Monday, August 1, 2011

Mitten State Warriors

First off, I have to stress just how awesome it was to have an event like this near Flint.  I know Red Frog Events made buckets of money on the event, but they still put together a great race.  Considering the fact that Mid-Michigan brought it and made this the 2nd largest Warrior Dash ever, they handled all the parking and the mass of humanity quite well.  Racers did not want for water, places to get shade and rest, or places to get beer/food/etc.  It was a really nice set up.

Leading up to the race, I found out not only was our friend Ray coming in from Maine for the race, but he was in the same exact heat as us.  Also our friends Pat and Mike showed up in our heat as well, so we had a nice group going.  J and I rounded out the group, and were the only two of us that did costumes, with him as Richard Simmons and me as Razor Ramon HG (of Japanese wrestling and Bakuten variety show fame).  
Pre-Race Photo
We hung out for about an hour strolling around in costume until it was finally time to line up for our heat.  We hung out toward the back and waited for our turn.  Ray was already wearing his "I Survived the Warrior Dash" shirt and was asked by a race official if he already ran, because apparently a few people got caught making multiple runs.  He was a little too mud free to be a repeat, though.  Anyway, the fire went off and we were on our way.
Fireball Start Signal

The first obstacle, about a mile in, was climbing over cars and running through tires.  I was out for a good time, so I went right for the angles that allowed me to climb on the roofs of cars as much as possible.  I was really excited to be underway, but then we hit the logs in water obstacle, and the masses ahead of us just slowed to a crawl.  J and I went around them as much as possible, but it was slow going for absolutely no reason at all. 

After doing that, and going up a hill, there was a nice over a wall and under barbed wire obstacle with about 4 jumps and 4 ducks.  Again, people ahead of us going so slow, but I wasn't out to set any records and just wanted to finish unscathed and have a good time, so it didn't bother me that much.  Plus, the waiting was nowhere near as bad as R3.  I just was hoping to kind of keep the race going at a steady pace, and stay mentally "in it." 

Well I got what I wanted with the next obstacle.  The "Warrior Wall" showed up in my view, and I didn't know about it at all.  If I had, I probably would have freaked.  When I saw it, I thought, "There's no way my fat ass is getting up that."  Sure there were boards to help you up, but you could barely get a toe hold on them given they were only about 2" wide , so it was mostly just pulling yourself up on the rope and scaling the wall Bo Jackson style.

Oh well, I decided "F**k it, I'm gonna try."  I took a big jump and a push off the wall with my foot, grabbed the rope, and started kicking and climbing.  Next thing I knew I was up and at the top.  I pulled myself up, and climbed down the boards on the back.  I couldn't believe it.  I waited for J to get down, gave him, a fist bump, and thought "It's on.  Whatever they throw at me now, I'm going to conquer it."

We crawled across some giant net hammocks and did some cheap balancing obstacle where I thought the boards were going to break under me.  Then came "Blackout" where you had to crawl on your hands and knees through a short tent made of black tarp with hay on the ground.  Our group was at 2:30, the hottest part of the day, and it was 90°, but it had to be 120° in there (maybe more).  I haven't felt hot outside or anywhere else since then, and when I came out the other side the 90° felt like air conditioning. 

There was a bungee cord obstacle that was a lot like R3 where you had to go over or under them, and we did a lot of waiting for people and holding them open for them to get through.  After that we went down into a huge uneven mud bog.  The mud smelled mildly like manure, and varied from being about waist deep to about chest deep on me at points.  Here's where the race just came to a grinding halt.  Everyone was so tentative about going in and when they were already in they seemed to just freeze and not go anywhere.  I fell into a trap of letting a girl use my shoulder to brace herself above it on a branch and half a tree that was sticking up.  I got stuck standing there waiting for her to calculate a route that didn't involve going into the mud.  She was shaking like a leaf and starting to dig into my shoulder like a hawk's claws into its prey.

She asked if it was okay, of course, but I was getting a little tired of it after it went on for more than two minutes, not to mention the people ahead were still at a crawl.  For the love of god, just GO!  I thought about just going around it and being a jerk and letting her just fall in when I moved.  It's not like I need to be nice to women other than my fiance anyway, right?  I couldn't do it though.  Blame the gentleman in me, or just my upbringing, but I got her through without a lot of mud, and helped a lot of others through that mud bog, and then up the slick hills.  I could have pushed around and let them fend for themselves, but why be that way?  Besides it made the mud more fun.

Of course right after it we had to climb another pegged wall, and climb down a rope where the knots were not in any good places for me to have a decent climb down, so I did it all in one motion with a little rope burn.  Then I watched Ray bolt past us and go up the cargo climb like freaking Spiderman.  I wasn't that good on it, but after the two wall climbs, the cargo net that I had feared this whole time was the least of three climbing evils.  It also helped that I heard Jessi yelling out at me. 
J and me on the net (top left)
Now came the fire jump, but I had something special planned.  I pulled off to the side, reached into my pleather costume (which was way too hot to do this race in by the way), and pulled out a small sandwich bag with an extendable roasting stick and a pair of marshmallows.  Yes, I planned ahead.  The bag kept everything clean of mud and I was able to get them on the stick and ready to go.  I stopped at the fire jump, knelt down, roasted my marshmallow and then  jumped the fires and ate it.  The reaction from the crowd on that one was AWESOME, especially hearing some guy yell "Holy s***, he has a marshmallow"
Prepping the 'mallows


Done roasting ('mallow still on the stick). It's jump time

From there it was just a nice cool jump into a mud pit, going under some barbed wire...
Last Mud Pit
Last Crawl
...and a last run to the finish.
Last Stretch
We lost Ray for a bit after the race, but took an after photo with Pat and Mike after they finished.
After Shot (glasses broken, but faking like they're not)
My costume was completely destroyed, but it had a good run (Halloween 2009 and a Warrior Dash)
Studs gone off my bill, glasses broken, rips, and dirt and smells that will never come out.  Costume over!
Face Mud
Costume Carnage

Shoe Pile (my old New Balances are in there)

Shirt, Medal, Fuzzy Warrior Hat?

So there you have it, my Warrior Dash experience.  It was fun, and I'd do it again.  Next time I'd start further up in the field to not be held up so much, and probably would go with a more breathable fabric, but other than that I'd do much of the same.  I'd still be nice out there throughout the obstacles when people need a hand, and J and I would still wait for each other at obstacles to make for better pictures.  Speaking of, I have to mention that my lovely fiance braved the heat and sun, which are much worse on her than me, to get the majority of the photos seen here (thanks baby!).
My Lady and I

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