The bar has been set pretty high from day one.
Having started my obstacle racing “career” with a Spartan Beast race, I was already biting off the best the sport had to offer. Beasts are challenging races, across gnarly terrain, chock full o’ difficult obstacles, and punishing with 30-burpee penalties for obstacle failure. For many of us in the obstacle racing community, Spartan Beasts are the black diamond events of the season. I’ve raced a few lesser known races, all touting to be “the most difficult ever”, but mostly just leaving me at the finish line wanting more.
Introducing IRON Warrior Dash
Let’s face it. Warrior Dash is one of the most approachable race events in the genre. The event has seemingly carried a more social vibe than Spartan, focusing less on obstacle difficulty, and more on making the sport festival-like and accessible to all levels of fitness.
But, when Warrior Dash announced a longer event, at 15-20 miles, I was very interested to see how well a race known for less difficulty, could deliver on a distance that offered the potential for the most difficulty.
Iron Warrior Dash was a blast.
After running us the length of the traditional three-mile Warrior Dash course, the difficulty cranked up a notch, with a fun trip into the surrounding rolling hills for the next twelve miles. The terrain constantly changed from dirt jeep road to technical single-track, but the most fun of all was the flat-out bushwhacking – scrambling up steep hills, no trail, and then screaming down the other side. There were times when we were running, or more like, stumbling, up stream beds, then crawling through foxholes, then sprinting down a rocky jeep road, before scrambling up yet another hill, hands and feet, …no trail to be found, just flags to follow.
And these’s weren’t even the obstacles. Just nature.
The man-made obstacles promised to be more challenging, and they also delivered. The Vicious Valleys was vicious and my hands are still burning as I type this the next day. The pipeline, a weird 20-foot horizontal cylinder of cargo rope, 12 miles into the race, was probably one of the most frustrating obstacles of the day, but it exposed a weakness to work on, so I’m grateful. And then, there’s “Peggy Sue”. I failed Peggy Sue. If you are reading this and ran the Iron Warrior Dash, you failed Peggy Sue, too. Tell the truth.
Even though there are no obstacle failure penalties at Iron Warrior Dash, I almost started doing burpees anyway.
Mud for the Sake of Mud?
We love obstacle racing and appreciate our organizers and race directors, BUT… we have to be honest if there is to be credibility to our experience reporting. While the event far surpassed expectations, Iron Warrior Dash racers should have never been combined with the Warrior Dash runners during the last .2 of the race. During this last section of the race, the course designers had a finishing mud bog that appeared to only be there in an effort to make muddy finisher photographs. Warrior Dash competitors seemed offended when Iron Dash runners would navigate the mud in an effort to pass slow moving runners.
For some, it’s just an experience, but for others, there is a race going on.
My suggestion is to offer the same obstacle at the end, but provide a lane for Iron Warrior Dash runners so as to keep the integrity of the separate race. Done.
What Did You Think?
We’re lucky to have a captive audience for our experience shares – but we’re more interested in what YOU think? Did you run Iron Warrior or traditional Warrior Dash? What were your experiences? Did you have fun? Please share with us in the comments, below!