Dancing Through The Mud
What comes to mind when you think of the term “thrill seeker”? Some people envision a person who finds solace skydiving and whirling through the atmosphere at a rate of -9.8 meters per square second. Enjoyable activities definitely cultivate the human nervous system and release norepinephrine and dopamine, and some of us are more prone to seek out these behaviors due to these neurotransmitter releases. For myself, I have lived to partake in 5k Mud Runs like the Warrior Dash, also a philanthropic way to donate to St. Jude.
What The Warrior Dash Is?
To begin, the Warrior Dash is a 5k obstacle course that started in 2009 and has participants in over fifty locations in the world. Obstacles ominously approach us in life, which is why my zealous heart yearned to combat my fears of roasting warmer than an over-burned, toasty marshmallow. The Warrior Dash completes itself with my fright over the fire by having each participant willingly prance over a two-foot tall burning, fiery wood piece. As I leaped over, I confidently felt the best natural high that soared through my senses and invoked my passion for this race even more.
Getting Off To a Great Start
Let me really start from the beginning. August 18, 2012, was a gleaming and tolerable 73 degrees and the sun was timely albeit a few visiting cumulous clouds present. My friends and I had the 11 AM wave, so we surely tie-died our shirts just days prior to this event and left promptly. After a long two hour’s drive, we arrived at our destination, our eyes taking in the die-hard RV campers who wanted to absorb all the Warrior Dash festivities even more so than ourselves.
Proceeds to St. Jude
Paying our fee for the race, we convivially pinned our race numbers on our tie-died attires. Portions of our fees graciously went to St. Jude, a cause I am passionate about. After taking our “Before” pictures (before we would be glazed like Jelly Donuts in acres of mud), we retied our shoes and moseyed to the “Start” line. My heart flickered like the flames I was about to encounter… Encounter and defeat, I told myself. That dopamine I mentioned earlier was about to surge like a geyser to my brain and through my entire body.
Training the Right Way
The starting gun went Pop! And off we ran through a trial of 4 inches of unruly grass. I had not trained for this, as I accidentally only ran 3-4 miles on flat pavement, so I already was exhausted after running half a mile. After the longest half mile of my life, we were encountered with the balance beams (and a happy break from the trying running part). Shaking, I climbed foot-by-foot 12-feet up the wooden poles and back down again. My eyes adverted to the straw below…in case we were to fall fast.
Myriad of Obstacles
We met 12 total obstacles that day. The second obstacle reminded me of something children play with at a jungle gym- only it was not so forgiving and definitely not made of rubber. It was called the “Cargo Net.” Nervously, I watched the others who were ahead of me nearly fall off, wobbling over the top, while some of the more advanced runners crawled from the underside of the net. Like an animated monkey, I hopped up and over the top of the net that was met with straw on the bottom.
Running after the obstacle in the grass that I felt badly needed a “haircut,” the next obstacle was the Alcatraz whereby each participant had to wade through water and was matched with the fury of the heavy, floating buoys. I used my upper body strength to propel myself over two busy crossings. Things were going quite well at this point… or so I thought.
Muddy, Lava Lumps
When you feel things are going too well, that is when you meet your match. Mrs. Muddington’s Mounds can be described as something as “lava lumps” of slippery mud- slippery is an understatement. There were four total mounds that were at least 9 feet tall and connected to a mud pit as you slid down the greasy mud. My first mountain mound, I fell backward at the top, as did many others. I managed to maneuver over the thick elevation my second attempt, feeling a dopamine rush and a sense of accomplishment.
The second lava lump, a random participant splashed my face with mud, leaving me in a senseless pain as it entered my eye contact. I kept moving forward until I found the water station and poured water into my eye to rid the mud burning the contact in my eye. Nothing was going to keep me from finishing my race.
Facing the Fears
As I kept progressing, I knew I would have to climb the 12 foot Warden’s Wall and face the fire jump near the end. Climbing the wall was less of an issue, and I happily encouraged others to make it over. I was akin to that of a private in the military, climbing over with diligence. At this point, there was only a mile left, and each participant ran up a highly-elevated hill towards the Warrior Roast fire jump.
Regarding the Warrior Roast, I combated my fear and counted a few seconds before I ran full speed over the two-foot fiery, burning wood. My legs lengthened like that of a gazelle leaping away from a cheetah; I made it over. I had to proceed to the next barbed wire crawl before the finish line. I knew everything here was done, and I was proudly suited with a thick layer of mud.
This obstacle course was a lesson for sure. The water blister on my right foot reminded me to obtain wick-moisture-away socks. I also learned that anything is possible and that these mud run 5ks donate to charities like St. Jude. I did volunteer work with special needs children, and children, in general, leave a glimmer in my eyes and heart. I also learned how to conquer my fear of the Warrior Roast and the heights overall on the course. To get mentally over those tall cargo nets and walls, I had to use positive self-talk. “You’re strong” or “You got this” ran through my mind much faster than my pace in the wave.
Working at a greenhouse, we quickly became dirty. Shoveling murky-yet-heavy limestone, we heaved in the mud. We also planted trees and shoveled our way up to a particular part of the root. In my mind, I could only think of those mud runs. Just like at a job, working with your friends, who are your team, are vitally important. Even though we were dirty most of the race, most of us are dressed in a theme that signifies our “team.”
The Warrior Dash had more to it than just the race. Of course, part of the proceeds went to St. Jude. At the end of the race, there were beer gardens, a live DJ, different food venues, and an array of opportunities. One of these opportunities was jumping into the water and wading off the gluey mud. At the Warrior Dash, there also are photo backdrops and the Warrior Hangout Obstacle. As far as contests go, there are certain contests that this race does have. The Tug-of-Warrior, a beard contest, and the best costume contest are some of the contests that are held (www.warriordash.com).
The Warrior Dash is already 10 years old, and there are other races as well that help condition the mind while being competitive. One of these races is called Tough Mudder, and it is 10 miles long. Most of the people who start at the Warrior Dash tend to fear the Tough Mudder, but trying any of these races is worth a try. My advice is to get goggles (if you have eye contacts) and to wear good socks and shoes you can donate at the end of the race (or throw away, if they are too muddy). Oh, and I tell you thrill seekers to keep seekin’ on.