Warrior Dash Gulf Coast 2018

 

Larry

Larry Jumonville happy with his performance

Warrior Dash Gulf Coast 2018

Race Start

From parking to packet pick up the Warrior Dash Gulf Coast venue ran far more smoothly than last years.  Everything was simple and easy.  The fact that parking and bag check are included is a nice convenience. Parking was extremely close to the venue and everything from t-shirt pick up to the starting gate were very easy to find and access.   Volunteers were friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable and there were no shortage of them.  The staff also performed extremely well.

Warrior Dash also did a great job at making spectators and competitors alike feel as if they were indeed walking into a muddy fun zone.  The Warrior Dash sign near the entrance was a symbol of fun about to be had.  Volunteers manned sponsor tents well.  One even presented competitors with a nice warm-up area.  As long as Warrior Dash has been in the game they have begun to excel at race and wave starts.

 

 

The Festival

The festival is the area in which Warrior Dash seems to shine most.  It had everything OCR newcomers and veterans could enjoy.  There was beer, food, a rig to play on, kettlebells, a cargo net, corn hole, lots of opportunities for picture taking, kids play course, great shower stations, and even a hand washing station outside of the port-o-potties.  Warrior Dash also utilized their many different contests to keep festival-goers entertained.  Though the stein holding contest didn’t seem to happen (at least while I was there) the added plank challenge was a nice addition.   There were far more participants in this newer contest as well as the staple push up and tug-of-war contests.  Everyone seemed to be having a really great time and no one seemed bored.

The Course

Designers laid out the course better than last year.  Though many of the obstacles and routes were similar, Warrior Dash made enough changes to make the course feel fresh.   What was not so fresh were the abundance of A-Frames and other climbs.  I understand that this is one of the most basic obstacles that newcomers can conquer. This is Warrior Dash’s bread and butter.  However, the repetitiveness may dissuade some newcomers.

The small slip walls bookending a small barbed wire crawl designed by Grunt Style was a nice beginning.  Upslide down, a favorite of many was a nice break up of running through fields.  Super Soaker gave us an added twist this year by inserting a slip wall bridged with two by fours in the middle of the balance beams making it both more and less challenging at the same time.  I am sure this made the obstacle more enjoyable to those not balance adept.

The Course Second Half

A new obstacle, Rockslide, was a great new addition which added some grip elements.  Though rock climbing grips were the key focus of the obstacle, a toe board underneath allowed competitors to support their weight and shimmy across while gripping.  This allowed the obstacle to be less overbearing for beginners.  Builders suspended each lane allowing them to swing with the competitors’ weight and movement.  This made the obstacle much more fun.  This was much more fun than a stabilized version would have been and brought joy to many racers.

The course ended nearly identically to last year with a fire jump, followed by pallet jacked, and muddy mayhem.  Muddy mayhem was much more fun and muddy this year.  Pallet Jacked offered four separate lanes – two difficult and two easier lanes.  The less difficult pallets were connected with chains allowing less movement from the pallets.  However, I preferred the difficult lane as it allowed me to utilize gymnastic skills gripping the straps and leapfrogging from pallet to pallet.  The volunteers on course did a superb job of cheering on competitors especially at the end through the muddy mayhem.  A good time was had by all both on and off of the course.

Terrain

Once again the flat region of the Mississippi Coast doesn’t offer much in the way of elevation or tough terrain, but Warrior Dash utilized what they were provided in a great way.  The field allowed a bit of difficulty in the softness of the ground and occasional ruts and mud to run through.  There were also a few trails with the occasional slight elevation to push competitors just a tad harder.  All in all, a very good venue for beginners to test themselves on and learn how to handle the basics of trail running.

Ceremony

The awards ceremony also went very well.  Officials presented competitors with shirts and certificates. They announced each competitor’s time and presented them with an entry to the OCR national championships.   The crowd gave winners their due admiration.  In the spirit of Warrior Dash, all competitors were humble and knew that what was most important was the fun they had out on the course.

The Crucible – A True OCR Challenge

 The Crucible: Difficulty is key in this short-distance sufferfest

It may seem hard to believe.  On March 31st, 2018 in Clinton, Mississippi  I found a menagerie of soul-crushing obstacles deep in the heart of the sometimes ho-hum state of Mississippi.  However, that is exactly what The Crucible is.  A once a year event not for the easily defeated, The Crucible offers a great challenge to OCR elites as well as suffer fest diehards. Proof that people who are indeed serious about OCR and about pushing themselves to the brink even in Mississippi, The Crucible will tear racers down and subsequently build them back up into a stronger person by the end of the 4.8-mile sufferfest.

Josh Reed conquers the high wall

Methodical Mania in Mississippi

Just over four miles can seem like much further when it’s jam-packed full of forty obstacles.  The Crucible challenges racers with unique unorthodox challenges that they may not be used to. What seemed to be a large, low incline A-frame was actually a hanging over-under.  The concept is hard to grasp without optical aid. Imagine weaving your body in and out of two by fours all while trying to hold your body weight up.  The unknown can be daunting.  Discovering a technique that gets you through a new obstacle is part of the fun.

Katie on challenging Monkey Bars

Katie Windham making her way across the elevating monkey bars

Coaching at its finest

Monkey Swing

Innovation for the OCR Nation

This OCR introduced new, challenging obstacles.  It also made many OCR staples more challenging and threw a new twist on them.  We’ve all done a log carry. How about a DOUBLE fence post carry around a berm and down and up a hill?  Rope climbs are nothing new to the OCR world. A thirty-foot rope climb out of water is no easy task.  Bucket Carry? No, participants had to complete a double tire carry instead.  I commend and respect the race director on his barefaced approach.  The Crucible presented competitors with a great physical and mental challenge designed to unleash the animal of survival from within.

Sweet Victory

Working out the Kinks

The only qualm I have with The Crucible is expected with smaller, newer races.  Volunteers were either not placed at some obstacles early on, or they did not know how to properly give instruction.  This is vastly important when elite waves come through, especially when cash prizes are being awarded. Early on there were no instructions and no volunteers to give direction.  Many newcomer elites had to repeat obstacles, in turn, forcing them to be behind other competitors on an obstacle losing valuable time.

There were also a few bad choke points that just didn’t flow well for an elite event.  Hanging in the air because someone is in front of you and hasn’t yet figured out their technique isn’t fun.  However, these small detriments did not severely detract from the overall experience of The Crucible.  I feel that the small race can improve on these factors creating a tough challenge that also flows.  I am happy to get the word out about what The Crucible is and can be.  I invite many of you from surrounding states to come and try it out! It’s one of the few events that I personally can say makes a trip to my home state worth it!

 

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

Venue

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

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