Moroney tops 4,114 in competition
NATCHEZ — Mud-covered and wet, Curtis Moroney knew he needed a mantra in order to accomplish his goal last weekend.
So as he ran, at the front of the pack, he repeated a simple phrase over and over — “Every second counts.”
Younger athletes were hot on his trail at the Oct. 12 Warrior Dash 2013 Louisiana in St. Francisville.
The dash was a 3.3-mile race over rugged terrain involving 12 obstacles that include climbing and swimming challenges.
“Every second counts,” Moroney said. “When I wanted to slow down or I got tired, I told myself ‘You’re in the front now, but who knows who will do what in the next heat.’”
The Natchez resident competed against 4,114 other racers and finished first with a time of 24:39.25, a time that — despite his mantra — was 66 seconds ahead of the next best finisher.
But Moroney stood apart from the crowd for another reason — he’s 50 years old.
The ages of the competitors who rounded out the Top 10 behind him were, 35, 25, 16, 17, 22, 18, 23, 33 and 30.
“I saw all the guys at the starting line,” Moroney said. “You see a lot of military guys do it. A lot of high school cross-country runners do it. There are a lot of triathletes and adventure racers there. I knew there were some really solid runners in the race.”
Warrior Dash organizers stagger the racers’ starts, dividing them into groups of 250 and starting a new group every 15 minutes. Runners are computer timed to ensure accurate results.
Moroney positioned himself to be among the first group to start the race so there wouldn’t be many runners in front of him.
“I caught a few of them in the first half mile or so,” Moroney said. “The first obstacle had us diving into this lake and swimming to this big floating dock. You had to swim over to that in shoes and our running stuff, climb up on this floating dock, get over it and swim back to the shore.
“Then you are soaking wet and your shoes are full of water.”
He passed others on an up-hill stretch before reaching a climbing obstacle, after which a course marshal yelled to him he was in first place.
But Moroney didn’t slow up.
“Just because I was in first in my heat doesn’t mean there isn’t someone faster coming,” he said. “I just kept the hammer down and ran it as hard as I could.
“There is something about being chased. That makes it kind of fun. If you know there is someone back there and, if you back off, they are going to get you, that helps motivate me.”
When Moroney crossed the finish line, another Natchez resident was getting ready to start her race.
Gail Guido saw Moroney cross but didn’t recognize him because the last obstacle was a mud crawl under barbed wire, which left Moroney dirty.
“This guy was running like a gazelle, and he came off the last wall, which is more than 20-feet high, and ran to the huge mud pit and was just so agile in the way he dove under that barbed wire and into the mud.
“I saw him come across. The announcer just said what his time was. At that time, no one knew what his name was. Not until after I was done did I realize it was (Moroney). He was impressive.”
Guido went on to post a time of 39:22.10, strong enough for first in the female 50-59 age group and 180th overall.
The finisher immediately behind her by 35 seconds was a 27-year-old man.
Guido said it felt great to have such a strong finish in only her second Warrior Dash.
“I came in 26th of all the women,” she said. “I was shocked. I’m not in the best shape of my life. I was certainly in better shape when I was younger. I’m still young, but I was surprised.”
Warrior Dash started in 2009 as a way to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and occurs all over the world.
The Oct. 12 race was Moroney’s fourth Warrior Dash. In previous events he finished 25th, 10th and 13th.
Moroney won a Warrior Dash Viking-style helmet and Warrior Dash-branded key holder to go along with last weekend’s bragging rights.
“I never dreamed I would actually win,” Moroney said. “Not bad for an old man. It was kind of a rush.”