This past weekend I participated in my 3rd Warrior Dash Event which is a 5k running series consisting of at least 12 obstacles followed by a festival complete with live music, turkey legs and beer. It is a fun, easy adventure that attracts various levels of experience and fitness.
Obstacle course racing has seen incredible growth over the last few years. It has become an extremely popular way of ‘mixing things up’ from your average 5k run and fundraiser. Most races are put on with a goal of supporting an organization. Warrior Dash offers the opportunity to be a St. Jude Warrior and as the website says, “By becoming a St. Jude Warrior, your fundraising will not only inspire hope in children who need it the most, but you’ll earn some pretty awesome prizes along the way!” As your fundraising grows, so do the prizes, there is even the chance to raise enough money and win a trip to participate in the Australian Warrior Dash. If there are two things people love, it is doing something good for a charity and getting free stuff.
The fun involved with these types of races is very appealing. It’s Halloween every race day regardless of the time of year with large crowds showing up dressed in ridiculous costumes. I find it a good excuse to sport a kilt and the occasional red beard to celebrate my Scottish heritage. The costumes and beards are encouraged with the most ridiculous costume and best warrior beard contest (women are not excluded from the best beard contest). Between the fundraising and fun involved, I personally encourage everyone I know to participate in races like the Warrior Dash.
I was extremely happy that this past weekend Warrior Dash made its way to Alabama, a state that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports is ranked one of the highest in terms of number of adults who are overweight and obese. A 5k race through mud and obstacles is something exciting that inspires many participants to better themselves in terms of living a healthier and more active lifestyle. One race could challenge them enough to eat healthier and join a gym or start running a few days a week. I have seen participants that have done nothing to prepare for a Warrior Dash and realized that it wasn’t like doing a marathon which takes months of preparation. But, it was just enough for them to see that a healthier body could push them to become a little faster and enjoy the race that much more. Of course, there are also those extremely fit individuals that are able to fly through the course with ease. These participants are usually looking to race for the fastest time. Even at a short distance a challenge is there if you seek it. No one would tell a 100 meter Olympic sprinter he is wasting his time because it isn’t 26.2 miles would they? I met one guy that ran the 8, 9, 10 and 11 o’clock waves, 4 laps around the course (12.4 miles). I would say that he falls into the fit category and I would imagine that he participates in several races and other events each year. When you are able to run like that, you are still there for the same reason as everyone else, to support a charity and have a great time.
Each Warrior Dash event attracts thousands of participants and spectators creating a big push for the local economy. According to the National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC), direct spending on average by Warrior Dash attendees from one event is $4.5 million. Of this total, the average revenue generated is $1.3 million from hotel sales, $1.3 million from restaurant sales, $849,000 from local store sales and $823,000 from attendee gas sales. The survey also reports on average 26.9% of attendees purchase local hotel rooms, 63% of attendees dine at local restaurants, 32% of attendees shop at local businesses and 23.5% of attendees purchase gas from local stations.
From what I have observed over the last few years, a 5k mud run with obstacles, live music, food, beer, great people watching, money raised for a reputable charity, excellent revenue for local businesses and fun for those of any shape, size and athleticism doesn’t leave a person with any reason not to put such an event on their calendar. If you are now considering going to a 5k mud run as a spectator, I encourage you to skip that step and instead register to race. I promise you, one race and you will want more, after a while you will want to go bigger. Warrior Dash is the gateway drug to a more active, healthier and happier you.
Before you know it, you will be at the gym training like a machine! See you at the next race.
– A special thanks to Stephen Tyler for providing the images used in this post.