Once again, I headed to Windham, NY this past Saturday to watch hundreds of mud lovers plow through 3.2 hellish miles. The voracious 12 obstacles course ingested 40 waves of “Dashers” during the weekend, leaving few prisoners. Did I think I would be running this year? Maybe. Did I chicken out? Most likely. I enjoyed taking pictures of these intrepid runners jumping over fire last year, knowing that I wouldn’t have to nose-dive in a pool of muck a minute later. This time around we also took the chairlift up the mountain, boarded an helicopter for a quick tour (because, you know, why not?), and walked down back to the starting line. It took a while but here is what I brought back. Tip of the hat to the warriors 2011!
I listed a few of my favorite photos right below, click to enlarge. There are about 70 more photos available on Flickr. Check the full-screen slideshow if you can.
Depending on your endurance level, the race can last anywhere between 20 mins (!) and 2 hours, as recorded by a chip attached to your shoe. The first mile or so up the mountain is pretty brutal just looking at it. Notice the pointy rocks on the ground? Believe it or not, I saw a guy in a judoka outfit running barefoot. That’s warrior’er.
Below, the ski resort, as seen from the helicopter. The starting line is forming on the right, 20 waves per day of up to 650 runners on the half-hour. More than 17,000 participants lined up this weekend. On the far left, near the chairlift, the mud pit and the finish line. In between, unlimited supply of beer, music, and turkey legs.
Speaking of mud, not everybody had a problem swimming under barbed wire in cold water. That young lady below? Super happy.
In a stroke of genius, the organizers decided to first roast the participants before dipping them in mud. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Extra points for levitation and style. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.
The Slip-n-Slide, a.k.a. the Petrifying Plunge, was much larger than last year. I recall somebody got hurt in 2010, this new iteration below looked much safer. You don’t want it to be too safe though. Unfortunately, per official guidelines, “Baby joggers, baby strollers, in-line skates, bicycles, and skateboards are strictly prohibited”. Also discouraged, poor attitude and a clean shaved chin.
Non-participants (or dogs) are prohibited from entering the Warrior Dash course without prior approval. I tried to contact officials beforehand last year for a photo opportunity, without success. After our short helicopter ride we decided to walk down the mountain (accidentally), make our way back to the starting line (also accidentally) and take pictures of more obstacles in the process (still accidentally). Below, the Deadweight Drifter, a cozy mud bath and logs to play with. The feathered fellow looked distraught. I don’t blame him.
Thanks to our prodigious combined sense of orientation we missed a good half of the obstacles. In unrelated news I fell on my ass only twice but I saved my camera each time. Below, the Chaotic Crossover (without John Edward), Road Rage, and the pretty mild Teetering Traverse. If I can stand on it for a second and take a photo at the same time, I’m confident it’s mild.
The Barricade Breakdown, below, is the first obstacle in the race. What better way to greet people than barbed wire and hurdles, I’m asking? Good thing the runners still had some energy at this point, they looked fierce. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge. The full obstacle layout is available on the Warrior Dash page, please stay out of the participants way.
Let’s acknowledge a few of the heroes below, they deserve their free beer, banana, helmet, t-shirt, and medal. Click on the thumbnails after this series to discover more. Last year was full of Avatar(d)s, this year was all about Smurfs (exhibit A and B). Some blue paint left, maybe? I saw a pretty agile Papa Smurf. Also accounted for, nerds (or are these hipsters?), a guy made of donuts, and raptors. Awards are given for Most Ridiculous Costume and Best Warrior beard at the end of each day. By the way, the 80′s called, they want their wigs back.
When Mikey noticed that they offered helicopter tours, his eyes lit up like a kid in a helicopter tour store. We took the chairlift to the top and hoped in—below, our ride. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the aerial views, they are neat. No decapitations to report.
Congratulations again, warriors! I’ve seen the course, walked a large chunk of it, I know what to do now (full disclaimer: my right kneecap was almost completely destroyed after being run over by a car). I will run next year, on Mikey’s back if I need to.
The Warrior Dash 2011 took place at Windham Mountain, 33 Clarence D Lane Rd, Windham, NY, about 1h15 from Albany. Parking is $10 per car, spectators get in for free, runners register for $45 to $65, and you can volunteer too. Check the FAQ for more, you aren’t required to swim, for example. Strength and cardio training sheets are available for download.
More photos and stories
As I mentioned at the beginning, there are about 70 more photos available on Flickr. Did you attend Warrior Dash 2011, do you have photos or a story to share? Drop me a line or comment below, I’ll link to your page in this section. My buddy Mikey took a lot of photos but the guy is in no hurry to upload his best pieces usually, check his Flickr account in a few days (or weeks).
Curious about the Warrior Dash Northeast 2010? Here is my post and a small sample: