Posts in the category

Beat the clock to save money on the Beast

By | January 29, 2014 1:02 am | 0 Comments

Early Bird Registration is coming! On January 31, we'll have a two-week period of registration for just $50! The price will never be lower.<br />
Here's your chance to win a free registration: Like our page and like this photo. 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!</p>
<p>*This promotion is not sponsored, endorsed, or administered by Facebook*</p>
<p>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.

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.


Thoughts from a Beast slayer (race review)

By | September 9, 2013 8:00 pm | 3 Comments


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):

beast shirts1 beast shirts2

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.

DSCF0123 DSCF0138




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.












Beast slayers — pickup your packets Friday

By | September 5, 2013 7:58 am | 0 Comments


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!


Best Fitness offering free HITT class on the beach (And a 5K training program to come!)

By | May 13, 2013 9:54 am | 0 Comments


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.

They also sponsored  Weigh-In Erie, the weight-loss challenge that finished up last month. Read an inspirational story about the contest winner here.

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!

Zumbathon 2013 FINAL JPEG

Adventure Run Round up – Get your fun on

By | May 7, 2013 2:14 am | 0 Comments


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)

— Join the ERC Beast Team

* Zombie Run (this is LAST YEAR’s info) — Frontier Park – Date TBA (I think it’s 10/12) — 5K Zombie Run put on by the Erie Playhouse


* 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”)

New York

* 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)



Join the ERC misfit Beast team

By | May 3, 2013 5:47 am | 0 Comments


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.

I tested the Beast, and it’s going to be bad@#$

By | April 21, 2013 3:37 pm | 0 Comments


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

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.

The verdict

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.

Test “the beast” and run for $50 less in the fall

By | April 1, 2013 7:35 am | 0 Comments


Breaking news….

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 .

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!


Weigh-In Erie (Props to Best Fitness)

By | January 9, 2013 1:50 am | 0 Comments

Weigh-In Erie, a new, countywide weight-loss contest will offer prizes to the man and woman who can shed the most weight over the next three months.

Here’s what you need to know:

* The contest, sponsored by Best Fitness, the Erie Times-News and is open to anyone.

* You do not have to be a member of Best Fitness to participate, nor do you have to workout there. That said….

* Best Fitness will offer free weekly classes for participants and will allow them to track their progress on its online site. They will also measure participants body mass index.

* Participants will weigh in once every two weeks at Best Fitness.

* Final weigh-in will be April 7.

* Winners will be the male and female who lose the highest percentage of total body weight.

* Each winner will receive a lifetime membership to Best Fitness, a $250 gift card to Erie Sport Store, free registration and T-shirt for the Barber Beast on the Bay event, and year of free food from Taco Bell’s low-fat Fresco menu.

Are you game?

The competition starts Sunday with initial weight-ins at Best Fitness, 2147 W. 12th St.   Register to participate here.

Props to Best Fitness for putting this program together to make Erieites healthier. I think we runners, of all people, can appreciate the motivation of a little friendly competition!

Weigh-In Erie isn’t the first time Best Fitness has been interested in promoting a healthy community. The fitness center gave free 30-day memberships in October to any Erie County resident who wanted one.

“Our goal is to make Erie a better, healthier community,” said Bryan Tyler, Best Fitness’ operations manager

Wouldn’t it be cool if Erie could become an ultra-hip, uber-fit town full of outdoor sports enthusiasts like, say, Seattle? Hey, if Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C. can do it, why not Erie?


Beast on the Bay

By | September 19, 2012 2:54 am | 0 Comments

Are you tough enough to beat the beast? The Barber Center in Erie is hosting a Beast on the Bay adventure run at Presque Isle State Park on Saturday, September 7, 2013. This is no cupcake run, it’s an extreme obstacle course designed by a former Navy SEAL, but you’ve got a whole year to train for it.

Here’s what organizers say about it:

“Barber Beast on the Bay” is a new concept for the northwestern Pennsylvania region that features an extreme obstacle course challenge, as well as a corresponding activity for individuals with physical and developmental disabilities. The event is planned to coincide with the 2013 Tall Ships Festival and the 200th anniversary of Perry’s battle in Lake Erie later that same week. All proceeds will benefit the Dr. Gertrude A. Barber Foundation in support of services to children and adults with disabilities.

While adventure events are popular throughout the country, attracting thousands of participants, Barber Beast on the Bay will be unique among other similar events for many reasons:

  1. The course is designed by former Navy SEAL John Walker, the owner of Executive Personal Fitness, and Lisa Oberacker, a trainer at Executive Personal Fitness, who holds a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science and is National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified (CSCS). Many obstacles will be designed with challenges used in the training of Navy SEALs, America’s most elite force.
  2. The course will be centered around the theme of the War of 1812 and integrate many of the tests and trials faced at that time by the sailors and ship builders. Participants will be challenged with a surprise water obstacle that relates to the battle that took place near Misery Bay. To help carry out the theme, participants and spectators will also be encouraged to dress in costumes from the 1812 War and time period.
  3. Our challenge will have the unique distinction of being the only such event held at scenic Presque Isle State Park and will take advantage of the natural obstacles and physical features of this location.

The multi-level obstacle course will be demanding for the fitness warrior, yet accessible for the average exercise enthusiast. Participants can choose from a modified six-mile course, or “go for the gold” and opt for the full 12-mile course. Spectators will be encouraged to cheer on participants along the course and viewing areas will be designated for this purpose.

See a course map here.

Read race FAQs here.  (Note that you must be 18 to register)

Registration here.  At $100, it’s a pricey race (particularly in a two-racer household like ours), but it is for a good cause (the Barber Center) and will surely be a unique race that would cost much more if you had to travel out of town to do it.

Get training tips, inspiration, and race updates at the Beast on the Bay blog, penned by John Walker and Lisa Oberacker.