Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Kansas City Warrior Dash

This past weekend I participated in the latest phenomenon to swept the country - an Extreme Running race called the Warrior Dash. Essentially it was a hilly ass 5K run with a few obstacles thrown in to good measure. Some of the obstacles that we had to navigate were barricades, stacks of hay, rope ladders, tire fields, small creek crossings, slightly muddy trial, logs of fire and a mud pit. Some of the advertised obstacles were not included which is a shame. Maybe it would have changed my view of the event.

The event starts by corralling 500 wave starters together like cattle. You stand there for 30 minutes in xtreme heat listening to bad loud music. Finally we enter the course and escape the music only to find it is just a long stretch of endless sun baked hills. After about a mile you come upon the first obstacle. A few jumps and crawls later and you past the barricades. More endless hills but now finally we get to some double track. A short balancing beam section and a field of tires follow. It is really hot and the shallow water crossing, while not hard were very welcomed. I almost just sat down in them to take a break, but I proceed to one of three rope ladders. For some reason they put in multiple sets instead of some of the advertised mud slides. Plenty of hills and some muddy trail sections followed. We ended with a jump over some fire and a short crawl through the mud pit. Then it was off to wait in line for an hour to try and get rinsed off.

After participating in this event I am really asking myself why the sudden interest in these races. Are runners that bored of a normal 5k run? Do they like standing for hour just to get stinking mud hosed off them? Have they ever tried one of the local Trail Nerds events? Because the Warrior Dash was just a pimped up trail run. It was diffidently not "The Craziest Frickin' Day Of Your Life" like they advertised. Maybe the other events like the Tough Mudder, which is more extreme, would make them more fun and more of a challenge. Maybe the "average Joe" coming off the couch would consider this an extreme event, but a good muddy off-road triathlon/duathlon or cyclocross race is way more extreme and fun than this event.

Some pictures (more coming...)


Ben aka "Good Ben" said...

It's all about the marketing man. If the Xterra or other off road races over-hyped and billed themselves as EXTREME or "The hardest thing EVAR!" then they would get more than the standard attendance. The demographic (as your pictures shows) that is drawn to these races is obviously not the same as is drawn to the regular off-road duathlons and other off-road events. Look at where and how they're marketed. Facebook, Twitter, and websites instead of just biking and running stores.

Mark Studnicki said...

Why can't we have flaming log barriers in 'cross?

The Yardman said...

My sympathies to both the Fink and Morris families. I am keeping them in my prayers.
I, too, was one of the people taken to hospitals. I was one of the fortunate ones, though. I recovered relatively quickly and was released from the hospital on Sunday. I collapsed near the finish line and was aided by an unidentified firefighter/EMT who was running behind me and saw me go down. He stayed with me until the arrival of two of my coworkers who were also running in my wave. They ensured that I got the medical care I needed, contacted my wife and stayed at the hospital with me until my wife arrived from Topeka. Thanks to everybody who helped me during this ordeal, especially the St. Luke’s Northland Hospital ER and nursing staff.
I take full responsibility for what happened to me because I willingly ran in the race. I trained by running in the heat of the day, always taking care to be adequately hydrated. I drank a large 40 plus ounce glass of ice water driving over to the event and drank two 20 ounce bottles of water while I was waiting to run. For whatever reason (maybe it was my two twisted ankles from the rough trail), it was simply not enough and I became one of the heat-related illness victims of the 2011 KC Warrior Dash.
While I am responsible for my actions, Red Frog Events was simply not prepared on Saturday for the heat-related illnesses that were inevitable given the hot and humid conditions. The water at the two stations on the course was warm when I ran, almost to the point of being hot. Warm water offers limited if any hydration benefit. There were limited course monitors and no medical personnel that I recall along the course. Multiple monitors along the course with communication devices would have helped. With heat-related illnesses, the longer it takes for treatment, the more likely the person experiencing the illness will experience permanent damage. Because I collapsed near the finish, the ambulance was able to drive right to where I was and I was transported fairly quickly to the hospital with a core body temperature of 105. From my understanding, Messrs. Fink and Morris were further back in the course with limited event assistance and it took longer for them to obtain the necessary medical care. From the reports I read, friends had to carry them out and their core body temps were 108 or more by the time they reached the hospital.
The Sunday preparations by Red Frog Events may have been much better and the event was cancelled midday, but only after pressure from the county.
These two deaths were unnecessary tragedies. Even if Red Frog Events is not held liable because of the participant waiver that everybody has to sign, they bear some responsibility because of their poor preparations. I at least hope they learned something from this and take necessary steps to ensure it never happens again. I know I will never participate in another one of their events.