Warrior Dash adventure race returns to Copper with mud, fire and jungle gyms Aug. 15 | SummitDaily.com

Warrior Dash adventure race returns to Copper with mud, fire and jungle gyms Aug. 15

Warrior Dash at Copper

What: A 3.1 mile obstacle race featuring 12 obstacles, including fire, mud pits and more

Where: Copper Mountain

When: Saturday, Aug. 15 beginning at 9 a.m.

Cost: $100

Racers must be 14 years or older to participate. Public showers and hoses will be available after the event to wash the grime and grit. To register or find out more, see http://www.warriordash.com.

Imagine climbing your way through a rope net, every inch of your body caked in mud, only to realize that you still have 2 more miles left of this absurdity.

This imaginary scenario becomes a reality at the Warrior Dash, a race of 12 diabolical obstacles spread over 3.1 miles of mud, ponds and dirt. When the Dash returns to Copper Mountain Aug. 15-16, it will be anything but your average race.

“You’re running with thousands of people, and you’re muddy and dirty, and you run through fire, and then you get a beer at the end,” said Stephanie Sweeney, Copper Mountain’s communications manager and a former Dasher. “It’s just a ton of fun, and everyone’s there to have fun and support each other.”

What separates the Dash from your average obstacle race is accessibility. Just about anyone can start and finish the race, even newcomers just getting into the scene. And, not only is the course shorter, the atmosphere is more laid-back than longer counterparts like the Tough Mudder and Spartan Race. In the standard Warrior Dash division, no times are taken, and competitors can skip obstacles if they like.

“To go and run, you’ve definitely earned your beer. There’s people hugging. You’ve gone through the havoc in the mud … shoulder to shoulder with strangers. There’s a family feeling.”Dallas LeonardWarrior Dash competitor

“People are helping each other, giving each other their hands, offering support — it’s remarkable,” past Warrior Dash competitor Dallas Leonard said.

“It’s not about being the best … or having excessive athleticism,” Sweeney said. “It’s more about the overall experience.”

Goliath and Chaotic Cargo

None of this is to say, however, that Warrior Dash is a simple challenge. There’s a competitive division, and the 12 obstacles are as intense as their names are comical. None of them are physically dangerous, but they certainly will take your breath away.

Take, for instance, Goliath, a two-story set of 30-foot balance beams suspended over water, with a giant slide waiting at the end. That is, if you can make it across.

“You’re just covered in mud, trying to inch your way across, and then when I hit the slide, I was shocked by the freezing cold water,” Leonard said.

If that’s too tame, try Chaotic Cargo. It’s a 10-foot shifting cargo net, followed by another net hanging 60 feet in the air. The description on the Warrior Dash website is playful and intimidating, just like the course: “Arriving at the top of this section, you’re nearly 60 feet in the air. Don’t spend too much time up there; it’ll go to your head. Once your feet hit the ground, you’re ready to run the next obstacle, hopefully looking as happy as Scrooge McDuck on a pile of money.”

Before crossing the finish line, racers must crawl through a 100-foot section of mud, with barbed wire hanging overhead.

“It’s just exhausting,” Leonard said. “All that soupy mud is weighing you down.”

The post-Dash party

But, all the mud and gunk and vertigo is worth it at the finish line. Once there, all participants receive a T-shirt, furry helmet and, for those of age, a free beer. The camaraderie is fierce, as warriors regale their exploits amidst a crowd of soft, horned helmets.

“To go and run, you’ve definitely earned your beer,” Leonard said. “There’s people hugging. You’ve gone through the havoc in the mud … shoulder to shoulder with strangers. There’s a family feeling.”

And, then, there are the turkey legs.

“I remember just laughing really hard and high-fiving strangers while I ate turkey legs with my friends,” Sweeney said.

These turkey legs are usually a fan favorite: Since the first Dash in 2009, competitors have consumed more than 35,000 pounds of turkey legs — enough to outweigh a double-decked bus. But, by the time the Dash is done, racers will have gained much more than a turkey leg and fuzzy hat.

“It’s a perfect opportunity to meet people, and it pushes yourself mentally and physically, which makes it unique,” Leonard said.

Mud for the cause

The Dash isn’t just about getting through an obstacle course, though. Racers can donate a portion of their race fee to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. As a reward, St. Jude Warriors earn select race prizes based on the amount they raise, such as private post-race showers, prize packs and VIP tent access. Since 2009, the Warrior Dash has raised over $10 million for St. Jude.

It’s not too late to sign up for Warrior Dash, but don’t wait too the long. The event is already 81 percent full. Top-25 finishers in the competitive wave earn a spot at the Warrior Dash World Championship in Tennessee on Oct. 10, a 5K race with a $100,000 prize purse.

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