if they were going to go that way and if use of the side was cutting in line. After several people reassured me, I quickly ascended most of the wall. I reached the top board and I couldn’t pull myself up and my feet were sliding off of the other board that I needed to push with my feet. I wiped mud from the rig and my shoes, flung it to the ground, and tried in vain to get my foot to stay put while I pulled with my arms. I threw my body upward and slid back time and again. I joined hands with a girl who’d climbed past me. She held my arm until I slung my leg up to the top and pushed with all of my strength to get up there. I sat momentarily terrified of descending the other side. Once I turned my body, I went as fast as I could to get down to the ground. I hugged each board as I went down as if my feet were still sliding. This might sound “awful” or whatever, but this obstacle was something I remember fondly.
Upslide Down: Mud puddle, slides laid flat with rope netting over them. Lay on your back and pull yourself backwards along the length of the slide. Liz’s tip for me was, “Keep your mouth closed or dried mud will fall in.” I instantly understood this advice as dirt crumbled onto my face with each reach of my arms. This obstacle made me feel kind of badass because my arm strength in pulling myself along on the slide while reaching as far as I could with each pull so I could finish quickly.
Climb and Punishment: This was set the opposite way from the warped wall (Damn Dam) that I’d completed because I hadn’t run up the smooth side. The ascending side was 2×4’s set up similar to a ladder and the descending side was boards set into a wall. There was no more than a spot to turn around at the top of this one, though. I did my turn around by throwing my body over the top and dangling my legs to find the next foothold. It worked well and it was probably from Liz comparing it to bareback horses when talking to me about the course. While never having to have done that, her explanation was enough for me.
Splitsville: I honestly thought this was going to be where the 5k and 10k races broke off until I saw that it was an obstacle where 4×4 wood planks were secured to wobbling chains flanked by loose chain handrails with murky water below. I walked gingerly about halfway through until the board started to rotate beneath my feet and I needed to grab the chains on the sides and take huge steps to complete the obstacle. I was amazed at how quickly I’d done that one and heard someone behind me comment, “Wow, that went by faster than I expected.”
Warden’s Wall: Completely vertical cargo nets. Two on either side of a single shorter one. I decided to do the shorter one and I climbed up to the top, grabbed the spot to pull myself over, and had a bad gut feeling. I didn’t go over. I descended on the ascending side and walked around this setup. I turned my head to look back and saw someone fall. I heard this unforgettable sound and I thought I saw blood trickle from his forehead. Then, I saw people surround him and I bolted for the next aid tent and asked them if paramedics had been called. They said they had, so I went to another tent and repeated my message to the other. I convinced myself to go on so I could see a familiar face and let Liz know I was okay. I hope he was okay and an ambulance did arrive shortly after the incident.
Warrior Roast: This was FIRE! Jump over a fire. It wasn’t too difficult, but probably looked cool in the photo that they took while I jumped. It was over quickly and I didn’t feel much heat from the fire on my muddy legs.
El Capitan: Tall obstacle. Ladder type climb up to cargo net for more upward climbing ending on a platform with a huge slide. My poor ass and that sun heated slide. I made the cute picture face as long as I could, but then squealed with displeasure at my hot butt. This is where the crowds gather toward the finish line.
Muddy Mayhem: Mud pit with barbed wire over the top. There was a man eating lunch and he announced that the barbed wire was real and the mud would swallow your shoes, so he would advise we just swim through. I hopped in, put my arms down and pulled myself through while my rear end floated at water level. I heard people behind me yelling about a lost shoe. I found a foot hold at the end and pulled myself out still feeling pretty pleased with my new found strength to pull my weight. I looked like a mud monster.
Finished! I got my medal as soon as I crossed the finish. My race bib was covered and hanging by 2 pins and one was because I’d reattached when I saw it was only dangling from one pin. I got a protein shake placed in my hand and Liz came to the finish and twisted the cap off for me right before I took the whole thing down in one chug.
So. Much. Fun.
She took me to rinse off at the hoses and it did a lot, but nobody would ever be able to tell that I’d rinsed off. I changed clothes in a communal changing tent and tried to get as much mud off as possible, but I was just less covered.
I got my free beer and had a meal before driving a couple hours home and taking a real shower and a real nap. I discovered so many bruises from this adventure and I consider them badges of honor. I totally show them to everyone I encounter because I want to tell them about how awesome my race was. We should mention that I bruise easily and none of them actually hurt as bad as they look. I didn’t feel any of them when they happened and I thank God for helping me get through this.
Thanks for reading! I had so much fun! I’m going to link the obstacles here so you can look if you want. Also, this race has the opportunity to raise money for St. Jude, so you should do it if you’re on the fence about it. Warrior Dash Obstacles
Now I have to start half marathon training…