I’m one of those people who hates the cold. I try and avoid the cold as much as I can, but when it comes to racing in the snow I’m more than happy to put up with the weather for a few hours.
It was a cold Saturday morning when I found myself once again at Lake Mountain for the Winter Warrior Challenge. I’d previously done the challenge in 2015 and had such a great time that I was willing to head back to the snow for another year.
Last year I was so excited to arrive and see so much snow but this year I was disappointed. There has been little snow and some rain which resulted in a muddy course with snow in some parts. It didn’t dull my excitement as I waited at the start line for the challenge to begin.
My friend Sheree had spent the night driving non-stop from Adelaide to Lake Mountain for the challenge and we were both so excited to head out on the course together. While I was racing elite I was still in it to have fun so I let the fast people run off into the distance as we jogged behind to the first few obstacles.
The lack of snow meant getting over some of the obstacles was easier than in previous years. Although this didn’t prevent the bottleneck at the first few obstacles as everyone arrived at roughly the same time and so we all had to wait to complete the obstacles. After two months of no racing I was feeling so happy to be back in action and on the obstacles, but I knew that I’d end up with some doms (delayed onset muscle soreness).
Sheree and I ran along before reaching the summit of the mountain and heading back down into the snow. The organisers had warned us about the ice and mud but it made for a nice change from running entirely in snow. I found it easier to run than last year because I wasn’t stepping in 15cm of fresh snow as I ran back down the mountain.
We got nice and muddy when completing the over/unders and the crawl through obstacles as all the snow had melted leaving muddy pits. Despite my clothes being wetter than the previous year I was feeling a lot warmer due to the lack of snow.
We kept running down the mountain and passed girls who were skipping every obstacle. I don’t understand why people sign up to challenges like this and then skip all the obstacles, including the really easy ones. But it’s not my place to judge to we kept running and eventually got to the monkey bars, balance beam, ring and a new obstacle – hula hoop throwing
You could feel the excitement in the air as we were told to throw hoops at a pole until we got 3 over the poles. I was about as successful at it as I am with the spear throw in a Spartan Race, but at least we were allowed multiple attempts to get the hoop over the pole. As Sheree was picking up her hoops another girl had started throwing hers. I heard a yell and turned around to see Sheree there with a hoop around her that the other girl had thrown. We all had a good laugh before Sheree and I headed up the road for the last few kilometres of the challenge.
We gave up on the idea of running up the hill so we walked and talked whilst admiring the amazing view. As we rounded the corner for the ‘valley of the walls’ (as I call it) we grabbed a plank of wood and walked with it overhead to the first of the many walls we had to conquer. I got over the 6 foot wall but failed the 8 and 10 foot walls which meant I was relegated to doing burpees.
We continued on to the ramp wall and then ran through the woods again until we got to the log walls. Knowing we were close to the end we pushed on and enjoyed the last bits of snow before heading up the last hill to the finish.
The last obstacle was a balance beam and as I stepped on the bottom of it I slipped and fell on my side. I wasn’t hurt so I just sat there and laughed for a few seconds before picking myself up, completing the obstacle and crossing the finish line.
It felt so good to be back running and completing some fun obstacles. I was exhausted when I finished but feeling so happy and ready for my next few months of racing.
Winter Warrior is still one of my favourite races as it’s fun, challenging and the scenery is amazing. Putting aside my hatred of the cold for a few hours is well worth it.
Event: Winter Warrior Challenge
Type: Obstacle Race
Location: Lake Mountain, Victoria (Australia)
Date: 6 August 2016