For some time now, media outlets have been touting the Warrior Dash as an extreme sport that not only takes brawns, but the mental capacity to make it through nearly four miles of an obstacle-laden course. Jumping over cars, fire, and barrels of hay are only met with a wade through water and mud. Yes, the Warrior Dash is extreme, but in more ways than you would initially expect. For me and the group that I was lucky enough to race with, the physical extremities paled in comparison to the emotional extremities experienced from the camaraderie between friends and even strangers. As we raced through the dusty course, sweat streaming from every place that you could imagine, we coaxed one another to keep pushing forward with calls such as “you can make it” and “don’t give up.” The dash presented a parallel for many of life’s moments. You know, the moments where we feel nearly beaten down by the elements only to have people pull you up via words of encouragement. Yes, sport, beer, food, and fun where prevalent during the dash, but so were all the intangible moments.
So, just what is this event that moved so many through sweat, blood, and tears? It is an annual event put on by Chicago-based event production company Red Frog Events. Red Frog not only puts on Warrior Dash, but other popular events such as the Great Urban Race. I had the opportunity to speak with one of Red Frog’s amazing event coordinator’s, Alex Yount. Yount explained that it takes a lot of resources, including employees, volunteers, and city officials to put on an event of this capacity. With the So Cal event being the first race of the season, you could feel the excitement in the air. For those that weren't racing, they enjoyed bands like Cod who performed on the outdoor stage.
“We try to make this a family-friendly event,” states Yount. “Not only is it about athleticism, it is about bringing the family out to enjoy a day of adventure and fun.” And by the number of families pouring out onto the “Battle Field” located next to Storm Stadium in Lake Elsinore, the message came through loud and clear. I was amazed by how organized the event ran with races containing hundreds of people going off every 30 minutes without a hitch. The first race started at Noon with the last group to take off at 5:00p. Every racer received a bib number, a timer chip that automatically recorder each runners time, a t-shirt, and a warrior / Viking hat.
The race brought out some of the most extreme costumes that I have ever seen on any other day except Halloween. I donned a Xena Warrior Princess outfit, complete with wig and all, while others were dressed in everything from super heroes to ballerinas. One brave racer even committed to racing in heels as a part of her party look. Can you believe that she trekked across narrow wooden beams above a trench in heels! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Scurrying across beams and hopping over car wreckage was simple for me. What scared me the most was clearing the flames of the fire block and crossing over the water logs in thigh deep water of the lake. I was sure that my cap would catch on fire and that I would roll off one of the logs to be submerged in the water as one of my running partners, Anitra Simmons, did. Fortunately, I cleared both obstacles free from being charred nor baptized.
The last obstacle and the messiest of them all was the mud crawl. Racers were forced to crawl beneath barbed wire in a pool of thick, sticky, and smelly mud. As I made a slow and poignant crawl, careful not to lose my wig or anything else that might cause me anymore embarrassment than I had already endured, I watched as extremist dove head first and literally swam through the thick, brown pool. I guess if you are going to go for it, you might as well go for it. The children that came out to watch all of the days shenanigans got a kick out of seeing the muddied, bruised, and slightly delirious racers charge for the lake to bathe away a portion of the day.
Although everyone that crossed the finish line was awarded a cool medallion, awards for the best time, costume, and beard were given out following the last race at an awards ceremony. My crew and I ran in the 12:00 and 12:30 legs of the race and although we all received a medallion, we didn’t manage to grab any of the coveted awards. What we did grab was each other’s hands as we crossed the finish line and gigantic grilled turkey legs after we cleaned up a bit. And for those that love beer, ice cold cups of the beverage were served along with grilled corn on the cob and turkey burgers.
By the end of the day, still muddy, wet, and fatigued, my crew and I walked off the battle field with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Not just because we had completed one of the most grueling races that we may have ever took part in, but because we had done so together with the support and encouragement of all the “Warriors” that united on that day. I would recommend this race, not just to those looking to participate in an extreme sport, but to all those that are looking to participate in an extreme fellowship. Warriors unite!
Missed the So Cal race? You still have a chance to participate in 8 more dashes taking place across 8 different regions within the United States. Please log onto the website at www.warriordash.com for additional information.
Special Thanks goes out to Red Frog Events for inviting me and the team out to an amazing race!