I’m not a runner. About twice a year I’ll go out for a trail run in Pacific Spirit Park, but my knees really aren’t up to pounding pavement or even regular running on soft ground. So when J and I signed up for the Warrior Dash, a 5.5k obstacle race on Mount Seymour, it somehow slipped my mind that in between the cargo nets, mud and barbed wire there was actually a fair bit of running involved.
We were signed up for the final wave of the day, so by the time we arrived at the mountain the party from the earlier waves was in full swing. There were mud-splattered bodies, heaps of abandoned shoes, giant beer steins and warrior helmets everywhere we looked. The registration was a bit of a mess, with scores of people missing from the system and having to pick up packets at the understaffed information tent. We were among this group, and almost missed the start of our wave as we picked up our bib numbers and timing chips.
A brief sprint got us to the start line at the very back of the pack, and we immediately started on a steep, rocky descent down slopes that I barely recognized without their coat of winter white. The first obstacles were quite widely spaced, and I suddenly remembered that I was in for a 5k run as well as the scrambling. In the baking heat the three water stations on the course weren’t nearly enough, and the uphill stretches were murderous. At each water station we alternated tipping cups of water over our heads with drinking them down as fast as we could.
Unlike me J is a runner, and every hundred yards or so she would turn and find that I was jogging slowly away about fifty yards behind her. I kept urging her to go on at her own pace, but she was determined that we were going to cross the finish line together. We had to work in tandem to get over the eight foot vertical wall, so I was very glad that she waited for me. The trails were absolutely gorgeous, leading us up and down through steep meadows filled with wildflowers under a burning blue sky.
The obstacles were all a ton of fun. I loved the giant cargo net and the rope climb up the cliffhanger, and J showed awesome agility on the giant wooden arch and the widely spaced planks on the reverse side of the cliffhanger. A couple of obstacles had us down on our knees below barbed wire, and I realised that crawling is something I haven’t done in about two and a half years.
As we reached the last obstacles we hopped over a sputtering line of flame and plunged headlong into the mud pit, which was a welcome cool down in the sweltering heat. Then we raced the final stretch to the finish line hand in hand.
I had a ton of bruises the next day (without being entirely sure how I’d acquired any of them) but my knees handled the Dash pretty well all things considered. We both had a fantastic time, and are now eyeing up either the Squamish Super Spartan or next year’s Tough Mudder for our next obstacle race. If my knees can do this, I’m pretty sure that they can do anything.