The Warrior Race #7 Review: Mud, Blood and Glory
My alarm went off at 5:30am, but I’d already been awake for at least 30min prior – just laying there trying to contain my excitement. Today was the Warrior Race!
Aanikah and I already completed the Rookie event during the Warrior Race in Gauteng last year with our team Koesister Squad – and it was a blast. This year we decided to take on the Commando category (which consisted of 10km and 20 obstacles) when it came down to Stellenbosch.
We heard about it in May and signed up together with some friends to form Team Untz Untz (I think the jury is still out on the name :)).
Finally, the 11th of October had rolled around. We met up at a filling station close to the venue and after a quick toilet check and a couple of coffees we headed to the venue. The excitement was high and we were all keen to tackle the course.
Although we arrived at Bilton Wine Estate more than an hour ahead of our 9:20am batch start, it seemed like time just disappeared. Soon we were next up. A quick stretch and a last minute team pep-talk and we headed into the starting pen. Warrior Rick was there and in his usual awesomeness got us even further amped before letting us loose on the course.
After a short run, we hit the first obstacle a 20m-long mud trench. The mud was knee-deep, thick and seemed determined to swallow us up (as Farah found out very quickly when she couldn’t move after two steps). Some managed to walk through while others chose to crawl. Unfortunately, Lesli’s shoes were the first victim and fell prey to the mud forcing him to complete the rest of the race barefoot.
Next up was probably the toughest obstacle – a set of poles that we had to climb up and over. This was our first test as a team which we tackled with great success. The poles were slippery with mud, but with some muscle we managed to hoist each team member up while Shuaib pulled from the top. One by one we went over, but the effort required was brutal and many scrapes and bruises were earned.
Some beams in water followed, then some more on land all requiring us to jump over them. After which came some suspended rings which we swung through and then the Ninja Run – no sweat so far for Team Untz Untz.
Then came the hill from hell! Not an official obstacle, but a true test of determination. What seemed like close to 2kms of steep uphill, some sandbag carries and the Wall of China thrown in for funzies was totally brutal. Not even the water point 3/4 of the way up helped! I’m sure there were times when a few of us thought that this may just be the point to throw in the towel – yet we soldiered on…
Our second victim of the course met its fate at the top of the hill as our rented action cam’s battery died. That’s when we met the Mission Impossible obstacle – two beams above each other like some weird rugby posts that needed to be climbed. The only problem was that the first beam was over 2m above the ground with the second another metre and a bit higher with no safety-net if you fell – definitely some nervous moments were felt at the top. The lads helped everyone up and over and we finally started the descent downhill.
This is where the pace started picking up as now we could stretch our legs a bit. The course continued for another kilometre or so until we reached the Duck Walk obstacle where we all simply rolled under the low cargo net like a couple of dusty salomies.
Unbeknownst to the rest of the group, Lesli had been suffering on the downhill because of the sharp rocks and twigs playing havoc on his feet. Shuaib and Grant in an act of pure selflessness took turns in sharing their shoes with him – what a bunch of lads!
Next up was a rope climb, then what seemed like some weird chain ladder that we had to climb across, followed by an even weirder balancing obstacle before we hit the last water point and a few walls we had to jump.
Then we were met by the classic Mud Monster which provided some tricky navigation. Some chose to go the easy route up the sides, some chose the most difficult route up the middle and others tried the middle, but after failing three times on each hill went with easy option (okay that was me #NoShame :)). The Mud Monster claimed our third victim… Waheeb’s soles…
By this time we had been on the course for a couple of hours and cramp had set in. Zuby was feeling the worst off and had been reduced to walking very gingerly with pain in her left knee and hamstring. This didn’t stop her and she pushed on, hobbling determined on one leg!
As if we weren’t tested enough, the course threw in another beam which we had to climb the length of while hanging upside-down, some gymnastic-style rings that we had to swing across (are you nuts!) and the Spider’s Web which seems to have gone on steroids since I last did it – going from 3m to what seemed like a 6m climb!
We were now on the home stretch with just two obstacles left before the finish line. That’s when we ran into Ilyas and Junaid spectating on the sidelines.
The second last obstacle was a 5m high wall with some notches for your feet and a rope to help with the climb. Then finally it was the Tower of Rage…
Although it was the final obstacle and by now our adrenal was shot, the Tower of Rage is the one Warrior Race obstacle that really tests how brave you are. I always tend to think about the Raymond Lindquist quote,“Courage is the power to let go of the familiar” and damn it takes some courage to jump off that 6m-high platform.
And like a metaphorical rebirth, one by one we emerged from the water to cheers from our team mates, friends and family after one of the most epic team-building sessions ever!
The organisors at the Warrior Race definitely pushed us to the limit. Not only were the obstacles higher, tougher and more crazy than the previous year, the course was unrelenting. But, it wouldn’t be a Warrior Race if you didn’t feel “brand new” after and the members of Team Untz Untz owned it!
All that was left to do was (try!) clean yourself off at the showers and then just ride the epic high that we were all on.
Special mention has to be made to the following Warriors:
- Nailah for coming to support and looking after our kit – the guardian!
- Ilyas and Junaid who did the Commando Elite – much respect!
- Wafiq and Malikah who did Black Ops – the power couple!
- Dan who did Black Ops Elite – machine!
- Neesy who wen’t back to jump the Tower of Rage a second time to help Zuby overcome her fear of heights – the Rambo award winner!
Tomorrow morning is definitely going to be interesting!