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One year ago today, I published my first post here on Anyone Can Enter.
In the 12 months that followed, I’ve stuck to my mission of competing in at least one offbeat, obscure, wacky, or just plain ridiculous event each month, so long as anyone can enter. Along the way, I have succeeded (winning a national championship in egg tossing) and failed (in nearly everything else). More than anything, I’ve had fun at every step. Even when I was earning the title Last Ass in a pack burro race in Colorado or listening to my friends crack on me for failing to complete the Krispy Kreme Challenge.
The way I see it, this occasion deserves a professionally baked cake. It may seem crazy—buying a cake to celebrate the anniversary of a blog—but is it really any crazier than jumping into a freezing cold lake on New Year’s Day or throwing yourself down a hill after a wheel of cheese? I don’t think so.
Plus, this blog is responsible for more than a series of wacky adventures. Back in that first post, I set a few additional goals. One was to lose about 20 pounds. The other was to run a marathon. I’m happy to say that I have exceeded my weight loss goal and that in four days, I’m running in the Tobacco Road Marathon.
As for next year, I doubt I can stand to lose 20 more pounds and I’m not sure I can continue competing in one event each month. But I do plan to maintain this blog. Sometime after the marathon, expect a more sentimental retrospective, complete with a year-in-review video and a more detailed plan for the future of Anyone Can Enter.
For now, let’s take a look at the first year of Anyone Can Enter by the numbers…
11,975—All-time blog views (not including my own views)
8,667—Miles traveled to and from events
1,776—Stairs climbed at the CN Tower Climb
650—Approximate number of people who endured my attempt to holler at the National Hollerin’ Contest
365—Days my awesome, beautiful wife Carie has had to put up with all this nonsense
350—Most blog views in one day, largely thanks to @darrenrovell
349—Second-most blog views in one day, largely thanks to Penn Holderness
335—Comments you’ve made on the blog
253—Miles I’ve run since October, when I started training for the Tobacco Road Marathon
149—Votes I lost by to the eventual winner of the News & Observer’s Ugly Sweater Contest
86—Percentage of people who voted for me to shave my head for the Warrior Dash
62—Feet between Mike Hepp and I when we completed our winning toss in the National Egg Toss Championship
50—Approximate number of people who jumped into a freezing cold lake with me on New Year’s Day
42—Stone skips registered by Russ Byars at the Pennsylvania Stone Skipping Tournament, 27 more than my best effort
25 (and counting)—pounds I’ve lost since starting this blog
15—Trees we planted during the Asheville Idiotarod
10.5—Doughnuts I managed to eat at the Krispy Kreme Challenge, 1.5 less than the necessary dozen to complete the challenge
10—Men, including me, who entered the Idaho Springs Pack Burro Race
9—Men who finished ahead of me in the Idaho Springs Pack Burro Race
4—Orange habanero peppers I ate during the Bailey Farms Chile Pepper Eating Contest before bowing out to the Toothless Pepper King, who ate 14
3—National champion coaches who declined my request for advice leading up to the National Egg Toss Championship
1—National championship won without the help of national championship coaches
Imagine an overgrown playground for big kids sprawled out over 3 miles of a Yogi Bear-themed campground in the Pennsylvania wilderness.
Imagine that the final mile of that playground winds through two ponds and forces you to splash through a swimming pool of mud covered by barbed wire before you leap over two fire pits.
Now imagine that you’re running through this playground alongside 500 people, many of whom are dressed in battle-ready costumes. Among them, Roman soldiers, knights, barbarians, and Vikings. Included in the mix is a guy dressed as a Wheaties box, a pair of friends as Mario and Luigi, and dozens of dreamers in homemade superhero outfits.
Oh, and at the start of all this, you’re running directly behind a guy wearing assless chaps.
This is the Warrior Dash. A 3-mile adventure race billed as “the craziest frickin’ day of your life.”
To properly embrace the spirit of the event, I considered wearing a costume until I decided that a flowing mane of facial hair would suffice as a costume. As suggested by the Warrior Dash’s web site, I’d been growing a beard for nearly two months. And thanks to the results of a vote on this blog, I shaved my head the night before the race.
I had hoped to get some advice on how to be a warrior from the Ultimate Warrior, but he never got back in touch with me, so Carie and I did our best to train by going on trail runs. None of our training runs, however, could prepare us for the sea of humanity that awaited us at the start line.
Since we arrived with less than five minutes to go, we started from the back of the pack, where so many people were crammed together that we couldn’t even run across the starting line—we shuffled. After a half-mile scamper through the woods, we approach our first obstacle.
Obstacle No. 1: Tunnels of Terror
We crawl through a 30-feet long pipe. Fortunately, we’ve already passed the guy in assless chaps.
Obstacle No. 2: Tanker Trouble
This is more than an obstacle; it’s a traffic jam. We climb over abandoned trailers, but the course is so narrow that we have to wait a few minutes while the hundreds of racers ahead of us funnel through this obstacle. When it’s finally my turn, I accidentally slam my left leg into the top of the first trailer. My shin is screaming with pain, so I take it easy over the following three trailers.
Obstacle No. 4: Hell’s Hills
We bound over huge mounds of dirt.
Obstacle No. 5: Hay Fever
We scale a hay bail pyramid.
Obstacle No. 6: Cargo Climb
We climb a cargo net. Now that the racers are scattered, there’s finally some running room. I decide to run ahead of Carie.
Obstacle No. 7: Unnamed obstacle
We weave through a forest barricaded by a spider-web of bungee cords.
Obstacle No. 8: Walk the Plank
This isn’t as cool as it sounds, as no pirates are involved. We simply run over a ditch on a wooden plank.
Obstacle No. 9: Unnamed obstacle
The next half-mile of the course is a trail run with dozens of downed trees.
Obstacle No. 10: Blackout
We climb through a covered trench.
Obstacle No. 11: Breathless Bog
Finally, an obstacle that makes us get dirty. And wet. The trail leads directly into a waist-deep pond lined with logs, forcing racers over or under the logs. I choose to go over them, but I fall off one of the logs, dunk my head, and accidentally swallow a drink of the freezing cold water. Gross.
Obstacle No. 12: Warrior Wall
We throw ourselves over a series of chest-high walls.
Obstacle No. 13: Slithering Swamp
We splash through another body of water. This time, without the logs.
Obstacle No. 14: Unnamed obstacle
We climb up a mud-soaked hill. I almost fall near the top, but save myself by pulling on a root.
Obstacle No. 15: Muddy Mayhem
Probably my favorite portion of the course. We crawl through a swimming pool of mud, covered by barbed wire, which empties immediately to…
Obstacle No. 16: Warrior Roast
We jump over mini walls of Duraflame fire logs. They’re not that high, but it’s incredibly warm.
About 35 minutes and 4 seconds after I started, I cross the finish line. Thanks to the Muddy Mayhem obstacle, my face is covered in filth and I can barely see. I can taste dirt. I get a soaking from a hose and look down at my soon-to-be-bruised shin. It looks like I’ve got a baseball underneath my skin.
Carie runs in just a few minutes later in a respectable time. But while our race may be complete, the day is just getting started for the Warrior Dash. Our heat of 500 racers is just one of about 12 heats. And this is already the second day of the race. And it’s just one of 10 regional Warrior Dashes.
When you consider that we paid about $75 to enter this race, and that we paid $10 to park, and that we also paid $6 a pop for turkey legs after the race, it’s pretty obvious that the true warrior in all this is Red Frog Events—the company that organizes the Warrior Dash. They’re robbing us all blind.
As for me, it was fun pretending I was a warrior for the past few weeks, but I don’t think it would work for the long haul. For starters, I’ve never been a big fan of plundering and pillaging. Plus, after I got my warrior shower (courtesy of the local fire department), a few drops of mud splashed on me minutes later and I wished I could immediately take a real shower.
Then, after eating my turkey leg, I was disgusted by the greasy bits of turkey on my hands. Also, I really wanted to floss. Seriously, I could have killed for a piece of floss. What kind of warrior wants floss?
The kind who runs behind another warrior wearing assless chaps. That’s who.
Many thanks to those of you who voted to decide if I should shave my head for the Warrior Dash.
Little to my surprise, a whopping majority of you voted for me to shave my head. Actually, considering that plenty of you suggested other ideas in line with shaving, it was more like 86 percent in favor of shaving. While there were some truly creative and excellent ideas in the other ballot box, I’m afraid that my barber skills aren’t what I’d hoped they’d be. Perhaps next time I give this a try, I’ll visit an actual barber.
Instead, I buzzed off my hair a little while ago in a Days Inn outside of Baltimore. It’s actually somewhat difficult to shave your head. For me, it was a three-step process involving the initial buzz cut, a shave to remove what the buzz cut missed, and a final shave to smooth it all out. This picture shows me just before the first shave.
More embarrassing pictures and a full report of the Warrior Dash will follow shortly. Seeing as our dash begins at 9:30 a.m., I should now probably get as much rest as this springy Days Inn mattress will allow.
I recently had an epiphany.
To really get ready for the Warrior Dash, I’d need to seek the wisdom of an actual warrior. And not just any warrior. Not even a good warrior or just a really great warrior.
I needed the Ultimate Warrior.
(In case you don’t follow professional wrestling, the Ultimate Warrior was one of the most dominant wrestlers of the late 1980s and early 1990s. If you’d like to see him in action, scroll to the bottom of this post and watch the video of his appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show. It’s epic.)
Lucky for me, finding him was much easier than I initially feared. Especially because the Internet is full of rumors about his supposed death. On his web site, he runs a blog called Warrior’s Machete where he sounds off on current events, politics, fitness, and the rumors that he isn’t actually alive. Earlier this week, I commented on his post about some new pieces of art work that he was putting up for auction.
Unfortunately, I haven’t heard back yet from Warrior (by the way, that’s his legal name). And I’m fine with that. He is, after all, the Ultimate Warrior. If I was the Ultimate at anything, I probably wouldn’t have time to respond to everyone either. Plus, thanks to Warrior’s blog, there’s already an abundance of Warrior wisdom out there.
While I wish I was bringing you an official Q&A with the Ultimate Warrior today, here’s a few of my favorite lines from his blog, instead.
•The GodDamned cowards you need to KILL are the pests inside your mind talking you out of getting out there and conquering the life that is yours for the taking. To make it happen you have to kill the GodDamned bastards off. Swat them down. Smash them into squishy unrecognizable goo. Visualize blowing them to smithereens in such a violent manner that you can feel the disintegrated ooze running down the inner walls of your skull. Render them unidentifiable! – From Kill Off The Goddamned Coward Within.
• Like most of the modern day theories intended to stifle action but stimulate a lot of yakkitty-yak, overtraining is one of those state-of-the-art suppositions that keep people from doing the THREE tried-and-true things they actually most need to do to build up their physiques or their physical strength: Train. Train Hard. And TRAIN HARDER. – From Overtraining is Bullshit.
• Set yourself up on a reading program to read at least two books per week. Find an hour or two to read everyday. You have the time — you just aren’t making it. Create this habit and it will change your life. If you have to get up an hour or two earlier than you normally to do your reading, do so. Increasing your knowledge and bettering your life takes discipline. – From Let Books Invade Your Mind.
• Exercise your body with intensity for at least an hour and a half a day, everyday. Go to a gym and kick your own ass. Or create a full body program at home and kick your ass there. Jumpstart the performance enhancements and stress relievers your body holds and doses out naturally. Physical activity is the quickest and most effective way to kill worry, doubt and fear. The mortality rate is 100%. Everything about you and the quality of your life gets better with exercise. – From Whether you believe you can or can’t, you’re right.
• Listen to me. If you believe the only way you can ever go after your dreams is somehow escape the life you have now, that you created by your own damn choices, you are only setting yourself up for deeper resentment and regret. If you believe the only way to get the job done will be when there is no more day-to-day shit to shovel in your life, then you will be shoveling shit till the day you die. – From A Man Does it ALL.
Thanks to those of you who submitted fun training ideas for the Warrior Dash last week.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the strength to run through a brick wall (as Rachel and Matt suggested) or the access to a chicken to chase it (as Jon suggested), so my last training video follows the Warrior Dash website’s advice to dash through a playground. To make things mildly interesting, I got incredibly dizzy.
Training for the Warrior Dash continues to run smoothly. Aside from a few nearly twisted ankles and outright spills while trail running, I should be in decent shape for the race on Sunday.
Perhaps more importantly, my warrior beard is coming in quite nicely, as you can see for yourself. However, plenty of folks at the Warrior Dash will surely be sporting bushier, fuller beards. To gain more of a mental edge over the competition, I’m considering shaving my head in favor of the Kimbo Slice look. Even though I’ve kept my hair extremely short for most of the past 10 years, I’m somewhat scared of completely shaving my dome. Mainly because my grandfather shaved his head one summer and his hair never grew back. Then again, I’m getting ready to lose this hair, anyways. Still, it’s a decision I’d rather not make on my own.
That’s why I’m leaving it up to you. The polls close on Saturday night, so vote soon, or give me an even better option.
In less than two weeks, I’ll be a warrior.
According to its web site, I will “conquer extreme obstacles” in my first Warrior Dash. Considering that the 14 obstacles include leaping over fire pits and scrambling beneath barbed wire, I’m not sure it’s fair to assume that I’ll be conquering them. More like tolerating. And that’s only if I make it past Satan’s Steps, the Black Forest, the Breathless Bog, or the Warrior Wall.
To ensure that I don’t sink in the Slithering Swamp, I’ve been running a few miles every other day. Recently, I even followed the training suggestion on the Warrior Dash’s FAQs to go snorkeling in a dirty pond, without goggles. To make it more interesting, I also left out the snorkel.
But I worry that I could be doing more.
That’s where you come in.
Are you a warrior? Do you know a warrior? If so, how would you or your friend feel about putting me through a somewhat rigorous boot camp?
Even if you’re not a warrior, maybe you’ve watched a few movies with some really sweet warrior footage. Or maybe you once dressed up as Conan the Barbarian for Halloween. If so, how would you train to be a warrior? Would you simply spend the weeks leading up to a Warrior Dash running on a treadmill? Or would you be scaling telephone poles, juggling boulders, wrestling bears, hanging from a rope by your teeth, and sleeping in your backyard?
Please send me your craziest training ideas. As long as they’re mostly legal and practically survivable, I’ll give them a shot and post videos of my efforts here on the blog.
And just in case you were wondering, no, I don’t think that eating more orange habañeros qualifies as warrior training.
Training for my next event is underway. Luckily, I don’t have to eat insanely hot peppers this time.
Check out the video to learn what’s next.