BY KELLY FISCHER
Don’t be startled if you find yourself confronted by a stampede of people wearing Viking helmets on Saturday.
Months of hard training will soon be put the test as Warriors take their battle positions at Triple Canopy Ranch in Lake Wales on Feb. 2. The Warrior Dash is an annual 5k run that pushes the participants to their limits.
Anyone is welcome to enter, that is, anyone who is willing to undergo the numerous obstacles that are both physically and mentally challenging.
The obstacles range from crawling under barbed wire to running through fire. However, this does not discourage Warriors, for there are up to 600 people racing in each time slot, with 15 slots between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Novice warrior Keenan Peterson, 18, from Sebastian said his inspiration is self-betterment.
“I want to improve myself,” he said.
Awards are given to the top three overall and the top three males and females in each age division. Just finishing this demanding mission seems to be satisfying enough for most warriors.
“My goal is to finish, as well as have a pretty decent time,” said Peterson, whose training consists of casually running three to five miles at least once a week.
For those who do not meet the athletic requirements, there are also awards given to the most ridiculous costume and the best warrior beard. Every participant receives a fuzzy Viking warrior helmet and a T-shirt, as well as a complimentary beer if he or she is over the age of 21.
Red Frogs Events, which is a supporter of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, produces the dash. The Warrior Dash has raised more than $4 million for St. Jude so far this year.
Supporters of the cause or spectacles of the event are more than welcome to attend free of charge. There will be bands and plenty of turkey legs to go around.