Saturday, May 22, 2010
Trash Bags to keep the car clean on the ride home:
Thrift Store Clothes to toss at the end of the race:
Zip tie from CR's tool box so my key won't get lost at the bottom of the lake:
Sludging through 3 miles in the mud with thousands of people you don't know:
I may not have words to adequately describe how incredible this race was but you know I will try and have some muddy pictures to prove I was there! Normally, I would not sign up for a 5k two hours from the house but the Warrior Dash is not your ordinary 5k. It is a 5k with all sorts of crazy obstacles built in. As I made the drive there this morning, I wasn't sure what to expect other than to come home dirty. I had NO IDEA how dirty.
The race was held two hours north of Atlanta near Tallulah Gorge (the one the Flying Wallendas walked over back in the day). If you don't know who they are, ask CR, my favorite stunt person aficionado. North Georgia is so lovely with the mountains and greenery. The race was actually at a campground in Clayton, GA. The locals were BEYOND enthusiastic.
As I got closer to the race, I noticed all the signs from the various merchants welcoming "the warriors". This race is HUGE! It is a two day event with several hundred people being sent off in waves every 30 minutes. I parked about a half mile from the site at someone's business. They were charging $10 which was the going rate and offered me a "huge hot dog". My stomach turned over a bit at the thought of a greasy hot dog pre-race told them maybe when I got back ;)
I walked to the entrance of the campground where people were literally being dropped off by the busload. This race is no joke but the real draw is the party atmosphere. There were bands, beer, and costumes galore. I was truly amazed at the number of people at this race.
Costumed warriors... part of me wonders what that costume will look like post-race
As I mentioned, it was a party atmosphere. It is not often you find the participants lighting up before a race.
I picked up my race swag which included my number, timing chip, warrior helmet and shirt and headed to gear check. My wave was officially 2:00 but they weren't really keeping an eye on the times so I jumped in with the 1:30 wave since I was early. Normally, as you stand in the corral, there is a murmur of chit chat and stretching. This corral was chanting and clapping and enjoying the moment. I have never seen so many costumed runners (particularly men) in any of my races (including the 3 at Disney). I only wish I could have brought the camera along for the run. I saw a couple people with I-pods which just seemed crazy. I am sure they were completely trashed post race. (The i-pods not the people...)
And, we're off.... The pyrotechnics shoot out of the start banner and we take off. The race starts on a narrow paved path. I was mid-pack and had a hard time fighting my way through the crowd to get some free running space. About 1/2 mile in, we hit the first obstacle. They had several 2x4s attached together stretched across a lake. They were a little tricky because they were bobbing up and down but managed to jog across them easy enough. Obstacle two followed which involved a jump down a short muddy incline into a lake. The lake was up to 4 feet deep in spots and had drop offs so you might go from 2 to 3 feet with no warning. I debated trying to swim it but did aqua jogging like most every else. Like most of the sections, they were just deep enough to make it hard to run but not so deep you could actually swim.
As you came out of that section, you climbed up a muddy bank at which point you are completely drenched which I am sure was a sight. There were loads of spectators in this area which was a short 20 foot run to a tire run. I tried to step through a couple of them at which point someone yells, "step on top of them, its easier" followed by "go pink". My thrift store outfit I selected for the race was all pink so I appreciated the shout out. I flew over those tires like nobody's business once I got that tip.
Another short run followed by another obstacle. This one included three 3-foot high wooden walls you had to scramble over. Done and done. More running.... Pulled myself up an incline with a rope followed by more running... Probably the hardest obstacle for me was the cargo net climb. I don't recall doing anything like that before and wasn't expecting the rope to be moving. Not all that difficult but I was a little surprised and had a hard time for a quick minute trying to find my footing to head down. Next was a short run up and over four junk cars (being careful not to cut myself as my tetanus shots may not be up to date).
After the car graveyard, we headed to the "black forest" which was essentially and 3/4 mile or so run on a single track trail with logs to jump over and branches to beat out of your way. The trail was a significant climb so there were lots of walkers. I employed the slow jog/partial walk uphill, fly downhill strategy when we finally got to the downhill towards the end.
At the end of the trail were pipes to crawl through and then a short run down the rest of the trail ending in a mudslide down a hill. As you approach, the volunteers are yelling at you to "slide down it like you are sliding into second base", which I did. I wasn't really a softball player and didn't slide so much when we played kickball in the street so it was more of a slide and pull yourself through the mud getting as much mud as possible in your already ill-fitting shorts. The mud hill went right into a pit of mud that had tape along with strings of barbed water across the top of it. I crawled through it like I had been mud wrestling all my life. Some people chose the run and duck under the wire approach. I could feel mud being slung in my face and hair all the way across.
Up and out of the mud pit into the log roll section. I believe this was designed to get the mud off but it didn't work that well for me. Basically there were three logs in the lake (like you see in the lumberjack competitions only they are standing on them trying to stay on the logs). You swim a few feet than maneuver over each of the logs and finally pull yourself up a little incline out of the water. At this point, I was wet and beyond muddy.
The final obstacle was fire jumping. They had two fires stretched across the length of the raceway so you jumped twice. I had seen pictures of the ones in Texas and I am not saying they don't do things big in Texas but their fire was nothing compared to ours. I wasn't worried too much because I was drenched but it was more of an intense fire than I expected. Jump, jump, 20 foot run and I was across the finish line and eating a post-race banana.
SO.MUCH.FUN. If you have an opportunity to run one of these races, please do! You will not regret it. The only thing I regret is the filthy state of myself post race... You can't see it in this pic but my hair is coated in mud, my ears are packed with mud and it is all over my forehead and sides of my face.
They were accepting all the filthy shoes for a charity post-race. Apparently, they clean them up and give them to people in need.
I was beyond any level of filth I have ever achieved, even in my childhood. I was probably even dirtier than the time I accidentally ran through an alligator pond in Florida as a kid. (Have you seen the ones that are green like the grass?) My hair wasn't just wet, it was caked in mud. By the time I got home, the mud had hardened to the point where it felt like I had a helmet on my head. Not kidding. It was pretty funny. I had 2 clips in my hair and had a hard time locating them because my hair was stuck to my head and crunchier than even my best 80s hair. I even managed to pull out a couple of small twigs. I had worn an old white sports bra because I knew it was going to get trashed. It is now dark gray. I was filthy to the point where I really needed to hose off before I got in the shower. Underneath the clothes I was black with dirt. I was insanely filthy but it was so worth it!
Tomorrow's plan is to get up early, load up my bike and head to Lake Lanier for a trial run of the bike leg of my triathlon. I have run the race before so the course is familiar. This particular ride is only 12 miles so it is the perfect length to dip my toes back into the sport. I feel pretty good about it. Swimming has always been easy for me and I have been running regularly enough so I think if I can just get some pool sessions in, I should be comfortable enough to string it all together come race day.