Warriors are Willing to Work for It
Warrior Dash holds a special place in my heart despite its lack of EXTREME CHALLENGE. The lack of difficulty is not a good reason to pass on the “beginners race.” If Savage, Spartan, and Conquer the Gauntlet are super healthy foods like organically raised salmon, fresh farm raised avocados and naturally grown kale then Warrior Dash is a spinach/chicken wrap. While it may not be on the “superior” level of the other races, it takes on an extremely important role in being the bridge for many into OCR or even into a healthy lifestyle.
Helping Start the Addiction
While I may not have encountered obstacles that pushed me to my brink, I did see and meet far more newcomers who were there to make an effort at slowly improving their unhealthy lifestyles than at any other race. I also encountered more “running for a cause” teams than I have seen recently. Warrior Dash is that beginning step that is necessary for many. We can’t all dive head first. Some of us have to begin with dipping one foot in at a time (not charging for parking or a bag check helps.) This is where the average working Joe or Jill can see the potential to become greater than they thought possible.
The venue of the Harrison County Fairgrounds in Gulfport, Mississippi proved to offer more challenge than most would have anticipated from a mostly flat area. Though any sort of incline was very rarely found, running three miles in a soggy field that gave way with every step proved to take away some of the speed many competitors would have normally had on a more dry or packed terrain. Muddy areas were easy to create and find, though they weren’t as large as I have seen before from Warrior Dash. Even at the finish, each mud pit seemed less like a pit and more like a hole. The trail was cleared and marked extremely well. It would have been extremely hard to get lost.
Nets…. Nets Everywhere
The obstacles were a lot of the usual Warrior fare. There was a lot of crawling under wire and a lot of net usage. From normal cargo climbs to pipeline to the new (and really fun) Upslide Down I saw more cargo nets during this race than I could shake a stein at. Cargo nets serve as a great introduction to new racers as an obstacle that can burn you out.
Warrior Dash also earned positive points for its new obstacle Upslide Down. It was a simple, fun obstacle though it could have been longer. A flat slide lay under a cargo net. Competitors laid on their backs and proceeded to utilize the cargo net to pull themselves down the slide. I had a blast with this one and hope to see more like it in the future.
Rather than placing Goliath at the end, Warrior Dash left their new obstacle “Pallet Jacked” front and center for spectators to check out. I can rightfully say I underestimated this obstacle. I assumed running across pallets suspended from straps wouldn’t be a problem. However, the pallets swung and moved vertically depending on weight distribution. I enjoyed the slight challenge of this obstacle as well as the creativity of Warrior Dash race designers in utilizing simple construction to create a very fun obstacle. Much like a good hamburger, both of Warrior Dash’s new obstacles offered a lot of satisfaction for something so easily and affordably constructed.
Warrior Dash knows what it does well and continues to improve on it year after year by offering more after race competitions and activities than any other race series. The push-up contests let the macho bros show off for the crowd. The tug-of-war competition gives families and teams the opportunity to work together and have a good time. The stein holding competition allows warriors to prove their grip strength and grit and walk away with a free stein. Even if warriors don’t want to join in on these competitions there are rigs to play on, beer pong setups to play around with, an awesome DJ, and lots of cornholing… I mean the game with the bean bags.
Warrior Dash offers many of the best beer choices and food around as well as the ability to refill your stein for a moderately steep price. A plethora of patrons seemed to be having an amazing time at the festival. I will be surprised if Warrior Dash doesn’t return to the coast next year given the huge turnout. Seeing so many newcomers and groups of friends discovering the joys of OCR together filled my heart with glee. I left the festival with a huge smile on my face – not for my own accomplishments, but because I saw something I loved growing and I saw people spreading fitness, love, and no hate all in one place. That’s one of the better achievements that any of us can achieve in this lifetime.