Looking for a way to start your summer out with a bang? How about a costumed run through nature, around 15 obstacles, Takeshi’s Castle style?

by Tamatha Roman

If this sounds like your kind of weekend foray, then mark your calendars for the Warrior Dash, taking place in June and July. The global phenomenon, which originated in Joliet, Illinois, and has since spread throughout the US, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, calls itself “the world’s largest obstacle race series.” It has dominated the obstacle race scene for the last five years, with over 1.8 million participants, and is now finally reaching Japan. Leave your inhibitions behind and read on…

Warrior Dash is not your typical run through the busy streets of metropolitan Tokyo. It consists of a five-kilometer race in locations selected for their natural beauty. “You get to play in nature,” says David Scott, director of Warrior Dash Japan. A typical race winds through valleys and over mountain paths, but the real appeal of Warrior Dash goes beyond the remote scenery. It actually lies with the 15 custom obstacles you have to surmount before you reach the finish line. Without giving too much away, obstacles include ‘Prison Break’ – a steep climbing wall – and  ‘Yakitori’, which involves jumping through fire, and as David warns, “You will feel it, so don’t slow down.”

There are no water obstacles, so you won’t get wet unless you decide to tackle the optional mud obstacle – and part of what makes this race unique is that choice:

“Different people are challenged by different things,” David notes. Therefore, if you have an overriding fear of heights, have no upper arm strength to climb ropes, or start panting after one kilometer of running, fear not. There’s no pressure, and even better, no time limits, but do expect plenty of friendly banter between participants…

A Black Diamond course may have been designed for the fearless, but the ‘easier’ Emerald Course may still have something tricky for your skill set – even if you take the Walk Around Path (skirting the obstacle altogether) you’ll face a challenge, perhaps of trying to block out the friendly peer pressure from your foes.

Warrior Dash

Look like Mt. Fuji to you? The challenge is there for the taking…

Participants are encouraged to dress to the nines and compete for best costume: come as warriors or in cosplay, or even a team with a theme, you name it.

The fun doesn’t have to end at the finish line. Sponsored by ANZco, a distributor of Australia & NZ Beef and Lamb in Japan, festivities will be taking place throughout the day. Expect live music, “spot prizes” awarded at sporadic moments, and, as David swears, “the best food of any matsuri in Japan:” high quality burgers, hotdogs, lamb chops, and much more. So after your post-run wash down, grab some food, lay back in the shade, listen to the tunes, and just enjoy the party.

Warrior Dash is set for two weekends: June 15th and 16th at Sagamiko Resort in Kanagawa and July 27th and July 28th at Tokyo Doitsu Mura in Chiba. Other race locations are yet to be announced but more in the Kanto area are being planned for later this year, each with location-specific obstacles.

Registration is available through the Warrior Dash Japan’s main website and it’ll cost you ¥8,000 each. This pays for the race fee, access to the festival, a souvenir T-shirt, race medal, warrior helmet, and congratulatory beer or soft drink. Sign up soon as races tend to sell out quickly.

More info (in both Japanese and English): www.warriordash.jp