The Watauga Warrior Challenge

Article Published: Sep. 27, 2012 | Modified: Oct. 7, 2012
The Watauga Warrior Challenge

From left, Stephanie Razdrh, Melody Isenhour, Ben Morris and Emily Robb strike a pose after completing a mud run. The Watauga Swim Team is hosting a similar run, the Watauga Warrior Challenge, Oct. 6 as a fundraiser.

Photo submitted

The Watauga Warrior Challenge is a four-mile run of grass-scarred knees, water-marked legs, blades of trails and all the accompanying surges of exhaustion and freedom.

If a participant does not feel like a gritty hero at the beginning, they will by the end.

The challenge will be held on Saturday, Oct. 6, with check-in and registration at 8 a.m. and the race at 9 a.m. It will be held at Boone Greenway Trail in Clawson-Burnley Park on Hunting Hills Lane in Boone.

Fees are $40 on the day of the race, $35 for pre-registration and adults, $25 for students, $15 for kids 10 and younger and $15 for the Kids’ One-Mile Challenge Run. The registration form is available at under the “Events” tab at the bottom of the homepage. The form can be mailed to Watauga Swim Team, PO Box 2506, Boone, N.C. 28607, or it can be dropped off at the Wellness Center at 232 Boone Heights Drive.

The four-mile challenge trail was designed by swim team Watauga Water Warriors as this year’s fundraiser. In the past, the swim team has hosted 5K spring runs, but this year, its members decided to postpone the runs for something rougher.

The challenge will begin on Greenway Trail and run through the North Fork of the New River, hills, hay-bale obstacle climbs, a long crawl under a net and a tilled stretch of mud.

The kids’ one-miler will end with an inflatable obstacle course.

“I’ve never participated in one or seen one done here before,” said J.D. Dove, promoter and swim coach of the Blue Gills and the Sea Turtles.

He expects a large attendance at this run and plans for it to be the first of many in coming years.

“I hope that when people think of this mud run, they think ‘intense’ and that it’s unique to the swim team,” he said.

The Watauga Warriors swim team is a non-profit organization. It has no headquarters, but its 80 students practice at the Watauga County Parks and Recreation center. Because of local nature-induced sports, like snowboarding and skiing and local college football and basketball, Dove said that the swim team is easily bypassed.

But the students, parents and teachers of the swim community are committed to their sport and their art. Dove said that every swim meet takes them off the mountain to places like Charlotte, Shelby and Winston-Salem. Parents volunteer, and coaches plan visits to college swim clinics.

Dove said that the swim team was started in the early 1970s and describes it as a family.

“It’s a sports team, but it’s co-ed and has different groups, ages 5 to 15 or 16, and the big kids really do look out for the little kids,” he said. “Two of our coaches now swam for the team when they were kids. People that do it really spend a lot of time and effort in it.”

He said that last year on the same Oct. 6 date, Boone had its first snow of the winter. He does not know if that will happen again, but is sure that the challenge will be plenty messy regardless.

For more information, go to and click on the “News” or “Events” tabs.

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