By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN Crawling through mud, hurdling over flames, and climbing up a cargo net . . .
The Warrior Dash isn’t your typical 5k, and that’s exactly why Winsted’s Wes Kapping was drawn to it.
“I got hooked after the first one,” said Kapping, a guidance counselor at Holy Trinity High School.
Kapping has done three Warrior Dashes since last summer, placing in the top 2 percent or better each time. At his most recent dash at Afton Alps near Hastings, Kapping finished 80th out of 8,300 participants, with a time of 28 minutes and 57 seconds.
“I kind of surprised myself,” he said.
Each race includes about 12 obstacles (every quarter to one-half mile), and the course changes year to year. On the Warrior Dash website, obstacles are given names like “hard rain,” “Mortimer’s crossing,” and “deadweight drifter.”
“Usually the very last one is the muddiest,” Kapping said.
For him, the “cargo climb” is one of the more challenging obstacles.
“Heights aren’t my favorite thing,” he said, explaining that it involves climbing several feet into the air over a suspended cargo net.
Kapping encourages people who are interested in trying the Warrior Dash not to be intimidated by the obstacles, though.
“If you enjoy keeping in shape and working out, you can definitely handle it,” he said.
Train like a warrior
Kapping has always been into running and lifting weights, and he added a few new twists to his routine after signing up for the Warrior Dash.
For example, when going for a 4- or 5-mile run, he’ll stop every two minutes to do pushups, squat jumps, or other exercises simulating the obstacles he’ll face.
To prepare for the race’s rolling terrain, Kapping finds a hill, runs up, does a set of pushups (or other exercise) and jogs back down.
“I’ll repeat that for 30 minutes,” he said. “For me, I really do enjoy the process of training and getting ready to do it. And when I get done, it’s a feeling of accomplishment.”
The Warrior Dash also gives people a chance to get dirty, climb on things, and act like a little kid, he added.
“Lots of people dress up,” Kapping said. “Probably the most interesting was a guy who dressed as a priest. He was with a group of girls, all dressed like Catholic students.”
Kapping said he wasn’t sure what to expect when he signed up for his first race, but he’s glad he gave it a try. Now, he hopes to run two Warrior Dashes every summer.
Each spring, Kapping keeps in shape by helping coach track at Holy Trinity High School. This fall, he’ll be entering his eighth year as the school’s guidance counselor.
“It’s been a great place to work,” said Kapping, who is originally from Wisconsin. “With the atmosphere of a small school, you can get to know the kids really well.”
Are you a warrior?
People 14 and older are eligible to participate in the Warrior Dash, which is considered the world’s largest obstacle race series.
Times and dates in Minnesota haven’t been set yet for 2014, but race information for other locations is available at www.warriordash.com.