Warrior Dash: How crawling through mud, climbing over cars and sliding in mud is the best thing.

I’ve never been athletically prone. I could win medals in such endeavors as Internet Browsing, Couch Sitting, Dog Snuggling, Kitty Wrangling, Popcorn Eating or Book Reading, but never in athleticism. Sweating is not something I’ve ever enjoyed and I’ve had difficulty hopping on the “pain is weakness leaving the body” train because it’s easier to climb under a blanket and take a nap than to go outside and run three miles. I never once participated in any sort of organized sport-like activity. The Army forced me toward physical fitness and while I’ve mostly succeeded at passing Army-mandated fitness standards, I have in no way excelled.

I’ve been working out a lot lately, yes, something I wrote about here, and I’ve finally made some progress toward hitting my recently generated health-related goals, but still – this fitness bandwagon is a new one for me and one I’m not quite used to.

And then came the Warrior Dash.

A good friend from high school (who I incidentally met in gym class sophomore year of high school, a class were we largely avoided any sort of running or otherwise physically strainful activity) invited me to partake in the Virginia Warrior Dash with her, since her original partner had to cancel. The invite came at the most perfect time in my surprisingly non-futile adventure toward reaching a higher level of fitness and it was like the Universe was yelling at me to do the damn thing.

So we did.

We started the day looking like this:

So clean and so fresh.

I was nervous and excited. I’d looked over the course map approximately eleventy billion times, but that didn’t give my any idea what running three and a half miles through mud and over obstacles was going to be like. Plus, it was a chilly 58 degrees outside at 11 am and I was freezing my ass off. The thought of getting wet and crawling through mud had me convinced I’d die of hypothermia before the day was done.

Spoiler Alert: I didn’t.

What I did was run through mud, smash through a tire jungle, climb over muddy cars, run up and down mud-slicked hills, climb cargo nets, nearly drown in a river with water well-above the promised waist level, leap over fire not once, but TWICE, splash along the shore of the James River and, finally, dive into a pit of mud.

By the end of the race, we looked like this:

We couldn’t stop smiling after we crossed the finish line. We ran it. The whole thing, all three and a half miles of up and down hills, around bends, through woods and across frields. Considering I haven’t run more than 3 miles in somewhere around five years, I’ve been on a non-stop self back-pat parade for the past two days.

I’ve done some pretty bad ass stuff in my life. I’ve made big, life-changing decisions and gone on grand adventures, but nothing has ever made me feel like more of a bad ass than the Warrior Dash.

I’m not entirely sure if I know how to explain it, but the feeling of having done it, and done it well, is amazing. Maybe it’s that I never thought I’d be one to willingly subject myself to mud pits or fire leaps, or that just a few months ago I would have collapsed in a breathless heap at the mere thought of such an endeavor, or maybe it’s just that this gave me the chance to be proud of myself for the first time in a long time.

It’s possible the most futile thing I’ve ever attempted was the rinse I gave myself in the James River after the race. It made me feel a little better, I guess, but really, by the time we’d rinsed off, toweled off and changed by the car, I still smelled like a farm. That didn’t stop me from eating a turkey though.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about mud and mud races after running the Warrior Dash. I knew it would go one of two ways, that I would either emerge fully satiated of my desire for dirty, gritty fun, or I’d come out of the mud pit and out of the race desperate for some other extreme and muddy encounter and sure enough, here I am, still sore from Saturday’s Warrior Dash already clamoring for more fun. I spent at least two hours over the course of the weekend eyeballing YouTube videos of other mud runs and amping myself up for future adventures because while smelling like a farm isn’t the best thing ever, feeling like a bad ass is.

30 thoughts on “Warrior Dash: How crawling through mud, climbing over cars and sliding in mud is the best thing.

  1. I am so Effing proud of you. After I get my stamina up a bit, then we’ll talk about doing one together. You look really tall in the muddy photo with your friend, and even better your left foot looks enormous! haha! Love the hat. I hope you got to keep that!

    1. Yes! I would love to do one with you! It’s so much fun!

      And my friend is just under 5′ tall so that’s probably why I look so tall. I’ve got no excuse for my foot though…

  2. Congratulations!! I can totally relate to this post… I am SO not athletic, but crossing the finish line of a 5k makes you feel like the biggest badass everrrrr!! I have already signed up for another (non-obstacle) 5k at the end of October. Finish lines are addictive.

    1. They are! Andrew and I are looking to start running more regular 5ks, especially for charities that we support. It’s so much fun getting to the end!

  3. That sounds super fun and like a freaking awesome experience. Good job!! I would love to do one of those but I have a bad knee and cannot run at ALL. I’m jealous that you did that.

  4. I had some friends that tried to get me to do the Minnesota Warrior Dash this summer even though I was grossly out of shape and couldn’t even run a half mile, let alone 3+. In the end, I passed, but I know they’re side-eyeing me for next year. It looks like an absolute blast (LOVE THE HAT!) but I’m not sure it’s something I’d be able to do. Also, for all my shit-talking, I’m kind of a girly-girl. I’m not sure how I feel about getting mud in places I didn’t know existed…

    1. The mud is gross, sure, but it’s so much fun and I promise if you did it you’d feel like a filthy rock star by the end of it. It motivated me so, so much in the weeks leading up to it because I didn’t want to collapse on the course and I feel like running it was a good testament to the progress I’ve made physically. Do it!

  5. omg, i want that hat! 🙂 i’ve thought about doing this. they have one in San Jose, about 40 miles south of here. i don’t have anyone to buddy up with or to talk me into it. i’m pretty good at talking myself out of it though. :p

  6. if you liked Warrior Dash, you’d definitely like some of the tougher mud runs like Tough Mudder, Mudder Dash, or Muddy Buddy (so fun!). the problem I have with WD and BP is the cost to length proportion – i didn’t feel like either were hard enough or long enough to warrant $55 without benefiting something charitable! That being said, WD is definitely better than BP….mud>sand!! Your pics are infinitely awesome too!

    1. I’m thinking about doing a Spartan next year – 8 + miles, which sounds terrifying, but amazing. I’m slightly terrified of the Tough Mudder just because you have to run through electric shock shit and that just does not sound enjoyable to me.

      And I agree with you on the cost thing – I did feel a little guilty paying for a run that wasn’t going to any sort of charity. It looks like a lot of our local mud run and obstacle events benefit charities, so I’m definitely going to look into those.

    1. So glad I’m not the only one who crossed the finish line totally filthy and totally ready to do it again. It’s too amazing of an experience to never do it again!

  7. 1) The Viking look is very becoming on you.

    2) I would have LOVED to do this with you. This is totally up my alley. Maybe I’ll just “happen” to be in Richmond next year the same time the Virginia Warrior Dash is happening. By pure coincidence of course.

  8. Awesome! This looks so cool. Congrats on finishing and congrats on running the whole thing! I think I’m going to find out if they do that here in Germany somewhere.

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