I personally specialize in ultra-Obstacle Course Racing (OCR), things like the ~8 hour BattleFrog Xtreme or the 24 hour World’s Toughest Mudder. When not training for the ultra-OCR, I also like to race shorter races with harder obstacles, like Conquer The Gauntlet. So you might have a guess as to what I am going to say about the only Warrior Dash I raced in 2016, Warrior Dash Wisconsin….but you would be wrong. I actually love Warrior Dash, despite it playing to my weaknesses (short, fast and easier obstacles) and here is why…
TERRAIN: The event took place in a park with 3.1 miles of pretty well-groomed trails or parts on grass going in and out of the woods. They even incorporated some decent elevation gain for such a short course taking advantage of the hill in the middle of the park. In fact, it is the only time during a Warrior Dash I have ever had to walk (actually, power hiked up the hill).
OBSTACLES: Warrior Dash continues to make small changes to their obstacles year after year to keep things fresh. With the usual array of things like over, under walls, low nets that require crawling, a fire jump, trenches and a thick mud pit, it provides a good array of obstacles. What was new to me was their version of a rig, Fisherman’s Catch. Unlike other courses, their rig is over water and there is a net underneath. So if you fall, I guess you are just supposed to cross the net (even in the competitive wave…I think?). What was surprising was the multiple lanes the rig had including one with all rings, some with a mix of rings, nunchakus and ropes and even one with all nunchakus. I think there was about 8 different holds total all spaced fairly close together. Overall, it is a nice addition to their event and for future events, I plan on taking a second lap to play on some of the other lanes.
FESTIVAL: Not surprising, Warrior Dash hits a home run with their festival. With beer, food, several photo areas (giant mug, giant helmet, before/after backdrops, a version of a rig people can play on), a DJ and contests, there is fun for the whole family. While I personally do not need this awesome festival area for a good race, it is a nice touch that makes Warrior Dash an awesome event for families. Not even the rain could stop the positive atmosphere. Shortly after the first couple of racers finished from the competitive wave, a light drizzle started but things continued as normal.
COMPLAINTS: My experience was nearly flawless. With very close parking to the event, the competitive wave going off on time, the course marked well and volunteers present at key points, I had a great time. As I was leaving, I noticed that cars were backed up pretty far for new racers coming into the festival. Not sure if this negatively affected their experiences or not, but the parking situation was definitely looking a little rough for those racing later in the afternoon.
I could see people getting upset at the lack of timing chips (they just write down your name as you cross the line), but I did not think that was a big deal. Although, I kind of wish there was for this specific race because the top three finishers were still in a pack with about three obstacles and about 50m of course left before the end. Timing chips would have reflected the closeness of the race to those who were not present.
OVERALL: Although not my normal OCR, I do love throwing down at a Warrior Dash at least once a year. The company offers a season pass at a price that is a steal ($125 for the full year of races), which should put it on your list if there is an event in your area. I am not 100% sure why I still enjoy Warrior Dash events, maybe it is because Warrior Dash KY was my first OCR, maybe it is seeing all the new participants experiencing our sport for the first time, maybe it is the festival or maybe it is because they just do a good job with all aspects of the event. Either way, I will continue to race Warrior Dash events as long as they keep that competitive heat.
Photo Credit: Amy Perperis of Strength & Speed