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I have pain in muscles I didn’t know I had.
I should’ve prepared more before running the Warrior Dash in Manchester, Tenn. on Saturday.
I should’ve gotten more sleep.
I should’ve kept the old pair of running shoes I tossed when I moved from Bowling Green in August.
But that’s neither here nor there. I’m a little sore, but man, did I have a blast.
I signed up with five friends to run in the Warrior Dash in April, when I still lived in Bowling Green.
I’d never run in a 5K or any other race before in my life.
But I’m one of those guys that is up for just about anything.
Admittedly, I didn’t do a ton of research on this race in advance.
I blame it on not having time but I still should have.
The Warrior Dash in Tennessee takes place on the same farm as the Bonnaroo music festival. The race is 3.15 “hellish miles” as the website claims and includes 12 obstacles, from scaling rope walls to climbing below barbed wire.
I don’t know why, but I wasn’t too worried about any of this.
Usually I try to run a couple of days a week. But because I’ve had so much on my plate at my new job, I hadn’t found the time.
At least, when I had time, I was trying to get caught up with other things, like my wonderful girlfriend of four months and my beloved Cincinnati Bengals and WKU Toppers.
I chose to run in a pair of old Adidas sneakers (not running shoes, sneakers), a pair of basketball shorts and a "More Cowbell" t-shirt that I love but has seen better days.
The Warrior Dash is a costume event. There were guys dressed as Hooters servers – including the iconic orange shorts and nude-colored tights – plus a trio of runners dressed as pro-wrestling sensations Macho Man, Ultimate Warrior and ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper.
And one guy in front of me wore a houndstooth suit with a dress shirt and tie.
My friends Jacob, Scott, Joe, Sean, Alex and I decided to run as a group. We figured it’d be more fun. Not only were we a support group for each other, we took turns being the photographer with Alex’s disposable, waterproof camera at each obstacle.
We were over halfway back in our running group. Groups went all day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every 30 minutes.
There was nearly a mile of running at the start. Needless to say, not 200 yards in, I started to wish I’d eaten a banana. But I trudged on.
First, we ran across a pile of hay bales. After a water station, we ran across 12 junked cars crammed alongside each other before jumping over barricades and crawling under barbed wire.
We ran through a tangle of ropes, then used rope to climb over a barricade.
After a military crawl for 20 yards in dirt in a black tarped area, and 20 yards crawling over cargo nets, we faced a second barricade – 15-20-feet tall – and used rope to pull ourselves over.
We ran through a series of tires. We climbed through cargo nets.
Finally, with the finish line in sight, we leapt over two lines of coal fires as the flames kissed my legs.
Somehow my leg hair remained intact.
After that, we plunged into a pool of mud, but stayed low because of barbed wire draped over it. (What is it with these guys and barbed wire?)
It’s impossible to finish the race without being covered in mud. I was still spitting it out of my mouth at the end.
A banana at the finish line helped my soreness somewhat before we walked what seemed like a half-mile to be sprayed with REALLY cold water by firemen.
I was spent, but I had a sense of reward. I’d finished my first ever race and at a not-so-horrible time of 56:17.65. It was good enough to place 7,655 overall, but after being hosed off, I was already thinking about next year’s Warrior Dash.
I was also ready for a monster of a turkey leg, albeit for $6 and a free beer.
There’s also a festival-like atmosphere, with a stage for live music and mud-soaked people dancing and partying.
I made the mistake of not bringing flip-flops. I threw away my shirt and tossed my sneakers into a donation pile. The stinky pile of mud-caked shoes is donated to GreenSneakers, who recycle the shoes and use them to make new, cheaper shoes.
As I walked barefoot across a field of hay-grass towards Joe’s Jeep, I was spent.
I had just enough energy to get to his Cherokee.
Before the race, Sean remarked, “What keeps people from going again?”
I now have the answer: they ran it once.
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