A lot of my friends know that I enjoy racing. “What is your favorite obstacle race?” is a question I have been asked many times. I have competed in many types of races in the last few years. Can I pick one that is my favorite?
It all started a few years ago when my wife asked if I would go for a run around the block with her. We had just come back from the brink of divorce and depression and were looking for something new. A 5k sounds like a good place to start. So we did one and we survived! Setting goals and accomplishing them wasn’t something we really did before. Damn, it felt good. So we decided to make a bigger goal. Next was a 9.11k race. From that point on, we just kept going bigger and bigger. We learned that we really grow as a couple and as individuals during these events so we do most of them side by side. You learn a lot about each other when you spend a lot of time outside your comfort zone.
Since then, we have done a wide variety of events in a variety of locations. Some of the highlight events include Spartan races, Tough Mudders, marathons in Denver, Valley of Fire, and Death Valley. We somehow managed to finish a 50k in Ft. Worth. Our GORUCK Challenge for New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas was awesome. Or was it hell? I competed in World’s Toughest Mudder in 2012. We have also done a variety of local races organized by Desert Dash and Camp Rhino, both known for making HARD courses.
How do I choose? Every event has its draw. The 5k run was our first. The 50k was our longest together, while the World’s Toughest Mudder was my personal longest of 40 miles. Valley of Fire was our first marathon, Tough Mudder our first OCR that really gave us motivation and drive to work harder. Spartans always kick your ass.
The answer is easy. A Warrior Dash.
Why would I possibly choose a 3.5 mile OCR?
Two years ago, my sister started running and has already completed 2 half marathons. My mother, at the age of 59, started running last year and has run two 5ks. Well, a few months ago, my father gave me a call. He said that he wanted to do his first race. His only two requirements were that it not be a road race and that I be there with him. “Just tell me when and where. I’ll be there, Dad.”
After a little discussion, it was decided that we would do the Warrior Dash in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. It was close to where my parents live and even closer to where my wife and I graduated college. I couldn’t wait to fly back!
After a few conversations, my mom agreed to join us. Well, why not ask more family to join? With two people in their 60’s doing the course, excuses are harder to come by. We made a Facebook post and the response was better than I was expecting. In the end, I got to run the elite wave with two of my uncles (48 and 59) and then ran later with my father (60), mother (60), mother-in-law (61), my wife, sister, brother-in-law, his fiancé, an uncle, a cousin, and three awesome friends.
This experience was not just one of the best events I have done. It was one of the best experiences of my life. To share the mud, water, fire, and blood with my blood is something that can never be taken from us. If you are on the fence about trying an event like these, I highly suggest you get a friend or two and give it a try. Even if you can’t find anyone to join you, do it. You will make friends on the course. It’s not just about competition. If that is your goal, join the elite waves. It’s about setting goals, having fun, bonding, and making memories.
And for those elite runners, I encourage you to occasionally run in the open waves with friends and family. I understand the drive to push yourself hard and want to compete but the pride and satisfaction of helping friends and family literally overcome obstacles is priceless.
We are already looking forward to next year and have had more friends and family that want to join the fun. To say that I am proud of my family is a huge understatement. OCRs have become a part of my life and I am so thankful to share that with others.
Dad, thanks for that phone call.