I remember getting a text from Gregg, asking me if I had time to chat about an idea that he and Miss Fit were excited about. I’d known the two for a little over a year, and I knew that if they were excited about an idea, it had to involve something fun, philanthropic, crazy, or cool. Lucky us, it was all of the above.
From that first phone call, I don’t know if Miss Fit knew what an avalanche of “fun and dirty” crazy comeraderie she’d start, but the snowball is most definitely rolling.
I was excited as hell, but I worried. I paced. I thought, The strong ones are gonna leave me in a cloud of Looney Tunes-like dust. With all of my -insert lame excuses here-, I can probably do this run, and the obstacles, but it’ll take me about 24 hours to complete. I’d better train my ass off.
But I didn’t. I meant to, but after the initial surge of excitement, I, like many of my other Warrior brothers and sisters, slacked off. Sure, I stepped up the weight training and made sure to get in my power-walking and run-walks, but I didn’t add pushups or rope climbs, or hurdling, or bear-crawls…it turns out that I didn’t need to, but it would’ve helped. Most definitely.
Fast forward to the day of the race-
With 18 other RLSH and Initiative friends and family running the race with me, my excitement level was through the roof. The nervous, happy energy in our house was palpable. We dressed, packed, made last-minute checks and headed out for the hour-long drive to Hollister.
On the way, we joked, got ribbed by Flower POWer- the master of the comeback comment, watched Mystery Men on the van’s DVD player, and stopped off to pick up our pink and purple cat comrade, Cheshire. After 30 minutes more, and a failed OS6 set of directions, we rolled up to the Casa de Fruta. The Casa’s acreage plays host to many events, but the one I’m most familiar with is the northern Cali Renaissance Faire. It was nice to see what you can do with the same spot at a different time of year.
As soon as we opened the car doors we could feel the warmth of the sun (temps were in the mid 70’s–I love Cali), and could hear the rock and roll being blasted by the massive sound system. The excitement was growing by the minute! We gathered our gear and headed into the event grounds.
Thousands of people milled about, many covered in fresh mud, others in costumes from yellow bodysuits to blue smurfs and everything in between. Event tents and lines filled with registering participants were everywhere.
Since our group was the top fundraising group (over $15,000 for St. Jude Children’s Hospital!!), we all got to hang out in the VIP tent, which sported private potties, showers, bag check, food and water. Due to the faulty driving directions, we got there a few minutes before our start time, but all decided to hang back until the next one. Groups of 600 started each half hour.
We posed for pics, nervously joked and hugged each other and helped apply bibs and face paints. When they finally announced the next line-up time, all of my butterflies turned into spastic bees. We lined up with the next group of 600 and shot each other excited smiles and thumbs up. “Eye of the Tiger” was blasting. The countdown began…10…9…8…
…3…2…1…RUN!! Well, wait until the bulk of the group goes past, and then RUN!! We thought it would be considerate and in the best interest of a group this large to stay out of everyone’s way.
The Mud Pit Initiation
After a mile and three quarters, we came upon our first obstacle: a deep mud pit. Ironically, this is where I sustained my worst injuries. Several cuts to my legs (which bled through the heavy coating of mud), and a pulled deltoid muscle, they weren’t that bad at all, but the additional irony is that my paramedic/superhero friend who helped to pull me out of the pit, unknowingly pulled me forward and into some lovely little sharp rocks embedded in the sides of the pit. I didn’t feel it at the time, but I’m feeling it today.
Climbing up and rappelling down two-story walls, jumping hurdles, then crawling under barbed wire, throwing rotten tomatoes at each other (literally–we were next to a tomato field), traversing cargo ropes, climbing over walls that were being drenched by a downpour of water, more bear-crawling under barbed wire, jumping over fire, and then finally ending with a 50-ft crawl through 2 or 3 feet of mud under barbed wire…we beat our own asses to get through this.
But you know what? It was fun. Truly fun. No one left anyone behind. Even the fastest runners in the group stayed behind to help the last ones over the obstacles. We cheered each other on, joked and laughed between obstacles, slowed down to keep together, and knew that we were all living a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
At the end, we were all covered in mud, tired and hungry, but we were elated! You could feel a bond between those of us who started off as strangers, and those who already knew each other felt more like family.
Later, we partied together at my family’s Halloween party. The next day, eight of us spent several hours in San Francisco’s Mission District picking up dirty needles.
This group raised a ton of money, worked hard and played harder. Big thanks to Miss Fit and Gregg for making all of this happen. They led us by example from the beginning to the end. If you don’t know them yet, friend them and thank me later. We’re already making plans for the Warrior Dash next April in southern Cal! Join us, but only if you want to have the time of your life with a bunch of heroes. 🙂