The Barbarian Challenge obstacle race was definitely a challenge, although I didn’t feel very barbaric doing it. I don’t consider climbing over cars, crawling through mud, and running in between electrically charged wires as being barbaric. I consider it fun, but maybe that’s because I’m crazy, just like the other eight hundred people running the race that day in late June.
The midmorning sun beamed down on me as I joined my group of friends that I was running with in the race. We stretched and waited at the back of the group of runners assembling. After taking the comical barbarian oathe, the race began, and we all bolted over the starting line.
The first challenge was climbing over several stacks of old vehicles. In my excitement, I foolishly leaped onto the slippery hood of one of the cars, lost my balance, and almost succeeded in knocking myself and one of my teammates off, which resulted in plenty of playful jesting from my teammates. Yes, I was off to a rousing start.
With the haphazard cars behind us, we ran at a good pace until we reached a standstill at the second obstacle which consisted of a series of barbed wire to crawl under and four foot tall walls to hoist over. After waiting our turn, we completed the obstacle and ran to the next one, only to be brought to another halt. This time though, we had to stand in a cold creek while waiting to ascend the rope ladder scaling the side of the next hill. We stumbled over the tree roots hidden under the water and splashed each other as it got deeper. Before reaching the ladder, I dunked under water and the warm summer day suddenly felt much cooler. With my hair dripping and my saturated clothes sticking to me, I finally reached the unstable ladder and climbed out of the brush enshrouded creek to the trail ahead.
The next trek was the most difficult. Hundreds of runners with soggy shoes had transformed the dirt trail into slippery mud. We grasped trees, roots, weeds, anything besides each other as we tottered down the winding path and ascended up the next hill. I feared I might slip on the steep hill and fall back on my teammates; I also worried that the runners ahead of me might do the same. Near the top, I lost my footing. Hanging on by a puny root, I reached with my free hand for something substantial to grasp, my feet struggling to find a hold, but to no avail. Thankfully, one of my teammates somehow managed to wend past me, grab my free hand, and pull me onto solid ground. I was quite pleased to leave behind that treacherous hill and start running again.
More obstacles ensued, including hefting tires, running in between dangling electrically charged wires, and crossing another creek. One of my favorite obstacles was the tarp water slide positioned on one of the hills. The race attendant sprayed a fresh solution of soapy water on it before we slid down at an alarming pace. Fearing that I was going to land in the thicket to the left of the tarp, I veered to the right and almost collided with one of my teammates, my screechy “Watch out!” averting the collision. Another favorite obstacle was the pool of gritty, smelly, black mud. I struggled to keep my head out of the muck and avoid catching the barbed wire overhead as I slithered through it.
We were definitely a sight to behold, all decked in mud and staring at our next obstacle, a tall wooden wall that we were supposed to climb over by grabbing the slanted narrow ledges randomly spaced up it. After deeming the wall too muddy to climb, we joined the other runners who couldn’t complete the obstacle and did our allotted punishment–fifty push-ups. Plenty of gasping and groaning resounded from that tired crowd. Okay, I’ll admit it, it was tough, and I was even doing girly push-ups.
The race continued with more creeks to cross, more mud to crawl through, and more hills to conquer than I’d rather recount. Finally, after two hours of barbarian life, we reached the last obstacle, a triangle shaped ramp built over an old school bus. Yes, a school bus. I’m not sure why it was there, but at least it looked cool. Thankfully, it only took me two tries to run up the ramp, grab the snarly rope, and scale the wall. After two and a half long, challenging, and fun hours, we placed our arms around each other’s shoulders and triumphantly crossed the finish line, clad in mud and pride. Maybe I did feel a little bit like a barbarian.