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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Warrior Dash 2015 experience

I had wanted to do one of these obstacle courses for a year now and have been regularly exercising for the last 2 years by going to the on-ramp to crossfit bootcamp at Crossfit Etowah.  I will be 40 years old this year and a mother of a 4 and 5 year old, I figured it was now or never, so my friend Trish signed us up for it.  There was no going back. I barely slept the night before, thinking I was going to either fall to my death or drown. I have a fear of heights, the highest I go on a box jump is 1 foot and I do not know how to swim, still I did not back out. What follows below is my personal experience on race day. Hopefully it will help some of you out there thinking on participating in one of these.

Warrior Dash April 11, 2015
Mountain City, Ga at the Blue Ridge Camp
Setting: Mountainous region.
3.0 Miles, 12 Obstacles

The Gear:

Vibram Trek Ascent shoes. You definitely need these for maximum traction. I got mine at Natural Strides In downtown Woodstock. Vibram's description for these shoes was right on the money-
"For off-road adventures and hiking in all conditions, the new Trek Ascent Synthetic offers rugged traction and sure grip to keep you firmly grounded on and off the trail. Choose the synthetic model for sporty, weather resistant performance. Machine washable. Air Dry." (http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/products/Five-Fingers-Trek-Ascent-womens.htm?activity=outdoor
Pictured here are my Trek Ascent.  They performed beautifully on the trail, notice the grip wells/ tracks/threads or what ever you want to call them, go all the way to the tip of the toes. These are extremely flexible and the grip/traction on these shoes is unbelievable and crucial for tackling some of the most slippery obstacles, like a four-wheeler in a mud track.

  

Trish's Vibram are the Grey with purple and pink accents. (Photo Credit: Trish Keller)

Injinji light weight toe socks.  I always wear socks to cut down on any rubbing or chafing, I did not end up with any blisters or loose any toe nails.
Fitted ankle length polyester/spandex running pants. I feel more comfortable with a layer of protection around my legs. Felt thankful to be wearing long pants while swimming (or attempting to swim ) and wading through the natural lakes/waterholes with tons of foreign slimy plants and who knows what else living in there.
Fitted long sleeve polyester/spandex running shirt. No loose clothing that could potentially get snagged on barbed wire or branch. Do yourself a favor and do not wear cotton.
My good Ole trusty half finger weigh lifting gloves. Helped save my hands during all the crawling and climbing, less slippage, I also cut off all my nails really short.

The pre-race specifics:

The event was very well organized. My friend and I carpooled (highly recommended). We parked as instructed, paid the $10 parking fee and took the shuttle to the event site. 
There we checked in at the sign in tent to turn in the participant waiver and get our bib, shirt and how Trish puts it " ..that, ever so cool, viking hat."
From there, next stop was the ID tent to get our 21 and over wrist band so we could get our beer later. 
Gear check was a huge tent set up with rows of tables. A volunteer at the exit would check to make sure the number on the bag being checked out matched the bib number. 
From there off to the starting line 10 minutes before our heat time.
The race starts:

First mile or so was up and along the side of the mountain. There were plenty of natural obstacles in the rustic narrow natural trail, we had to navigate over fallen trees, branches, rocks, muddy sections, more rocks, slippery slopes, and holes.  It was a heck of a warm up if you ask me.  For those of you who are affected by high levels of pollen and/or sports induced asthma remember to use your inhaler before you start.

Then came the obstacles along the remaining 2 miles.

The Obstacles:

 Here are the 12 we had to survi...errr..  overcome:
(Click on each obstacle name to see it in action at the Warrior Dash Website)

 

Mudmounds

"... climb over a tall mud mound and slide down into a muddy pit…over and over again." (https://www.warriordash.com/obstacle/mud-mounds/)
There was not a lot of mud in the pits, the mounds were huge but scalable. I used roots that were sticking out to grab on to and dug into the dirt with my toes to get footing. The Trek Ascent shoes were great for this.

 

Under the wire

"... 100 feet underneath real barbed wire." (https://www.warriordash.com/obstacle/under-the-wire/)
I made sure to crawl with my behind down as to not get snagged on the barbed wire. There was not a lot of mud underneath, some grassy areas mixed in with dirt areas and compacted Georgia red clay.

 

Diesel Dome

 "...30×50 wooden dome ..."(https://www.warriordash.com/obstacle/diesel-dome/)
I am afraid of heights but the dome was not bad. Easy climb.

 

Hard Rain

"Trudge through a water pit and fight the spray as you ascend up and over a soaking wet, 40-foot vault."(https://www.warriordash.com/obstacle/hard-rain/)
There was no "trudging" and this was no "water pit".  It was an actual natural lake or water hole we had to swim across to get to the 40-foot vault.  This was my first "OMG I'M GONNA TRULY DIE!" obstacle. As I stepped into the water I had my friend Trish to my left (she can swim), and a volunteer to my right on the shore ready to throw a life preserver at me. A few steps in the freezing cold water and there was a drop, first to chest level.  This sent me into a cold shock and hyperventilating, I was literally panting, could not catch my breath, super rapid short breathing that I could NOT control. All of a sudden  I could not feel the bottom, I sank over my head. I can't swim, was completely submerged but somehow I doggie paddled up to the surface, yelled "OMG Trish!" and started to swim. I made it, with Trish to my left yelling "you're doing it you're swimming!" and another volunteer on the shore that let me know I was getting close to shallower water. The 40-foot vault with water spraying at me suddenly did not seem to daunting after all.

 

Shock Top unfiltered

"... hurdle yourself ... over three sets of barricades. ... scoot underneath an 80-foot canopy. ... race over three more barricades...."(https://www.warriordash.com/obstacle/shocktop-unfiltered/)
The canopy crawl was over a grassy area and the barricades were not that high, not hard to scale. On some I had to scale over and some were to crawl under.
Here's a pic of the last barricade of the ShockTop obstacle. 

(Photo Credit: GameFaceMedia)

 

Great warrior wall

"...  14-foot wall caked in the slick mud ...."(https://www.warriordash.com/obstacle/great-warrior-wall/)
I am hanging my head down in shame shame shame on this one.  I gave it a shot, walked up to that rope, grabbed it tight and had both feet on that wall, but for the life of me I could not pull myself up to the first slat. I would have made it if I only could have gone up to that stinking first slat that was sooo out of my reach. The only obstacle I had to walk around. You're good to go if you are tall, have long legs, strong upper body.

 

Warrior roast

"... leap over a row of real fire ..."(https://www.warriordash.com/obstacle/warrior-roast/)
Low row of stacked up firelogs. Did not have to jump high. Got a running start.

 

Muddy mayhem

"Army-crawl under real barbed wire through a 100-foot-long mud pit..."(https://www.warriordash.com/obstacle/muddy-mayhem/)
The mud was thick and mid-thigh high, no army crawling through this, more of a duck and walk under the barbed wire. Very slippery and uneven footing. Mud got thicker after the barbed wire area, before we made it out. Make sure shoes are on tight.

(Photo Credit: GameFaceMedia)

Trish and I half way through the muddy mayhem.
(Photo Credit: GameFaceMedia)

Alcatraz

"...Swim out to floating docks in the water, climb up and over, and make sure you still have enough energy to swim to shore."(https://www.warriordash.com/obstacle/alcatraz/)
The floating docks had cargo netting that helped with the getting on top bad over. Thankfully this was not in deep water. Phew!

 

Chaotic cargo

"...climb up 60 feet of cargo net and cross another 10 feet of shifting cargo..."(https://www.warriordash.com/obstacle/chaotic-cargo/)
 Chaotic cargo was high up and I definitely battled with my fear of heights on this one. I picked a support beam and went up that way. The rope seemed tighter along that area, making it less wobbly going up. Days later I still have bruises on my chins and knees from the hands and knees crawling.

(Photo Credit: GameFaceMedia)

Made it to the top. My hands sweating and butterflies in my stomach.
Photo Credit: GameFaceMedia)

Starting my descend, as my teammate gets to the top.
Photo Credit: GameFaceMedia)

Pipeline

"...Climb up, over, and through a tube of kinked cargo nets 12 feet in the air."(https://www.warriordash.com/obstacle/pipeline/)
This is the entrance to the Pipeline. I crawled up it the regular way on my hands and knees but according to Trish "going up on our back makes this much easier to navigate."
(Photo Credit: GameFaceMedia)

On the next photo you can see the other end of the cargo net tubes leading into a scaling down of a slanted wall. This led to the next obstacle (Goliath), you can see part of it to the right, it is that slanted wall with wooden slats across and ropes coming down. People were slipping and sliding all over the place and slamming against the wall. My vibrams awesome traction helped me scale this wall with no slippage. 

Photo Credit: GameFaceMedia)

Goliath

"...Summit the largest obstacle,... race across a two-story balance beam before making a splash at the bottom of a 30-foot-high slide..."(https://www.warriordash.com/obstacle/goliath/)
   
After scaling the slippery wall came the balance beams with water sprays shooting out at us. There was a water and mud pit under it. It seemed to me that we were pretty high up in the air, I do not know how deep the water pit was and I did not want to find out.

Pictured here is my friend Trish walking across the balance beams. 

(Photo Credit: GameFaceMedia)

Facing my fear of drowning, since I don't know how to swim. This is me, after going down the 30 foot high slide. I landed in a spot that was deeper than I am tall. I sank and having no footing, had to dogie paddle to the surface and out of the deep area.

Photo Credit: GameFaceMedia)

We made it out alive! 
Photo Credit: GameFaceMedia)

 After the last obstacle we went by the Natural Strides tent, where they had the Vibram FiveFingers shoe washing station. What a nice touch, I thought that was a great idea. They washed our mud filled shoes for us. While we sat in the sun to dry up a bit and got some of the mud out of our ears. Thanks Natural Strides for having a box of Qtips at their tent  :-)

(Photo Credit: Greg Scott, Natural Strides)

There was also a tent for changing clothes. It was set up with tables, no showers. On the way out to the shuttle I saw a sign out on a front yard "camp hose shower $1.00" heee heee. 

I have to say that this event was very organized. I was very pleased with the overall atmosphere and despite having to battle my fears I came out with a great feeling of accomplishment.

I can't wait to do it again next year.