I’m going down,
Follow if you want, I won’t just hang around,
Like you’ll show me where to go,
I’m already out of foolproof ideas, so don’t ask me how
To get started, it’s all uncharted.
-Sara Bareilles “Uncharted”
Last year the Warrior Dash was my favorite race. It looks like it might be my favorite for the second year in a row.
Location: Pocono Raceway, the Poconos, PA
Timing: None (unless you are in the competitive wave)
Course: Trail, mud, obstacles
Size: X-Large (but it is broken into medium sized waves)
I had the extreme pleasure of attempting the Warrior Dash with my sister Kim and both of her daughters (Julie and Emily). We had completed a Zombie Race and a Your First Mud Run together so we wanted to up the challenge/fun a little bit. All three are tough as nails and funny as shit. I knew we’d have a great time.
Pre-Race: If you want to run a mud race, it behooves you to sign up as soon as you know you want to run it. The registration costs creep up as you get closer and closer to the race. You should also keep your eye out for discount codes. Register early and you can get in for $40. Wait to the day of the race and it can cost you $100. Register early!
About 2 days before the race I got an email from the race sponsor reminding me of my wave time (noon) and what to expect on race day. They also reminded me they want another $10 for parking. They don’t strictly enforce the wave times (and I think it is a good thing). If you are running late (or ridiculously early) you don’t have to worry. They will get you on the course.
Race day: After driving around in a circle in the middle of nowhere, we finally figured out how to get to the Poconos Raceway where the race was being held. We were there about an hour before our race time (they recommend showing up an hour early). Lines for packet pickup, T-shirt pickup and bag check were all pretty quick. Hint: Bring your own bag for the bag check so you can easily identify your stuff. They have some security in the bag drop area, but I wouldn’t leave my life savings there. We made it to the start line with 8 minutes to spare.
The Race: The course skirts the Poconos racetrack. The first full mile is a dirt path with no obstacles (boring…). The empty does a good job of spreading out the pack before the obstacles start – and we are there for the obstacles, aren’t we? The obstacles are the best part. The muddier the better. I enjoyed climbing walls, and cargo nets, but the muddy obstacles are the best. One of my favorites was trying to climb out of the “Mud Mounds”. If the racers at the top of the muddy mounds don’t help those at the bottom they would never escape. It is just too slippery to climb up. It is nice to see everybody try to push/pull/yank/jump each other over some of these team-oriented obstacles.
Kim, Emily and Julie were troopers the whole way through (not that I expected any less). My favorite moments were:
- On Goliath when my sister let go of the ropes before she finished crossing the thin beam 20 feet above the ground. She got across safely in true Warrior fashion but gave me a small coronary.
- When one of the other runner’s pointed to Julie and said “that girl is bleeding and she is still going!”
- When Emily was crossing the High Tension obstacle and the water was being blasted in her face as she tried to walk across a rope and hold onto the cargo net above her head (I hope they got a picture of that).
- Sliding down the Goliath slide, jumping the fire and crossing the finish line together.
Post Race: After we claimed our medals, we found our ways to the showers (which were working this year (unlike Maryland last year). We cleaned off and went back to the car (to cleanup some more). I shouldn’t have to mention this but you should bring a towel and some extra water to clean off with (I’m the idiot that forgot a towel). I would bring a change of clothes/shoes and a garbage bag for all the muddy stuff (if you want to keep them).
For the best post-race experience you should become a St Jude Warrior. There is an option to sign-up and raise money for this great cause when you register. They had access to showers, a place to sit an relax, laundry,shorter food lines (the food lines were a slow).They have raised over $10 Million dollars so far!
St Jude’s Warrior Dash mission statement: “The patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital aren’t fighting imaginary monsters. They’re fighting for their lives. And for the past 50 years, St. Jude has been fighting alongside them, revolutionizing the way the world treats pediatric cancer.”
Goodies: The shirt, medal and warrior hat. I like the shirt and medal this year more than last year.
Overall: These are a lot of fun. You have to do it with a group of friends / family to really get the most out of it. Register early and save some cash. I would do it again if I found another fun group willing to give it a try.
Here is my review of the 2014 Maryland Warrior Dash: https://wordpress.com/post/23899686/816/