I ran the Warrior Dash New York event this past weekend and I had a fun time.
For any experienced OCR athlete the words Warrior Dash and Fun should be synonymous at this point. But like any OCR it is what you make it and should be tempered by expectations.
This was a shuttle parking event which sometimes deter me from doing an event all together but this was smooth and effortless. The volunteers kept the flow of cars into the parking field moving at a nice pace and the school buses used to shuttle were in abundance and constantly moving. After a 5 minute ride to the venue, it was time to check-in. Packet pickup was by last name and not bib number, which may have caused some delays for those whose last name began with an R/S. That particular line was massive where other letter lines were empty. Luckily an “N” wasn’t an overly popular last name when I checked in.
Warrior Dash has started a new registration this year which I personally was in favor of where others took issue. When you register, your fees include parking and bag check. So there was no stopping to pay for parking and bag check was expedited without having to pay on site. The now included fees is a debatable topic but I was personally a big fan of. Just don’t bring valuables as your bag really wasn’t secure in any way. I was able to freely walk into bag check after each lap to locate and utilize my bag without any volunteer to check that it was, in fact, my bag I was rummaging through.
I ran 3 laps of their wooded, hilly course and in each lap had the opportunity to witness first hand, the heart and soul of OCR. After running the PA Warrior dash and multiple NJ warrior dash venues in previous years, this was my first run of their NY event. I was very pleasantly surprised with the terrain and venue itself. The PA/NJ locations were always generally flat and open area locations, containing minimal trail and elevation. The New York venue sent you uphill at several different points in the woods forcing you to actually slow your pace from the normal sprint of a warrior dash.
The obstacles themselves were very do-able for anyone that has ever ran a Spartan Race, Savage Race, Battlefrog or any of the other big boys in the sport. When it came to the target audience of a Warrior Dash these obstacles could pose some challenges. One of the first obstacles(Fishermans Catch) encountered was a square wooden structure, with 5 or so lanes, each with varying overhead grip challenges. One lane contained all metal rings to traverse. Another lane was hanging ropes. A third option was a combination of rings,ropes, and slick straight bars. What made this obstacle even more interesting was the water spraying upwards from the base in all different directions with a rope netting underneath to maneuver across if you opted not to test your grip. Something like this was easily completed for the average OCR athlete but again, for open heat racers this posed a challenge, and a fun one at that.
There was wide balance beams with water shooting from the base, mud mounds that required assistance later in the day when the mounds were slick and wet. Multiple wooden climbing structures and a newer obstacle introduced last year called Pipeline which is an enclosed circular rope obstacle that requires most to lay down on their stomach or back and navigate through, being too narrow to stand and maneuver. It reminds me of a Chinese finger trap, in that you can’t apply pressure solely to the center of the roping as it would tighten around you.
At previous events the most popular obstacle, Goliath, would have a balance beam several feet in the air with water spraying up from underneath you, followed by a short climb up to the slide into a water pit(my favorite part). They seemed to of broken this up a bit having the balance beam with spraying water(mentioned earlier) in the beginning of the course, leaving Goliath a wooden beam climb up to the slides. Usually the most highly anticipated obstacle by all attendees. By my third lap the climbing section to get to the slides was blocked off. The volunteer redirecting racers stated the water level at the base of the slides became too low and they needed to fill it up. Goliath is the last obstacle prior to crossing the finish and without direction to go directly to the finish, participants were going around the slide, to the water pit, jumping in and making their way through the pit to the finish. Of course ,monkey see, monkey do, I jumped in and enjoyed being sprayed with 3 high pressure hoses as I made my way through a waist deep water pit. (I later saw unconfirmed reports that the low water level resulted in multiple lower body injuries to ankles and legs resulting in the closure of the slide). After doing the slide 2x already this was a fun change up to end the race.
Throughout the day I witnessed many people with fitness levels not comparable to what you’d normally find at a Spartan Race or Battlefrog. It was very refreshing to witness large groups of people not in a rush, smiling, laughing and having fun. There were no egos and no sound of an “Aroo”. One woman whom I assisted in completing the mud mounds, if I had to guess in her mid 40’s and later told me this was her first race of this type, was so grateful for a helping hand and a encouragement that she referred to me as her “saving grace”. She was so happy, and so proud to accomplish a feat many reading this would find basic. Every time I run a Warrior Dash it reinforces the belief that the heart of this sport is in the open heat. This was a truly fun event and I look forward to running many more.
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