On Thursday, we received an email giving a suggested timeline for race day and the address for where we would be parking (also noting it was $10/car). I read all the details, even about the free shuttles from parking to the race site. What I failed to do, was map where the parking was located in relation to the race site.
Corrals were being sent off every 15 minutes so we did not have to wait very long before we were on our way. I do have to admit the huge pyrotechnics at the start line were pretty cool. The first mile or so was along a creek with low key obstacles. The first bigger obstacle had us swimming through a pond and I was a bit disappointed to be getting so wet and muddy so early in the course. Running in wet muddy shoes, and having muddy hands to wipe your face isn't ideal...but, hey, it's a mud run.
|Muddy Mayhem, Warrior Dash Stock Photo|
One of my favorite obstacles was similar to this Giant Cliffhanger pictured below. The ropes on our obstacles were shorter, so you had to run a few steps up the incline and grab the rope before sliding down. This was the first obstacle to really cause a bottleneck since only one runner could be on each rope at a time and once you hurdled over, there was a rope to belay you down the backside (not a climb like the stock photo shows below). I saw a lot of warriors who were taller than me or looked more fit, who needed a second attempt. This psyched me out a bit but I was going to at least try, and I was surprised I did it so easily. Go me!
|Giant Cliffhanger, Warrior Dash Stock Photo|
The course seemed much longer than only a 5K! Maybe because it's tougher to run when you're covered in mud? Maybe because the pollen count was crazy high causing my allergies to affect my asthma so I couldn't run my best? Maybe because the sun was hot, the fields were dusty, and the water obstacles were not as refreshing as a cup of water? Speaking of, water, there were two water stops on the course and all the water was baking in the heat of the sun. Warm water is not refreshing.
When Matt and I rounded the corner where the corrals started we knew were close to the finish! It was fun running past the warriors just beginning their race, their energy and excitement infused me and I ran a bit faster up the slightly rocky hill (and a bit slippery from dripping wet warriors who have gone before us). Only two obstacles remain!
The last obstacle was rough! I was wet clay mixed with small rocks, giving it a wet cement feel to it. Barb wire was overhead so we had to stay low and it was very tough to move through. The volunteers "supervising" and "encouraging" at this obstacle described the mixture as a chunky peanut butter. It was SO thick and the bottom was slippery which made it difficult for your foot to find traction. Lots of people were using exposed roots on the sides for assistance. One of our friends lost his wedding band, and I'm sure he wasn't the only one.
After we made our way out of this last obstacle, there was a professional photographer taking photos so we posed for a shot then proceeded on to the finish line. Matt and I got our Warrior Dash medal, which is also a beer bottle opener, and was handed water. While I still feel like a rookie runner, even with the few races I have run, finishers usually get water and some form of snack at the end of a race. Snacks usually are bananas and granola bars, but Warrior Dash had nothing. It may have been awkward for us to eat being so dirty but I would have loved something for after I cleaned up a bit. All the food on site came with a price tag, very disappointing since we were all starving and the food selections were not extensive and prices were not cheap.
We did not expect yet another line to get back to our car. We were dirty and wet and there was a bit of a breeze, I was freezing. I didn't time how long we waited but it was easily another 30mins, it didn't seem like as many buses were en route at 2pm as when we arrived at 10am. Our bus ride back was less than ideal, I overheard lots of colorful language and the bus driver was just as speedy as our earlier driver (which didn't feel safe on the narrow two lane roads and school buses do not have seat belts). Once we arrived back at the parking lot, I was completely surprised there was still a huge line of people waiting to get to the race site.
Overall, while the race itself was fun, I am very disappointed with the execution of this event as a whole. I had heard very positive reviews of The Warrior Dash Atlanta in past years. There are too many different obstacle races and mud runs to choose from to want to be highly inconvenienced with an event like this. The Warrior Dash posted to their Facebook page stating their event logistics "didn't live up to the expectations [they] set over the last several year" also promising they "will make it up to [warriors] in 2014". Warriors replied to this post, and it is not pretty...I read a bunch and it turns out conditions just continued to decline throughout the day. We must have had it pretty good in comparison, which is very sad. I'm interested to see how the organizers decide to proceed with their Atlanta event going forward, only time will tell.
In other news, remember that friend who originally encouraged us to run The Warrior Dash? Well, because of the date swap he wasn't able to participate. The Warrior Dash event date was moved to the same date he was registered for The Great Urban Race and since he & his wife placed second in 2012 they wanted a rematch. This was a great choice for Team Stovall as they placed FIRST this year! The added bonus of bragging rights is it qualifies them to compete in the National Championship in Puerto Rico. Congratulations again, we look forward to cheering for Team Stovall again in December!