Saturday, September 18, 2010

New Year's Resolution: September 5K

"Shootin' at the walls of heartache, bang, bang, I am the warrior. Well I am the warrior, and heart to heart you'll win..if you survive the warrior....the warrior!"    -Pat Benatar

When Pat Benatar was singing away with those lyrics, were pretty sure might have had the Warrior Dash in mind when she got to the part about surviving the warrior.  Heart to heart folks, we barely survived the warrior!

Are you a Warrior?
Are you a Warrior? Nine months strong, we've kept to our New Year's Resolution of doing a 5K a month and for our September race, Brett found the Warrior Dash race online and knew we had to do it.  Touted as the 'ultimate thrill seeking event for athletes,' Warrior Dashes are extreme 5K's with crazy obstacle courses sprinkled through them.  They are only held throughout the course of seven months in various regions across the country, so finding one isn't always easy.  For the first 
Lots o' Warriors!
time ever, Windham, NY hosted the Warrior Dash at the Windham Ski Resort in the Catskill Mountains as part of the Northeast territory.  The Garretts were just two of more than 10,000 hardcore maniacs that participated in the two day run!

Registration for the race was $65-$85 per person (depending on when you signed up), so we struck gold when Brett found us tickets online at craigslist.  Heather's snagged her entry for only $45 and Brett got his ticket to the show for free when a NYC runner couldn't make it at the last minute!  Don't you know...pillaging is a big part of being a warrior.  The only catch with our tickets was that Heather's heat was at 9:00 a.m. (the first of the day) and Brett wasn't scheduled to take off until 3:00 p.m.  When we realized that race officials weren't exactly checking participants when the fireballs went off, Brett just joined in the 11:30 heat so we wouldn't have to wait all day.

No Temple Guards were out.
We arrived at the ski resort under a blanket of fog...really, it was just so high up we were in the clouds!  After getting our bibs, timing chips, t-shirts, free beer tickets and freaking awesomeWarrior Helmets we were ready to go!  Warriors were encouraged to come in costume so we saw plenty of great potential Halloween ideas.  Everything from the Braveheart getup, Green Man, Brides, Naked Cowboys, tons of Super Heroes, Adam & Eve and even the Green Iguanas from Legends of the Hidden Temple!  Heather lined up with the 500 other folks in her heat and crossed the starting line under a fireball to head literally up the mountain.  

Anxiety attack waiting to happen!
The Warrior Dash course boasts 13 obstacles packed into the 5K course!  Literally, the hardest thing to do was right off the bat...making it up the side of the ski mountain!  The peak is situated at a crazy 3,100 feet, with a vertical rise of 1,600 feet from the base.  That's fine and dandy if you're riding a lift up there, but try running that mess!  After scaling Mt. Everest the mountain, the first challenge was to run through tires.  A field was set up covered with old tires and as long as you watched your step, it wasn't tough.  The next obstacle was climbing the 'Warrior Wall' in order to continue on the path.  This obstacle probably gave Heather the biggest concern before the race, but she managed to get all of her body parts over the two walls with no major mishaps.  

Easier said then done!
Brett & Heather agree that the most painful challenge was making it through the 'Tunnels of Terror.'  Crawling on your hands and knees through black metal tunnels wasn't real comfortable! The course then took us through several grassy/forest areas until you stumbled on a pond.  If for some reason you were asleep on this adventure, this is where the wake up call was!  The pond looked exactly like the scene in Stand By Me when the kids are going through the swamp and they ended up covered in leeches!  With the temperature at balmy 52 degrees when we got out of the car, it's hard to say just how cold that water was!  But it was deep enough that 5'6" Heather couldn't touch bottom and had to swim across with her graceful frog like moves.

Cargo Climb
The next challenge left us playing ECU Pirate when we had to walk the plank over a gorge of sharp, scary rocks!  Then it was over a slick, wet bridge covered in chicken wire and through to woods to a cargo climb.  Weaving your body up the net and over the platform was easier than expected.  Around this point in the run, you could hear the fans at the bottom of the mountain cheering and screaming so it gave you hope that the end was near. 

Slip'n Slide Time!
The end was just around the corner, but not without a few hangups first.  The last three obstacles were challenges in themselves.  The first was a giant slip n' slide, redneck style!  Black plastic, a water hose, bales of hay and plenty of mud created a dangerous mix for collision.  It's here that Heather dove head first, crashing into a group of people in front of her.  She escaped the bang up with a nasty broken thumb nail and some serious scraped forearms and knees.  'Bull-in-a-China-Shop' Brett lived up to his name and took out a lady who was lolly gagging it at the end of the ride.  After he literally plowed her down, he did offer to help her up because at least he's a nice Southern gentleman like that!

It's Pyro Time!
Leaping over fire was more like a leap of faith!  Two rows of flames licked your feet as you prayed you had enough clearance to make the jump.  It was super intimidating coming down the mountain and seeing freaking fire in our paths!  While we each stood at the fire line waiting on the other to pass, we saw several people bite it at this mark.  Luckily no one actually went up in flames, but it was a close call for some!

Anyone have a Tide pen?
But of course, the Warrior's saved the messiest, muddiest and ickiest for last.  The final obstacle was crawling under barbwire through a mud pit!  Kids, there was just no pretty way to do this...we each emerged looking like the Creatures from the Black Lagoon.  Arguably the dirtiest, muddiest and nastiest we've probably ever been (at least Heather anyway).   We had mud everywhere!  Heather's hair looked like a mud spotted Dalmatian and Brett's legs were just running rivers of it by the time he got out of the pit.
Warrior Garretts!

After the race, we donned our Viking Helmets, flashed our participation medals and scarfed down a turkey leg like real warriors.  Heather realized she lost her free beer ticket (attached to her bib) on the race course & offered to hold Brett's during his heat.  Except that she somehow lost his too during that time period.  Thankfully, the beer folks were really generous and gave us a couple of glasses anyway!  

It was a good shirt.
Tough man Brett even took a rinse in the ice cold showers after his heat in an attempt to clean off.  It didn't really work though.  It felt great to change out of the muddy, wet clothes and Brett's Carolina Panthers t-shirt, which has appeared in 4 out of 9 races, finally met it's demise and found it's new home in a trash can.  

Your sure someone wants these?
The race also featured a used tennis shoe drive.  We donated our yucky, waterlogged running shoes (they were old anyway) to Green Sneakers, an organization that cleans the shoes and places them with relief agencies worldwide.  Sure beats bringing them home and trying to get the pond water/mud stains out of them.  The lovely running garb we sported for the day also ended up donated to the local trash pile as well.  Somethings just aren't worth hauling home.  

While the Warrior Dash was a good time had by all, it sure was a running t-shirt that we earned!  Probably the most memorable 5K we've done so far!  Here's the highlight reel:  

Warrior with mud in his teeth.
Head to toe dirty!
Those socks were once white.
Fireball means start!
Mud Dalmatian hair.
Line for the showers.