Mud, St. Jude Warriors and the Importance of Sun Screen.

A few weeks ago I ran the Warrior Dash for the fourth time and this time is was a little bit more special than my previous ones for 2 reasons.  Number 1. This was the first time that my wife was going to run it with me. Number 2. I was running it as a St. Jude Warrior which meant that I was raising money for a great cause. With these two things going on for me, what could possible go wrong?

The day started early with breakfast being eaten, texts being exchanged and my in-laws coming over early to watch the kids. There was going to be a group of us running together this year and we all wanted to meet up around the same time to make sure we run the path together.
We ran a little late, what do you expect when you have two kids who wake up unexpectedly early on a day when you swore to yourself that they were going to sleep in. After countless good-byes we hopped in the car and drove off…only to return a few minutes later when I realized that I left my Smarty Pants jersey on one of the chairs at home. 
Arriving at the Dash we encountered the first of our many obstacles: Parking.  It seems that the storms from the previous nights had made the parking area extra muddy, so the line to park was taking a little longer than usual.  As soon as we found our spot we changed our shoes and began walking to the course.
One of the benefits of running the Dash as a St. Jude Warrior was that we had access to the VIP tent where we could leave our bag and I could prepare for the run.

When I first started asking for donations, I placed an incentive for people that donated a certain amount to my campaign; if you donated “X” amount of money I would write your name on my body and you would “run” with me. The response I got in the final days was so overwhelming that I decided to write everyone’s name on me.  My main goal was to look like Guy Pierce in Momento, maybe I’ll look that way next year.  My friend wrote the names on me as my wife took pictures to capture the moment.

Getting all the names written on me.

As you can see from the pictures above, my friend got a little creative with the marker.  After all the names were written on me,  I made a quick video to thank all the people that donated.

A video posted by Victor Aragon (@vicvegachi) on

Last year when I ran the Dash the date fell on a day when all the Dad bloggers were going to support our friend Oren Miller with the #Dads4Oren hashtag. I placed the hashtag on my cheek that year and this year with his passing, it meant a great deal more to make sure it was on my cheek again.

All of my races are in honor of my lost friend, #Dads4Oren.

After a bit of stretching and drinking some water, it was really hot that day, we got in line and waited for the starting gun to go off. Now I could tell you that as soon as the gun went off my wife and I ran through the course, jumped over mud mounds and flipped over walls like a couple of acrobats, but that was not the case.

Thanks to the rain the course was like running through the “Swamp of Sadness”. There were shoes stuck in the mud as we ran and probably some sad feet somewhere. My brother-in-law lost his shoe and had to backtrack to get it.  My wife and I did not have that problem, because we had on our Reebok Spartan shoes on (yeah, shameless plug, but those shoes did make it easy to run through the course).

Looking like a bad MoFo!

I ran the course a little slower this year to keep pace with my wife and cheer her on through the obstacles and she did pretty awesome for her first mud run. My wife has a fear of heights, so there were a few obstacles that terrified her.  She skipped the Great Warrior Wall but climbed the Diesel Dome and there was no looking back after that.

We jogged and walked with her brother throughout the course and just joked around with the other participants whenever there was a traffic jam as we waited to get to the next obstacle.  The one obstacle my wife was looking forward to was the Warrior Roast.  She has seen previous pictures of me and other participants jumping over the fire and she could not wait to do that with me. We held hands, counted to three and made a dash for it, a Warrior Dash, that is. (I know that was cheesy)

As I said in the beginning this year was special for two reasons: running the dash with my wife and raising money for St. Jude.  
Now I have done fundraisers before for Movember, and, but this one really was important for me. Our financial situation is not that great here at “casa de Fandads”, but if my children would ever need emergency medical care I would be afraid to see the bills and think about how to pay them. 
I am glad that families who might be in that situation can rest easy knowing that St. Jude Children’s Hospital will lift that burden off their backs.  Knowing that I helped contribute a little to that makes me feel incredible. At the dash we saw a sign that said the Illinois St. Jude Warriors have raised over $100,000. Is that not fantastic! $100,000!
One of the great things is all my friends that helped me surpass my goal and help contribute to the $100,000. I wrote all their names on me and that kept my motivation high as I ran the course.  So I want to say thank you to all of you: Robert C., Veronica S., Tom S., Joel G., Seth B., Tony N., Cris C., Brian C., David G., Jeff B., Lisa M., Adam G., Matt S., SFDads Group, Rebeca F., Brent D., Ryan & Alba M., & my wife.
    During the run some of the names washed off but others made it through the entire run, which was pretty cool. All of you stayed with me through the water, mud and fire and stayed with me even after my shower.  You see, I did not think it was going to be so sunny that day so I did not wear any sunscreen. Now add to that running/jogging in the hot sun in a tank top with names written on you and that makes for an interesting sunburn….see picture below.

    Remember to wear sunscreen.
    Yep, your names are tanned on my arms and shoulders.  This picture was taken later that night. I was laughing because of the pain of the sunburn and because of the sunburn itself. Remember kids, always put on your sunscreen. 
    Funny thing is that it’s been a few weeks since the Warrior Dash and you can still see the names on my arms. Next year I will definitely put on sunscreen and use a different marker.
    Thanks for reading and the support.

    If anyone is ever interested in running one of these with me let me know. 

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