southtownstar
THORNY 
Weather Updates

Arvia: Warriors come out to play in mud at Dash

SouthtownStar sports editor Phil Arvi(from left) Manhattan's LaurSiebert Frankfort's MarissRosandich after emerging from muck Warrior Dash June 17 Channahon. |

SouthtownStar sports editor Phil Arvia (from left), Manhattan's Laura Siebert and Frankfort's Marissa Rosandich after emerging from the muck at the Warrior Dash June 17 in Channahon. | Supplied photo

storyidforme: 32489468
tmspicid: 11855217
fileheaderid: 5418040

Updated: July 25, 2012 6:32AM



I began to suspect I was in trouble on the ride to Channahon.

My fellow Warrior Dash rookies and I were discussing the tradition of runners in the 5K obstacle course race donating their mud-covered shoes to charity. From the back seat, Marissa Rosandich conceded hers would be easy to let go.

“They’re really old,” she said. “I’ve had them since eighth grade.”

Stunned, I said, “Wow, how old are they?

“Nine years.”

Double stunned. “How old are you?”

“23.”

Geez. It was bad enough I’d be chasing a 27-year-old personal trainer (my friend and former Peotone High hoops/volleyball superstar, Laura Siebert) across three miles of mud, barbed wire, rope walls and the like. But now I discover her buddy, the marathoner/triathlete (and Lincoln-Way East special education teacher), is less than half my age?

Let the whining begin.

Actually, whenever Siebert is around, whining generally is frowned upon. Ask her clients at Orland Park’s Lifetime Fitness.

Besides, the Warrior Dash isn’t really about competition. And I’m not competitive. Ask anybody.

Except the folks with whom I play “Catch Phrase” on Christmas Eve. Or “Scrabble” on Thanksgiving. Or volleyball most any time. Or pingpong ...

Anyway, this year’s Warrior Dash drew 22,942 registrants to Channahon’s Dollinger Family Farm. I signed up because I’ve wanted to run an obstacle course ever since I saw Pete Rose and Reggie Jackson go at it on the Superstars — a reference Rosandich surely won’t get.

(OK, it basically was a reality show, cheesy ’70s style, featuring famous athletes competing in sports other than their own.)

I knew I could handle the distance. Thanks to Siebert, I figured my oft-achy shoulder could handle the obstacles. And the mud looked like fun.

Apparently, it looks like fun to lots of folks. The Warrior Dash first came to the area three years ago. The first run, in Joliet, had 2,000 entrants. That exploded more than tenfold after moving to Channahon.

The Warrior Dash isn’t the only “mud run” in a booming segment of fitness activities. More than 1 million runners, by most estimates, took part in mud runs in 2011, remarkable considering most of the races out there haven’t been around for five years. Illinois options include the Tough Mudder, the Spartan series and the Hell Run, among many.

What’s the attraction? Mud.

Slapping your belly into the muck to slide through a trench and under barbed wire? That’s a blast, especially when one of your cohorts screams, “I don’t want to get shocked!”

(Um, there’s no electricity. You get barbed. Not shocked.)

Which brings me back to the non-competition part. Run a street 5K, and most everybody is trying to post a good time. Run a mud race, most everybody is trying to have a good time.

“I’ve been recommending it to people, because it’s fun,” Rosandich said a couple of days after the race. “It was one of the more fun races I’ve been in. And it’s not really physically demanding — that’s what I was surprised by.”

At our Dash, there was a runner in full clown makeup, another dressed as a gladiator, another in a dress shirt, tie, and slacks. Nobody was talking about splits afterward, unless they did the splits while navigating the Petrifying Plunge, one of 13 obstacles spread over the 3.1 miles.

And speaking of falls, why is it 27-year-olds flop to the ground like wet spaghetti, and 49-year-olds descend like ice sculptures? Might explain why Siebert spent so much time whooping, splatting and cackling, and I so much time mincing carefully down muddy slopes.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy leaping fire, taking on a wall Bat-rope style, scaling a 20-foot cargo net, walking a rope bridge, and so on. I’m just glad I wasn’t racing anybody while doing it.

Besides, if I’d have been in a hurry, I’d have missed one of my running mates dubbing a particularly inelegant obstacle the “gynecologist crawl.”

Thankfully, covered in mud, no one can see you blush.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.