By Pete Williams
Donny Jones admires the success that obstacle races such as Tough Mudder and Spartan Race have enjoyed attracting athletes for a couple hours of muddy strength and endurance tests.
But the creator of the Ragin’ Warrior, which takes place at Florida Horse Park in Ocala on March 3, thinks the category could use more noise, some pyrotechnics, and perhaps even a little gunfire.
Athletes navigating the 11.5-mile Ragin’ Warrior course might feel like they’re in a warzone says Jones, who wants them to get at least a small taste of what it’s like to deal with the mental and physical stresses of combat. He consulted with former U.S. Special Forces personnel to create a course that will include guys dressed as drill sergeants barking orders, smoke grenades going off, and “explosions that feel real as hell.”
“There’s going to be dust and mud flying everywhere and you’re going to have to keep calm and collected while all of this is going on around you,” Jones says. “You’re going to have deal with 24 obstacles, most of which won’t be similar to anything that’s been done by Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, or anyone else.”
Most mud runs require athletes to go under barbwire. For Ragin’ Warrior’s “Shock and Awe,” athletes must crawl under electrified barbwire while a 50-caliber machine gun fires compressed air overhead.
“It’s just compressed air, but it sounds like a 50 caliber firing 350 rounds a minute,” Jones says.
Other obstacles include “Icy Burrows,” where athletes must crawl through large metal culverts partially buried in ice water, and “Mount Ragin’,” two metal cargo containers stacked to form a 17-foot obstacle athletes must climb with ropes.
The military theme continues after the race, when athletes can test their target skills with paintball guns. The Ragin’ Warrior has partnered with the Lone Survivor Foundation as its official charity. Post-race will include bands, beer, and vendors selling food.
The Ragin’ Warrior was moved from its Jan. 28 date after the original race site was sold. Now the event is in the middle of a busy Florida obstacle race calendar that includes Spartan Race (Miami, Feb. 25-26) and Savage Race (Clermont, March 10).
“Our goal is to not be a regular mud run,” Jones says. “We want to provide a challenge that’s as much mental as it is physical.