It’s reported that Julius Cesar, after he gained a swift victory over Pharnaces II of Pontus, penned these three powerful words to the Roman Senate: “Veni, Vidi, Vici.” Which, loosely translated, means, “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
Now it’s my turn. After successfully completing the Warrior Dash in Michigan over the weekend, I bring the same message. “I came, I saw, I conquered.” While not as colorful as what Bill Murray screamed in Ghostbusters, the level of passion is just as high.
I was set to run my dash at 11am and thus arrived 40 minutes early. Unfortunately, a frustratingly lengthy amount of my time was devoured by a snafu when my name failed to appear on any list of participants for either of the two event days. Long story short – I did get to participate, but I didn’t start until 12:30pm. Warrior Dash apologized for everything, which did little for my mood. When you dial in your nutrition in such a way to peak at a certain time, all delays are costly.
Instead of running with a smile on my face, looking forward to the obstacles, I ran hangry. But, hey… stuff happens. I dropped off my bag of clean clothes to change into, along with another pair of shoes and a towel at the free bag check (which is conveniently located next to the free I.D. check) and took my spot among a hundred other adrenaline junkies. Looking at around at the racers, you’ll quickly learn that people of all shapes, sizes, ages, and fitness levels come out to test themselves. That’s awe-inspiring at its best and ridiculously dangerous at its worst. That said, it’s well known that no one is required to run the entire course and there is no shame in walking around an obstacle you’re either afraid of or cannot physically execute.
As you can see from the picture above, the start of Warrior Dash races are a bit cramped. I started about two-thirds of the way back and quickly bolted toward the frontrunners as soon as the landscape allowed. The event wasn’t timed, but I still felt compelled to finish in front of more runners than I finished behind. The only thing stopping me was the 3.2 mile, 12-obstacle course featuring a unique blend of ever-changing trails of grass, dirt, sand, mud, a precarious swim across a lake and traipse through a filthy, stinking swamp. And the hills. They took more of a toll on my gas tank than the obstacles.
I don’t know exactly how well I finished. My wave of competitors bumped into the previous wave as they bottle necked leading up to Dead Man’s Drop. Which I guess is normal, since the wave after me ran into my wave at the Warrior Peak. This is the obstacle I witnessed a girl fall (slide?) 20′ and land with a thud. I asked her if she was okay. She said “I think it’s broken” while holding her right leg in pain. I told her not to worry, that I would send a medic as soon as I saw one. Thankfully, they were not far on the other side of the obstacle.
Warrior Dash had volunteers passing out much needed water in a few hydration stations along the course and had medical personnel at the more hazardous obstacles – the sight of which was as comforting as it was unnerving. Especially as you approach Goliath. That’s an interesting name for an obstacle, when you think about it. Goliath is the giant who lost his head for blaspheming God. His story is often summed up as, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Naming something Goliath is like naming something Al Gore. You realized he lost, right? But I digress…
After at least an hour after the torches shot up flames high into the air signaling the start of my wave’s dash, I plunged down the water slide into a pool of muddy water. If anyone finds a black Under Armor headband, please let me know. I lost mine as soon as my head went under. Slowly wading my way through the muck, I mentally prepared myself for what lie ahead. The final obstacle of this Warrior Dash was Muddy Mayhem. Crawling through a decent stretch of mud, mud, and more mud is one thing. Ducking under the barbed wire is quite another. I loved every bit of it.
Pulling myself from the quagmire I shouted, “I am Warrior!” as I was awarded my medal and greeted with applause from spectators. It didn’t matter that essentially everyone finishes the course (because no one is forced to do anything they’re uncomfortable with), it only mattered that I did what I set out to do. I left my comfort zone in the dust and, after spending the past five months training, conquered the first of many obstacle courses and mud runs. Now when anyone asks me about the Warrior Dash, I have a new message, “Ibi fecerit, obtinuit tuniculam.” It’s a Latin phrase, which, loosely translated, means, “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.”