I took a trip up to Minnesota to check out Warrior Dash in between binge-shopping at The Mall of America. As a bonus, they now offer a kids race for ages 3-9, which means my daughter (who is three) would get a chance to play on some obstacles.
If you haven’t been to a Warrior Dash in a couple of years, parking is now streamlined. As opposed to paying $10 (or whatever the cost was) on the day of the event while waiting in line in your car, you now pay online ahead of time with a mandatory $5 cost. This allowed the cars to flow into their spots quickly and without issue preventing any backup (something I had seen at an event I did a couple of years ago).
The course was mostly flat switching from hard packed grass to dirt and the occasional mud pit. Despite a narrow starting chute, I never felt like I didn’t have enough room to run. While I wore my normal Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) shoes with aggressive traction, any trail shoe would have given you enough grip to get through the course without issue. Warrior Dash knows their audience and delivered a course perfect for those first getting involved or looking for a flat and fast course.
Warrior Dash’s theme for 2018 is The Elements Tour with their logo showcasing earth, wind and fire…I meant earth, air, fire, and water. Each obstacle is grouped into one of these categories. While I think this is cool in concept I was less excited in execution. I was hoping the entire course would be blocked off into an earth section, an air section, a fire section and a water section. If it was, I didn’t notice or at least it didn’t have enough of an impact to draw my attention. So if you were looking for something unique compared to previous years, I think you would be disappointed. That being said though, Warrior Dash continued to bring their normal series of obstacles that are fun.
The most challenging obstacle was Pallet Jacked, which involved crossing a series of unstable pallets hanging on ropes. The awkwardness of it made you slow down and would have been a lot of fun to cross with friends. Notably missing was Fisherman’s Catch (their rig from the last two years that had a net underneath). This means the only upper body obstacle on the course was Rock Slide (a traverse wall).
They upped their game on their 2nd to the last obstacle, called The 5th Element, by adding fire above your head as you flew down the giant slide. To be honest, I didn’t even notice the fire, but my daughter, watching me race seemed very concerned I might get burned (it’s safe, she’s three…you don’t get that close to the fire).
Warrior Dash always does a great job with the festival and this was no exception. They brought their usual theme of “Mud, Sweat, and Beers” providing a free post-race beer to all racers. Plenty of vendors meant you had chances to win outdoor gear, free supplements or other adult beverages.
The only improvement I have for the festival is it would be cool if the course came near the festival. This Warrior Dash and almost every other one I have done has the racers leave at the start and they are not visible again until the final obstacle. This makes a poor course for spectators. With only 5km (3.1 miles) of course length, this makes it challenging to have the course pass the spectator area again, but it is definitely something I would like to see in the future. Plus, it would make a great viewing area for those drinking post-race beers and watch friends or strangers power through some obstacles in the middle of the course.
The kid's race, put on by the milk company Fairlife was small consisting of about six obstacles in a 15 ft. by 15 ft. fenced off area. The obstacles included tire run, hurdles you walked/crawled under, a series of balance beams, a tunnel, and a low crawl. My daughter gave it a thumbs up and it was perfect for a three-year-old. I would say her rating was 5/5 stars. For every year in age, your child is over three, I would probably take away a star though, so 4/5 stars for a four-year-old, 3/5 stars for a five-year-old and so on. While definitely not worth making a separate trip for the kid's portion, it did provide her something fun to do while I was racing and she even enjoyed a glass of post-race milk.
Warrior Dash delivered in their usual fashion provided a finisher shirt (this one sponsored by the veteran-owned Grunt Style), their trademark fuzzy warrior hat with horns and their finisher medal complete with bottle opener. These have become staples of the brand and it is cool to see them continue…even though I don’t think I need another fuzzy hat.
Warrior Dash knows their audience and delivers appropriately. The race is an easy 5/5 stars for beginners providing a great introduction to OCR. While there were some familiar faces there, I also met several people on their first OCR ever.
Although I would give it a 5/5 for beginners for the more experienced OCR participant I’m going to give it a 4/5 stars. Despite being an experienced OCR athlete that really loves hard obstacles and ultra-endurance, I still make it to one Warrior Dash a year because I think it’s important to show some love for all that Warrior Dash has done for the industry. If you want to help grow the sport, meet some first time OCR athletes or work on your speed work, I highly recommend coming to a Warrior Dash and remembering what it was like when you didn’t even know the acronym OCR.
Start line and kids race photo from Amy Perperis of Strength & Speed
All other photos from Warrior Dash Facebook page
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