Warrior Dash Ohio 2011 In Review

The Warrior Dash was an absolute blast and I would definitely consider running it again.

My family got to Kaeppner Woods about 3 hours ahead of my heat. I had friends running earlier and wanted to see them run. There were few areas to actually watch people running the race but the final two obstacles were clearly visible from the main staging area. The fire jump and the mud crawl were the final two obstacles. The fire jump was actually much larger than I thought it would be. The fire row was at least 3 feet deep with fire in the 2 to 3 foot category. The fire was the entire width of the path and was immediately followed by a second row of fire. After crossing the fire, you got to crawl through mud under barb wire. Don’t confuse mud with muddy water. This was the type of mud that sucks people’s shoes off. Seriously thick muck that sticks to everything.

Check-in was painless to pickup packet. T-Shirt, Hat, and envelope with your bib and timing chip. Tent was organized by last name and pickup was quick. I didn’t use the check-in services but it seemed to work quite well. A piece of your running bib had a coupon for the check-in service that allowed you to check keys, phone, clothing etc. The main field for the event had a ticket booth. You needed tickets for everything including clothing. Most prices seemed reasonable enough to me. Very in line with other festival prices.

  • Sandwiches – $4.00 – 7.00
  • Water – $1.00
  • Chips – $1.00
  • Beer – $4.00 12oz

There were tons of Porta-Potties. I never once heard of anyone waiting in line and they were fairly clean other than a little mud. A results tent was running a live feed of times on a large LCD. Two beer tents were at the far end of the field next to the stage. Lastly there was merchandising and a Warrior Wash to clean off the runners. If I had any pet peeves of the event, I would say that the beer tents could have been moved to opposite ends of the field or the very least moved farther apart. They also were located close to the Warrior Wash which meant that by mid-day most of the area was flooded. Since most of us brought dry shoes and clothes, it was sort of a nuisance to stand in ankle deep water to get a beer. The Warrior Wash could have been better planned as well. Only one way in and out which meant walking back through a mud hole after being sprayed off. An elevated platform of some type would have been nice as well.

Back to the race. I watched my friend go off at 12:30. From the starting line you could see a couple more obstacles. You could see the cargo net wall which was about 16 feet tall. After that was an elevated ramp that ran up and down. Sort of a tight rope, balance type of obstacle. The main starting corral was fairly large. They were estimating 500 runners per heat but I would have guessed more along the lines of 100 runners per heat. Once the countdown ended, two giant gas burners blasted fire into the sky and the runners were off. As a note, the fire was HOT. If you are at the starting line, prepare to feel considerable heat at the start. Once she was off, I went back to the main field to see if I could see her for the final obstacles.

I could see through the woods from where we were setting and we anxiously awaited Angie to come running through the woods. Although I knew that she was a strong runner, after about 30 minutes I was getting a little tense. I figured she should be popping out of the woods at any minute. The minutes passed really slowly until we finally caught a glimpse of her running down a ramp with a huge smile on her face. I didn’t make it to the finish line but she found me very quickly to tell me how hard it was. Ugg.

Breathless. “HILLS! HILLS! Once you hit the tunnel, kick it your almost done.”

Excited, I moved towards the starting line. I still hadn’t located my friends and after trying to find them for several minutes, I simply gave up. I ended up in the middle of the pack in the corral and this proved to be a mistake. We took off across a grassy field with a very gentle uphill grade and headed into the woods. This is where everything came to a grinding halt. The path narrowed to between 4 and 5 feet and was seriously steep in sections. Caught and blocked behind runners, I could do little except wait it out. Frustrated, I continued walking and trying to run around people whenever I got the chance. It was at least a mile into the course before things started to open up a little and I could pick a route. Even this far into the race there was still considerable uphill sections. It is hard to think back to what order the obstacles were, but as I recall, a section of wooden walls was the first obstacle. About 4 feet tall, 4 in sequence, over, under, over, under. I could simply hop over them but came close to getting knocked out on the first wall when I got too close to a runner in front of me and almost caught his foot on my chin.

When I finally got the chance to run I started seeing some of the obstacles as nuisances. I really wanted to pick up some of the lost time, but the obstacles were all a part of the game. One obstacle was a small pond with logs anchored on each end to the sides of the pond. You had to push the logs down and climb across. Unfortunately, the pond was much deeper than most competitors expected. For many it was over their heads. I noticed as I was making my way across that my kilt was floating up around my back, when I exited the water I realized just how much water this thing could hold. It was easily 20lbs of water and I was forced to try to wring out some of the water as I jogged.

The junk yard scramble was easy to navigate as was a woven maze of elastic ropes. The worst obstacle for me was a covered tunnel which pitched down towards the middle. I was crawling on my forearms, my kilt catching under my knees, stones digging into every available piece of skin. Not fun to say the least. The cargo net was fun and was immediately followed by the elevated plank walk. Both passed fairly easily. After the planks, you moved into the final stretch. Moving into the river, I expected ankle deep water, but it was much deeper, probably about 3 feet deep in places. Made moving difficult. Another climbing wall made from plywood with 2x4s nailed to it horizontally proved easy for me. I was tall enough that I just climbed using the 2x4s, but shorter competitors might have had to use the ropes. A horizontal cargo net was much harder than I thought it would be. Other runners would shift your balance and at first I was putting my feet in the loops on the net which stretched quite a bit. I realized that by placing your feet more like a tightrope was the best solution. A short run around a corner and you could feel the heat from the fire jump. A couple of jumps later, I plunged myself into the mud crawl. Most runners wanted to wallow around, I just wanted to finish and was still trying to find routes around people.

Done.

In the end, I loved the event. I was pretty amazed that I managed a 10 minute pace considering all of the forced walking. I would definitely line up at the front for the start of the race and I was unprepared for just how steep the hills were and how long they lasted.

Stats

Course Length: approx 3.5 miles
Finish time: 35:38
Pace: 10:11
Overall Place: 2752 out of 9836 runners on Saturday
Age Group 40-44: 278 out of 789