On Saturday the picturesque and normally peaceful Glenworth Valley was invaded by over eight thousand men and women. Some came in business suits and ball gowns, others dressed as orcs and cavemen, or fairies and fat ladies. Though to be honest, most people hadn’t bothered to dress-up at all, and came in old t-shirts and board shorts. A few blokes keen to show off their abs didn’t even bother with the t-shirt.

The assembled horde had gathered for the Warrior Dash: a five-kilometre run with obstacles including cargo nets, rope climbs, flaming hay bales, and mud pits. Before tackling the course competitors handed over signed release forms. They confirmed that, among other things, they understood “obstacles may go through water, which has not been tested for chemicals or disease,” and that they accepted the “risk of wild animals and insects that may be present on the course.”

The weather made the already rugged track harder to navigate. A wild hailstorm tore through the valley, pelting competitors waiting to run, and leaving the ground more treacherous than it had begun. That said, it was clear from the beer guts and love handles of some competitors you didn’t need to be an athlete to complete the run.

The course did find some victims. A bigger girl struggled up a rope then slid down the way she had climbed, earning herself painful rope burns. One bloke lay by the track and sucked on an ampoule of morphine while he was treated for a busted ankle. No one was torn apart by a wild animal and it’ll be a few days until we know if there has been an outbreak of giardia from the filthy water.

Competitors relished rolling about in the muck and crossed the line with smiles shining from their mud-caked faces. They grabbed their medals and headed to a stagnant creek where they emptied kilos of mud from bras and undies and took another chance with waterborne diseases. From there it was to the bar for the beer that was included in the entry fee.

War stories were shared over beer steins and turkey drumsticks. Most people were in high spirits but there were exceptions. “It’s dirty, disgusting and dangerous,” complained one woman with a penchant for alliteration. The bloke with her nodded his head in agreement. “Yeah,” he said, “I can’t wait to do it again next year.”