The Fastest-Growing Sport
In recent years, obstacle races have exploded in popularity, making them the fastest-growing sport in the States. Competitors from all athletic backgrounds and abilities are signing up in droves for the opportunity to test their mental and physical strength as they tackle miles of unpredictable terrain and challenging obstacles. In the Adirondacks, Big Tupper Ski Area is home to one of these races and it, too, is gaining quite a following.
The Warrior Run
On July 18, 2015, participants from all over the Northeast and Canada will congregate at Big Tupper to push their limits on the one-of-a-kind Warrior Run course. Adrenaline will be pumping as contestants approach the starting line, waiting for their heat to be called and their turn to crawl through waist-deep mud, climb some of the mountain's steepest terrain, cross ice-cold ponds and tackle the many harrowing obstacles, all in the name of fun.
The race is organized by the Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce, and unlike the larger chain races, nothing in this race is mass-produced. For the fourth consecutive year, a team of volunteer course builders, headed up by local contractor, Rob "Dobber" Drayse, are busy planning and building the 3.5 mile mountain course. What really sets this course apart from its competitors is not only the natural topography and views from the top, but the mind-boggling obstacles the team manages to put together year-after-year with a limited budget, some scrap yard finds and wild imaginations. As a result, the end product is a 100% authentic race that would be hard to reproduce anywhere.
On race day, the energy at the mountain is electric... the mud is freshly stirred, the music is rockin', kegs are tapped, and blood is pumping! Whether you are a seasoned obstacle racer or this is your first race of this kind, the 2015 Warrior Run is "must do" on your summer bucket list. The only question is: Do you think you have the guts to enter?
Meet the Warrior Run Insiders'
Left to Right: Lyndon Gillis, 2-time Warrior Run finisher; Danielle Marquis, obstacle race enthusiast & Warrior Run participant; Adam Baldwin, Event Director and seasoned obstacle race competitor.
The Warrior Run is more than simply another race. It represents something completely different to every registrant at the starting line. For some it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience or a fun reunion of your closest college buddies, for others it's a challenge to conquer... a chance to push a physical and mental strength to the limits. But there is one thing that everyone has in common, they want to finish as a "Warrior!"
Think you want to be in this noble group? Have a listen to what our insiders' have to say, then decide for yourself if you think you are tough enough...
Q. "What is the experience like? Why do you do it?"
Adam: "Finishing this race is absolutely exhilarating and rewarding! I do obstacle races for the challenge. I like to push myself and when I found obstacle racing, I realized there is no better way to accomplish that. Obviously it's a great workout but finishing this type of race is great for the mind as well as the body."
Danielle: "It's a good challenge and I like to push myself. I'm never going to do something like this on a normal hike, you know? No 5K is going to push me to climb through a series of hanging, swinging tires when I'm dog tired. It was a fun day spent with friends and the atmosphere afterwards was great. I crossed the finish line - looking and feeling like I was about to die - and a volunteer ran up and handed me a free beer from a local brewery, while a band played in the background. We were all muddy and went back in the pond, trying to clean up... talking about the obstacles and laughing. It was sunny and everyone was happy. Why wouldn't you do that? It was one of the best days of my summer."
Lyndon: "The experience is awesome. From the roar of the crowd to the encouraging words from the volunteers scattered throughout the course. I ran my first run on a whim, just to say that I completed one, then when the next one came around, I couldn't miss out on it."
How It Stacks Up
Q. "How does the Warrior Run compare to other obstacle races?"
Danielle: "It's harder, scrappier and a lot more fun. My husband and I ran the Warrior Dash at Wyndham Mountain--mud runs have become our summer date activity of choice - and this was much, much harder. The mountain is steeper, there was more up and down (and up and down!) and the obstacles were nuts. I personally do these races just for the obstacles and found the Warrior Dash obstacles to be like the Disney World version of the Warrior Run obstacles... they weren't as fun as crawling up and over the bullwheel of an old ski lift, swimming across an old snowmaking pond, crawling through muddy drainage pipes or hitting a live target with a paintball gun in the woods. The team that comes up with these obstacles at the Warrior Run is super creative and resourceful. I loved that about this race!"
Adam: "To date I have finished 4 Spartan Races of all different distances, 1 zombie race, and the Tupper Lake Warrior Run 3 times. I can honestly say that the Tupper Lake Warrior Run is on par with the Spartan Races difficulty wise."
Obstacle Race Apparel
Q: "What should you wear?"
Adam: "You should wear anything that you are ok with never wearing again! Also, duct tape... unless you want to finish the race without shoes."
Danielle: "For girls, I'd recommend 3/4 length running tights, tank top or t-shirt in some sort of performance fabric and a pair of trail shoes you won't be sad to throw away at the end. Don't wear cotton - you'll be swimming and covered in mud, so that'll just weigh you down, and if it rains, you'll be cold. I like the 3/4 length tights because they cover your knees, whereas shorts won't. It's not uncommon to be crawling over rocks in the mud, so the bit of extra fabric is good for protection. I also wore a Camelback because I like to drink water throughout and I was glad I did."
Lyndon: "The best attire for the warrior run would be something that is tight fitting; loose clothing will get caught on branches and some obstacles."
Serious Racing or Just Plain Fun?
Q. "How competitive is the Warrior Run? Should you be nervous if this is your first race of this kind?"
Lyndon: "If it's your first race, don't be overwhelmed by the competition. It is as much of a personal race as it is a competition."
Danielle: "It's as competitive as you want it to be. I have friends that take the race super seriously and end up on the podium year after year. Their goal is to get through the obstacles as fast as possible and they definitely train hard for the event. I love hiking and think the obstacles are a blast, so I hiked it with a friend, got as messy as possible at every obstacle and enjoyed the beer and bands at the end. My version of the race was not competitive and that was totally fine. People of all shapes, sizes, and abilities were running this race and there was a real sense of camaraderie on the course. Should you be nervous? Yeah. It's going to be hard. You're going to be challenged and put into some situations you've never been in before. Being forced out of a comfort zone is why these races are so great, though. I'm pretty sure everyone who started it, finished it. You will too. You'll probably swear a lot along the way, but you'll be fine... and you'll feel amazing afterwards."
Adam: "The Warrior Run isn't all about competition. There are awards handed out, but this event is more family-oriented and it's about having fun and rolling around in the mud. There is also live music, beer and food throughout the day. Should you be nervous? A little, because you don't know what to expect and that's 100% normal. Even people like myself who have done this before are nervous at the starting line. Most events of this nature do not give you a map or any idea what kind of obstacles you're up against!"
Q. "What info would you give someone that is signing up for the first time?"
Lyndon: "For someone who is running the race for the first time: don't hold back, get dirty, fall off the obstacles, enjoy every minute of pain, because once you're through the last obstacle, there's an overwhelming sense of bad-assery. You've done it, you've finished your first warrior run."
Adam: "I would say get some running in and do some hiking in the Adirondacks. One thing to remember is that obstacle racing isn't all physical, mental preparation is huge. You may find yourself questioning your decision to do the race but remember the famous quote, 'Pain is temporary, Pride lasts forever.' Don't ever give up, run your own race. Crossing that finish line is what's important not what place you're in."
Danielle: "Close your eyes, and hit submit. You'll have a blast. Tupper Lake is gorgeous and the views from the course are unbelievable. If you train, it'll make it slightly less painful. I like to do interval training and hiking to prepare."
Q. "Do you have to be totally nuts to do this?"
Danielle: "No, but it certainly helps."
Lyndon: "You don't have to be completely nuts to run this race, but it doesn't hurt to have a screw or two that's a little loose."
Q. "Is there anything else you want people to know about this race?"
Adam: "This race has a different energy and atmosphere than the other races I have run. The small-town feel with the live music really makes it fantastic.When you are coming down that last hill and the finish line is in site, all you will hear is the crowd cheering you on. That feeling is hard to top and I can honestly say out of all the races I have done, this is the only race where I feel that good crossing the finish line."
Danielle: "Whatever anyone told you about last year, or the year before, this year will be better. The team building the course keeps getting better ideas and they keep adding on to what they already have. The festival at the lodge keeps getting better, too."
5 Things You Need to Know!
After listening to our Warrior Run Insiders' Tips you are probably thinking you want to join the exclusive tribe of "Warriors." Hold on, there is still more! Here are 5 things you will want to know before you sign up for the Warrior Run:
- Teamwork - In addition to competing as an individual, teams are also encouraged to sign up. Teams can be made up of 3 to 10 people and each teammate receives a $5 discount on their registration fee. But, besides a little more green in your pocket, what better way to make your way through the obstacles than with a group of your closest friends, old college buddies, family, colleagues or even that cute guy you just met in the checkout lane?
- Mud, Sweat & Beers - Did you know that all participants (21+) receive a free local craft beer at the end of the race (trust me... you will want/need it!) This is just one of the perks that come with your registration swag bag.
- Music Festival - Following the race, a live music festival takes place at the base lodge. Make sure to pack a spare change of clothes and stick around for a bite of grub, cold beer and great tunes. The Warrior Run Music festival is free for participants (a $5 spectator fee applies for non-participants).
- Register Early & Save - The earlier you sign up the cheaper your registration fees will be, so don't wait around until the last minute.
- Costumes Encouraged - Prizes are not only awarded for the fastest participants... a great deal of swag is handed out to those in costume.
Once you've registered, make sure to book a room or a campsite in advance. Your legs will love a few extra days in the 'dacks to recover. After a couple of days, with your wounds on the mend and the mud out of your teeth, you will leave with a sense of true accomplishment (and of course that well-liked, new Facebook profile image).
In related ADK Park news: