Warrior Dash Ontario 2015Saturday, April 18, 2015
Four years ago, I signed up for my first ever race of any kind. But this was not your typical race. It was an obstacle course. A very muddy, challenging obstacle course known as Warrior Dash. While I never saw myself as warrior-like by any means, I sure left feeling like one. It was the first time Warrior Dash had taken place on Canadian soil and there were about 10,000 people in attendance. It was crazy, busy, muddy and a whole lot of fun. From sliding down wet tarp-covered ski slopes to climbing cargo nets to jumping over flames of fire, I managed to accomplish something I never thought possible.
The sense of accomplishment I felt after having completed the 5k course in 53 minutes was unlike anything I had ever felt before. I am not a runner nor do I have a gym membership. I am a fairly active person, though, who enjoys bike riding, hiking, yoga, Zumba and salsa dancing when no one's watching. But I am not a runner. I just want to clarify that. Because I don't like running, let alone running up very steep ski slopes in the hot, hot sun covered in mud. And yet, I did it. While I nearly lost an arm (you can read more about my first Warrior Dash experience here), I knew I wanted to go back the following year. I did register in 2012 but my father had suffered a heart attack the week of the race. He needed to undergo a procedure and I wanted to be with him.
Now, four years after my first taste of Warrior Dash, I am heading back and this time I'm bringing a team of teachers! You can blame lunch room chit chat for getting me started on how amazing it was. I am so excited for my colleagues and can't wait for the big day!
- If you think you're too old, young, tall, short or just not cut out for it, think again. You don't have to be an athlete, in the best physical shape or a trained runner. I sure wasn't. But I do suggest you prepare with a bit of a training. Check out the obstacles on warriordash.com for specific training tips or download the Warrior Dash app. Of course, if you have specific health conditions, always seek the advice of your health care provider before registering.
- Be prepared to get muddy. And maybe even a little black and blue. I saw a number of people with minor cuts and bruises. Plus, you have to sign a waiver stating you are aware of the risks. The good news is you are not obligated to complete all of the obstacles. So if you are uncomfortable or unable to complete an obstacle, you can go around it.
- Bring a change of clothes and a towel. You will be able to rinse off at the end. That first year, I was excited to be hosed down by firemen but it wasn't as pleasant as it sounds. That water is cold!
- Pace yourself. Running 5K was a feat in and of itself for me but I had to conserve my energy even more than I had anticipated. Running up slippery slopes can be just as exhausting as trying to climb a wall.
- Book an early heat time. My first race was in the afternoon, by which time the course was muddier and messier.
- Plan to arrive much earlier than your scheduled time. Warrior Dash Ontario takes place at Horseshoe Valley Resort but the parking is off-site. It took me an hour longer than usual to travel along highway 400 and the traffic was backed up to the highway thanks to the 10,000 eager participants in attendance. Once you find a parking spot, you will need to take a shuttle to the resort, then pick up your package. Be sure to bring your photo ID.
- Bring a friend or two. If they don't want to participate, they can be there to support you and take care of your belongings. Spectators are admitted at no additional charge but if you do choose to go it alone like I did, there is a tent where you can drop of your belongings before your heat.
- Sign up early and save. You can get tickets for a decent price if you take advantage of early bird ticket prices. Plus, if you can find five friends to join you, the sixth person is free!
- Have fun and let loose. Even though photos will be taken throughout the course, don't pay much heed to how you look. You will be amidst of sea of muddy warriors grinning from ear to ear. This will be one experience you won't soon forget!
Have you have participated in Warrior Dash or a similar mud race? Share your experience below. I would love to hear all about it!