Warrior Dash 5K – 10/20/12

Las Vegas, NV, USA

Jump into the fire.

I’ll come clean – I have lived in Arizona for nearly 30 years and although I’ve driven through Las Vegas a couple times, I have never had a “Vegas vacation” until now.  Of course, since I’ve always found gambling boring and pointless, for me a Vegas vacation mean Cirque du Soleil, Hoover Dam, and my very first mud run!

Pre-race:

Let’s suffice to say that race organizers in general don’t gear publicity towards people who plan to walk in, and hotel staff generally have no clue how far it is to anything on foot.  Luckily I got in early enough on Friday to explore my surroundings a bit.  For those of you who may have Googled your way to this post looking for directions, the course is located in the Lake Las Vegas Resort development east of Henderson, in an open desert area 15 minutes’ walk from the Westin.  30 minutes’ walk from the Luna di Lusso tower where I was staying.  So, a nice warmup distance.

Race:

The 5K course was run in a shallow canyon or trough, out in an undeveloped desert area- lots of dirt and rocks, a little bit of scrub. Spectators could sit at the edge of the dirt parking lot and look down on the last stretch of the race.

With PT my QLs, and my back in general, were beginning to feel better.  Still, my main goal was just to complete all the obstacles without killing myself.  The course was a little different than described on the website, so I can’t use that as a cheat sheet, so these are the highlights, probably out of chronological order.

There was a good long run through the desert and up a hill before the first obstacle – disappointingly we were instructed to run around it because some overenthusiastic person at the leading edge decided to go over the barbed wire instead of under it and knocked the whole thing over.  Here are some highlights from the obstacles that weren’t knocker over….

Mud pit #1 : more like black tar pit!  – it was a pretty heroic (and aerobic!) effort pulling one foot out at a time without leaving the shoe behind, and I had to lean on another racer’s arm because I kept falling over.  I don’t know whether they use some kind of proprietary Warrior Dash sticky mud mixture, but I think there was some black clay in there.

Funky sloping balance beam:  Feeling a bit unsteady, I crossed this one on four points – hands and feet.

The wall: Ah yes, the wall.  You scale it using a rope and climb down the other side.  Not horribly tall, but my weirdly-specific acrophobia kicked in when I got to the top and I hung there having an embarrassing meltdown until some other racers caught up with me.  “Just sit on the top and swing your leg over,” said one gal.  Oh.  Is that all?  Hey, it works!  I was so stupidly ecstatic after this.

Bonfires!  The course ran through several water crossings right before this obstacle; I suspect to get everyone’s shoes nice and soaking in case they decided to go through instead of over.  I get a good head of steam going and leap!  It looks really impressive in the photos.

Finally, crawling through a mud slurry under barbed wire, to make sure you’re good and dirty for the finish photo!  This mud was really coarse and full of gravel, definitely made from local desert dirt.

Post-race:

Yay!  I finished, and I completed all the obstacles, which was my only goal for my first time.  I’m eager to run another Warrior Dash so I can tackle The Wall again, now that I know how to do it without the meltdown.  There was a minor mixup because I’d been mistakenly issued someone else’s bib; once that was straightened out I discovered that my time of 1:01:23 actually put me in the top fifth in the F50-59 age group!  That’s really hard to imagine – there must’ve been a lot of people treating this as more of a stroll than a dash!

After hosing down in the “shower” area (literally a guy with a hose), I availed myself of a veggie burger at the food stand, but eschewed the free beer as it was only 10 in the morning.

Coda: As I was heading back to my hotel, the next waves of racers were queueing up, including a bridal party complete with bride in a strapless gown with train!  That must have been a sight to see going through the mud pits!

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