Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Warrior Dash Race Report

"The craziest fricken' day of your life!"
Above is the mission statement for the Warrior Dash, a three mile run though mud, up ropes, over fire, in water,  and under barbed wire where you climb, fall, get back up and keep going.  In short- it's a Dirtbag kind of race.
I jumped when I saw that the Warrior Dash was coming to Oahu. Nothing cool comes to Oahu. Nothing. The coolest musical act we got this year was Neil Diamond. Case: Rested. I was probably in the first dozen people to send them my money, I was pumped. Then I started spreading the word to every active person I know. Then end result of this was a big ass group of people I know and people I know now meeting up Saturday morning at the Haleiwa boat harbor in a variety of mud-ready clothing ready for...well, something. We weren't exactly sure what.
The Dash didn't happen at the boat harbor, but we are a smart group of Dirtbags. The Dash was happening down a two lane road on a ranch. We did the math- 500 people starting every half hour. Waves starting at 8:30 and ending at 5:00. That's a lot of people. And that means that's a lot of cars trying to get into and out of one parking lot all at once, all day long. So, being the smart, clever, and good looking Dirtbag boys and girls that we are, we met about two miles away and rode our bikes in. Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads. Before going on I should specify. "We" being Diesel and his wife, the Grey, and three crazy mad ultra runners who don't have official Dirtbag nicknames yet but are kick ass people and I should get on giving them some. And me, naturally. Super Awesome Wife stayed home. She went through basic training so the whole climbing ropes and crawling through mud thing is something she's done plenty of.
The Warrior Dash website is full of descriptions of how badass the course is. There is FIRE! And MUD! And CLIMBING ROPES! And VARIOUS OTHER COOL SOUNDING OBSTACLES! But we as a group figured a lot of that was good marketing. Yeah, sure there will be some kind of rope climb. But it's not like it's going to be hard or high. You can't do that, people might get hurt. Wait, what's this? A waiver to sign? I've signed waivers before races before...but this has a whole lot of things to initial here, initial here, initial here, sign here, drop of blood here, next of kin here. Huh, the lawyers really got a hold of these guys. Riding in we saw a few of the obstacles to come, but most were hidden in the tall grass and trees so we still didn't know what to expect.
We were wrong to underestimate the Warrior Dash people. Wrong wrong wrong. 
Before I get into the race proper though, I must say something else. This was, without a doubt, one of the best organized events I've ever participated in. I say again One Of The Best Organized Events Ever. Crazy organized. Check-in was quick, bag check was easy, there was a bank of thirty or more Port-a-Potties (something most every other race should take note of), and a stage with live music. Sure, they were charging $10 a car for parking, but what did we care? Super smart, remember? Rode right past that foolishness. 
I choose to sport my Warrior Dash kilt, and the Grey wore one of his kilts too. I also rocked an old holey pair of VFFs. Noticed a lot of others also in toe shoes. Vibram should throw some money at this event. It is perfect for them. Everyone else, while not in costume, was comfortable in some kind of running gear. This event, though, brings out the freaks. I saw, without turning my head, women in tiny pink shorts and tops, Darth Vader, a ninja, a super hero, bikinis, and, I think, a teddy bear. This ain't your mom's 5k. 
We crowded in to the starting corral to wait for the gun. Correction- to wait for the twin blasts of flame from atop the starting gate. Twin. Blasts. Of. Flame. Every race should start with fire. We figured being in the front would allow us to get a little ahead of the press of Warrior humanity right from the get go. Well, the press pressed, and one of the badass cool runner chicks I went with, who shall henceforth be known as ChicaBoom, who was right in front of me nearly got tripped up and squashed. She caught herself, I used my Dirtbag Strength to grab her and help her up and off we went. 
 To...where the heck is the coolness? Half mile in and I've only run! WTF, mate? Ohhhh, that false sense of security thing people talk about. Gotcha. 
I'm not going to blow-by-blow every obstacle because I didn't stop and take notes (though Kepa did stop and take pictures, so any picture from here on in of the course is courtesy of the Tri-N-Hawaiian's race report) but I will mention most of them.
It started out right away with an obstacle that made me think, "Huh, they are pretty serious about this." It was a balance beam-style up-and-down a few feet off the ground. Like, it would probably hurt a little to fall off. This bodes well for the future. 

Photos courtesy of Tri-N-Hawaiian
As we ran to the next challenge our little group spread out. We'd discussed the possibility earlier and decided to run our own races. No one was in a hurry, but if we got spread out then so be it, we'll meet up at the end. That being said, ChicaBoom, the Grey, and I got out ahead. And up a rope wall. 
I've never gotten to climb a rope wall and it was every bit as fun as I wanted it to be. Mind, I was rocking the skirt kilt so it was probably even more fun for the people behind me. The next few obstacles were also climbing ones, and every one was high enough at it's apex that, as UltraMan put if afterwards, "you probably could die if you fell." Or at least hurt yourself real good. Remember the waiver you signed? Good.

All photos courtesy of Tri-N-Hawaiian
 We got to roll across a horizontal cargo net, though I guess some people walked the beam going down the center. What's the fun in that? That's not how a pirate would do it. And it ain't how the Dirtbag did it. Ninja Warrior, here I come! Then we bear-walked under some netting only to hit crossed beams with barbed wire strung across the top. Coming in we'd seen this obstacle and remarked, "Hey look, fakey barbed wire. Wrong again. Real barbed wire. Diesel says he saw people with scratched who got too high going under. Cool. Cool cool cool.

Yes, that is barbed wire [All photos courtesy of Tri-N-Hawaiian]
 The next was, as far as I'm concerned, the most difficult. It was a high/low challenge where we had to vault/climb/fall over a wooden barrier, then low duck under some more barbed wire, then up, then under, and so on. The last under was deep too. I was still near the Grey at this point and he might have been heard complaining about his back and how he's too old for this. Maybe I was hearing things. Never know.
 Next was two more climbing walls, the first with a slide down along the wall to get to the ground and the second a slide down a fireman's pole. That's right, I said I got to slide down a fireman's pole! Hell to the yeah. I haven't been down a pole where no one's trying to slip money in my kilt for ages!

Ninja Wall Slide!

 What followed was the longest straight run of the course and I admit I walked some of it. What the hell? I'm not racing, I'm kind of winded, and it's a nice day. I'm walking to the water station. Warriors are allowed to walk. 
I think the next challenge caused most people to balk. Not because it was hard, but because we had to wade/swim through chest high water. In a lake. On a farm. Where ducks swim. And do whatever else it is that ducks do when they are sitting in water. I know what children do when they are in water, I was a lifeguard for years, so I can imagine what ducks do. But I don't want to because I just head's up swam through that. Up and over two floating barrels and out of the water.
Next? YES! FIRE! FIREFIREFIRE! We got to jump over two flaming logs. I vividly remember thinking before the race, "Yeah, it says 'leap over fire.'  But come on, you can't really do that. It probably actually means 'hop over smoldering ashes.'" Nope. Leap. Over. Flames. Not like high WOOSH flames, but flames. Please keep in mind, Dirtbag in a kilt here. Good thing I've been trimming my leg fur for the Rock Tape or there might have been some smelling like burning happening.
Did I mention FIRE!!!
 One more high cargo net climb and there is the finish. Huh, I'm pretty clean. Sure, I'm dusty from all the dirt being kicked up on the trail by everyone, but I'm mostly clean. I thought there was mud. Oh wait...
Like a pirate in the rigging
 Mud pit. Mud pit crawl. Under more barbed wire. In a space of less than three minutes I had jumped over fire and crawled through mud up to my shoulders under barbed wire. "Craziest fricken' day," indeed. And then across the line!
Yeah, that's alllll mud [courtesy of Tri-N-Hawaiian]
 Across the line where I was greeted with one of the best race medals I've ever gotten, and then some volunteer handing out bananas. I'm covered in mud. Literally covered. From my neck to my toes I am brown and goopy. And you're handing me food? Thanks, I'm good. In fact, I even had some in my eye because as I was climbing out of the mud pit I nearly slipped, waved my arms around in a parody of athletic balance, and flung a small drop of mud right into my face. Could have been worse. Could have been into my mouth. 
The group met up at the finish and then headed off to the Warrior Wash to get the mud off. How nice that they provide some kind of shower syst...what's that? The Warrior Wash is simply another part of the lake? How cool/kinda gross/cool. Dozens of muddy Warriors trying to clean themselves in a lake. Looked like the tribe cooling off after a good day's hunt.
Tribe hunt gud. Now tribe clean. [Courtest of Tri-N-Hawaiian]
 We grabbed our free beers, I gave mine to ChicaBoom, got our gear from the still easy bag check, and got back on the bikes. The Dash was right across the street from the beach, like 70% of the things on Oahu (hello, island!), so we rode straight to the ocean and jumped in for some cleaner cleaning.
You're intimidated, right?

I'm a Warrior! (not a bunny, damnit)

The Grey, however, is a bunny.

It's not a Hawaiian photo blog without a shaka

 Race registration was the best deal I think I've ever had. We got a t-shirt, the free beer, a medal, AND a fuzzy hat with horns on it. A FUZZY HAT WITH HORNS! Cooooool! And what do Dirtbag's on bikes do with fuzzy hats with horns? We cram them into our bike helmets so we ride home looking like the Warriors we are. Heck, the Grey even managed to come in second in his age group. *insert your own cheap crack about his age here* They gave him a little metal helmet. I think I came in at 30 minutes and something seconds but I'm not sure and can't be bothered to check because I don't care. Time wasn't the point. I could have cranked harder, but why? Have I mentioned how cool this is yet?
This was the best three miles I've ever run. I can't be effusive enough. If I designed a sprint triathlon it would end with a Warrior Dash instead of a normal run. There are other, longer events like the Spartan Death Race and the Tough Mudder and I can't speak to how much fun something like this is for longer than 30 minutes, but for my money this kicks ass. I don't care how fit you are, if the Warrior Dash is within driving distance of you, buy a ticket and take the ride. It is so worth it.

Race numbers should be covered in mud

One of my favorite medals


  1. Sounds like so much fun Doug!

  2. Thanks for a great report DB! You really captured the feel of the experience. I feel like I relived the experience reading your report! I've done marathons, ultras, tris and century rides, but this was one most fun per mile I've had in a while! I'm seriously considering entering a longer event if one comes to Hawaii!

    And to Kepa, thanks for the great pics!

  3. Awesome race report! It does sound like it was worth the high entry fee. Will add to my race list next year. Am glad there were only 2 water/mud obstacles. I really hated the amount there were in Swamp Romp. But what should I have expected from something with "swamp" in the name. Thanks for tip about what you wore on your feet. I wore huaraches in swamp romp and had to go barefoot for last few miles cuz swamps just SUCKED my feet down.