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Warrior Dashed Out? I hope not

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By Stephen Lega

I'm going to open by saying what you are about to read is not the column I wanted to write.

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I wanted to write about how the Warrior Dash was a wonderful experience, about how it showcased our community and about how much I'm looking forward to participating again next year.

Only I can't.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the Warrior Dash, and if it does return, I fully intend to do it again. Even if it doesn't return, I'll probably travel to run another one.

From the people I interviewed, I know many feel the same way, and many people are hoping it returns to Popes Creek Ranch in 2013.

Not everyone, but a lot of people.

Unfortunately, a pair of accidents caused some serious delays in getting participants and spectators back and forth from the fairgrounds (where people were asked to park) to the ranch (where the race was run).

Now, I do think the two accidents were the major cause of the delays, but there is an open question as to whether Red Frog Events had enough buses to handle the number of people who participated in the event.

I know that local officials are planning a conference call to discuss Saturday's race, and Red Frog officials said they will take feedback into consideration if they return.

A lot of people raved about Kentucky's first Warrior Dash on Facebook and Twitter, but some people had really bad experiences as well, not the least of whom were the 17 people who were thrown from the back of a wagon being pulled by a tractor. We are still trying to get more information about that accident as well as find out the condition of the people who were injured.

People who participate in races like the Warrior Dash are doing so for the experience. In most 5K races you don't get to jump over fire, crawl through a mud pit, climb walls and cargo nets, or slide down a pole.

People are willing to wait in line if the experience is good enough. People will go to amusement parks and stand in line for hours to ride a roller coaster for two minutes. And when they get off the ride, they'll talk about how much fun it was.

Likewise, I think people were willing to wait to get to the site for the Warrior Dash, but everything has a limit.

Some people waited in line for three hours just to get on a bus to get to Popes Creek, and then had to wait three hours to get back to the fairgrounds.

After a few hours of waiting after the race, the good feelings they had from finishing the race had worn off. They just wanted to go home, and as I overheard at least a few of them say, they weren't ever coming back.

Again, that's not everyone, but it was enough people that it should be a concern if this event does return in 2013.

Personally, I want the Warrior Dash to come back. I also want to run at Popes Creek Ranch again.

My conversations with local officials leads me to believe they want the same thing, and they want to work with Red Frog Events to improve the situation for everyone in the future.

Obviously, no one could predict one, much less two, accidents would be so disruptive, but it should make everyone realize a plan B is needed, just in case.

I'm still glad I got to be part of the first Warrior Dash in Kentucky. I hope I get to do it again, and I hope when I do, that it's here in Marion County.