Thursday, August 26, 2010

Warrior Dash 2010

Hey guys! I know this blog is a little sparse, but I do have some worthwhile things to post on here. I recently (8/22) completed a race called the Warrior Dash that took place up at Copper Mountain. It was really fun and challenging and very much the sort of thing I would like to do more of. Road races are all well and good, and I'll certainly keep doing them, but interspersing the running with challenges or other tasks really appeals to the generalist in me. For reference, the generalist in me is about 95% of my mass. I really don't like to specialize. I would rather be able to run, bike, swim, climb, scramble, crawl, lift, pull, push, and jump pretty well than to do one of those things very well at the cost of doing the others poorly.

So, the race. It was a beautiful day. Right around 72ยบ or so, and sunny for the most part. The resort is at 10,000 feet (roughly) and the race was 3.27 miles long. There were a number of challenges, but I'll go through those as we get to them. I was running with some friends, and we were planning on taking it pretty easy. The goal was to finish, not to go super fast or anything. Here we are at the beginning of the race:

Look how puffed up and manly we are.

So anyway, we moved up to the starting line and started seeing some really strange folks.

There was a costume contest and people were dressed up in all sorts of weird things. Maybe next year, right?

My wife was taking the pictures for us and only some of the course was visible from the main area, so she didn't get images of a lot of the challenges. I'm hoping to find some pictures that other racers took but so far no dice.

Now, for the race.

We started out on asphalt and continued a little ways down the road until we got to two pairs of cars pulled onto the track. This was the "Junker Jump" and you had to scramble over these cars to continue. I wish this had been a bit farther along in the race, to be honest. We had all just started so everyone was pretty bunched up. it made it so you couldn't really run and scramble over them, you just stopped, waited your turn, and then gingerly picked your way across. It was a little lame. Still cool because you don't get to climb all over junky cars very often, but not really what I was hoping for. i ended up jumping over the hood of the pickup truck which apparently caused the whole thing to shift and threw my friend Rob off balance when he was in the bed. Oops!

More running, then we had to climb an embankment on a wooden ramp with ropes hanging down. Still early enough in the race for the field to feel a bit crowded, but starting to thin out a little. This wasn't difficult enough to be considered an official challenge, I guess, but it's certainly not the sort of think you see at the Bolder Boulder.

A little bit more and we got to the "Hay Fever" challenge. It was a big pile of hay bales that we had to climb up and over. They'd been damaged by the people on Saturday (and probably plenty of people on Sunday, as we didn't start until 1:00 PM) so they weren't so much like blocks as they were like big piles of hay stacked on top of each other. It was pretty easy, though. A quick scramble up and down and I was back on the trail.

The next challenge was a series of tires known as "Knee High Hell." They were all laid out on the ground and you had to high step through them. I was really tempted to jump on top of the tires and just bounce my way across but I did it legit. It wasn't too tough and I didn't see anyone tripping or falling or anything.

The next part was the real killer. The official title is "Mountain Climb" and that's pretty much what it was. Just back and forth across the mountain. Here's the picture my wife got of the trail:

Yep, just back and forth at a slight incline pretty much forever. It wasn't so steep that your legs started burning or anything, it was just steep enough that it was much nicer to walk than to jog. I did jog, though. I would run as far as I could, passing people on the wider stretches when possible, and walking when I got tired. I think the vast majority of people walked the whole way, and I passed most of our wave right here. It was hard, but I'm glad I pushed myself. Remember when I said that our goal was just to finish, regardless of our time? Well this is where I just kinda ran without paying attention to where my group was. I felt a bit like a jerk for leaving them, but the spirit of the race just grabbed me. I wanted to push myself, at least a bit. I wasn't going to run until I puked or anything, but I was certainly going to run until I was gasping for air. At altitude, that isn't very hard to do, but there's just that feeling you get when you muscles are working and your heart's pumping and your blood is rushing in your ears. You know? It feels damn good.

The map of the course is a bit off, so I'm trying to remember how all of this happened. I believe the mud pit was next because I distinctly remember all of the other obstacles being covered in mud. So there's this big mud pit with barbed wire strung over it. It wasn't strung too low or anything, so some people managed to get through without getting too dirty. Here's a pic of it I found:

From here, it looks like this is down near the bottom of the mountain, which is totally not what I remember. I distinctly remember being covered in mud almost the entire time, but that may be my mind playing tricks on me. in any case, this was fun. I just dove in and crawled on my hands and knees for the first part, then really got down in the mud to get under the last few strands of barbed wire. Warrior Dash calls this "Muddy Mayhem" and it seems an apt name. The mud was pretty thick and sticky, and it made my clothes heavy so I had to start maintaining my waist band after this point.

I remember the tunnels next, so this is where I'm putting them. "Tunnels of Terror" they're called, though "Tunnels of Mud" would be pretty accurate, too. The tunnels were thick cardboard tubes and the mud from all the racers going through them made the bottoms really slick. I think this was the toughest challenge as far as actual difficulty goes. It wasn't the most cardiovascularly challenging, but it's the only one I was worried about not being able to finish. The tunnels were tilted slightly upward and you had to kind of press your hands to the sides to get any sort of grip. I must've held up a bunch of people because I was very slow getting through that one.

Next (or maybe just before, I'm bad at this) were the "Warrior Walls" which were three small walls that you had to vault over. They were almost low enough to hurdle over, but I was tired and heavy with mud, so I vaulted. The top of each wall was covered with a thick layer of drying mud, so that was a little weird to grab onto. There was a photographer there taking pictures of people leaping over the walls, but we were all so covered in mud that they couldn't identify us by our bib number. Oh well.

After that was the "Cargo Climb." It was a pretty straightforward cargo net climb up and down. Fatigue had certainly set in by this point, so everything was a little harder than it would otherwise have been. I've never understood why people have such a hard time with cargo nets, and this was pretty much the same thing. Granted, I wasn't trying to a land speed record or anything, but still. The cargo nets are so much harder when they're at a flatter angle then when they're mostly vertical.

"Walk the Plank" came next, and it was just some planks strung across a ravine. If I'd been going full speed it may have been a challenge, but "full speed" at this point was basically a plodding jog. At plodding pace, this wasn't very tough. Just more of putting one foot in front of the other, which was hard enough.

The second-to-last challenge was "Rocky Mountain Splash" was supposed to involve a "Dash down stream" according to the Warrior Dash website. It was more of a "dash across a stream" to be honest. I was a little disappointed. I was thinking that running down the stream would be sort of neat and not something you get to do too often. Running across the stream was just sort of meh. Oh well, they can't all be winners.

Last challenge! This isn't me, but the is the best picture of the "Warrior Roast" I've found.

A couple piles of duraflame logs maybe 2 feet high and 3 feet wide. Apparently some dude di a forward flip over one of them, so that's pretty badass. I just did a normal jump, which was about all I could manage at this point. It was pretty cool, though. Definitely a neat way to end the race!

So there's the whole story. Now here are some pictures of us during and after the race:

Oh, wait! I almost forgot the best (worst) part! The showers after the race were seriously some of the coldest water I've ever been in. I say this, having been baptized in Lake Loveland in February with snowflakes falling and ice on the edges of the lake. These showers were cold like that. The water hit my chest and I couldn't breathe. It was honestly the hardest part of the day. i wasn't out of breath, I was simply unable to breathe anymore. It sucked.

Can you see how cold I am? I stayed in there for way too long trying to clean myself off with minimal success, and then we went and got some food. We came back later to clean off our legs, since most of us hadn't done a great job of it the first time around.


Okay, so that's really it now. Traffic was a pain on the way back down, but we managed to talk and have a great time. It was cool! I'm really glad I did the Dash and I'll be looking forward to it next year!