The Warrior Dash came to Grand Rapids for the first time this year, and as always, it was a good time. I think it's awesome that more events like this are coming to our city.
As far as the race goes, it was well organized, well staffed, and full of fun loving people. Having done the Warrior Dash now in Joliet, IL, then Mt Morris, MI, and now Grand Rapids, I can't help but compare.
Joliet 2010 was my introduction to the Warrior Dash and will probably always be my favorite. It was one of the first WD's, so it was well established and developed through multiple trial-and-error periods. It included not only a huge number of runners, a great course, all the standard music/food/beer, but also games like tug-of-war and ax throwing. That year also happened to coincide with a drenching rain storm the day before which left the entire farm on which the race was held in a fantastic 16 inches of thick, sludgy mud. Now that is a warrior run.
Mt Morris 2011 was also well done, but unsurprisingly, it felt smaller and less established. I'm sure it was better this year than last.
Grand Rapids 2012, as I said, was a fine race. But I was disappointed in a few things. First, the course used a significant amount of the paved bike path in Millennium Park rather than dirt trails. I understand that that may have been all the race crew had to work with at this venue, but I love running an obstacle/mud race on the dirt.
On a second, similar note, the race wasn't very dirty. Most runners finished almost entirely clean. They would have been truly clean had it not been for the final crawl under barbed wire, which was through a "mud" pit that consisted of more water than dirt. This makes me appreciate the Grand Rapids Mud Run that much more for doing such a great job creating lots of actual mud on the course.
Third, there wasn't much to the race "festival". The food, beer, and music were there (props to the dancing MC - he was a hoot), but there were no games or other interesting activities. The hubby and I didn't end up staying long after we ran.
And finally, they charged $20 to park at Millennium. Parking at the WD in the past has not costed that much. I think they were trying to encourage carpooling due to the limited parking space, but that's a LOT to park one car. The hubby and I left our car at another park a mile away and walked in to the venue. It was an excellent choice - super easy, and we could spend our $20 on food and drinks instead.
Mind you, I had a great time and my overall experience of WD GR was positive. And to top that positivity off, they had a new obstacle this year that may be my favorite so far. It involved four floating rafts in deep water. You had to pull yourself up onto each raft and off the other side. With nothing to push against with your legs, you actually had to use brains and upper body strength to accomplish the obstacle. It was challenging and fun. Cool variation from the obstacles we've seen before at Warrior Dash.
In the end, I continue to be excited that the Warrior Dash has come to Grand Rapids, and I will certainly be doing it again next year. I look forward to watching as it improves and grows in future editions!