A run in the mud? Heck, yeah! Let's go

Choosing just the right thing to wear was a challenge. What does one wear to run through mud and jump through fire? This was something I had no previous experience planning for.

I had heard I should bring big trash bags, lots of towels and a change of clothes and shoes. That proved to be great advice.

As a Warrior Dash newbie, I did not know what to expect other than to be prepared to get dirty. The event was held at Rural Hill Farm on the last weekend in August. There were more than 10,340 participants who ran the 3.08-mile race with 12 daunting and challenging obstacles including Barricade Breakdown, the Great Warrior Wall, Muddy Mayhem and Warrior Roast.

Despite the threat of Hurricane Irene, the Warrior Dash went on as scheduled. That Saturday ended up being a beautiful day for the race. With 5,827 participants I was excited to hear my personal trainer from Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatics, Bear Robinson of Hardcore Fitness, finished third overall with a blazing time of 23:29:80.

I was registered for the 2 p.m. wave that Sunday. My 14-year-old son and close friends wanted to experience the Warrior Dash, too. We were all first-timers and were all excited to be part of all the festivities among the 4,513 participants that day.

The event was well-organized. Start times were scheduled every 30 minutes with up to 500 people starting at the same time. We picked up our race packets with our bib numbers and our chip that attached to our shoes. The chip would track our start and finish time.

As we lined up for our wave time, music was cranking at the starting line. Looking around there were people of all ages, shapes and sizes - all eager to run in the heat of day to get to the 12 different obstacles waiting ahead.

At 2 p.m. our wave took off running. Some warriors attacked the course at warp speed. Some of us took a more leisurely pace knowing that we would need gas at the end to hurdle over the Warrior Roast.

In addition to the fun of being challenged to run and conquer obstacles, there were many warriors in costume. I ran with a man wearing a cape, a warrior helmet and wielding a sword. Another warrior in footie pajamas passed me in the woods. Just ahead of me were four warriors painted blue and dressed for "Avatar." I also spotted Mama and Papa Smurf on the course. Warriors ages 14 to 81 did the Dash.

Everyone in our group finished the course and all the obstacles. In the end it didn't matter what we wore. We all tossed our mud-soaked running shoes in a mountain of other muddy shoes that were going to be cleaned up and donated. There was a station where muddy warriors could get hosed down. We got our turn at the hosing station and then changed out of our warrior clothes. With traces of the Carolina red clay all over our bodies we treated ourselves to dinner at Olive Garden.

As we sat down to dinner I noticed a warrior helmet across the restaurant. Seems we were not the only hungry warriors.

With a great sense of accomplishment, lots of awesome photos of us covered in mud and a bag full of warrior dash laundry, it was unanimous. We will definitely do the Warrior Dash again next year.

The Warrior Dash is run in 32 different cities throughout the United States and Canada in 2011 and 2012.