More water, more warnings was the mantra at the Warrior Dash on Saturday. And it seemed to do the trick at preventing heat-related casualties like those that marred the two-day extreme race event last year.
“Safety is the priority,” said Lauren Shield, race manager for Red Frog Events, which sponsors about 60 Warrior Dashes worldwide.
Last July, two people died after challenging the 5K obstacle course at Tiffany Springs Park. Several others were hospitalized. Organizers ended the race early on its second day after 57 people were treated on the site for heat-related symptoms.
This year, an extra water checkpoint has been added to the course, Shield said. And with forecasts predicting temperatures Saturday and today in the upper 80s, the 13,000 registrants were sent emails Friday advising them to stay hydrated.
A “Caution High Heat” sign greeted participants Saturday at the event’s new location in Platte Ridge Park as they made their way to the tents to sign in.
First-aid personnel were stationed at the 14 obstacles, which included cargo nets, barbed wire, a mud pit and two fire pits.
Bottled water was readily available. And the announcer at the finish line repeatedly reminded runners to keep gulping it,
First-aid workers treated scrapes, burns and twisted ankles, but Shield said there were no major injuries and no ambulance calls.
Not that the heat and humidity were going to dampen the festivities in any case.
Runners came in kilts and tutus. They wore T-shirts that read “Buff Mother” and “Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.” And beyond the finish line was a rock band and beer tent.
“This is just fun,” said Kathy Van Asdale of Wichita, who finished the dash with her daughter, Sarah, a freshman at the University of Kansas, and several other family members. Van Asdale was dripping with sweat and mud as she gulped an energy drink. “It was kind of a mud facial. That’s OK. We’re strong girls.”
Paul Robinson of Kansas City, Kan., just turned 40. The Warrior Dash was his initiation into middle-aged crazy.
“It was a little harder than I thought it would be,” he said. “I think it surprised a lot of people.”
He thinks that next year he’ll wear a costume to the event.
When it was suggested to Robinson, who’s brawny and bald and wears earrings, that he could put on a white T-shirt and run as Mr. Clean, he looked at his soaking wet brown shirt and deadpanned: “Thiswas a white T-shirt.”