Monday, October 24, 2011

2011 Warrior Dash - Missouri

The Warrior Dash has come to Missouri. What is the Warrior Dash you might ask? "Warrior Dash is a mud-crawling, fire-leaping, extreme run from hell. This fierce running series is held on the most challenging and rugged terrain across the globe..." I don't know that rural Missouri qualifies as rugged compared on a world stage, but the folks from Red Frog Events certainly don't make the 3.1 mile course easy. The dash is a 5K obstacle course complete with barbed wire, fire, and mud; this is then all followed up with carnival-esque festivities, beer, live music, and food! For the runners, an excellent afternoon of achievement and partying. For the photographers, a goldmine.

I only just found out about the dash this year and while I did want to run in it (I found out the day after registration ended), I cannot complain about the experience of photographing it. If I do find a nearby location to run it next year, I will have to do an early heat and spend the rest of the day with a couple cameras around my neck. There is just so much going on.

Laura, Kelly, Nicole and Alexa get together for a "Before" picture.

As the girls were gearing up, Alexa (Nicole's sis), was giving me goofy looks. Like me, she was on the support crew, cheering the runners on, and she was kind enough to lend a shoulder for one of my lenses.

Walking across the event grounds to the race sign-in, we began to hear more clearly, the sounds and music from the stage where side-shows of all sorts were taking place. We also began seeing culture of the event. Diverse is hardly enough of a word to describe these folks.

Love this.

We also began catching our first glimpses at what was to come (for the runners at least...)

So the girls got checked in, got their numbers and trackers, and after a bit of meandering, we made our way to the race start. Since the course is 3.1 miles, and they didn't want photographers getting lost out in the woods, I was relegated to taking photos at the beginning and at the end, which included the last two obstacles, the fire and the mud. I wasn't complaining.

Alexa is once again giving me a face as Nicole laughs at what I can only imagine is some goofy comment I retort with.

Nicole : )

I can't actually take credit for the above image. The girls actually, while waiting in line, hoisted their comrade, Kelly, up to look back over the last heat to see the number of participants. I quickly threw the camera over to her for a shot.

Getting in line too early leads to moments like this... The ominous voice of the announcer counting down the seconds until the beginning of the race may have been a factor in why Kelly was completely unphased when she turned to find her friends creeping over her shoulder. That, or she is used to this sort of thing.


"And they're off!"

Yes even a bunch of bananas came out for some self-induced torture!

So the race began and Alexa and I had some downtime while the girls embarked on their run. We headed just a hundred feet or so away to the final two obstacle and the finish of the race to wait for our crew to return. Folks from the previous heats trickled in steadily. I was sure to snap a few of the colorful ones!

We found Batman cheering on runners through the final obstacles. And then our girls appeared! Laura, below, makes quite a leap over the fire.

Nicole and Kelly couldn't bring themselves to fully submerge like some of the other runners!

I'd say they got their share of dirty though.

Then, Nicole thought this would be a good idea.

What are friends for?

Justice was served though.

Even I got a little muddy.

I wasn't around when this broke out and actually credit for the image goes to Alexa. She was holding the camera at the time and began snapping away!

The local fire department was set up nearby with water trucks spraying runners off after their achievement. The way the sun was setting and the light fell made for the beautiful images. I am actually very pleased with how this part of the event turned out (photographically).

Nicole & Co. get cleaned up, sort of.

And the Victory photo! Conquerers.

It was a great time. I got some good images and a free beer and turkey leg. I can't wait until next year!

All images were made with the D700 and the AF-S 70-200mm VRII

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