It had been about a year since I ran my first obstacle course race… the 2010 Midwest Warrior Dash, to be exact. The 2010 Warrior Dash was an exhilarating experience that I still carried with me coming up to the starting line for round 2. This time though, I had an extra year of training under my belt and a speedy friend to run with. Stephen and I hopped in the car with over two hours until race time (it was a 45 minute drive), stocked up on G-series Prime, a change of clothes, and a celebratory case of Miller Lite…
The gun goes off and we got an early jump on the competition. Stephen went out strong and I let him gain some ground, knowing I’d catch up down the road. The problem I keep finding in races like this is that new racers start off MUCH too fast, and ends up fading a mile into the race. Unfortunately, unless you start out faster than your comfortable with, you get bottlenecked in the first few turns. We knew there were no obstacles for the first mile, so we pushed hard and Stephen dropped back, grimacing. That omelette he ate before we left didn’t exactly agree with him for such a quick start (which brings up another point: train with what you’ll be eating on race days), so he motioned for me to go on.
The main observation I had during the race is that the organizers used the terrain completely differently on this course than the one a year ago. The hills on this course were brutal. A majority of the first two miles were spent running steeply uphill, downhill, or on a pretty scary side-slope… the kind you have to take at a slow jog to avoid twisting an ankle. Towards the last half mile, the course actually veered into a stream, forcing racers to jump over fallen trees, feel out drops underneath the clay-fogged water, and climb up a steep embankment on the way out. However, the manmade obstacles truly disappointed me. The 2010 Midwest WD had run-down paintball-esque towns to run through, tires to climb over, and barriers to hurdle; The obstacles generally fit the scenery well. It felt like the 2011 obstacles were unloaded from a truck and set up in the middle of a field. There was no flow or logic to them, and some routes (i.e.- the stair platforms) were already broken by the time we reached them. There were too many wall-type obstacles, and not enough variety in between to break up the monotony. These were obstacles that could be completed if you were in mild shape, but could be done extremely quickly in good shape.
The race concluded with a nice, cooling crawl through the mud and I washed off underneath a fire hose and waited for Stephen to come through the finish line. We high-fived, ran out to the car to pound a few beers and headed back inside to redeem our free one. Before heading out for the day, we mingled with some other racers and egged people on to do bellyflops in the final mud pit. All-in-all a productive afternoon, as we finished one last Coors and set off to the next adventure… happy to have both finished in the top 2%, but ultimately unimpressed.
If you’re looking for a fun race to run with friends of any fitness level, this is the race for you. The limiting factor for this race is definitely cardio; Don’t expect to be too challenged by the obstacles if you can run 5+ miles with ease. Grab a beer and a delicious turkey leg after you’re done and enjoy the afterparty.
Everything was well organized, from parking to packet pickup, to number of porto-johns available. This would be a perfect score if it were not for the “no water allowed” rule. Parking wasn’t an issue for us since we arrived early, and they hired a company for their parking flaggers.
I was disappointed with the difficulty and variety of obstacles in comparison to the previous year. The steep hills were a really nice surprise, and really added to the difficulty of the course (sadly, they may have been the hardest obstacle). Chip timing is a nice touch, but competition is somewhat lacking for this race series.
You won’t find much better than the Warrior Dash in terms of a during- and post-race party. Plenty of food, beer, hatchet throwing, dancing, and hollering to be had.
You get pathetic-looking floppy hat, a boxy t-shirt that I’d really only wear to bed, and a tiny little medal (which they seriously cost-reduced compared to the pretty decent one last year). Free beer is nice but that’s pretty much standard for races these days. Cut back on the amount of stuff we get and give us a little something nice please.