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Warrior Dash: A once in a lifetime experience

warriordash2No seriously. Once.

We’re not ever doing that again.

David and I have always wanted to run a mud run. It’s something that seemed like oodles of fun and our friends that have run them can’t stop raving about it. I’ve even volunteered for a mud run before (the goal was to get the free race – that I never got – but that’s another mess for another story time). At some point we made an agreement that on our anniversary each year we would try to seek out new experiences so we thought this would be a great inaugural experience.

We chose Warrior Dash because it’s fairly well known as one of the “easy” mud runs. Other mud run organizations like Spartan Race make a point at their races to insult Warrior Dash and how easy it is in comparison. Warrior Dash doesn’t time their races, making it pretty clear that the focus is about the fun and the experience, not the competition. With no desire to jump in ice baths or run through electric wires, we thought this would be fun.

We thought wrong.

Here, in list format, are all of the problems we had with the Warrior Dash we participated in. Some are related to the race organizers. Some are my own gripes. All are reasons we won’t be going back.

No signs pointing to the racer area. Party central (where all of the booths are) was about a mile from the parking lot, winding around some other buildings and sectioned off fields. There were no signs pointing us in the right direction and there were people walking in every possible direction around the parking lot. Eventually we just decided to follow some other unmuddied couple in hopes they were going the right direction.

No signs indicating where start line was. This one still blows my mind. The start line was small and was under some metal scaffolding with a Warrior Dash helmet on it. This same exact set up was at the finish line, near the stage, and at two other places in the same racer area. Nothing said “Start.” No arrows. No help anywhere.

Paying for parking. We had to pay $10 to park in a field. This fee? Maybe it’s to encourage carpooling but really it’s just more dollars in the bank for Warrior Dash.

No photographers. Do you follow Warrior Dash on Facebook? Or Twitter? Have you seen all of the photos of people having tons of fun running and climbing and jumping over fire? Yea, we won’t be in any of those. There wasn’t a single photographer when we ran and the hired photographer company even has the photos posted with waves stopping at 3PM. Apparently the 5+ later waves just weren’t worth the trouble and didn’t matter.

The mud. Okay, I know, this is a stupid thing to complain about because I signed up for a mud run. But that’s just it, I signed up for a mud RUN. We mud walked. And mud waded. And mud dragged each other through the course. At least half of the course was covered in mud more than a foot deep. For many parts of the course I was just wading through muddy water that was up to my knees or my hips. Running wasn’t even an option. Every now and then someone would try to run, would take one step, slip and fall. There were no shoes with powerful enough grip, no strong enough running technique. You physically could not run. Nearly everyone used the trees along the outskirts of the course to pull themselves along. It was pathetic. When I imagine mud run I imagine a trail run with obstacles that require me to get dirty. I don’t imagine I’ll spend an hour walking in mud and sometimes jumping on wooden obstacles.

Minimal supervision on the wooded part of the course. Speaking of slipping and falling, the wooded course supervision was paltry. I saw one singular volunteer in the woods where it was the deepest, muddiest, and least safe. And that guy was wearing a backpack wandering around the woods not even looking at the course so he was probably just looking for his beer or something and not there to watch the course. With how unsafe that terrain was there should have been people watching.

Missing obstacles. The Warrior Dash website says this location has 12 obstacles. Some of the obstacles listed on the website weren’t even at the race. Or maybe they were and they broke earlier in the day…

Broken Obstacles. Many of the obstacles are made of wood. I assume they’re made in the week leading up to the race, on site. I skipped many of these obstacles because wooden beams on the bottom were split, falling off, or gone all together. I went on one that had some broken beams and refused to get on another one.

Guys calling me cheater. This isn’t Warrior Dash’s issue but it made me really angry. David and I reached a tipping point in the first mile of the race where we were super over the whole situation. When there were large areas of mud, occasionally we would walk on the outside of the red tape designating the course limits. We did this in an effort to finish quicker, to get around the more dangerous hills or deep water, and we never ventured far off track. During one part two guys called us cheaters. Newsflash morons, you can’t cheat if it’s not a competition. The race isn’t timed. We weren’t in the competitive wave. And nobody cares. Get off your high horse and go to actual competitive events if you want to be an ass about it all. Besides, we were walking. If we really wanted to “cheat” we probably would have put some damn hustle in our step.

Crawling and more crawling. I counted at least three obstacles that required crawling on hands and knees. Have you ever dug your knee into gravel and mud? It’s just as much fun as it sounds.

Goliath volunteers not paying attention. I was two seconds from getting onto a broken slide because the volunteers at the top were too busy talking to each other to realize I was getting on an unmarked broken slide. As I mid-hop on the slide, I was sternly told not to use the two slides on the left because they were broken. Not labeled as such, with water still running down the slide. I got out and took another slide and wonder what would have happened if they hadn’t caught me last minute.

Fire jump obstacle volunteers not paying attention. At the start line we were told that the volunteers at the fire obstacle would give us very clear and specific instructions when we got to the obstacle to insure our safety. This didn’t happen. David and I ran through the fire and on with our race. The entire time the volunteers had their backs to the fire and were watching a helicopter land in the distance. I could have literally stood inside of the fire and they would not have noticed until I screamed for help on account of the whole being on fire thing.

No water at the showers. There was a pool and then a shower station built with hoses and PVC pipe. When we were done with the race there was no water to be had. How does that even happen? You’ve been running this race for how long now and you can’t calculate how much water you need?

Muddy water at the showers when they were finally refilled. On our way out about 40 minutes later a water truck was just arrived. The truck pulled up, plugged in, and about 4 of the dozens of showers started spraying water. Muddy water. It was super gross and people were still bathing in it. I still can’t figure out why.

Party was shut down before people were off the course. When we got our free beer we were told we had 15 minutes to drink it. On our way out we heard them tell everyone the party was shutting down. There were still people all over the course and I have to wonder if they still got the beer. I wonder how upset they were to get to the finish line to find the food, beer, and vendor booths shut down.

Removing the exit signs. When we were leaving the “parking lot” the volunteers were all taking the exit signs down. The parking lot was only about half empty if that so everyone left was going to just need to figure it out themselves and hopefully not run into each other. I get that you guys want to go party your Saturday night away, but would it kill you to wait until the parking lot was legitimately near empty to start removing signs telling them the direction to go to safely get out?

Cost too much money for what we got. I’m glad part of my race fee went to St. Jude although I have no idea how much. Outside of that, this was a whole lot of money for a poorly run race. Maybe it was awesome when they opened at 8AM but that doesn’t warrant giving up on anyone that came later in the day and providing a crappy experience for anyone in later waves. It cost over $160 for the two of us to run in a race that showed no indications of being a race that’s happened many, many times over. The organization and presentation were piss poor.

We have a cute picture thanks to a nice guy in the parking lot and that’s it. We smiled because we were happy to be heading home to shower but we were both pretty disappointed in the entire experience. It didn’t ruin our weekend – we spent the next day out in beautiful Charlottesville having brunch at a brewery – but it definitely wasn’t worth the effort or the money.

As I mentioned before, we have plenty of friends who’ve had great experiences with mud runs, Warrior Dash included. More power to ‘em and I’m glad that they had great experiences but it’s just not for us.  It wasn’t our cup of tea.

Suffice it to say we won’t be running in this or any other mud run ever again.

Now the Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge (ROC Race) on the other hand? That one definitely caught my eye…

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