This weekend I ran the 2012 Warrior Dash out at Thompson Speedway in Connecticut. For those who don’t know, the Warrior Dash is a 5k obstacle race. This isn’t your calm quiet 5k tour through the countryside. No, this race is filled with obstacles to crawl under, climb over, jump over, and slog through.
The race started with the blast of a fire cannon and the cheers of 500 people all competing in the 1pm wave. We jogged over some grass, up a couple of hills, did a lap around the raceway, and then went over to a field near the track for the first obstacle: tires and cars.
We jogged through a bunch of tires arranged so you can’t go in a straight line, then climbed up over several crushed cars, then on to more tires and another set of cars. At this point, we were just a bit past the 1 mile point.
This was just the beginning of the obstacles. We crawled under barbed wire in the grass field, clambered over a 30′ cargo net, climbed an angled wall with the assistance of a rope, climbed a 20’+ vertical wall with the help of a rope, all the while jogging between obstacles.
By the time we got to the home stretch, we had already conquered several different types of wall and rope climbs, steep and treacherous trail running, the obligatory 1/4 mile slog through mud and swampy conditions, and much more.
The run for the finish line started with climbing four different walls one right after each other, then jumping over fire pits and finally crawling through a mud pit while staying below the barbed wire.
When I tell people that this is something that I actually paid good money to do, I generally get one of two reactions: either people think it’s awesome or people think I’m insane. Most people tend toward the latter.
For me, these obstacle courses are all about testing my limits. On any given day I have a vague notion of how fit I am based on what my scale tells me and what the doctor tells me, but I don’t really know what I can do in extreme situations.
This is where the obstacle races come in. They test my endurance, my strength, agility, balance, mental fortitude, tolerance for mud and scrapes and cuts, and ability to run a race where I know I won’t come in anywhere near the top.
I do these races to prove to myself that I have what it takes to do them and to prove to myself next year that I can do even better. Just like readers find out what characters are really made of when they’re thrust into impossible situations, people like me found out what they’re really made of when we pay money to torture our aging bodies for the amusement of spectators.
All that said, I finished the race in 36 minutes 45 seconds and came in the top 11% of my age group and top 23% overall. Not to shabby for a 37 year-old desk jockey.