There’s been a race within a couple hours of my house that I’ve had a conflict with since 2016. Wichita Gladiator Dash is Wichita’s longest running Obstacle Course Race (OCR). They’ve been putting on events since 2012 and it finally fit into my schedule so I went down there to check it out.
Check In/Location: The event is in Sedgewick Park in Wichita, which means it is in the city limits. No driving to the middle of the country, it’s right in the middle of the city. One of my friends lives three blocks away from the start line…you can’t beat that for a local event. They had plenty of parking in the park along with surrounding park roads, plus options to check in for packet pickup the day before if you didn’t want to be bothered on the day of the event.
Obstacles & Terrain: For those who enjoy really technical obstacles, you won’t find them in this race. The only one that you could fail was a set of monkey bars. This makes it a great race for beginners or elites with a strong running background with less obstacle proficiency. For long time OCR athletes, you’ll recognize many of the obstacles from the race including mud pits, low crawl and a very long telephone pole balance beam.
Some of the ones I really enjoyed were there unique ones using available resources. Two different points in the race they used flat bed trucks and empty dumpsters. These provided four fun obstacles to climb over during an event that were unlike any I’ve done in the more than 100+ obstacles I’ve done before. They also had great use of the lakes/ponds located within the park with racers having to do probably a half dozen water crossings over the ~3 mile course. However, my favorite obstacles were actually in the middle of the festival…not adjacent to it, but literally in the middle.
Festival & VIP Area: My favorite part was that the race finished with a low crawl to the finish that essentially runs through the festival area between the VIP tent and the rest of the festival area. There was a series of over/under walls that seemed to never end through deep mud pits and then you actually crawled under the walkway separating the VIP area from the main area. It was a great finish.
Overall, Wichita Gladiator Dash really shines in the festival category. Giant inflatable beer bottles set the tone for the atmosphere along with music playing loudly. If you paid for the VIP experience, you got unlimited beer and snacks, a price worth the trip for those interested in the party side of OCR.
Elite Experience: Despite being a race focused on the masses and party experience, they did have some pretty unique Elite perks. If you signed up for the Elite wave, when you finished you got a special Elite finisher’s medal which was much nicer than the standard finisher medal. Plus, as an Elite you got access to the VIP area, which provided a nice, secluded space to leave your race gear or if you desired, go all in on drinking.
Overall: Wichita Gladiator Dash’s history goes back to the dawn of the sport of modern OCR, 2012. With brands like Warrior Dash no longer operating and Conquer The Gauntlet no longer doing races outside of Oklahoma, their success is still crucial to the OCR in the Midwest as a whole. I talked to several people who said they got their start at Wichita Gladiator Dash. It was a fun event, I’ll throw on my schedule next year if I’m available and a great event that continues to bring people into the sport at a price point that won’t break the bank.