Back to our roots

Our founder and CEO, Joe Reynolds, brings today’s blog post to you. Below, he tells the story of how the idea for Warrior Dash, which has catapulted into an entire Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) industry, came to fruition.

“I usually went for the biggest slide during second grade recess. By fourth grade, I’d moved on to the monkey bars.

I could fly up the rope in high school P.E. and joined the Men’s Cross Country team to get in shape for basketball season. By the time I graduated, I’d fallen in love with running and the simplicity of the sport. ‘Who can run three miles through the woods the fastest?’ My favorite course included jumping over large, fallen trees, crawling under others, and crossing a river. I never forgot it.

Ten years later, I was working on expanding my business, Great Urban Race – a The Amazing Race inspired adventure in cities throughout the U.S. – and thought back to that Cross Country Course. I had recently played paintball for the first time at CPX Sports, a large, wooded paintball venue located on wild terrain, with big structures throughout, outside of Chicago.

The idea for an obstacle course race clicked. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote – the concept, possible locations, name options (including an early version called Wimpy Warrior), and ideas for obstacles. Then, the creative Great Urban Race team joined the brainstorm and dreamed big: furry Warrior helmets, flames shooting in the air at the Start Line, a mud pit with barbed wire, giant turkey legs, a free beer for every participant (still novel at the time), live music, and a big post-race festival. We did it all for our first race in Joliet, IL in July of 2009.

Turns out the concept clicked with other people, too. We sold out in weeks. Within a year, we’d hosted multiple Warrior Dashes with over 15,000 people and within three years it was the world’s largest running series.

Today, near the end of each Warrior Dash course is Goliath – a multi-story monster of an obstacle that ends with a long, fast slide into a pool of water. My second-grade-self would be proud.”