For reasons that cannot be explained, Angela White, Editor of Truck Camper Magazine, took on the Warrior Dash. To keep things clean, we borrowed a Lance 1050S.
When Angela sets her mind to something, there’s no changing it. So when she told me that she and her friends were going to run the Warrior Dash, the mold was cast, the stone was carved, and the deal was done. She was going to run the Warrior Dash.
For those of you who don’t know what the Warrior Dash is (I certainly didn’t), here’s a brief description from the Warrior Dash website, “Warrior Dash is a mud-crawling, fire-leaping, extreme run from Hell. …Warriors conquer extreme obstacles, push their limits, and celebrate with kick-ass music, beer, and warrior helmets”. Sounds like a good weekend, right? Evidently, we were going to find out. What did Angela get herself into this time?
The Warrior Dash was held about two and a half hours from our house in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Gary Conley, National Sales Manager for Lance Campers, had offered to let us borrow a 2011 Lance 1050S and this was the perfect opportunity to take him up on it. On Friday morning before the event, William Hill, Lance Camper’s East Coast Representative, delivered a 2011 Ford F350 diesel and the 1050S to our door. Now that’s service. Thank you William!
ABOVE: The 2011 Lance 1050S and 2011 Ford F350 Lariat diesel
The rest of this story will be divided into two parts. Since I didn’t participate in the Warrior Dash, Angela has written up her experience complete with some photographs you just have to see to believe. I will follow with our experience with the truck and camper and attempt to put all of this mud and fire into the context of truck camping.
Get ready for what the Warrior Dash calls, “The Craziest Frickin’ Day of Your Life!”. From what Angela’s about to tell you, they may be right.
Angela’s Warrior Dash Experience:
I’m writing this at 2:54 AM after completing the coolest race of my life! I should be exhausted after running a three and a half mile obstacle race, but I’m not. My brain is still thinking of all the fun we had, and my aching and bruised leg is reminding me of the thrill of accomplishing those obstacles. What an adventure!
ABOVE: Warrior Dash team (left to right) Debbie, Heidi, Angela, Karen, and Jess
For the months leading up to the race, my friends and I got together and practiced. We went to our local community park and ran, climbed ropes, crawled through tunnels, and sprinted over hills of mulch. Now the preparations and training were complete, and we were ready for the race.
On the morning of the dash, it was about sixty degrees and pouring rain. What had been a dirt road leading to a grassy parking field for the event had become a Warrior Dash all to itself with deep mud, tire ruts, and standing water. So much for the clean truck and camper!
Just before we were to drive onto the grassy field and park, the mud got worse and the truck wheels starting spinning in the mud. We were stuck. That’s when the parking attendants asked us to turn uphill and get out of the way. One shouted, “You’re holding up traffic. Just go!” Were they out of their noodle?
Then I remembered that we were in a four wheel drive truck. I put the truck into neutral, switched into four wheel drive low, then switched to second gear, and drove right out of the mud and onto the grass. Boy were we glad that Lance gave us a four wheel drive truck. When we finally parked, we got out and saw that the truck was covered in mud, hay, and grass, but looked good. Now it was time to get to the race.
ABOVE: The starting line – I’m in the white shirt
After registering and putting on our number tags, we were very excited to get started. We ran the 10:30 wave. Each wave had 500 participants, and there were thirty-eight waves for a total of 19,000 racers. It was a very well attended event.
The obstacles in the race were awesome. We ran through narrow forest trails covered in mud, sticks, and rocks, crawled through black drainage pipes on our hands and knees, walked across angled balance planks, navigated into a nest of tangled ropes, climbed over a twelve-foot wall, waded through cold waist deep streams and lakes with rocks and rapids, tip-toed over rusting car wrecks, jumped over a series of five foot walls, zig-zagged through old tires, scaled a cargo net pyramid, ran through smoke and fire, and, finally, slogged into a hundred feet long stretch of deep mud.
ABOVE: Jumping over the fire. The whole time I was trying not to trip and land on my face. What a race!
You may be wondering how you get over a five foot wall when you’re only five foot five inches tall? You run, jump, and hope. Getting through these obstacles was so empowering.
ABOVE: Here we are immediately after the race
Getting the mud off afterwards was quite the experience. After we crossed the finish line, there was a huge water tanker where they were hosing down mud soaked race participants. The water coming out of the tankers was absolutely freezing, but it started to remove the layers of mud and grit that was caked on us.
ABOVE: Getting water blasted by Heidi
We all got blasted with water until it was almost too cold to bear. Then Heidi went over and started being one of the water blasters. I took my shoes off, rinsed them out in the water, and stood under Heidi’s blasts of water to rinse off. After the hose down, we all grabbed towels and wrapped them around ourselves to keep warm. It was time to head back to the camper.
ABOVE: Before the race, immediately after, and then semi-cleaned up
Let me tell you that being able to go back to a warm and dry truck camper after the race was awesome. We were wet, cold, tired, and ready for a thorough wash off in the clean camper shower.
ABOVE: The outside shower was a lifesaver
In the sea of cars, we found the Lance Camper, rinsed off briefly with the outside shower, and, one-by-one, used the inside shower. The camper heat and hot water was wonderful and it was fantastic to get out of our wet and muddy clothes.
As we ate our late lunch, we looked out the window to see fellow Warrior Dash participants walking to their cars shivering cold, muddy, and wet. They had a cold drive home ahead of them while we enjoyed our sandwiches and stayed warm and toasty. We felt so lucky to have the camper.
After lunch, we drove back to the campground ready for a night of celebration. We got the campfire going and started the preparations for dinner. We had cheese and crackers, turkey burgers, hot dogs, macaroni salad, potato salad, veggies, some adult beverages, and, for dessert, S’mores and more S’mores. It was delicious!
ABOVE: Six people in the full booth dinette of the Lance 1050S
On Sunday morning, the weather had turned cold and soggy again so everyone had breakfast in the camper. We managed to get six people in the dinette, comfortably. With breakfast done, we packed up the camper, helped our friends with their tent, and hit the road back to Lancaster.
When we returned, we got to work cleaning the camper. Heidi got out the shop vacuum and hose, Tom and Gordon worked on getting the mud off the truck, and I cleaned out the inside of the camper. It was a team effort and done in about an hour.
Thank you to Lance Campers for loaning us the rig for my Warrior Dash race. I really enjoyed the camper and there’s no doubt that my friends are all now very interested in truck camping. Maybe there will be more than one truck camper at next year’s Warrior Dash!
Gordon’s Impressions: 2011 Lance 1050S
While Angela was focused on the race, I was enjoying taking a close look at the 2011 Ford F350 diesel truck and 2011 Lance 1050S that Lance had loaned to us.
Let’s start with the 2011 Lance 1050S. If you read our new camper announcement in February, “New Campers: 2011 Lance 1050 and 1050S”, you already know this floor plan is special to us. To make a long story short, we started our truck camping adventures in a 2004 Lance 1030 and we had the time of our lives with that camper. Read the 1050 and 1050S announcement linked to above for the whole story.
ABOVE: Interior of the Lance 1050S taken from the overcab
Since we’re so familiar with the core floor plan, we were able to focus on what’s new. The most obvious macro level difference on the 1050S is the dinette slide.
Wait a minute! We don’t go truck camping in slide-out campers, do we?
What may be almost impossible for some to believe is that this was the very first time that Angela and I had ever gone truck camping in a slide-out truck camper. We are very partial to hard-side, non-slide truck campers for the type of truck camping that we do and slide-outs always looked amazing, but unnecessary. We’ve even gone cross country three times for five or six months at a shot, each time with a hard-side, non-slide truck camper. Hard-side, non-slide campers are our bag, baby. Or so we thought.
With Tom and Heidi camping with us, the slide-out made a huge difference. In the 2011 Lance 1050S, the full-booth dinette slides out leaving a remarkable amount of floor space to walk around. In practice, this meant that we never really felt like we were in each other’s way. That’s no trivial point when four adults are sharing a truck camper.
When we were camping with Tom and Heidi in the hard-side, non-slide 2010 Adventurer 90FWS in California last summer, we had to get out of each other’s way by sitting in the dinette to let someone pass, or even ducking into the bathroom. This isn’t really a big deal, but it was much easier to have more room. We even pushed our luck by having Angela and Heidi’s friends visit us for breakfast. We stuffed six people in the dinette! That would be possible in the Adventurer, but uncomfortable. In the Lance 1050S with the slide-out, it wasn’t perfect, but it was comfortable. And quite fun.
Tom and Heidi had never seen a slide-out or a dry bath in a truck camper and their eyes almost popped out of their heads when they saw these features in the 1050S. I think we all remember that moment well when we saw our first slide-out in a truck camper. The first slide-out we ever saw was a Lance 1121. We were both awe struck.
The dry bath in the 1050S got plenty of use at the Warrior Dash. Towards the end of the weekend, Tom, Heidi, Angela, and I had a long conversation about the benefits of a dry bath versus a wet bath. The four of us agreed that a wet bath makes more sense and allows a camper to have more storage and room, but the dry bath in the 1050S made a strong argument for a dry bath.
The 1050S dry bath has an ample tub large enough to soak your feet at the end of a long hiking day. The sink is very cleverly shaped to give the owner a large sink without using a lot of space. Overall, it’s a really nice dry bath with a domestic feel, but it can’t help but take space out of the camper. The same can be said about slide-outs that give you more floor space, but take away storage. Everything’s a trade off.
Lance Campers use of Solid Works and multiple CNC machines was evident throughout the interior of the 1050S. Look along the cabinet ceiling and there’s no gimp. In fact, we had to really search for the use of gimp in the camper. It’s there, but they’ve almost eliminated it completely.
Open a cabinet drawer or door and the opening is CNC cut smooth, round, and precise. Look the side of the dinette and the curves and efficient use of material would be nearly impossible to do consistently by hand. Inside the bathroom, you see the ready-to-assemble fasteners, all part of Lance’s extensive CNC process. I wrote about the CNC machines and the culture they’ve brought to Lance extensively in their tour story, “2010 TOUR: Lance Campers”.
ABOVE: Angela and Tom attaching the umbilical cord. It is important to make sure that all signals and lights are working before driving. Our umbilical cord had slipped off, so we were re-attaching it.
Gordon’s Impressions: 2011 Ford F350 Diesel
ABOVE: The 2011 Ford F-350 and the 2011 Lance 1050S in the muddy parking field
The Ford diesel was impressively quiet and smooth. It was still a diesel with that distinctive diesel engine cadence, but it was amazingly quiet. Now this in comparison with our beast, a 1998 Dodge Ram 12-valve Cummins diesel, well known to be the loudest diesel engine ever to grace a full-size pickup. There’s no sneaking out of a campground at dawn with our truck. Oh no. You may as well walk around banging a metal trash can. Even that doesn’t quite explain it. Our truck is loud.
The new 2011 Ford diesel engine was really impressive. We could talk, and actually hear each other. We could have the radio on, and listen to the music. Part of me missed the deafening growl of our man truck, but it was nice to be able to converse without screaming and hand gestures.
The fit and finish of the truck’s interior was excellent, but I think Ford is using too much plastic on the dash, especially since this was the Lariat. On the plus side, everything was very clearly laid out and easy to navigate. For example, when we needed to put the truck into four wheel drive, it was easy to see what we needed to do. Now none of this should be rocket science to begin with, but it was good see how clear Ford had made the dash for us Ford truck newbies.
I did find the seats to be too hard and flat and my back was a bit out of whack when we arrived for the Warrior Dash. If we were to get a 2011 Ford, we would save up for the Classy Chassis luxury seats. Those are to die for. Seriously.
I would also opt for a dually for anything with a slide-out. While the truck handled the camper well, we did get a lot more sway than I was used to with our dually Dodge. I also noticed the increased sway when we were parked and inside the camper. I always prefer to see slide-out campers on dually trucks. I’m what they call the “safety police” on the forums. If being mindful of your safety qualifies me as the Safety Police Chief, I’ll wear that hat. And then I’ll direct everyone to read, “Matching a Truck and Camper”.
Angela’s reaction to the 2011 Ford F350 diesel? Take a guess! Could it be a serious case of, “Can we get it? Can we get it? Can we get it? Puuu-leeez?”. Thanks a lot Lance Campers. This could get expensive.
Wrap It Up: Mud, Fire, and Camper
If all of this Warrior Dash stuff comes across as a bit over the top, I’m right there with you. It was a crazy weekend combined with a rare opportunity to test a new Lance Camper and Ford truck. How all those things got mixed together is something you’ll have to ask Angela about. She’s the Warrior, Camper, and Editor in this family.
I’m actually hoping Truck Camper Magazine can do more of these truck and camper tests. I am well aware that there is a demand from the readership for more articles like this one, minus, perhaps, the mud and fire. In that spirit, I have extended an open invitation to the industry to cooperate on these stories with more loaner trucks and new campers. Two more truck and camper tests are already in the works. Hopefully, this article will be a model for more to come.
ABOVE: Angela White giving the keys back to William Hill after a fun weekend at the Warrior Dash. Thank you William!
When I asked Angela if she wanted to do the Warrior Dash next year, she quickly replied, “Heck, yeah”. Anyone out there want to join her for Warrior Dash 2012? We could start Team Truck Camper Magazine. I’ll be the photographer.