Yesterday, my wife and I ran the Warrior Dash in Huntersville, North Carolina. The reason? I needed something to train for and it was a good entry-level race that she could run… it would be her first run of any kind off-road since cross country in high school (she’s likes to run on the road). We registered and ran the race… had fun doing so… and will definitely do it again in the future.
Now, you may be wondering why I titled this post as I did.
Well, I am a veteran Spartan racer with four races under my belt including the 2013 Trifecta. For the trifecta I ran the Sprint in Atlanta, the Super in Virginia and the Beast in my home state of South Carolina. In total, for non-Spartan fans, I ran around 24+ miles of obstacle courses in three states.
Now, the comparisons/differences:
Length: about the same. The Warrior Dash was 3.08 miles and the Sprint-level Spartan is 3-4.
Registration: about the same. Warrior is now utilizing iPad checkins and, in the future, will allow you to sign liability waivers on the iPad.
Timing: Spartan is ahead here… you get the timing chip to attach to your shoe. Warrior does not – they have clocks at the start and at various points along the trail (about every mile). The clocks are actual clocks noting the time of day – not elapsed time. Bring a watch (they tell you to do so on their website).
Obstacles: easier on Warrior Dash. For starters, Warrior tells you all of the obstacles in advance (not that you can really train for them). You can view videos and photos of each obstacle so you know what you will encounter in advance. Spartan, on the other hand, does not. After the Spartan pledge and three loud AROOs, you’re off. Literally.
(One note: since Reebok has begun sponsoring the Spartan races, I have noticed there are mile markers on the course. Prior to this the volunteers at water stations couldn’t accurately tell you where you were.)
Level of fitness required for Warrior: Warrior is entry-level plus (you can get by with a minimal level of fitness – many of the participants were walking from the start). Most of the obstacles were climbing-oriented… walls with boards to assist, inclines with ropes, cargo nets. I didn’t see any real strength obstacles that had to be mastered. You do need to be able to climb and crawl on your hands and knees, at times. The course in North Carolina was rolling but there were some places where you had to traverse the wooded areas (with mud).
Level of fitness required for Spartan: Spartan takes a little more training. In this series you have penalties when you do not complete an obstacle or choose not to attempt one (30 burpees per obstacle). In addition, you may be required to carry objects (atlas stones, logs, sand bags), flip articles (logs, tires), pull objects behind you (concrete blocks on chains), pull objects up (5 gallon bucket of concrete) and climb a 20-30 foot knotted rope.
(side note – on some Spartan Races there is a Biggest Loser heat where anyone of any fitness level can run a shortened version of the race. No burpee penalties if you decide to skip an obstacle as well).
I will definitely run the Warrior Dash again. We had a blast running the race and actually running a race together! I would like to give you some advice – raise money for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital (information is on the Warrior Dash site)… if you raise the minimum amount you get a hot shower, food, drinks and a separate area to leave your goods during the race! The alternative is the hose… sticking out of a water truck… spraying everyone underneath!
Based on my personality, the Spartan race fits my profile… I really don’t want to know what is next. I want to know that I have to come up with the ways to make it happen – whether that is me climbing a wall on my own or working with others to build a base for each of us to us as we make the ascent. I feel Spartan models the challenges we face in life.
OCR – obstacle course racing – is taking off and more and more groups are getting in on the action. I was at Dick’s Sporting Goods and saw where Under Armour is sponsoring Tough Mudder races. I REALLY hope people are not buying new clothes to run these races! There is advice part 2 – where old, comfortable shoes. You get a chance to donate them at the end of the run!
Whatever you do, get out there and get out of your comfort zone! It is no fun being normal.
For those of you that have run OCR, add your thoughts below…