Let’s all raise a glass to that genius mud and obstacle course race known as the Warrior Dash.
Yes, by now it’s ubiquitous. Yes, there are tougher, more radical and maybe even better mud runs out there. And yeah, the concept of playing in the mud and acting silly in the midst of what is sorta, kinda not really a race is definitely aimed squarely at people who might be more concerned about having a good time rather than actually competing or training for athletic purposes.
To which I say, so what?
I recently ran this one with a team affiliated with my local gym, and dang if that wasn’t a good time. I’ve run in much tougher events, as had pretty much everyone else on the team. But that’s not really the point. I enjoyed the course, had fun and wouldn’t mind doing this one again. But let’s not recap the race. What’s more interesting to me is what the Warrior Dash specifically and mud runs in general mean. Here’s what I like about it:
It’s a great gateway for the out-of-shape to get fit. In the same way a 5K is the gateway for beginners to become runners, so is the Warrior Dash for people wanting to get off the couch and get in shape. The length of the course is short (5K) and is broken up by enough obstacles that if you need a breather, you can do so. The obstacles are fun, but not so daunting that you feel you might die. And for those just starting their fitness journey, the path of training for the race is the real reward, capped off with a sense of accomplishment when it’s over.
It’s as easy or difficult as you want it to be. You can walk the course and take your time on the obstacles if you so wish, which might make the race more of a leisurely trip back into your childhood days of playing in the mud. Or, if you want, you can go all-out and seriously test your physical and mental toughness. Trust me, if you run it as fast as you can and try to tackle the obstacles with gusto, even a 5K obstacle course will test your fitness.
It’s fun. People run it with friends. You get some exercise and time outside. You are allowed/expected to get wet and dirty. People come in costumes. And with food, beer, live music and thousands of like-minded people there, it’s a party. Who doesn’t like a party?
It encourages people to do more. The Warrior Dash, like I said, is a gateway event. Most people will want to repeat it, or do something like it. Similar races draw in families. Folks who kill it on the Warrior Dash will be tempted up the ante by either beating their previous time or competing in harder events like Tough Mudder or Warrior Dash’s own souped-up event, the Iron Warrior Dash. And to be able to do those races, you have to improve your fitness even more. There is a lot to like about that.
So raise a mug to the Warrior Dash, which managed to pack in a few thousand folks from Oklahoma to go run, crawl, climb, swim and jump over three miles of muddy, hilly terrain instead of sitting on their butts doing a bunch of nothing. May it continue to inspire people to move.
On Twitter @RMHigh7088