I AM A WARRIOR!
Yes, that’s right – a warrior… because I completed the Desert Warrior Challenge, tired and a bit sore, but without feeling like I was completely dying, and with the certainty that I will do it again next year – even more hardcore than I tried this year!
I signed up for the Desert Warrior Challenge (a 10 km, 22-obstacle course) about 2 months ago, knowing only sort-of what I would be getting myself in for. At this stage I did not go out and do any particular warrior training… I just kept to my regular kickboxing and running schedule.
And then the week of the challenge arrived and I started to get nervous but excited at the same time. I made a huge mistake by going online and looking at some of the obstacles – I should have just kept it all for a surprise on the day because after looking at them I started to poop myself (not literally though, that would be gross! 😉 )
The night before the race I packed myself a little goodie bag filled with all sorts of fun things – gummy bears, gu’s, water, warm clothes, a change of clothes, a towel, a hat, sunnies, etc., etc., etc. and then went out for a (non-alcoholic) drink with some friends for some moral support, and home early to bed.
The morning of, I drove off to the meeting point and finally got to meet my team mates (I only knew 2 of the girls out of a team of about 12 people), and we then all hopped in cars and drove down to Yas Marina Circuit for the Big Day!
On arrival we registered, applied sunblock, munched on gummy bears, stretched, tried to keep the nerves calm. Our wave was scheduled for 10 am, so at about 9:30 we headed to the start line to hang around and get in some last minute stretching and warming up. Some of our group decided they were going to go in the 9:30 wave so off they went… It was a bit disappointing because we were meant to be a team, and we were now left with only one guy to 8 girls, but it turns out that they made the right call – they finished in roughly 1 hour 30 mins!
Back to us. We were now sitting around at the start line and when the next wave was called (9:45) we decided to head out in that wave instead of waiting for our actual one. The course wasn’t full so we didn’t expect it to be a problem… and it wasn’t.
I’m not going to give you an obstacle-by-obstacle run down of the day…. I can’t really remember them in order, and that would also bore you, but basically this is what happened:
It was HOT on Friday morning. It had reached 31ºC before we even arrived at Yas, so we knew we were in for a treat. The first couple of obstacles were nice and easy, just to get us a bit warmed up, but they did not stay that way! Some obstacles absolutely had to be completed with the help of team mates (yours or others), and some of them were just fine to ease through on your own.
Someone asked me what my favourite was and I honestly cannot say because I loved the entire course! It was hard work, and often (especially towards the end) you needed your team mates to motivate you to keep going, but it was a great challenge and I felt so accomplished when we crossed that finish line together, as a team 🙂
When asked what my worst was, though, I can very quickly give you that answer – BRAIN FREEZE. This was absolutely awful!! It’s a tank (of sorts) filled half way with dry ice, water and ice… and you have to run through it. I made it half way before I completely freaked out, started hyperventilating and was not able to breathe properly. Proper awful! I pulled myself out of the tank and sat propped up on the side of it for a few minutes trying to get my breath back, and then had to be helped down because it was a high jump to the ground. Not fun. Not quite sure how I train for this, other than to sit in an ice bath a bunch of times… let’s see how we go for next year’s challenge!
On a whole the course was amazing, the challenge was great, the organisation was impressive (except for the lack of signage on the island to get to the start… one single board on the main road, without any arrows) and registration was impressively quick.
However, there were some things that were a total fail and I hope that the organisers read all of these types of comments to fix things up for the next one:
- We were told while at the start line that there were plenty of porta potties on the course and therefore to not go ‘in the bush’… however by approximately 7 km’s we had not seen a SINGLE ONE, and when I was absolutely desperate, I tried to find a bush to go behind but was stopped by a marshall who then took me to a toilet that was definitely not part of the course (I even had to use the mens!)
- I do not believe there were enough water stations, especially given the heat that we were competing in… and it would have been really fab to have at least one more energy drink station. The one that was there was extremely welcomed!
- The monkey bars in the monkey business obstacle were simply too far way from each other to be realistic for (most) people to attempt. I was told that last year they were too close, so it seems like this year they moved them further apart… maybe somewhere between the 2 distances would be good 🙂
- There were no distance markers on the course so we had no idea if we’d done 3 or 5 or 7 km’s
- We were told that there would be sunblock available on the course – again, nothing was seen (and we all landed up with some pretty interesting tan lines!)
Thankfully I took my water & shock proof camera on the course with me, so I was able to take a few photos of some of the obstacles… I probably should have taken more, but at times I just could not function further than getting myself through the obstacle!
We finished in a time of approximately 2 hours 15 mins, which is a respectable first time, especially considering how many times we stopped for photos, water breaks or to wait for the entire team to be together, and the fact that all of us competed for the first time! Next year’s goal is to complete it faster, with less mucking about between the obstacles, and more focusing on pushing hard.