Warrior Dash Gulf Coast 2017

Warriors are Willing to Work for It

Warrior Dash holds a special place in my heart despite its lack of EXTREME CHALLENGE.  The lack of difficulty is not a good reason to pass on the “beginners race.”  If Savage, Spartan, and Conquer the Gauntlet are super healthy foods like organically raised salmon, fresh farm raised avocados and naturally grown kale then Warrior Dash is a spinach/chicken wrap.  While it may not be on the “superior” level of the other races, it takes on an extremely important role in being the bridge for many into OCR or even into a healthy lifestyle.

Nathan Beisser

Competitor Nathan Beisser after having a great time during his run in the pro wave


Helping Start the Addiction

While I may not have encountered obstacles that pushed me to my brink, I did see and meet far more newcomers who were there to make an effort at slowly improving their unhealthy lifestyles than at any other race.  I also encountered more “running for a cause” teams than I have seen recently.  Warrior Dash is that beginning step that is necessary for many.  We can’t all dive head first.  Some of us have to begin with dipping one foot in at a time (not charging for parking or a bag check helps.)  This is where the average working Joe or Jill can see the potential to become greater than they thought possible.

Mud Pit


The venue of the Harrison County Fairgrounds in Gulfport, Mississippi proved to offer more challenge than most would have anticipated from a mostly flat area.  Though any sort of incline was very rarely found, running three miles in a soggy field that gave way with every step proved to take away some of the speed many competitors would have normally had on a more dry or packed terrain.  Muddy areas were easy to create and find, though they weren’t as large as I have seen before from Warrior Dash.  Even at the finish, each mud pit seemed less like a pit and more like a hole.  The trail was cleared and marked extremely well.  It would have been extremely hard to get lost.

Nets…. Nets Everywhere

The obstacles were a lot of the usual Warrior fare.  There was a lot of crawling under wire and a lot of net usage.  From normal cargo climbs to pipeline to the new (and really fun) Upslide Down I saw more cargo nets during this race than I could shake a stein at. Cargo nets serve as a great introduction to new racers as an obstacle that can burn you out.

Warrior Dash also earned positive points for its new obstacle Upslide Down.  It was a simple, fun obstacle though it could have been longer.  A flat slide lay under a cargo net.  Competitors laid on their backs and proceeded to utilize the cargo net to pull themselves down the slide.  I had a blast with this one and hope to see more like it in the future.

Pallet Jacked

Rather than placing Goliath at the end, Warrior Dash left their new obstacle “Pallet Jacked” front and center for spectators to check out.  I can rightfully say I underestimated this obstacle.   I assumed running across pallets suspended from straps wouldn’t be a problem.  However, the pallets swung and moved vertically depending on weight distribution.  I enjoyed the slight challenge of this obstacle as well as the creativity of Warrior Dash race designers in utilizing simple construction to create a very fun obstacle.  Much like a good hamburger, both of Warrior Dash’s new obstacles offered a lot of satisfaction for something so easily and affordably constructed.


Stein Holding Competition Trophy

Party Time

Warrior Dash knows what it does well and continues to improve on it year after year by offering more after race competitions and activities than any other race series.  The push-up contests let the macho bros show off for the crowd.  The tug-of-war competition gives families and teams the opportunity to work together and have a good time.  The stein holding competition allows warriors to prove their grip strength and grit and walk away with a free stein.  Even if warriors don’t want to join in on these competitions there are rigs to play on, beer pong setups to play around with, an awesome DJ, and lots of cornholing… I mean the game with the bean bags.

Tug of War

Tug of War Competition

Warrior Dash offers many of the best beer choices and food around as well as the ability to refill your stein for a moderately steep price. A plethora of patrons seemed to be having an amazing time at the festival.  I will be surprised if Warrior Dash doesn’t return to the coast next year given the huge turnout.  Seeing so many newcomers and groups of friends discovering the joys of OCR together filled my heart with glee. I left the festival with a huge smile on my face – not for my own accomplishments, but because I saw something I loved growing and I saw people spreading fitness, love, and no hate all in one place.  That’s one of the better achievements that any of us can achieve in this lifetime.


Mr. Incredible

Mr. Incredible receives his newly designed Warrior Dash Medal

Steeplechase Challenge 2017


Another weekend, another excellent locally-run OCR in the books for the great state of Minnesota!  This time, my adventures took me to the hilly Zumbro River valleys of Mazeppa at an event called the Steeplechase Challenge.

This is a new-comer to the local OCR scene, as this is only their second year of holding this weekend-long event.  The event focuses on the charity Toys For Tots and brings in donations for the local chapter.  There’s a 5K or 10K distance to choose from, with plenty of families and weekend warriors alike tackling the course either Saturday or Sunday.  Registration and festival area are within walking distance of the parking area, as everything is on-site.  Everything was clearly marked and easy to get through.


Course / Venue:

The venue is hands-down one of the best in MN.  The family that runs this event owns about 170 acres of pristine Zumbro River Valley beauty at the Steeplechase Event Center (hence the race name), hills and all.  The site used to be an old ski resort and chair lifts are still standing to this day but not functional anymore.  This paves the way to some truly fantastic trails, mud, hills, single-track (even through what was dubbed ‘Rock Canyon’ where rock boulders had to be climbed over uphill) and… more mud & more hills.  Anytime you can do an OCR in Minnesota and get over 1200+ ft of elevation change in a 10K (watches varied, so I’m going with that number as an average) is a huge plus.  I’ll let some of the photos do the talking:



One of the standout obstacles was the addition of a 300-foot water slide, which everyone young to old enjoyed (some of them multiple times, I ran the 10K on Sunday and was told a woman on Saturday went up/down the slide 11 times!).  Some fun random ones: hitting a tractor tire 10x, hitting a junked car with a sledgehammer (seriously more fun than you’d think!), and a spear throw that was longer than a standard Spartan Race distance.  There were some challenging ones as well, with the signature challenge (other than the terrain) was the log carry up to a shorter but very steep climb towards the end of the 10K distance.  Talk about a quad burner!

Steeplechase-Water-Slide-FB Steeplechase-Spear-Throw-FBSteeplechase-log-carry-FBSteeplechase-Pallet-Carry-FB

The obstacles themselves may not be as technically challenging as other races, but the terrain/venue/heavy carries back up the ‘Challenge’ claim in full.  It’s a great feeling to see both young and old, newcomers to veteran racers enjoying some of the best that MN has to offer when it comes to OCR racing.  See you again in 2018!


Photo Credit: Author

Savage Race Florida Has Serious Beef With Their Racers!


Thanks to the Florida Women’s Cattle Association, Savage Race served up protein packed, amazing post race bites of some of the most well seasoned, succulent rib eye and NY strip steaks. That sure beats the traditional bananas and protein bars for this racer!

I’m getting ahead of myself however, so let me run down the basics before getting to the true meat of Savage Race, the obstacles. The heart-pounding, well-designed, and amazingly fun obstacles that had thousands of Savages from 37 states descend upon Florida to run the very first Savage Race of 2017.

The parking situation: Savage Race Florida did not have VIP parking. It was $10 to park at the venue with a first come, first serve situation in order to get the best spot. The parking area was close enough to the venue with a short walk to the entrance, where a friendly volunteer handed you a course map.


What about the Port-o-potties? There were portable crappers in the parking area and the festival area as far as the eye can see. So, if you had to do race rule #1 (Take a dump before the race), there was no wait before or after the race. They also had 2 portable crapper stations on the course right around miles 3 and 6. As for the cleanliness? You’ve seen worse. Much much worse, trust me on that. Post race is where you start asking, “Mud or poo?”


Registration and packet pickup: Simple and hassle free. Just make sure that you have a valid I.D., your bib number and a signed waiver.


Bag check: $5 (each bag) to check your belongings, and if you needed to get something from your bag after checking it, like a second packet for your Savage Syndicate lap, or if you simply forgot something they will not charge you again. Your belongings were kept behind long tables where very friendly but watchful volunteers and security made sure your things were safe.


Savage Syndicate Program: There seems to be some confusion on how this works. It’s very simple folks: run 2 paid laps in 1 calendar year and you get a big, spinning medal to go with your 2 regular medals. You can run 2 paid laps on the same day like I did and BOOM, you too can walk around like King or Queen shit though the festival area with your neck laden with bling. You also get a state pin, and the best part? All Savage Races that you run after becoming a Savage Syndicate: you get the regular medal and another Syndicate spinner medal with that state’s pin, without having to run double laps at the same venue.


Savage Race Pro Kevin “MudMan” LaPlatney, Owner of Obstacle Athletics with his Savage Race Syndicate Bling (Gold Medal not included)

Water stations: There were 3 water stations on the course spaced every 2 miles, and Savage Race is still keeping the water on ice. So when you are handed your own personal water bottle, it’s nice and refreshingly cold. They spoil their racers, unlike another race brand (which shall not be named) that tends to run out of the water and is warm enough to make tea with.

The obstacles: Oh my, where do I even begin? Savage Race surprised many of their Florida regulars with the course set up this year. The first mile was a nice long run without any obstacles. You heard that correctly my fellow Savages, a Savage Race where they didn’t bombard you within the first ¼ mile with obstacles. How is this a good thing some may be wondering? It builds up anticipation, and you get a nice warm up mile to get the blood flowing before they start slamming you with obstacle after obstacle.


Once you hit their first obstacle named Barn Doors, which is a wooden fence that you climb over the obstacles start coming at you quickly in true Savage Race fashion. Barbed wire crawls, mud pits, cargo nets, high walls, their signature obstacles like Sawtooth, Shriveled Richard, Wheel World, Colossus, Davy Jones and much more are spaced so that once you are done with one obstacle you are just a stone’s throw away from the next one.

On my first lap I did notice that the Squeeze Play obstacle which was placed over a mud pit was closed. Of course, the first thought that came to mind was, “GATOR IN THE MUD PIT!” but that thought quickly went away as I ran towards the always intimidating Sawtooth. On my second lap Squeeze play was placed over dry ground a few feet away from the mud pit which had red lettered caution tape, so it kind of confirmed to me that there was a “GATOR IN THE MUD PIT!” There is no official confirmation on that however, and it could just be all in my head.


Savage Race threw many racers for a loop when they placed Colossus a few obstacles before the finish line. I heard quite a few Savages wondering, “Colossus isn’t last?” Oh no my friends, they placed it right before Teeter Tuber making crawling up the rubber pipes extra challenging and fun because the insides were SAF (Slippery As F*ck).


Speaking of challenging, the hardest traverse wall in OCR, “Kiss My Walls” just got even more challenging. Savage Race upped it up a notch by adding fencing in between the tiny rock climbing pegs. Still no step stool for us shorties, sorry my fellow vertically challenged pals.

I’ll touch briefly on their 2 new obstacles that many were wondering about, Mad Ladders and Twirly Bird, since nobody had even seen a picture of these two before the race. Mad Ladders consists of rope ladders and loose cargo nets which you traverse across. Sounds easy? Far from it as you’ll be spun around and tangled up.

Twirly Bird? No propellers involved, but it’s the rig to end all rigs. Oh you thought trying to hang onto tennis balls was hard? Try hanging onto shredded ropes with tiny individual knots. You better have the grip strength of a silverback gorilla to get through this one.


All in all it was 28 great obstacles (no heavy carries allowed) packed into a 6 mile course.


Festival area: After jumping over the fire and getting your precious medal and finisher shirt, Florida Savages were treated to what seems to be every OCR racer’s favorite post race beer Shock Top. For those that do not drink, your beer ticket was treated like you just handed off a $100 bill.

The food stalls worked much like a carnival where you bought tickets at a booth and various food and drink items cost x amount of tickets. $10 for a sheet of 10 tickets was how it was sold. The fare was burgers, chicken gyros, chicken on a stick, roasted corn on the cob and other carry around friendly foods.


There was a nice large main tent where people were enjoying food and drinks giving it a very cool Oktoberfest vibe. There were plenty of canopied tables scattered throughout the festival area as well giving people a nice view of the stage where they held pushup contests. Hats off to the Savages that participated because this Savage could barely hold her burger up after the race.

Changing room and showers: You mean garden hoses and changing tents. The garden hoses should have a sign next to them saying, “Obstacle #29” so cold! The changing tents were secure, clean and roomy.


Exit through the gift shop: Savage race has the best prices for gear and still continues to do so. Good selection of shirts, compression sleeves, headbands and if you buy 2 shirts you get a venue specific shirt for FREE!


The best next race deal around: For $75 you can buy a voucher for upcoming Savage races at any venue. That price includes processing fees and the mandatory insurance, but wait there’s MORE! You also get a Savage race wristband, a “Train Savage” t-shirt and decals.


Thank you Savage race for putting on an amazing event yet again, the first race of the year was incredible and this Savage is looking forward to even more fun at Maryland Spring on April 29th.

If you’re still on the fence about trying a Savage Race, it’s time to get off of that fence, grab some friends and jump into the mud or water pit because it’s time to get SAVAGE AF!


Photo Credit: Kevin “MudMan” LaPlatney, Poly Poli, Savage Race 

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Spartan Race UK Peterborough Weekend

Last year was the first year that Spartan Race UK used the gorgeous Elton Hall as a Spartan Venue, and it it was one of the main turning points for the company in the UK; it also very quickly became a favourite among the UK racers, This year’s Sprint & Super cemented that.


This was a long week for me, but as always with a looming Spartan Race, I was looking forward to a brutal exciting weekend. We weren’t disappointed.

Finishing work at 5am, quick walk to the train station and it began. 4.5 hours later and a lift from the train station by a dear friend, I arrived at the venue.  If you’ve never been to Elton Hall, you need to visit. Spartan UK has a habit of picking iconic, beautiful venues and Elton Hall is near the top of that list.

Saturday was a bit of a washout when it came to the weather, lovely and sunny in the morning and then the rains came.

After spending most of the morning volunteering on the finish line. We lined up for the final wave,  and I was glad we skipped the warm up. Usually I’d enjoy the group burpees in the start corral, but at this stage we just really wanted to get out on the course.

While they change the format, Spartan usually use the same type of obstacles per race. Peterborough was no different. The first kilometre was a nice mixture of 4ft walls, inverted walls & OUT’s. (Over, Under, Through for those who don’t know). Running through the forested area provided a nice break from the rain and for me, it always adds to the beauty of a run.

We soon came across the rope climb (or in my case the start of my burpees). Another run through some forest and we came across the barbwire crawl. In all my Spartan Races I have to say that this barbwire crawl was second only to the French Beast last year. It wasn’t long but the twists, turns and mud pools made it fun. I’ll admit we may have spent more time than needed playing around in the mud.


(Side note – it was here that the Sprint & Super course separated, but more on that later.)

Continuing on we had the atlas stones, Z-walls, and the block drag.  A bit more running through a forest and finally the finish line was in sight. A couple of 6 ft walls, made slightly more difficult by the rain and mud, Herc Hoist, 8ft walls and the sprint to the fire jump.

I’ll admit by the time we got to the finish line for the sprint I was looking forward to a shower, food, and sleep. The super was coming and I had a time limit to run it in.


So, after a cheeky Nandos with friends, curling up on a surprisingly comfy air bed, my wonderful band of misfit friends & I arose to tackle the Super. Now I mention that I had a self imposed time limit to complete the run. Well, I had a train booked back to Edinburgh at 1300 as I had work at 1800. My time limit worry wasn’t just for myself though. I was running with a friend who is somewhat new to our wonderful world of OCR.

Back on site and back in the start corral for the Elite wave. Now, I’m by no means elite. I run purely for me and the joy it brings, but sometimes the extra 20 mins can be handy.  Once more into the fray, and once again we spent more time than needed in that barb wire crawl. The course change from the Sprint to the Super led us through a gate and into a darkened forest.  I may run too many Spartan races (is there such a thing?). The forested area had a nice hilly chicane where my first thought was that it would have made a great area for a sandbag carry.

I may run too many Spartan races (is there such a thing?). The forested area had a nice hilly chicane where my first thought was that it would have made a great area for a sandbag carry.  The forest opened up and led us to a rather lovely reservoir to wade around. I wasn’t expecting that to be as killer on the calves as it was. Nice to wash the mud off though. A rather slippery cargo slip a frame followed by the the Z-wall rope traverse (Burpee time again).

Back on course, we’re once again hit with some firm favourites, another barb wire crawl, multi rig, Bucket brigade, log drag and a lovely vertical cargo net climb. Side note – I really do need to learn the flip technique at the top of these. Onto the log carry and the finish line is in sight again just across a field so we know we’re near the finish again, or at least close to rejoining the sprint.

More trail leads us around towards the A-Frame and spear through. I’m actually quite happy that I nailed my spear throw in the super, not so much in the Sprint though.
On a note one of the Spartan did well within this course was that the kids course ran alongside parts. Both the kids and the big kids started from the same start line which I think really brought it together as a family event.


Back down to the walls, hoist, and onto the finish.

Spartan Race is one of the companies within in the UK that folks like to complain about, but ever since Peterborough last year, I think they have fewer legimite reasons for those complaints.

I’m aware that I’m biased. My first ever OCR was a Spartan, but they have come a long way since then (2014 Edinburgh sprint!) I know that race back then couldn’t hold a candle to the courses they build and put together now.

Overall, Spartan Peterborough was a huge success. With the support of the Volunteers and Spartan staff it was a day to remember for all involved.

On that note, I can only look forward to the Sprint & Beast in Windsor with excitement. Shall I be seeing you there?

Tough Mudder, Teamwork and Toilets- Philly Review

After 3 laps of Warrior Dash New York on Saturday I was headed to Tough Mudder Philly on Sunday. This was the perfect weekend for fun OCRs with mid-60 temps and off/on rain throughout both days. During my drive to the venue for on site parking, I certainly understood why Saturday’s event with a much higher attendance had shuttle parking offsite. The last several miles to the venue had sharp turns on roads that could barely fit 2 cars. There was adequate parking on-site, but for 5x the racers on Saturday, it would be impossible to do on-site.
I always prefer Sunday races when available because parking is easier/closer, registration is quicker, obstacles are less crowded and that was certainly the case on this day. Registration was quick and efficient, bag check was an organized and secure drop and go process, and after a quick bathroom stop, I was on my way to the start. Quick note on bathrooms since BattleFrog’s acclaimed world class portajohn reputation has upped the ante here: Sunday crappers are never fun and any had out of order signs, I’d assume in need of maintenance after several thousand nervous racers destroyed them the day before. That left maybe 5 out of 20+ available for Sunday’s racers. On to more important shit now…..

I’m always very excited for a Tough Mudder and similar untimed, obstacle heavy events because it’s a relaxed, enjoyable environment. Tough Mudder certainly DID NOT disappoint.
The warm-up area was an electric environment with motivated,nerve-rattledd athletes. Known race junkie Billy Richards, was invited onto the warmup stage to elaborate on his admirable, U.S.A. Flag carrying awareness mission, and that sent us onto the start area. After a solid Sunday pep talk, we were off to the course.

There’s two kinds of racers, “me” and “we” . Tough Mudder targets the “we” crowd. Their obstacles aren’t for the elite, aroo, competitive, mandatory crowd. Many obstacles require the assistance of your fellow racer to even make completion possible. I personally love the use of water and mud in an event….you can keep your pavement and dry course. With that being said this event was everything I wanted it to be and more. This event would make my 10th Tough Mudder in total and I still get nervous and excited for certain obstacles. Entering the day I have heard much feedback on the incorporation of several new TM obstacles and hadn’t had the opportunity to try. The two obstacles I was most looking forward to were aptly named “King of the Swingers” and “Block Ness Monster”.
Tough Mudder Philly Course Map Tough Mudder Philly Course Map

Philly Tough Mudder had all the obstacles I was looking forward to and missed out on during their last event last season in Jersey City. Instead of boring you with the full walk through of obstacles you can view that above (course map). I’ll inform you of their best obstacles and why. I mean honestly, that’s the best part. Every obstacle in some way utilized mud or water whether directly or mentally (underneath you) to increase the difficulty.

Two of my usual favorites, Funky Monkey (monkey bars) and Arctic Enema (ice bath) are now altered from their original versions (2.0 versions) to set them apart from other races that utilize these classics. Funky Monkey is now a straight row of monkey bars over water, that transitions to a swinging bar that, once you commit to, swings you to a straight bar. Shimmy down the straight bar to dry ground and you’ve completed this new twist on monkey bars.
Funky Monkey 2.0: Photo Courtesy Gameface Media Funky Monkey 2.0:  Photo Courtesy Gameface Media

Arctic Enema was originally a dumpster filled with ice water that contained a partition in the middle that required you to submerge yourself to go underneath in order to exit the dumpster. This was always a classic mind fuck but their 2.0 tweaks have put a fresh take on an old classic. Now they took away the “jump to the center” option by requiring you to sit on a slick inverted wall, laying on your back underneath a cage that kept your from sitting up. The wall which is partially submerged leads you to the ice bath. Once you’re clear of the cage you make your way to a center partition that you climb over and make your way to the exit steps. Again, another cool twist on an always fun(or horrible) obstacle.
Arctic Enema 2.0: Photo Courtesy Gameface Media Arctic Enema 2.0:  Photo Courtesy Gameface Media

Block Ness Monster was first introduced at last years Worlds Toughest Mudder. The reception the obstacle got was so great that TM opted to incorporate it as a standard obstacle(AMAZING idea). Multiple large, rotating 4×4 squares positioned in water, that are too heavy to rotate by one person, too large to climb over from a standing position, and I wouldn’t even try going underneath. This is one of many teamwork necessary obstacles. Participants on each side rotate the square while two people max(volunteer enforced) go over the top on each rotation to then assist on the other side before moving onto the next block. This is a very creative, unique obstacle and a blast to do.
Block Ness Monster: Photo Courtesy Chun Zack Lee Block Ness Monster:  Photo Courtesy Chun Zack Lee

“Shawshanked” was another fun obstacle and one of the few on-course that was able to be completed solo. An elevated tube generally used as a tube crawl at most events. The tube was elevated upwards with a rope at the top, inside of the tube. Volunteers instructed participants to lay on their back and use the rope to make your way up the tube. Once you made it completely through the tube you come to realize you’re about to drop into a water pit, backwards. This made for another fun obstacle that was mentally challenging for some as the drop was a distance beneath you.
Shawshenked: Photo Courtesy Gameface Media Shawshanked:  Photo Courtesy Gameface Media

Another obstacle that was originally introduced at WTM, and one I’ve been most excited to try, was “King of Swingers”.  An obstacle reminiscent of “Walk the Plank”(jump from an elevated platform into water) with an added twist. You must jump outwards, above the water, and reach for a small horizontal pole grip. If you get a hold of it, the pole swings you out above the water and towards a hanging bell. If you release too soon, you plummet to the water. If you release too late, you plummet to the water. If you release at the peak of the pole swing and project yourself towards the bell you may have enough extension with your arm to hit the bell. In which case, you plummet to the water. Are you noticing a pattern? Either way you win, and get wet. The height of the original platform and the distance you’re released above the water is intimidating for many. I observed a lot of participants watching the others attempt the obstacle and opt to continue on the course instead of trying their hand at it. That’s another great aspect of Tough Mudder. I witnessed no ridicule or shaming from other participants towards those who opted to forego an obstacle, which is something you’ll regularly see at other events. I was very pleased and impressed with this. Oh yea, I missed the bell by a mile but it was such a rush and awesome experience.
image King of Swingers:   Photo Courtesy Gameface Media

The most teamwork intensive obstacle, “Pyramid Scheme”, I encountered once before in a freezing Pocono Raceway TM. This time the weather made the experience of this obstacle extremely enjoyable. Trust and teamwork, most likely from complete strangers, will successfully get you through this one. Take an inverted wall, fill the base of the wall with mud and water, and make it slick with no grips and no traction. Take one person and have them stand in the muddy water with their back going up the base of the wall. Climb that person and stand on their shoulders while you invert yourself up the wall. Now the fun part, somebody climbs the original person who’s in the water, makes his way up you and to your shoulders. At this point you’re still not high enough to reach the top but the awesome participants at the top of the wall are cool enough to hang themselves from top of the wall to pull you up. The display of camaraderie and teamwork at this obstacle alone truly defined the theme to what makes Tough Mudder a challenge, and not a race.
Pyramid Scheme: Photo Courtesy Gameface Media Pyramid Scheme:  Photo Courtesy Gameface Media

I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this event. The entire arrival process, the start line, venue itself, obstacles(insanely fun), finish line energy, event area(even for a Sunday). I’d truly have to nitpick to find any negatives about this event…maybe the portapottys not up to Battlefrog standards? If I wasn’t before, I’m certainly a “Mudder” now.

Warrior Dash NY -The Heart of the Open Heat

I ran the Warrior Dash New York event this past weekend and I had a fun time.

For any experienced OCR athlete the words Warrior Dash and Fun should be synonymous at this point. But like any OCR it is what you make it and should be tempered by expectations.

Pre race excitement: photo courtesy Victoria Rose Skiff Pre Race Excitement: Photo Courtesy Victoria Rose Skiff

This was a shuttle parking event which sometimes deter me from doing an event all together but this was smooth and effortless. The volunteers kept the flow of cars into the parking field moving at a nice pace and the school buses used to shuttle were in abundance and constantly moving. After a 5 minute ride to the venue, it was time to check-in. Packet pickup was by last name and not bib number, which may have caused some delays for those whose last name began with an R/S. That particular line was massive where other letter lines were empty. Luckily an “N” wasn’t an overly popular last name when I checked in.

Warrior Dash has started a new registration this year which I personally was in favor of where others took issue. When you register, your fees include parking and bag check. So there was no stopping to pay for parking and bag check was expedited without having to pay on site. The now included fees is a debatable topic but I was personally a big fan of. Just don’t bring valuables as your bag really wasn’t secure in any way. I was able to freely walk into bag check after each lap to locate and utilize my bag without any volunteer to check that it was, in fact, my bag I was rummaging through.

Muddy Warriors Post Race: Photo Courtesy Meghann Kinsella Muddy Warriors Post Race: Photo Courtesy Meghann Kinsella

I ran 3 laps of their wooded, hilly course and in each lap had the opportunity to witness first hand, the heart and soul of OCR. After running the PA Warrior dash and multiple NJ warrior dash venues in previous years, this was my first run of their NY event. I was very pleasantly surprised with the terrain and venue itself. The PA/NJ locations were always generally flat and open area locations, containing minimal trail and elevation. The New York venue sent you uphill at several different points in the woods forcing you to actually slow your pace from the normal sprint of a warrior dash.

Participant coming down slide Participant Coming Down Slide: Photo Courtesy Gameface Media

The obstacles themselves were very do-able for anyone that has ever ran a Spartan Race, Savage Race, Battlefrog or any of the other big boys in the sport. When it came to the target audience of a Warrior Dash these obstacles could pose some challenges. One of the first obstacles(Fishermans Catch) encountered was a square wooden structure, with 5 or so lanes, each with varying overhead grip challenges. One lane contained all metal rings to traverse. Another lane was hanging ropes. A third option was a combination of rings,ropes, and slick straight bars. What made this obstacle even more interesting was the water spraying upwards from the base in all different directions with a rope netting underneath to maneuver across if you opted not to test your grip. Something like this was easily completed for the average OCR athlete but again, for open heat racers this posed a challenge, and a fun one at that.

There was wide balance beams with water shooting from the base, mud mounds that required assistance later in the day when the mounds were slick and wet. Multiple wooden climbing structures and a newer obstacle introduced last year called Pipeline which is an enclosed circular rope obstacle that requires most to lay down on their stomach or back and navigate through, being too narrow to stand and maneuver. It reminds me of a Chinese finger trap, in that you can’t apply pressure solely to the center of the roping as it would tighten around you.

Warrior-Dash-New-York-Pipline Obstacle “Pipeline“:  Photo Courtesy Gameface Media

At previous events the most popular obstacle, Goliath, would have a balance beam several feet in the air with water spraying up from underneath you, followed by a short climb up to the slide into a water pit(my favorite part). They seemed to of broken this up a bit having the balance beam with spraying water(mentioned earlier) in the beginning of the course, leaving Goliath a wooden beam climb up to the slides. Usually the most highly anticipated obstacle by all attendees. By my third lap the climbing section to get to the slides was blocked off. The volunteer redirecting racers stated the water level at the base of the slides became too low and they needed to fill it up. Goliath is the last obstacle prior to crossing the finish and without direction to go directly to the finish, participants were going around the slide, to the water pit, jumping in and making their way through the pit to the finish. Of course ,monkey see, monkey do, I jumped in and enjoyed being sprayed with 3 high pressure hoses as I made my way through a waist deep water pit. (I later saw unconfirmed reports that the low water level resulted in multiple lower body injuries to ankles and legs resulting in the closure of the slide). After doing the slide 2x already this was a fun change up to end the race.

image Muddy Love: Photo Courtesy Steve Longo

Throughout the day I witnessed many people with fitness levels not comparable to what you’d normally find at a Spartan Race or Battlefrog. It was very refreshing to witness large groups of people not in a rush, smiling, laughing and having fun. There were no egos and no sound of an “Aroo”. One woman whom I assisted in completing the mud mounds, if I had to guess in her mid 40’s and later told me this was her first race of this type, was so grateful for a helping hand and a encouragement that she referred to me as her “saving grace”. She was so happy, and so proud to accomplish a feat many reading this would find basic. Every time I run a Warrior Dash it reinforces the belief that the heart of this sport is in the open heat. This was a truly fun event and I look forward to running many more.

image Warrior Dash Medal Table: Photo Courtesy Gameface Media