* From: Albert Ferraro
Warrior Dash Connecticut was held on Saturday, 9/20, at Camp Laurelwood in Madison. For some reason, I have this nagging feeling some “other” OCR event was also taking place somewhere up north that same weekend, but anyway…..
To preface things, I have a certain affinity for Warrior Dash. Like many others, it was my introduction to the OCR world (2012), and I’ve been hooked since. Most importantly, that first WD was the impetus for refocusing my life on making my health a top priority. Lastly, while its nice traveling to different States for events, I sooooo
want CT based ones to succeed, particularly those around 1/2 hr from my house!!!!
Camp Laurelwood is billed as a 140 acre overnight campground for kids in the woods of North Madison, CT. The course took you past the overnight accommodations, recreational areas, and other camp buildings of what seemed to be fairly well maintained facility.
Parking was an approx 20 minute (yes, that’s 2-0 minutes!!) shuttle ride away at a farm in an adjoining town. A large, cleared corn field seemed to provide more than enough parking spaces. It was dry and dusty, and I wondered what that field would’ve been like if there were heavy rains. Staffing seemed adequate and organized, and there appeared to be plenty of shuttle buses to transport folks to and fro. I got there early, so had no traffic issues at all, but that wasn’t the case later in the day. Long traffic lines on the one major road in and out greeted people arriving later in the day, as well as those returning to their cars after the event. I’m sure they tried their best, but there must have been a better traffic flow solution.
The shuttles took you right to the event site “front door,” and a very short walk to registration. On the way in you could view the final few obstacles, including the WD “Goliath.”
All the major areas- waiver pickup, registration, bag check, and even the starting line- were located in front just as you entered the formal event site. While this was convenient, it felt a little cramped and congested. Merchandise, food/drink, photo ops, some playscape stuff for kids, and the band were more in the center of the site (I guess what would be called the “festival area”), and the medical tent and port o pottys were on the far end.
Registration moved pretty well, as did bag check early on, but things got a little bogged down later in the day, particularly with bag claim. More staffing in bag check would’ve solved that. Merchandise was the standard WD clothing variety. The food vendor had the standard offerings- hot dogs, burgers, chicken or pulled pork sandwiches- good stuff (the burger I had was pretty good), but nothing beyond the basics. There were a few other vendors, but nothing that really caught my eye. I thought the band was pretty good, and I heard a lot of songs from the 80’s genre. The staff that I encountered in these areas were pleasant, courteous, and helpful. The atmosphere was definitely fun and festive.
On to the race…..waves seemed to proceed on schedule, and the “starter” tried his best to inspire with words and music (honestly, I’m usually collecting my thoughts during this time, and rarely hear what they’re saying). At any rate, off we went at 9:30 in a pretty large wave. What was best is that in addition to my running partner, I was able to team up with a few other NES members!!!!!!
As most everyone knows, WD caters to the masses….people from all walks of life at all levels of physical fitness. I saw well conditioned athletes going for time, those in the earlier stages of physical fitness going at casual pace, parents running with their kids, large teams of racers, young old and everything in between…a wonderful “mish mosh” (is that even a word????) of people having fun and celebrating life. The course was billed as 3.1 miles with 12 obstacles, and I’d say this was pretty accurate.
This was a fun event, and was for people looking to have f-u-n. Not ultra difficult or overly challenging, not very taxing on the upper body, relatively flat but not boring, not ultra competitive (not even sure if they officially timed people), well attended, fairly well laid out, and pretty well staffed. If you accepted it as a WD event, and were not seeking another OCR “brand,” you would’ve enjoyed yourself. With the exception of one small area, the course was pretty well marked. I heard many people comment how they now needed to try ________ “next” (you fill in the blank), so the event succeeded in spreading the OCR bug, including to my running partner who was doing his first event- THIS is a good thing for ALL!!
Obstacles included a swim/walk (depending on your height) through a portion of a chilly lake, treks through some thick mud fields where I saw more than a few lose a sneaker, several short walls, some of which were part of over/unders, a few covered trenches (no mud inside….boo!!), a few barbed wire crawls, one of which was in pretty thick mud at the end of the course, a curving arch you had to maneuver up over and down, a slippery angled wall with knotted rope to ascend (saw a few epic fails on that one….ouch!!!), and the pretty well stoked fire jump near the finish.
One fun obstacle involved a fairly steep drop into mud, then a challenging climb up a very slippery, muddy mound (I’m bad at estimating height, but maybe around 12 feet give or take??). I saw a lot of teamwork, and people helping others. Another unique obstacle was a long, cylindrical shaped cargo net to maneuver through- the approach of choice seemed to be pulling yourself along on your back.
The piece de resistance was the WD Goliath- combination cargo net climb, cargo next crawl/roll, then water slide into a muddy pool. I don’t particularly relish the prospect of being flung out of control off a slide to be submerged however briefly into mud, but it was fun!!!! The obstacle probably looks more intimidating than it is difficult, but it was a nice way to pretty much conclude the event!!
I don’t recall too many backlogs at obstacles- some slowdowns because of the nature of the obstacles, but nothing too significant that I can recall. The size of the wave made for a congested start, but things spread out a bit. There were many opportunities to pass people going at a more leisurely pace, and most of the course was on trails or open fields.
The finisher’s medal was pretty nice, and at registration you received a decent quality WD t-shirt and warrior “helmet.”
The only “shower” facility for most participants was a lake to take a dip in. No changing tents, so I used a port o potty. No biggie, but hoses and a tent would’ve been nice. Those who raised a certain amount for the St Jude’s Foundation did get private showering facilities.
So, in conclusion, I’d say it was a solid success for good ‘ole WD. They made pretty good use of the terrain, the event site was adequate, and it was well attended. There’s always room for improvement (i.e., traffic flow and bag claim staffing), but I try not to nit pick the small stuff. Most people had smiles on their faces, and I didn’t hear much complaining. I could suggest upgrading to some other obstacles, but then it’d be trying to turn the event into something other than a WD. It’s a fun, festive, muddy day to share with friends and family, and a great intro to OCR. Is WD the freshman, or maybe JV, team of the OCR world? Probably, but I’d do it again if they come back to CT.
* From: Seth Hayes
* Event Details
Parking was off site at a local dairy farm. We considered this the first obstacle, as navigating to parking in the cornfields could be challenging. Entrance was well marked with Police to help coordinate traffic flow. When you made your way in, there were three lanes to pull through to pay to help facilitate the number of vehicles coming in. However, the merge back to one lane could have used a volunteer to make it move more smoothly. Driving a rather large truck, I had no issues bombing through the dusty (VERY DUSTY) fields to where they were parking us, however, I could see that it may have been a bit more challenging for smaller vehicles. Walking back up to the road, there were ample buses and volunteers to shuttle you to the event. There was also port-a-potties and even an ATM.
About a 20 minute bus ride from parking to venue. Perhaps a little long, but still really well coordinated. As we were on our way in there was an accident at the intersection to the camp access road, but the bus drivers were constantly in contact with each other, determining how to adjust the route to keep things running smoothly.
All of the race tents and festival area was set up in the main entrance area to the camp. We quickly found packet pickup and bag check. Packet pickup was crowded, something we were prepared for, and had a fairly average wait time. Bag check was a mess. There was a small entrance to the lines, which was up a hill, with both check and pickup on the same side. Inside the tent was clearly not organized, with volunteers basically just dumping bags all over the place. Having noticed this, we made sure to watch where our bags were placed so we could give detailed instructions during pickup, which made our lives easier, but other actually had to go into the tent to find their bags because the volunteers could not locate them. Heading into the festival area, the placement of the “Facebook Check-in” picture stand was poorly placed, with a line that ran down the middle of the small walk area. Not realizing that if you walked down the left side you would walk through the picture area, I’
m pretty sure I unintentionally photo bombed some people. If you walked to the right, it was very crowded with people avoiding the photo area. Vendors, food, beer, and swag was setup around the perimeter of the playground area, with ample space for people to enjoy the festival. There was a good selection of swag, and some good vendors for those who were interested. Continuing to the back of the festival, there were more port-a-potties which when we arrived were being serviced. Nice to know they were being cleaned, but when I exited I was staring at a service truck that was backing up along the line of toilets. After the race we wandered around the festival area for 10 or so minutes until we finally found the wash area, which was simply a walk down the “beach” and a dunk in the river. More signage was definitely needed to find it, and walking through the crowded festival area was not the best way to have it done. Starting coral was not really big enough, with the back half sp
illing into the already crowded walk way.
* Race Details
Compared to many other OCR courses, this one was fairly easy, which we expected. Not much in the way of elevation change, an minimal paved areas. I was excited (to the dismay of some others behind me) that the first obstacle required you to wade (or swim if you wanted to get ahead) out to a raft in the lake. The cold water was a great endorphin release right way, and was definitely different from the last two years when the event was at the motor speedway. Thigh high mud followed slowing many people down, and adding quite a bit of weight to your shoes. After that a series of walls, over/unders,trenches,ect spaced fairly well. Overall, the paths were wide enough for two people, so minimal natural bottlenecks occurred. Having gotten out to the front of our heat, we didn’t experience any real bottlenecks until we caught up with the previous heat at kind of suspended road tunnel. After about a five minute wait there, we made our way through (somewhat of a challenge for me to get
my rather large frame through the ropes) and the only other real bottleneck we hit was at the barbed wire crawl. It was only about 25 feet long, and on nice soft sand, but people were moving quite slowly through, there needed to be more lanes to efficiently move the mass of people through. The only other slow spot was at the Goliath, where you climbed the cargo net up, then crossed more cargo nets over a gap, and up one more level to go down the slide. The staff was very good about holding people on the slide until everyone had cleared the chest deep water at the bottom before letting the next person go (A+ for safety there). Then it was around the corner, over the fire, and through some nice gooey mud with barbed wire to the finish line.