Who Says Girls Can’t Get Dirty? Dad’s & Daughter’s Bond in Warrior Dash

As soon as I was old enough to walk, I was off running.  Before racing was fashionable for females, I dashed around the block of old East 19th Street neighborhood. In the winter, I ran circular laps around Jefferson, the first round school in town. In Jr. high, the coach let me run cross-country with the boys. In high school, when the law finally mandated equal opportunities for girls, I joined the track team.

Though my running days are long gone due to injuries, much to my delight my niece Marie was a runner. Though she no longer belongs to a team, she still enjoys a good race. Every July she competes in the Warrior Dash, a fun run where 600 runners lined up every half hour from 8am to 5 pm all weekend.

Her dad, Dick, a heart attack and cancer survivor, dedicated to fitness, joined her. After surgery in April to remove cancerous thyroid tumor, his goal was to run the Warrior Dash with his daughters. This type of cross-country run was fitting for his younger daughter, Hannah, a two time state championship rugby player, because it included army crawls and obstacles climbing.

Dick Carlson & John Pupkes coached daughters in team sports

Dick Carlson & John Pupkes coached daughters in team sports

The five-K run set on a ski slopes at Afton Alps Ski Resort in Minnesota was mostly uphill. Every 100 yards, an obstacle including a ten-foot high wall, had to be scaled by rope. Dick, ever the gentleman, sat on top of the wall to help women struggling to swing their bodies over the barrier. Then as soon as the contestants’ feet hit the ground, they crawled under barbed wire through mud.

“It gets tougher as you go cause your body is weighed down in muck,” Dick said, “and your feet slip and slide.”

But for Marie, a recent college graduate, the whole experience is “fun, fun, fun!”

To add to the gaiety, many competitors dressed in costume. At the end of the race, runners hosed off the mess and enjoyed a beverage, which for many was beer. Food booths sold chicken wings, turkey legs and hot dogs adding to the carnival atmosphere.

“Wear old clothes cause you’ll throw everything away,” Dick said, “except your shoes which are donated to charity.”

The entrance fee was $50 and competitors went home with T-shirts, buffalo warrior hats, participation medals, heads filled with pride and hearts bursting with joy.

“This year was better than last cause my friends ran,” Marie said, “ and so did my pops and sister!”

Thanks to Title IX dad coached daughters in soccer

Thanks to Title IX dad coached daughters in soccer

According to the fifty-six year old dad, “It takes a lot of upper body strength to climb over obstacles and the run uphill was much harder than I expected!

But Marie, insisted, “It was awesome! I can’t wait till next year!

If you love to run and roll in mud, check out this site http://www.warriordash.com/ to find the Warrior Dash in your area. Hit the treadmills and pump that iron! Work it this winter, so you can roll with the warriors next summer!

Posted in education, family, humor, inspiration, relationships, sport.


  1. Pat,

    Warrior Dash Seems fun & beneficial in that running keep you fit…awesome! Don’t know if you’ve seen it in Switzerland, but Youtube have recent video of 9 year old footballer girl out running the little guys! Girls- a force to be reckoned with, for sure:)

  2. Sista!
    AWESOME! Brought back great memories of cheering while being the designated photographer. I loved the message of sharing something special with their Pops! You were right there with Marie, Hannah and Dick with your encouragement and support long distance thru all their life challenges! It is a great “plug” for the Warrior Dash event, I think I will forward to them for some free PR! Te amo sister!

  3. These Warrior Dashes are becoming ever popular around here too. People seem to really love it. Maybe I should count my blessings I can’t run anymore or else by daughters would be dragging me through the mud! But all the more power to those women (and their dads) who compete and complete the ordeal.

  4. What a great story of father-daughter bonding, Patty! It’s like a metaphor for life- there’s a huge sense of relief and accomplishment when you reach the end of all those obstacles. I love your stories. They are so rich and layered as well as inspirational and entertaining. Wonderful 🙂

  5. Pat,
    One of my favorite things about your blog is to see how different you and I are (although we are about the same age and come from the same feminist-not-girl era and are both world travelers) because I always hated running with a passion but when you talk about it you make me want to go out and run! How wonderful that your niece has taken up your running shoes and what an amazing event you describe. I love that people have so many fun outlets for all their passions. And by the way, my youngest, the 14 year old also loves to run (as does my husband) so there’s some running going on around here too! Hope you are feeling well. I’m in a good period right now and can even get to yoga today.

    • Though we may be different in many ways, we share our love of words, good humor and a fighting spirit! So great to hear that your youngest daughter loves to run. Even though my joints can no longer take the pounding, I sometimes run in deep water…not quite the same thrill but works a lot of same muscles. I hope that you are continuing to grow stronger and winning the battle day by day!

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