First-time racers, competitive runners and all of their friends and families converge on Copper Mountain Resort for the third year in a row Saturday and Sunday, August 18-19. For those unfamiliar with this national recreational race phenomenon, Warrior Dash is a 5-kilometer, untimed race that sends adventure-seeking participants through varying terrain, physical challenges, fire, mud and water.
The course features 12 obstacles reported to be larger and more challenging than last year's. A pre-party Friday allows participants to pre-register for the event and then enjoy two bands: That Eighties Band at 5 p.m. and Dread Zeppelin at 8, featuring reggae-inspired versions of classic Led Zeppelin covers. Live music, food and beer will also be found each day after the race in Copper Mountain Resort's Center Village. Escobar nightclub will spin a prize wheel all weekend for swag and drink specials.
Races such as Warrior Dash are changing the face of adventure racing and introducing an entirely new demographic to the world of running and racing; and bringing much needed boosts to summer resort economies.
"Warrior Dash is an event that anyone can do. We get ultra-marathoners and tri-athletes, but then we get groups of friends celebrating a bachelorette party," said race director Sarah Neukom. "Warrior Dash gives people the opportunity to challenge themselves, maybe get a little nervous about running and tackling the 12 obstacles, but then feeling totally psyched and empowered when they're finished and celebrating with a beer."
According to Neukom, the event has nearly a million Facebook fans, one of the primary ways organizers and racers communicate with each other and fuel the stoke.
"The sense of community that stems from these races is amazing. Racers cheer each other on, they support and encourage one another throughout the race and also from the spectator viewing areas. It's just a perfect blend of feeling challenged, accomplished and empowered - but then getting to celebrate with music, beer and giant turkey legs," Neukom said. "The overall experience is something that everyone wants again - and wants to share with their friends."
"I like to call them the gateway drug to endurance sports, whether that be trail running, off-road triathlon, adventure racing or road racing," said Adam Chase, president of the American Trail Running Association and retired professional adventure racer. "My perspective on these types of mud-run events is that they are good, dirty fun and serve to get a lot of folks who wouldn't otherwise 'race' to participate in athletic events and simply get off the couch."
The growth that races such as Warrior Dash have contributed to the outdoor industry and local economies is unprecedented.
"The great thing about Warrior Dash is that it's held an hour and a half away from a major city, so we get racers who make a weekend of the event," said Neukom. "They'll stay overnight the night before the race, or maybe the night after, which then not only leads to a boost in hotel rooms, but also supports the local bar and restaurant scene, as well as other vendors like gas stations, groceries stores and local shops. Not to mention, for some racers, it could be their first time to the area, which will then expose them to all the offerings and hopefully make them want to go back at some point."
"These races are often done with, and not against, family or corporate groups and the emphasis is on camaraderie and team building as opposed to competition. And besides, who can knock an event where people hang out covered in mud, drinking beer and laughing together at the finish line?" Chase said.
Racers can visit www.CopperColorado.com for event information and 20 percent off lodging specials, including a unique hostel-style arrangement for $125 for two nights.