By Grace Usher
The 2nd Annual Desert Warrior Challenge tested the endurance of local participants Saturday.
Nearly 100 athletes participated in the marathon traversing the desert surrounding SARA Park Rodeo Grounds and SARA Park hiking trail. The event was hosted by Only Orchids Charity.
The course was designed by owner of Shockwave Fitness and OCR Training, Chris Webb. Webb spent nearly 100 hours in the desert area strategically plotting the course to fit the 5k and 10k distance as well as move with the terrain. As soon as the race is over, the event planning team gets to work planning next year’s challenge.
The event had more than 15 local businesses as sponsors. Only Orchids said they would like to send the most sincere gratitude to all the sponsors involved and the event would not be possible without their donations and time spent preparing, promoting and participating.
Racers had two course options. The shorter 5k version followed Friendly Trail that circled the SARA Park Rodeo Grounds.
The longer 10k version began with a run through SARA’s Crack toward the lake, back up the mountain, and merging with Friendly Trail.
“[The race is] a fantastic event, really challenging, fun, scenic, its an event that a lot more people come to even if they just come to it once. I think it’s a great event for Only Orchids and for Havasu. [My favorite part] was running out towards the lake through SARA’s Crack, the most difficult was getting back over the mountain,” said LHHS teacher and proud Crossfit member, Kris Garry.
Along Friendly Trail were gym checkpoints that tested upper body strength, balance and cardio. These checkpoints include mini-workouts such as farmer’s carry, slam balls, and jumping jacks.
Both course options lead to the obstacle course. The course continued to challenge participant’s endurance and strength with strategic challenges such as a rock climbing wall, rope traverse, ring traverse, climbing over a 15-foot high cargo net tent and conquering a 19-foot high slip wall.
As the finish line came into distance, racers had one final test to push them over the limits (literally). Each runner had to trek up a 60-foot loose dirt mountain. Once at the top, they had to keep their balance as they careened down the hill to reach the judging table.
For the final hurrah, racers struck a pose as they jumped into the ice bath, a reward for the long endurance challenge.
Warriors completing the challenge were greeted by cheering fans and volunteers who provided bags of fresh fruit and water. The medals that hung around their necks identified them as true Desert Warriors.
Though the event was a test of endurance for each participant, it was also an overall race. The winner of the race was, in a record-making 45 minute time, 13-year old Nicholas Roman.
“The race is so fun, My favorite part is the obstacle course. I like pushing myself to the limit and seeing what happens when I try my best,” Roman said.
Second place was awarded to Keith Conrad. Third place went to Chris Melvin, of Torrence, Calif.
“This race is fantastic. It wasn’t something I had really trained for because my brother told me about it a couple of weeks ago, but it was very interesting,” said Melvin, 65.
The proceeds of the event benefit local charity Only Orchids. Only Orchids is a 501c3 that gives back to many different organizations including those that address youth development, education, art and scholarship.
“As the organizer, [the best part is] seeing everyone come across and have fun. They’re gassed so they might be hidden smiles but everyone comes and tells me how much they dig it. The other part is raising money for Only Orchids,” said event coordinator and president of Only Orchids, Cameron Moses.
This year, Only Orchids has been involved in Rachel’s Challenge that debuted at local schools earlier this year.
Want to know about Rachel’s Challenge? Click Here.
“Not only did we have fun with these people but the money is going to be used for something special.” said Moses.
With the proceeds raised by Desert Warrior Challenge, $5,000 will be allocated to Rachel’s Challenge with the intent to ensure the program continues for years to come.