Warrior Race #2 - It's all in the teamwork

Words Sarah Kobal | Photos Zoon Cronje

Grey, ominous clouds quickly gathered above us, the wind picked up and it started to drizzle. I began to shiver and started jumping up and down in an attempt to keep my muscles warm for this strenuous race that I was about to encounter. As I smeared red paint across my face and arms, to create a warrior look, I heard the announcement that I had been waiting for over the PA system, "Warrior Rookies batch number four will take off in five minutes."



My teammate, Salendra, and I gathered at the starting line, anxious to get off the mark. I looked around and noticed that I was surrounded by fit athletes, some dressed in crazy outfits and this helped to relax the nervous and tense atmosphere, a bit. We all raised our hands and started clapping, going faster and faster, and then counted down to the beginning of the Warrior Rookie Race. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!


We started running along the rough, rocky terrain and for a while there was no trail to follow, only red tape to guide us. Just ahead were some tyres, but instead of them being flat on the ground where we would have to run through them like in the first Warrior Race, we now had to climb over this chaotic mound. This was just the first challenge and no doubt warming us up for what lay ahead.4


The second Warrior Race attracted around 5,000 competitors, with 2,500 participants taking part on Saturday 16 March and the balance on Sunday 17 March. The three types of races on offer were the Warrior Brats, Warrior Rookie and Warrior Black-ops.


The Warrior Brats varies in distance as it depends on the children's ages. The Warrior Rookie is 7.5 km and has
15 obstacles placed approximately 500 m apart. The Black-ops race is for our extreme athletes and the course is 19 km long and boasts 33 obstacles that are also around 500 m apart. The obstacles are designed so that Warriors have to either climb over high obstacles, slide down steep slopes at high speeds, jump off very high platforms, scale mountains of mud and, most importantly, work as a team to get through each challenging obstacle.


An example of an obstacle that needed serious teamwork was the Mud Pit obstacle. In the first Warrior Race, the Mud Pit consisted of one water pit with one high incline to scramble out of. Clearly the marshals thought it was too easy for us Warriors, although it took ages to get out, so instead of one incline to claw our way up, there were five this time! As I approached this obstacle, my heart sank.


I saw multiple mud hills with people climbing onto one another and grabbing anything they could find to pull themselves up and out. So I slid down the mud bank and hit the water at a high speed, splashing everyone around me. At that point, I could feel the adrenaline race through my body as I prepared to face and conquer this daunting challenge.


Getting out was proving even more difficult as the ground was sludge that provided no grip whatsoever. The mud bank was so slippery that it was almost impossible to get a firm grip to pull yourself up. The best solution was to work together. Those already at the top would hoist the people up from the muddy water, and those at the bottom would grab anyone who was willing to help from above. After struggling, slipping and sliding which left me with arms that felt like jelly, we finally accomplished this seemingly impossible obstacle!


One of the obstacles I really enjoyed was when we had to leopard crawl under barbed wire. This time the barbed wire was a lot lower than in the first Warrior Race, thus ensuring we got down and dirty in the mud. This was also one of the obstacles where spectators could watch us struggle through the uneven and slippery mud, and their cheering and clapping definitely helped to encourage us to persevere through this tiring obstacle.



Not all the obstacles were on terra firma, and the river obstacle was no easy challenge either. Arriving at the river, I saw some Warriors wading against the strong current, whilst climbing over logs that were strategically placed along the river. I slid into the water and the first thing I did was walk into an enormous rough rock that was hidden underwater. After cursing profusely, I turned around and yelled, “Salendra! Watch out for the ..." and then I saw my teammate (in the most inelegant manner) hit the rock and fall into the water. Salendra was very unimpressed and I am sure we were not the only ones to get caught by this offending rock!


Of the many difficult obstacles, one of the more memorable was having to sprint up a half pipe as far as we could go and then pull ourselves up the rest of the way. Before attempting this ridiculously difficult obstacle, I knew I had to come up with a technique if I was going to be successful. Instead, I received numerous tips on how to avoid face planting the obstacle and the vicious bar at the bottom, which I'm sure many got huge bruises from. On my first attempt, I did exactly what I was trying to avoid; I face planted into the obstacle and then received a huge shiner from the bar. As many struggled on this obstacle, I saw some amazing teamwork happening to my right so I decided to join them. Two men were standing against the half pipe, with two standing on their shoulders. We climbed up them and whilst being hoisted up by these strong men, others pulled us up from above. Once again, we all got up through teamwork.


And then there was a three metre wall that we have to climb up and over. Due to terrible team communication, I ended up falling and kneeing Salendra in the face before landing hard on my bum. This was a hard-learned lesson in the importance of communication.


Next up was an obstacle that I had been having nightmares about for weeks; jumping off the very high T-t-t-tower of Rage platform, as I am terrified of heights. I can't explain how relieved and happy I was to discover that this seven metre jump was closed off due to there being a leak in the plastic. This gave me renewed energy to keep going as there were no other obstacles I was dreading.


Running towards the next obstacle all I could hear was people gasping and screaming ahead of me. My heart began to pound as I knew what was ahead of me; the Ice Crusher. As I approached the area, I saw huge tubs that we had to climb up and into. There were spectators all around this obstacle, as well as cameramen and photographers. I climbed up and jumped into the freezing water, but the worst part was having to swim underneath a metre-wide platform, which forced us to be fully submerged in icy-cold water. I emerged from this freezing water hyperventilating. I quickly jumped out and kept running as I tried to get some warmth back into my frozen body.


As we closed in on the finish line there was just one more obstacle between us and our dog tags. With our friends cheering us on, we hit the net and scrambled to the top, from where we slid down a steep slide into muddy water. Now completely covered in mud, Salendra and I happily crossed the finish line and were rewarded for our efforts with Warrior dog tags, which will be proudly displayed next to my first Warrior Race dog tag.


Overall, this Warrior Race was challenging and a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to next race where I will be entering the Black-ops race, to really challenge myself.


Related Articles

Warrior Race #1 - a mud fest (Digital article Feb '13)
The Path of the Warrior (Digital article Feb '13)
Become a Warrior (Issue 22, p. 16)


Adventure Racing

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