The Warrior Dash: Mud. Fire. Mountains. Need I say more?

It’s not often adults get to get all dressed up and roll around in the mud; well, here’s your chance. On Saturday, a group of friends and I rolled in to what is essentially a playground for adults; welcome to the Warrior Dash.

The Warrior Dash is a 5Km race complete with obstacles that are designed for those who want a challenge unlike anything they’ve seen before. With prizes offered for best costume and beard, the atmosphere took on a very Spartan meets Fred Flinstone type feel; it made me want to kill the person next to me and eat food like a caveman, the latter of which would happen about an hour after the starting pistol went off. The race, which took place just outside of Barrie, was largely uphill, and by largely, I mean mostly, and by uphill, I mean up ski-hill; trust me, there’s a difference.

Right out of the gate, the organizers welcomed you with a pit of mud that engulfed your feet. In an effort to outsmart the system, I aimed to step on the side of the pit, which unfortunately only proved deeper than the centre. Consequently, I got sucked in about half way up my calf, but on the upside, I kept my shoes, on. Others, weren’t so lucky and many either bid farewell to their shoes as they moved on to the next leg of the race or dumped their sneakers in the shoe pit seen below.: let us take a moment for these fallen feet of warriors.

Okay, moment’s over. So, after the valley of mud came the first uphill battle and all of a sudden it became very clear that heavy costumes mixed with ski hills and summer heat equal one really bad idea. As I passed people starting to walk along the trail, I realized that no one was really in this to win; women were chatting about their husbands and friends were stopped at the water stations discussing plans for the afternoon. So, in an effort to get the most out of the race, I made a pact with my partner in crime to overcome the obstacles as a team.

Onward we went towards the next obstacle which was crawling under barbed wire and hurdling wooden … well, hurdles, I guess. After another long trudge up a climbing hill we ended up at the first real test: a balance beam! This was problematic. With two weak ankles and an extra foot on most contenders, I’m a balancing disaster waiting to happen. So, I warned the person behind me that I’d be taking my time and set forth to go down… across… up… and down the beam and what do you know? I made it! We trudged forth like champions until the next obstacle which involved pulling  yourself across one rope whilst pulling your body weight with the other. With guidance from my teammate as we helped each other navigate the rope, we carried on… you guessed it! Uphill. Thank goodness for a second water break which allowed for a brief hiatus before moving on to obstacles that were yet to come.

When I saw what awaited us in the second group of obstacles, I was not pleased; not one bit. We had entered the climbing part of the race. The first little rope walk up a plank didn’t seem to bad, until we reached the top and had to straddle the wooden beams to get back down. That shook a bit until I saw what came next. Wooden beams leading up, over, and down. Now you have to understand that I don’t mean thick beams that you put your entire foot on and hop on over. These beams were maybe the width of my forearm with spaces at least 1-2 feet wide between them. Those insurance waivers they had us sign before registering online were starting to make a whole lot of sense. I managed to crawl my way to the top and actually ended up coaching a stranded soldier on how to use your bum as a transportation device to haul yourself over the top row of beams. Yup, my butt was like a magic carpet and most likely saved me from a rather gruesome death. That may be a slight exaggeration but a broken limb was certainly not out of the question. For it’s bravery and service, I have promised my back side at least one sweet a day, you know, to keep the padding up in case of a similar warrior emergency.

The last serious obstacle was another climbing challenge – this time, with ropes. After the spacious beam we had faced, this one seemed to provide something of a safety net. It was literally quadrants of ropes that you climbed up and then back down. I felt like a ten year old, hopping off the playground to high-five my dad yelling “I did it!”. Only this time it wasn’t my dad waiting for me at the bottom, it was my husband – a very kind, patient, supportive husband.

Thrilled to be well on our way to the finish line, we decided to join forces and hurdle the pit of fire together in a show of camaraderie and team spirit! We really thought we were done, when we looked down and saw the very last obstacle: barbed wire, hovering over a pit of liquid mud. With one glance at each other, our eyes lit up and we dove head-first into the soupy pit. The pit itself, which had gravel lining the bottom (very painful on the knees) was surprisingly deep and allowed, at one point, for the fluttering of feet to push you gracefully towards the other side. Unsurprisingly, we emerged covered in mud from head to toe and after being hosed down for what seemed like a really long time by some volunteer fireman did we managed to get a little bit clean… er.

The festivities continued long past the dash itself, and as the heat beamed down, warriors from near and far, holding a turkey leg in one hand and a cold beer in the other, proudly sported their swag that proved to the world that they survived.

They had trudged up hills, leaped through fire, jumped over and crawled under barbed wire, reached heights unknown and balanced like their life depended on it. As we made our way back to the car park, cries of “when I say warrior, you say Dash! Warrior! Dash! Warrior! Dash!” filled the bus. The race was over but the adrenaline had just sunk in. These brave men and women were no longer average citizens, capable of blending into the crowd; lathered in mud, sweat and tears, these people were now part of a sacred few who had accepted the challenge and survived, The Warrior Dash.

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