September 24, 2011 at 8:56 pm , by Nick Shell
I finally made my first purchase through Groupon: a half priced entry fee for 2011 The Warrior Dash in Manchester, site of the famous Bonnaroo music festival. My good friend Dave told me how instead of paying 60 bucks to run in the obstacle course-infused 5 K race, I could do it for only 30. It was just random enough that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
While I do ride my mountain bike during my lunch break every day, and run when I can, I am definitely not conditioned for a 3 mile, American Gladiator style race. I was well aware of the fact I wouldn’t come close to winning. I was just in it for the thrill of the unknown adventure. So much so, that I didn’t even research what kind of obstacles I would be encountering in The Warrior Dash.
Last Saturday morning, I drove Jack and Jill nearly an hour outside of Nashville and joined the thousands of other adventurists; many of them in outrageous costumes. My goal was simply to run the entire race, never slowing down to a jog or walk.
The race was designed to wear a person out. During the first half of the 5K, there were only a couple of challenges, like scaling a 10 foot tall mountain of hay bales and running on top of junk cars; no prob. But that final mile and a half was barbed in wire; both metaphorically and literally.
I remember having to climb three separate walls (being at least two stories high) with the help of a knotted rope. Reaching the top was the “easy” part. It was the other side of each of those walls that was the problem. One wall simply had wooden planks about three feet apart to climb down on, the next had a steel pole to slide down, and the third had a makeshift ladder that went half way down, then it just dropped off: I had to fall at least 12 feet, fortunately landing on my feet.
Of course, having ran hard the whole way, each obstacle was that much more difficult to cross; my arms were automatically shaking as I crossed the vertical rope ladder and the man-made cave, which involved crawling in a completely dark, two foot tall tunnel.
Mind you, there are so many participants in this race, we were constantly bumping into each other; simply not tripping over each other was a challenge in and of itself. The race ended with a 3 foot deep mud pit. I didn’t want to ruin my good pair of running shoes, so I carried them above my head while avoiding the barbed wires.
Needless to say, I achieved my goal- I ran the entire race. And though I came pretty close two times after the race ended, I never threw up.
It took me about 45 minutes and I’m pretty sure I beat the guy running in a tutu as well as Papa Smurf; so I felt pretty darn accomplished. I can’t wait to run it again next year!
Everything is a mysterious, physical adventure to my son, Jack. I think I envy that about him. After all, I sit behind a desk on the phone for 8 hours a day. The Warrior Dash allowed me to imagine myself in a world similar to Jack’s; adding mud, blood, and bruises.