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If there’s one photo among the hundreds (literally) taken of my team at Saturday’s Beast on the Bay that sums it all up, it’s this one:
With a team 70+ strong of different abilities, it was all but impossible to stay together for the entire 10+ mile obstacle race. We started together and then broke into smaller groups based on pace. Those who ran a similar pace ended up running together and helping each other over the obstacles and up to the crest of that last dam#$@ hill to Waldameer where we all stopped — every single one of us — to wait for the rest of our team members.
On Saturday, time meant nothing. Team meant everything.
I never played sports in school. It’s one of the few regrets I have in life. Though, I seriously doubt it would have been anything like this. Supportive. Inspirational. Fun. Encouraging.
We cheered for every person slogging up that hill, not just our teammates.
Some of us ran down to meet up with the last members of our group, which meant doing the Peninsula Road hill twice…and I seriously didn’t care. I’d have run it 10 times for them.
Then we finished together….just like we started.
About Just Write
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”
I said I’d never do another Beast on the Bay after last year’s race – 16 miles on sand. But, then, I also said I’d never give birth again, I’d never drink again (haven’t we ALL said that one) and I’d never do another marathon and I’ve got two kids, party photos, and marathon finisher medals that say otherwise. So there I was on Saturday…running the Beast on the Bay again — this time with a team TWICE the size of last year.
And, you guys, it was awesome.
Here’s what I am most impressed with: The Beast organizers listened. I’m a race director and I can tell you, that it’s not easy to do that. Your tendency is to get defensive immediately (do you know how much work I put into this!?!), but….props to the Barber folks & race organizers because they were nothing but gracious for the feedback (even negative) that they received. AND THEY FIXED IT. ALL OF IT. They fixed every single thing I — and others — complained about last year.
And, for that,the Beast has earned my love & loyalty. I’ll run the Beast as long as my body and shedule allows and I’ll recruit as many other runners as I can. So…with that full disclosure (read: I’m not impartial)…let me tell you, dear reader, why you should do the Beast next year:
Sister versus sister: Beast & Beauty’s team captain — Karen “Kenyan” Groshek, left, and her big sister (and my high school classmate) and Krazie’s co-captain, Eloise, right. Their hilarious, awesome, and colorful mom is in the middle.
1. It’s for a great cause. All fun, joking, and shenanigans aside…the benefactor of this race is one of the very best reasons to do it. True story: I work with a member of the Barber family and recently visited the Barber National Institute with her for a story I was doing. She said: “You know, a lot of people think this is a sad place, but, Heather, this is a happy place. It’s filled with joy and love and people who truly care about these children and their futures. Do you know what would happen to these kids if not for this place? They’d have a very different life.” I’ve never forgotten that. It makes me tear up every time I think about it. The fact that one of my team leaders & our rival team leader (they are sisters) both have children who have benefitted from the Barber Center, makes me all the more weepy. I’m glad they are here. I’m glad they have the love & patience for those children that few do. I’m glad my race entry fee helps them accomplish their mission.
That’s me…second from left…going Loco
2. It fun! The obstacles were much improved this year and were waaaaayyy more fun than last year. My fave: Go Loco — the G.E. sponsored & created obstacle. Leave it to the engineers to come up with one of the most unique obstacles I’ve seen at an adventure race. I was thankful I’d worn my hat, which shielded my eyes from the lake water cascading down at eye level for us shorty girls. There was a backlog at this obstacle…particularly in the later waves. I know some of our later team members skipped this one because the wait was reported to be an hour or more. Room for improvement for next year, I guess. Maybe have two “trains” going?
3. It’s cheap, compared to other adventure races. If you sign up early, the Beast is only $50…and it’s money well spent. You’d pay twice that (at the earliest bird pricing) for a Tough Mudder and you’d also have to pay for gas & a hotel, so…it’s worth $50 to do one in your own backyard. Hint: Friend the Beast on the Bay on Facebook and you’ll be alerted to “sales”. Also…I believe you get a discount if you’re on a team, which leads me to….
4. It’s a great team event. Teams are not required…and you could get through this event without them (the obstacles aren’t “impossible” without help), but…being a part of a team makes it that much more fun.
Don’t have a team? Join mine…Krauza’s Krazies welcome participants of any age or ability. There are pre-Beast training sessions led by Dr. Steve Krauza ($5 donation per workout…all money goes to the Barber Center!) and we finish as a team (small groups of participants ran at their own pace, but everyone waited at the top of Peninsula drive to cross the finish line together).
This year, one of our team members even got a SPONSOR for our team! Fireball Whiskey bought our shirts — for the ENTIRE team! How awesome is that?! Why? Well…let’s just say that some of us “stoke the fires” before we go beast slaying. (Oh….don’t worry…we’re not stupid — one shot only before fighting the Beast! After? Well…hey, now…you work up a thirst slaying beasts for 10+ miles…don’t judge.)
5. It’s a workout. Marathon schmarathon. Yeah, I’m going there. I’ve done the old 26.2 more than a few times and I truly think the Beast is more physically demanding. It’s also WAAAYYYY more fun. JMO, of course…take it for what it’s worth. (I will say I think the marathon is more mentally challenging, but..that could have to do with the marathon being a singular pursuit and the Beast being more of a group thing).
6. You can get all competitive, if you want. The Beast organizers offer a timing option. I’m not sure why anyone would want to be timed because you can’t control the backup at obstacles (and other variables), but if you’re into beating the clock (or your friends)…it’s an option for you.
If you want more information on the race…or on Krauza’s Krazies, feel free to email me at zipdang22 at aol dot com (spelled out to avoid those dang spammers!). I’d love you have you on the Krazie train!
* Here is a GoPro video one of my Krazie teammates (Jon Wolff) made of the event in which you can see many of the obstacles …and if you watch closely you’ll see the husband an I taking on the half pipe (2:54 mark). I basically ran like hell and threw my arms up and the guys on top yanked me up onto the platform (tip: Recruit some tough guys for your team). Yeah…you can find us where the party’s at.
* Here is a blog & slideshow that another teammate — Captain Eloise — put together -- she and her sister (Beauty & Beasts team captain) had rival teams. We had a lot of fun teasing each other in the months leading up to the event. Read all about it here and here.
* Here are XXX photos from GoErie’s kick@#$ Street View team.
And, finally, here are my photos from the event in a completely unorganized manner (sorry…you know I have no patience to put these all in order, right?):
Registration for this year’s Beast on the Bay opens January 31 and there will be a two-week period of registration for just $50. Organizers say the price will never be lower. Sign up while the Beast is a bargain.
I’ve heard that the course is completely different this year. Word has it the event will now start at the end of Presque Isle and participants will run back to Waldameer, so you only have to go through the obstacles once. A friend said there is a different construction company in charge and the course now utilizes the roads, sand, mud, beach head, water, grass, and multi-purpose trail.
I didn’t think I’d do it again, but at that price, I may because, like on of my FB friends said, “If all the cool kids are doing it…”
By the way, you can try to win a free entry on Facebook:
Here’s your chance to win a free registration: Like our page and like this photo (the one above). It’s that easy! If you would like, share this photo as well to help promote this event that benefits the Barber National Institute. We’ll draw the winner when early registration opens. Good luck! * This promotion is not sponsored, endorsed, or administered by Facebook * Terms of contest: Must be 16 years of age or older and a U.S. resident. Potential winners must like our page and like this photo to be eligible. The winner will randomly be selected at the end of the week, January 31.
Well, me and my gang (that’s right, we were the bad@#! in the Braveheart Minion shirts!) slayed the Barber Beast on the Bay on Saturday. We had a good time because, well….you really can’t hang out with these people and not have fun. They came armed with face paint and plastic swords and a pickup truck full of food and liquor. And, you know, Jack Daniels and Ye Old Sweet Shoppe cookies totally trumps practical crap like compression socks, Gu and fuel belts.
Oh, sure, we may have been taking this adventure a wee bit less seriously than others, but we’re not stupid. To my knowledge, we were the only ones smart enough to drive a vehicle full of food out to Beach 10 so we could refuel 1/2 way through the Beast. We weren’t bonking at the 14th mile, but we saw plenty who were as there was no food or energy gel on the course. Members of our “support crew” (spouses who weren’t running) ended up handing out our leftover bananas and energy bars to random race participants who were really struggling to stand after crawling out of the last set of black tubes.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start on a positive note:
* Packet pickup/registration. All of this was well organized and fully staffed with more than enough happy volunteers. Zero lines. Zero problems. Zero complaints. Gold star!
* The shirts. I loved the race shirt. (Though they are cotton and I do kinda-sorta wish they were tech shirts):
3. The finishers medals. Dan pointed out that it’s also a bottle opener, which is a bad@#$ medal to give out because every time you have a party you can bust out your race swag and brag just a bit.
4. The venue. Seriously, is there a more gorgeous place to torture yourself?
5. The cause. The Barber National Institute benefited from the race. There aren’t words or enough megabytes of server space to tell you why they are such a worthy organization, but my friend, Eloise, whose family had benefited from the Barber Center, sums it up pretty perfectly here. They showed up, too. There were dozens of Barber volunteers helping in all areas of the race. Most impressive: John Barber, president and CEO of the institute, was there to greet us when we arrived to check in at 7:15 a.m. and he rode by on a golf cart and chatted with us as we waited for the last of our team members to finish at 3 p.m. I doubt you’d find many other CEOs who would give up their entire Saturday to help at a race.
6. The course volunteers. They were all great and enthusiastic, but this guy (below) took it to a whole ‘nother level. I don’t know who he is or where he came from, but I swear I’d pay him to come to my race and cheer the ladies on. He was positioned at the last “storage container” obstacle and he was just what every person who had been running for hours needed to get over it.
7. The, um… facilities. There seemed to be an adequate number of porta potties and, of course, Waldameer had some of their restrooms open, too. Any good race director knows it’s vital to maintain a good runner-to-potty ratio.
8. The weather. We totally lucked out. September can be a real crap-shoot in Erie.
9. The shuttle buses. I didn’t ride them, but I heard they ran smoothly. It was nice to have the option to catch a ride back (believe me, I wanted to), and I’m sure it was helpful for spectators, too.
10. The course signage. Obstacles were clearly marked as were major mile markers (particularly the ones where you could stop & catch a bus back). There were even some inspirational & funny signs. As a race director, I can truly appreciate that attention to detail.
1. The sand. Running on sand for 16 miles was a nightmare…even for veteran distance runners. I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like for those that don’t normally run that much. It was, in a word, exhausting. I’m sure this is what the race director intended — to make it a real challenge, but it was too much. Were not for the 20+ people we were running with, Dan & I would’ve gotten on the shuttle bus at Beach 11 and called it a day. 12 miles would’ve been plenty. I’d tighten that course up.
2. The lack of fuel/food on the course. I don’t know how long it took the fastest runners to complete this course, but I’d guess it had to be at least 2.5 hours. It took our team nearly twice that. Average was probably 3.5 to 4 hours…and that is far, far too long to go without refueling. Bagels or fruit (bananas, oranges, apples) would’ve been nice, but simple energy gels would’ve done the job (any half marathon offers them and this was WAY harder and longer than a half). We saw uber-fit muscle men who were shaking at the 14th mile because they had run out of fuel. That could’ve been a disaster if it had been a hotter day.
3. No cups at some water stops. I don’t who miscalculated but at two of the water stops, they had run out of cups. Runners were picking cups up off the ground and cupping their hands under the water jugs. Rookie race mistake.
4. The obstacles. *sigh* *cringe* I hate to criticize because I know how hard everyone worked on this race, but….in my humble opinion, most of the obstacles were just…um….boring. They weren’t all that challenging, they didn’t require teamwork, and they were the same thing throughout the course (crawl under the nets, crawl through the tubes, climb over the cargo container). The only ones that I thought were kinda creative/fun were the sand moguls and the Serpentine Slalom where we had to fill a bucket with lake water and carry it through a maze.
That would be Eloise with the bucket on her head. You can dress her up…..
5. Early end to the party. Granted we were one of the last teams on the course, but, by the time our final team member hoofed it up the Peninsula Drive hill at 3 p.m., the party was over. The beer table was closed, the DJ had packed up, the food (if there was any) was gone. Being a team 20+ people strong, we made it festive for our final runners and we hooted and whooped it up all the way to the finish where we then lined up and cheered strong and hard. Maybe the race organizers underestimated the time it would take people to complete the run or maybe they underestimated the determination of the slower participants…I don’t know, but when we were leaving, there were finishers still coming in and I thought it was sad that those who probably deserved the most cheers and praise — those that had overcome the most to “slay the beast” — were left facing a mostly deserted finish line.
1. The phragmite/mud loop. I can’t say I hated this because, well…it’s an adventure run…this is the kind of thing you expect and sign up for. It was ugly, but…I kinda liked it. And, my brand new hot pink Vibrams did actually come (mostly) clean.
…or is it just the beginning for Krauza’s Krazies? You’re invited to join the team and slay your beasts.
Tick..tick…tick…just two days until nearly 700 beast slayers are released to conquer The Barber Beast on the Bay at Presque Isle State Park.
If you’re signed up to run the Beast, don’t forget that you can pick up your packet on Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Barber National Institute North Lobby. (NOTE: I’ve heard that you cannot pick up packets for friends/team members as every participant must sign a waiver.).
Other important info:
*Be sure to bring photo I.D. when you pick up your packet AND on race day morning (you’ll still need to check in & receive your “beer” wristband on race day morning, even if you pick up your packet on Friday.
* If you cannot pick up your packet early, check in on Saturday, Sept. 7 at registration at least an hour before your scheduled wave time.
* Participant wave times and other information, click here.
* Here’s a course map you can share with spectators. Race organizers say that most obstacles are easy to access and free shuttles will be running all day throughout the course.
* Also…you may want to review these FAQs before race day.
Dan and I will be participating as members of the giant Krauza’s Krazies team. Can’t WAIT!
OK, I don’t know what is cooler (coolest? most cool?) about this — that a local gym cares enough to want to make difference, that this class is on the beach, or that it will totally help you train for the Beast on the Bay.
Here’s the deal: Eric Taylor from Best Fitness in Erie said the gym wants to help Erie get healthier and, they are putting their money and muscle where their mouth is.
You may remember that last year Best Fitness offered a free one-month membership to everyone and anyone. FREE. To, hopefully, encourage people to develop the exercise habit.
NOW….they are offering a free P90X class on Monday nights at Beach No. 1. It’s a HITT class — high intensity interval training — that includes things like jumping, push ups, squats, running on the sand.
But, don’t be intimidated by the name or the exercises, Eric is quick to point out that the nice thing is that these workouts are adaptable to ANY fitness level. This class is designed for anyone from uber-fit to just getting off the couch. Note, however,that you must be at least 16 to participate in the class.
Class starts at 5:30 p.m. at Beach No. 1 (meet on the sand) and lasts about an hour. Workouts take place on the sand and using whatever else is around (perhaps jumping over driftwood, etc.).
The class started last week, so it’s going on right now through the end of the summer. This is a “drop in” thing, you don’t have to commit to be there every week or anything (you do have to get there a bit early to sign a waiver though).
By the way — this would be PERFECT training for those who are doing the Beast on the Bay run…or any “adventure run” and…HIT workouts are GREAT cross-training for runners, in general.
How awesome is that?
Couch to 5K program coming!
WAIT….LADIES…it get better! Eric and Best Fitness are planning to offer a free (free, free, free) Couch to 5K program for the community and they’ll train women to run the Her Times 5K! Eric is still working on the details, but they expect to kick the program off in July and will likely be meeting on Saturdays at the peninsula. He’s hiring a trainer to teach this course, so he’s actually paying for it (you’re not) and it’s just because he (and Best Fitness) want Erie to get healthier!
Eric & Best Fitness have a few other things in the works, too, including a Community Health Fair with the River of Life team and a Zumbathon at the Bayfront Convention Center on August 8.
Speaking of 5K training….
Harborcreek Township is offering their free learn-to-run program with Sandie Sweet again this summer, too. It starts in a couple weeks. Details to come soon!
So….a reader requested a list of area adventure & fun runs within a 2-hour driving distance and, I was like…sure, no problem. Then I spent like four hours compiling this list because there are so many! Who knew? Now we all do.
Whatever trips your trigger (mud, color, girls-only, seriously tough, etc.), there’s a race for you nearby. Heck, there are 5 cool ones right here in Erie!
BTW — there are many more races in PA, Ohio & NY…I just stuck to the ones that I felt were within an easy driving distance. If I’ve left any off the list, comment below or email me at zipdang22 at aol.
* Jog ‘n Hog — Presque Isle State Park – June 15 (Run 2 miles, eat pepperoni balls, run back 2 miles)
* Erie Day School Fun Color Run & Walk — Camp Notre Dame in Fairview — June 15 (color run/walk, not timed, very family friendly)
* 3 Mile Isle – Presque Isle State Park – July 27 (Three-mile obstacle/adventure run)
* Beast on the Bay - Presque Isle State Park – September 7 (Erie’s biggest obstacle course — 4, 6, 8 and 12-mile options)
* Mud on the Mountain — Seven Springs, PA — May 11 (7.7 mile/26-obstacle mud/adventure run)
* Dirty Girl 5K — Pittsburgh, PA — June 8 (5K mud run that caters to women)
* Project Mud — Wampump, PA — July 13 (5K mud run)
* Run for Your Lives — Wampum, PA — August 3 (5K obstacle/zombie course)
* Muddy & Messy 5K — Conneaut Lake, PA — July 27 (5K mud/adventure run)
* Warrior Dash — Long Pond, PA — Aug. 24 (3.32-mile mud run)
* Gladiator Rock ‘n Run — Export, PA — Sept. 7 (5K mud run)
* Savage Race — Albrightsville, PA — Sept. 14 (4-6-mile mud run)
* Hardcore Mud Run — Phillipsburg, PA — Sept. 28-29 (6.5-mile obstacle course with 18 to 20 obstacles -hardcore)
* Warrior Dash — Butler, OH — June 1-2— (3.2 mile mud run)
* Cleveland Challenge Urban Adventure Race — Cleveland, OH — June 8 (5K “Amazing Race” style scavenger hunt race)
* Dirty Girl 5K — Cleveland, OH — July 20 (5K mud run that caters to women)
* Color Run — Cleveland, OH — Sept. 21 (5K “color run”)
* Kiss me Dirty 5K — Kissing Bridge Ski Resort — June 1 & 2 (5K mud run for women — men can race in drag!)
* Holiday Valley Mudslide — Ellicottville, N.Y. — June 15 (3.5 or 5.4- mile mud run — no shocks, no fire, no barbed wire)
* Color Me Rad — Darian Lake, NY — June 22 (5K color run)
* Tough Mudder — Andover, NY — July 27 & 28 (10 to 12-mile obstacle course – hard core)
* Color Run — Buffalo, NY — Aug. 17 (5K “color run”)
* Hardcore Mud Run — Swain, NY — Aug. 17 (6.5-mile obstacle course with 18 to 20 obstacles, hardcore)
* Run For Your Lives — Batavia, NY — Aug. 17 (5K obstacle/zombie course)
* Tough Mudder — St. Clairsville, OH — Aug. 24 & 25 (10 to 12-mile obstacle course – hard core)
* Dirty Girl 5K — Buffalo, NY — Sept. 7 & 8 (5K mud run that caters to women)
* Muddy Viking — Bemus Point, NY — Oct. 5 (Four-mile mud run)
Dan and I are all registered for the Barber Center Beast on the Bay Adventure run on September 7 at Presque Isle State Park.
I decided, on a whim, to create an Erie Runners Club team and you are all welcome to join us. So if you’ve been thinking about taking on the Beast, but you don’t really have anyone to do it with or haven’t been able to
cajole bribe threaten enough people to form your own team, join our team of misfits.
When you register, just chose to “join a team” and scroll down & choose “Erie Runners Club” (real creative name, I know).
Three important points:
1. We’re not in it to win it. We will not be racing. We will have fun though (and I’m bringing my water camera).
2. Heed my warnings about this not being a race for novices. It’s going to be very challenging.
3. I’m not opposed to matching shirts/gear, but…I’m really lazy about making stuff like that happen, so if you are joining the team and you have a passion for making us all match…by all means, contact me (zipdang22 at aol) and I’ll help organize/distribute messages to the others.
OK, I’ll admit, I scoffed when I first heard about the Barber Beast on the Bay adventure race, primarily because I’m tighter than two coats of paint and was annoyed that the race had a $100 registration fee.
But, after participating in a 3-mile Beast on the Bay trial run on Sunday, I can say with every confidence — it’s going to be worth every freaking buck.
Open up your checkbooks and chalk it up to a good cause (the Barber Center) and one bad@#$ hometown opportunity. This is one race you aren’t going to want to miss.**
First impressions count and from their first press conference to the race’s website to this weekend’s trial run (and the very detailed instructions/Parking map/course map we received in advance), race organizers have impressed me wholeheartedly.
These people have their stuff together. This is going to be a first-class race and it’s going to go smoothly and flawlessly. I am in awe of the amount of planning and effort that has already went into this race, a race that is not happening until September, mind you. (Heck, I direct a race a few weeks later and I don’t even have my application done yet).
The very fact that they hosted a test run is testimony to the every-detail-thought-out event that you can expect. Event organizers wanted to test their registration and bag-drop process, they wanted to make sure the wave times were going to work, and they wanted to try a few of the planned obstacles.
There were more than 50 area runners on Sunday morning who were willing to be the Beast’s guinea pigs. And, they’ve got the bruised and scraped forearms and bloody knees to prove it.
It’s going to be a beast
Folks, this is going to be a tough race. It is being designed by Erie athlete and former Navy SEAL, John Walker, who, based on my experience yesterday, is not going to go easy on our civilian candy a@#$es.
It’s going to be a challenge. I don’t care if you run 50Ks or 100Ks, running miles on sand and pulling yourself up and over three 10-foot (?) storage boxes with nothing more than a rope and a hand, if you’re lucky, from a strong guy on top, is going to stretch your physical limits.
The little beast trial run
The trial run started at Waldameer. Waves of runners went off every 10 minutes. We ran down to beach no. 1 and were directed onto the sand just after the condos across from Sara’s. SAND. (Yep…prepare yourself now). We ran over a few natural obstacles — sand-stick-stone hills, a driftwood-strewn obstacle and up and over at least a half dozen sand mounds.
Then, we came to the metal storage boxes with ropes dangling from the top. Three in a row. And we had to get up and over them — twice (it was an out and back course). These were definitely the most challenging obstacle on Sunday and they left most runners, including yours truly, with bruised, swelled and bloodied forearms and knees. Getting down was almost harder than getting up.
If you think I’m complaining, you’ve never done an adventure race. War wounds are expected and, frankly, I think most participants would be disappointed if they didn’t have bruises to show off and brag about the next day (see my photos below! ) .
The turn around consisted of about 9,567 tires (well, it seemed that way) that you had to high-step it through.
There were water stops, an enthusiastic and crowd-rallying DJ, an entire photo/video crew, a costumed mascot, and a mini party, complete with bananas, granola bars, water, free “Beast on the Bay” tumblers, and beer at the finish line. And, THAT was just for the “test” run.
This is a don’t-miss event if you’re the type who likes a challenge and isn’t afraid to get a little banged up to get your kicks.
Want more opinions?
Ask any of these people who battled the Beast on Sunday.
A few lousy photos
Here are a few photos I took. I’m sure there will be many, many more photos of this event based on the five-man crew Erie photographer, and runner, Rob Frank from Rob Frank Photography had there. UPDATE: There are now 284 photos here.
** There are a few types of people I’d recommend miss this race: pregnant women, kids, those who aren’t physically fit and/or don’t run, runners who don’t want to get injured (or take the risk of getting injured), and those who are planning to run the Erie Marathon the next week because you will get banged up, bruised and bloodied and one week before your “big race” is a really bad time to do that.
Barber Beast on the Bay Trial Run-Thru
The Barber Beast on the Bay would like to 50 to 75 runners to participate in a trial run of the event. The main event will be September 7, 2013 with a 12+ mile obstacle course. This trial will be a mini-version of the big event, allowing us to test communication systems, logistical processes and to get feedback from YOU about your experience!
We are looking for 50 – 75 participants to register and run a 3-mile course (with 4 sample obstacles) at Presque Isle State Park.
Start/Finish: Waldameer Picnic Pavilions
When: Sunday – April 21, 2013
Event begins: 10:00 am
How: Register now via Active.com .
By participating in this event, you will receive a $50 discount for the Sept. 7 event at registration on April 21. You will also be asked to share your opinions and suggestions in a survey to help us make Barber Beast on the Bay the best event ever!
If you’re interested, register now, there are already 44 signed up including the Mr. & I.
See you there fellow beast slayers!