Continuing my goal of running every OCR event that comes my way this year, I completed my first Warrior Dash. I’m really enjoying checking out all of these different events and seeing how they all operate. Warrior Dash felt pretty familiar, it definitely gave me more of a Spartan Race feel than some of the other events, but lacked some of the production value. Sort of a Spartan-lite, if you will.
This event was held at Budd’s Creek Motocross Track. I don’t know if it’s part of the same property or not, but this race is literally adjacent to the other spaces where they have held the D.C. Spartan Sprint races. It felt good to be home! The D.C. Spartan Sprint was the first OCR race I ever completed and what started this whole crazy journey, so I liked revisiting this area, especially in a new setting.
Parking was good, I got there early so I had no issues getting a spot. I also really like the idea of adding the parking charge to the ticket price, so you don’t need to worry about paying that day. They have that right and I hope the other races follow in their footsteps! The parking area was a good hike away from the start of the event though. I heard quite a few people complaining about this, even people who were racing that day. I just can’t really understand why you would pay money to run an OCR and then complain that you have to walk a little way to get there! I think that this might be the different crowd that an event like this will draw. Sure, I saw plenty of really fit people and people sporting Spartan finisher shirts, but there were also a lot more of us “normal” looking people; people with some extra weight and less chiseled muscles. I’m going to use this moment to get on my soap box, and I am sorry if I offend anyone, I am, but it’s for your own good. If you signing up for races or even any event that will test your fitness please quit smoking. I have seen this a few times; people having a cigarette at the end of a Spartan Race in the parking area, but I saw quite a few people smoking this time. Even if you don’t have any aspirations of being a great runner, it’s just not good for you. And if you need to continue your habit, please be mindful of those around you that might not enjoy inhaling so much second hand smoke. End rant.
The festival area was familiar, it was very Spartan-esque, but it was a little empty. There was only one food vendor and they only had two sponsors with tents there (minus St. Jude). The bag check is free, which is nice, but it’s also unmonitored. I know most people aren’t there to steal other people’s stuff, but I think I’d rather pay a couple of bucks to limit the people with access to my bag. Interestingly, you can get your shirt and fuzzy hat prior to finishing the race. I thought that was really different. Sure, you paid for the race, but it seems strange to wear a finisher shirt if you didn’t finish. Another interesting aspect that was different from other races is that this event is Check/Credit card only! No Cash! Which is actually really nice, I never carry cash and it’s always a hassle to be sure I have cash ready for my races.
The start of the race is a little standard. The announcer at the start line did a good job engaging the crowd, but it didn’t have nearly the energy you see in a Savage Race or the Rugged Maniac, the most comparable race to this one. It definitely didn’t have the serious overtones of the Spartan Races. It was much more of a casual, have fun atmosphere. I did like the fire bursts that are let out when the wave starts though, that was unexpected and it was a nice touch.
Overall, I think the race was really well laid out and there was plenty of room for everything, except right at the beginning, there was a huge bottleneck. It was actually pretty funny, when I was leaving the casual racer waves were in full swing and there was what looked like a queue there at that bottleneck; people just standing there, in line, waiting to go. They should have anticipated that and tried to widen the trail a bit. After that portion though things went pretty smoothly.
The course was actually much harder than I was expecting! Like the Rugged Maniac, I underestimated the course; I suppose I figured that the less serious races wouldn’t take as much time to make a challenging course. Well, I’ve been proven wrong twice! The first half of this race was almost nothing but up and down hills. It really wore out your quads. By the time I got half way and things flattened out a bit my legs were pretty tired and I was having trouble jogging along the trail. I actually really liked this! While it was hard and it slowed me down a lot, it felt a lot more like the older Spartan Races, really tough terrain, with no apologies. You definitely had to put in some work on this course. The hills came back at the end, when you made it to the formal motocross track, but it was a little less intense than the first portion of the race.
The obstacles were a little underwhelming. I wouldn’t even call most of them obstacles, more like “things to slow you down”. I can’t think of anyway that anyone could fail any of the obstacles, with the exception of the Goliath, and even then the only way would be if you’re afraid of heights and/or water slides. They were fun, it’s always nice to try new things, but there wasn’t anything in there that really tested, or pushed you. I was a little upset when I got to the first couple of obstacles though, because they were not in the order that they claimed they would be on the website. I studied it pretty well, to form a strategy on how I was going to attack the course to get the best time possible. Well, that all went out the window the moment I stepped foot on that course. This isn’t too big of a deal, but I do like being able to see the course map ahead of time.
I feel like I gave this race a good effort. After my last race I was feeling a little lost and disheartened. But I used those lessons to improve and I was determined to make this a better race. The Warrior Dash is not a timed event, so they only track the top ten racers in each gender. I was really hoping to make the top 10, but I didn’t. I feel like I wasn’t that far behind the leaders though. I finished in around 45 minutes and as I was approaching the last section of the race I heard the announcer say they had the first racers reaching the finish line. At that point I would say I was within 10 minutes of the top ten, which is pretty good for me. My race was good enough that I would have been the fourth place female racer, were I in that gender. That’s pretty exciting! While I didn’t finish where I wanted to the fact that I finished among some of the top people is a good feeling.
I had a good time at this race. It maybe isn’t my favorite race so far, but if I have the chance to run it again I would definitely take it. They may not have aspirations to be a huge company like Spartan or Tough Mudder, but this is a solid event and with a little more investment I really think this could one of the better races on the market. I only have BoneFrog and Terrain Race left before I finish out the major, multi-state races. Those are coming the next few weeks and I am excited to run them!
As always, pics below.