Words: Pieter Swart | Photos: Mornè du Toit | Video: Glowchair Productions
A new event to look out for on the adventure calendar is the Warrior Race Series, a series of timed obstacle racing events to take place across different provinces in South Africa. The first event kicks off on 9 and 10 February 2013, with the last event to be held on 30 November. There are eight events in the series, including a Celebrity Challenge (the seventh event).
Obstacle racing requires participants to run various distances on off-road, cross-country style trails while overcoming man-made obstacles placed strategically along the route, by crawling under barbed wire, struggling through massive mud pits, climbing over walls, jumping over fire and off high platforms, crawling through tunnels, running up slippery surfaces and carrying heavy objects.
This sport has been around for more than 20 years and is especially popular in countries like USA and UK, attracting 15,000 plus participants over a weekend. Obstacle racing has found popularity amongst South Africans too, and people who love the outdoors and adventure have actively participated in it since 2009.
In general, obstacle races attract people of all ages, shapes, sizes, cultures and fitness levels. But then there's also participants you would never expect to do something this crazy, people who want to bring about change in their lives, try something new or prove to themselves that they can do anything they put their mind to.
Obstacle racing events also draw serious athletes who may be looking for an alternative challenge or wanting to add something different to their usual training regime. With obstacle races like the Warrior Black-ops Race, which has huge prize money and a national championship, you might also find athletes that participate in the sport as a profession.
What makes obstacle racing unique compared to other adventure sports is the fact that participants need to use every muscle fibre in their bodies just to complete a race. The course entails 80% cross-country style trail running or walking, depending on your preference, and when you add a few insane obstacles, you have a recipe for an extreme workout. But it has been proven that obstacle racing requires a lot more than just physical strength and endurance, it's a mind-power showdown too. As such, participants need to achieve the perfect balance between functional full-body strength, endurance and mind power.
The Warrior Race Series
The Warrior Race is all about kids and adults getting down and dirty, facing challenges, overcoming their fears, having fun, helping each other and sharing stories at the end of the day with friends and family. The event embodies fun and camaraderie, regardless if you're just there to have a good time or compete for a top position. The Warrior Race Series also aims to promote proper training, healthy eating and a balanced lifestyle.
With three racing options on offer, the Warrior Race is open to anyone. As a matter of fact, you can even do an obstacle course without legs, you just need to be brave! A guy in the USA has done the Spartan race without legs. He walked most of the course using his hands and completed it with the help of his friends. Now that's what Warriors are made of!
The obstacles are man-made because natural, difficult terrain is not considered an obstacle; they simply add to the challenge of the race. In each race there are three categories that solo participants and teams can compete in, with the category podium finishers each receiving prizes. For the fun-loving participants, there are two race options to choose from: the Warrior Brats Race, a course with eight obstacles that is specially tailored for kids; and a Warrior Rookie Race, a 6 to 8km run with 15 obstacles that is ideal for anyone and everyone. For the serious athletes, there's the Warrior Black-ops Race, a more extreme race option. This is an 18 - 20 km event, with 30 gruelling man-made obstacles to be conquered. There is big prize money and sponsored prizes at stake, and by big I mean a first prize of R10 000 to the solo winner of the Warrior Black-ops Race, in each event within the series! The Warrior Black-ops Race solo winner in the National Championship will take home R100 000.
The last event of the year is the National Championship, and anyone can take part. However, only those who qualified in the series are able to compete for the National Championship titles and prizes, and an official point standing log is used to determine who qualifies.
All Warrior Race events incorporate a festival atmosphere so that participants and spectators get to enjoy a whole day's worth of entertainment and outdoor fun, as well as stand a chance of winning one of many fantastic spot prizes.
Despite the challenging nature of the various events, it is a lot of fun and promotes camaraderie and team work among all participants. And when you complete the Warrior Race, you can wear your dog tag with pride!
The nature and difficulty level of an obstacle race will determine the amount and type of training required. When it comes to the Warrior Brats and Warrior Rookie Races, participants will be able to compete with little or no training. However, putting in some training will make the race much more enjoyable.
However, completing an extreme event like the Warrior Black-ops Race is a totally different story, and competitors will have to train well in advance. Depending on a participant’s current fitness level, training might start anywhere from three to twelve weeks ahead of the race. Training needs to include functional, full-body exercises to improve overall strength and a few running sessions of between 3-20 km per week to increase endurance.
The Warrior Company has formed a partnership with eXtreme Boot Camp South Africa to assist Warriors and wanna-be Warriors with proper training for these events.
Make a difference
This is also an event with a heart, and the main purpose of the Warrior Race is to fund a non-profit organisation called The Warrior Foundation, which focuses on sport development, education and nature conservation projects in South Africa. So while you are having fun, you will be helping to make a difference!
Furthermore, the Warrior Race has many prize categories in which participants can participate, including Corporate, Fitness Clubs, Sport Clubs, Open Category, Media, Schools and University. Win one of these categories and funds will be donated to a charity of your choice.
Become a Warrior
Dare to have fun and enter a Warrior Race! Open yourself up to a totally new kind of challenge and adventure that will allow you to forget about the hassles of everyday life. For the kids, this is what being young and enjoying life is all about. For everyone else, come do a Warrior Race and become a kid again for a day.
To help you get started, here are some tips for first-time competitors:
• Don't compete as a solo participant if it's your first obstacle race, rather do it as part of a team.
• Wear clothes you won't miss because they will never be the same again after the race!
• Any pair of running shoes will do, but proper water-resistant trail running shoes that are easy to clean are recommended.
• The Warrior Race will have more than enough water points throughout the course, so there's no need to carry additional water.
• If you’re competing in a race like the Warrior Rookie, do it in a team and dress up as wacky as humanly possible. Big prizes are up for grabs for dress ups.
• In terms of training, the Warrior Rookie Race is doable without any training, but I suggest you try to get at least a run or two in before the race.
• Only attempt an extreme obstacle race like the Warrior Black-ops Race if you’re really fit, otherwise you won't be able to complete the race and you definitely won't enjoy the experience.
For all the athletes and weekend warriors out there, come show what you’re made off and earn your Warrior status. But just remember that the harder you fight this race, the harder it will fight back. So, let the games begin.
The Warrior Code of Honour
As a Warrior I will have an intensity of life, filled with energy.
I will be ready to act when needed.
I will strive to perfect myself to the benefit of others.
I will be determined to protect my family, neighbourhood, nation and world.
I will strive for fairness and the sanity to do what is right and good.
I will give my best in everything I do.
I will be true to myself.
I will strive for total honesty, be loyal and live a life of integrity.
I will stand up for what is right.
I will put the needs of others before my own.
Above all this, I will never leave a fellow Warrior behind!