“Warrior Dash was stupid!”
I overheard this exclamation burst forth from a participant in the festival area, their mud-caked figure standing in the shadow of a bright red slide which was sending gleeful racers careening into a dark pool of murky water below.
“It was boring, and the obstacles sucked,” a fellow racer lamented.
Having yet to step across the starting line, I began to worry that perhaps I had made a poor decision in attending this particular OCR. It had been 3 years since I had earned myself a fuzzy viking helmet, and I was excited to experience how Warrior Dash had evolved during my hiatus. Yet these comments concerned me.
Nevertheless, I was wearing awesome Batman tights, our wave time was quickly approaching, and I was determined to make the best of my experience. And so, with an enthusiastic countdown and a burst of flame overhead, we were sent out onto a course riddled with colorful obstacles, sandy trails, rolling hills, and a deep plunge into chilly water. Our journey was also checkered with the amusement of branded bootleg signs filled with witty banter which both teased and encouraged the progess of those running by. The miles flew, and before I knew it I was crossing the finish line, celebrating the completion of my first Obstacle Race of 2016.
Now I must say that I tend to find racing provides me an opportunity to gain insight and perspective on OCR as a sport, and the 3 mile excursion at Warrior Dash caused me to reflect on the comments that I’d heard upon arrival.
I think we should first acknoweldge the fact that all Obstacle Races are not created equally. Nor should they be. Each event has its own unique format, and will market itself as such. Some hone in on the challenge you will experience, spreading the message that their race will be tough, will be physically and mentally challenging, but in the end you’ll come out a stronger person for conquering all odds. Other races are created purely for the fun of getting out and having a blast playing in the mud, scrambling over obstacles, and making memories with a group of friends or family members.
Warrior Dash is most definitely one of the latter.
This race is not designed to be an intense, overly challenging experience. It is an event which I consider to be somewhat of a “gateway drug” to the world of Obstacle Racing, providing the perfect blend of mileage, obstacles, and lighthearted fun to entice OCR newcomers to the sport. It is a great race to facilitate and ignite a passion for the sport that so many have already come to love.
Now should a seasoned OCR enthusiast attend a Warrior Dash with the expectation that they are going to be challenged, they are likely going to be disappointed. If you are the type of person who runs several Obstacle Races a year (or perhaps even several a month), you are not likely to find the intense physical battle you seek at a Warrior Dash. However it is not the fault of the race for delivering an event that did not meet your expectations.
Perhaps, just perhaps, we should approach each event with the intent to experience the race in the manner that it has been created to be experienced.
If an event is created to be intense, challenging, and character building, approach it with that expectation. Likewise, if a race is marketed to be happy-go-lucky and filled with miles of carefree fun, then this is what you will likely experience if you attend with the correct mindset.
Warrior Dash is designed to be fun, an adult playground of sorts. Therefore you should go to Warrior Dash to have fun! Be silly, dress up, laugh, play, dance, party, have a blast! Don’t be mad if the obstacles don’t cause you any struggle, it simply means you are in great shape – rock on you rad Obstacle Racer! The race is delivering exactly what it has promised, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience!
One final thought. Not only should these types of races be enjoyed for what they are designed to be (I don’t know anyone who attends a Color Run with the intent to PR), but we should also be conscious of the many attendees who are getting their first taste of OCR. As experienced peers, we should lead by example by sharing the love and respect that we have for our sport and its participants. Also, keep in mind that for some runners, this race IS challenging. Please be kind and thoughtful in your words and actions.
What I hope to convey today is that there is a need for each person to evaluate the intended experience which each race advertises so as to align personal expectations based on an event’s unique format. By doing this I’m certain we’ll all discover a new level of enjoyment, appreciation, and fulfillment at each OCR we attend.
With all of that said… I’d love your feedback! Do you agree?