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Embracing the 'Warrior' spirit (PHOTO GALLERY + VIDEO)

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Afton Alps Ski Area was transformed Saturday into a setting for a grueling adventure race, where thousands of hardy runners scaled walls, climbed ski hills and slogged through mud.

The race -- Warrior Dash -- drew runners from across the Midwest to south Washington County for the one-day event.

Runners completed a 5K race the hard way: Mud mounds, rope bridges and a roaring fire were among the 13 obstacles faced along the way.

Among the competitors at this year’s event were sisters Amanda Nobello and Jillian Deppa, both of Woodbury.

Nobello said a harrowing crawl across a long passage had her “staring at the ground below you and thinking that you don’t want to fall through.”

It didn’t help that Afton Alps’ ski hills -- which form portions of the course -- were a known commodity to Deppa.

“They were a lot steeper than I expected,” she said.

Deppa had previously run the Mud Games event in Blaine.

“This,” she said of Warrior Dash, “was way harder.”

Still, being able to complete the Warrior Dash provided a measure of satisfaction that pervaded both sisters. Deppa said she was glad she didn’t go it alone.

“I enjoyed just doing it with my friends and completing the Warrior Dash,” she said.

Nobello said she found the course plenty challenging, though once was enough for her -- at least on Saturday.

“I wouldn’t want to run it again,” she said.

Mike Longaecker
Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
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