Jackie (right) and a friend as Ninja Turtles post-race
 *This guest post is written by my friend and co-worker, Jackie. Follow her hilarious tweets here and tell her she should start her own blog 🙂
As the name implies, I’m not a runner. Despite running three years of track in high school (which I should point out I only joined since two of my best friends were on the team and it was the only way I could hang out with them after school), I’ve never actually been able to enjoy running. I’m not good at “breaking through the wall” – chalk it up to poor training and a lack of mental preparedness, running has just never found a niche in my life. That is, until I was (begrudgingly) introduced to the Warrior Dash
Thinking About It
A friend of mine mentioned she had run it in the past with her parents and siblings and had an absolute blast. I checked her Facebook pictures and saw them – a whopping 9 member family band of runners – in blonde wigs flexing in front of the starting line. Okay, looked like your standard show-up-in-silly-costumes type of race. More fun than your average 5K, but nothing for a non-runner like me to write home about. 
“No, SERIOUSLY, it’s a blast.” She started telling me about how the race actually has an obstacle course – complete with a few goopy mud pits – thrown in; a sort of 5K meets Tough Mudder meets DZ: Discovery Zone hybrid (long live Discovery Zone!). With a group of friends locked down to do it and the promise of a free beer afterward (which the sponsors of the race provide along with a sort of festival with live bands, food, and additional beer tents), I found myself registering that night. 
For a Good Cause
Fast forward a few months and here I sit still sore several days after one of the most challenging, creative, and truly fun Saturday afternoons I’ve had in a long time. Besides finding a special spot in my heart for benefiting pediatric cancer research through St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, the race itself seems to only be run by people who genuinely and emphatically want to have a good time.
The Maryland race at Budd’s Creek was set on a motocross track, so it incorporated a lot of the natural moguls and hills of the track into the obstacles. We started off in the woods running about a mile through trees and up and down steep winding paths until we hit a clearing: our first obstacle, which happened to be a mud pit with (real!) barbed wire strung across the top that we had to Army crawl under. The race was a perfect mix of running stints and a “break” for obstacles, including mud trenches, huge cargo nets, rock climbing walls, a balance beam several feet above shallow water, leaping over fire pits, and my personal favorite – a massive water slide down one of the track’s hills. 
Let’s Do This
Everyone in our heat seemed to be cut from the same cloth – we weren’t all on the same page in terms of running experience, but we were all definitely in this together. There was a strong feeling of camaraderie and a willingness to help each other over difficult obstacles among the entire group. 
Jackie & friends pre-mud
We finished with a crawl through deep, gloppy mud before crossing the finish line completely covered in it. If I haven’t mentioned my mud disclaimer yet, I will now: if you were the type of kid who loved playing in mud and maybe even got into mud-slinging fights, this race is for you. By the time we finished, it was everywhere – in our hair, on our clothes…my shoes got fervently stuck in the final mud pit TWICE, and I almost left them there had it not been for the reminder that the free pedometer they give you before you begin also serves as your token for free congratulatory beer. Thank goodness for small reminders!
All in all, I’m counting the days until we all meet up again for round two later this year. This is a perfect addition to the growing list of fun, creative 5Ks to check out. 
Have you done the Warrior Dash? Other mud races? Which is the best?
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