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.