When I decided on my race schedule for 2017, the Barber Beast on the Bay race was one of those races at the very top of my list to make sure that I finally ran the course and wrote about it!
Registration and Festival
The Barber team did an amazing job the entire week prior sending out updates via email with information on how to pick-up the race packets ahead of the event and from the looks of what I personally saw on race day, it appeared most racers took advantage of early packet pick-up because registration moved fast and smoothly.
The festival area was set up nicely from what I could tell, I wasn’t able to stay long and enjoy the post-race festival area and fun, but I made it a point to survey the entire area and everyone was having a good time.
The course started with a bus trip to the far end of Presque Isle State Park, a beautiful stretch of beaches on Lake Erie, and then racers ran back to a finish line that was at the festival/parking area. The course started with a sprint and I remember thinking, based on my research of the course map, we would have several long-distance sprints spanned out over the entire course, but that wasn’t the case at all.
It didn’t take long to make it to the first obstacle, “One Bell of a Start” which was a scale across a wall with hand and leg notches to assist racers making it to the other side and ringing the bell. Up next was over, under, out, which most experienced racers would refer to as the weaver and this version of the obstacle was difficult and a great challenge! Just up ahead was the next obstacle which had racers enter the lake for a short dip. The bay lake water wasn’t cold at all which made for an enjoyable obstacle.
The course turned away from the bay and up next were a bunch of bungee cords crisscrossed like spider webs for racers to fight their way through. Just a very short sprint ahead came “Marsh Madness” which was a long and challenging marsh crossing.
The next obstacle was suspended/swinging tires attached to chains to cross without hitting the ground. The course was in a wooded section of the course and the next few obstacles included one called “Bicep Buster” where racers had to spider/shimmy across with their legs on one section and hands on the other. After a brief sprint through a wooded section of the course and several obstacles, the course made its way to the bay/beach and it was time to run on the sand.
The next obstacle was “Down N’ Out” which was a crawl under a wooden structure on the sand. Just up ahead was “Triangles of Terror” which was a series of angled walls to jump/run/hop across without hitting the sand. The course was now on the sand and right next to the bay and up next was a short bucket carry with water filled in them from the bay.
Just ahead was “Teeter Totter Trial” which was a crawl into and up a black plastic draining pipe that eventually once the racers weight shifted, the drainage pipes teetered to the ground. Up next was “Walk the plank” which was a balance beam type crossing across logs attached to chains and suspend over the sand. The next few obstacles were: “Angled Wrangle” a slightly angled wall with a rope for assistance to climb up and back down. Then came “Crawl Wall” an ever so slightly angled wall with foot notches to traverse up the side of the wall and back down the wall like a spider.
I really enjoyed how they set up the bay portions of the course; we never really ran long distances without having an obstacle or two to complete. Up next was an 8-foot wall with hand and foot notches to assist with getting up and over it. The course continued on the beach/bay for a while longer and I remember just praying to never see sand again!
The last few miles of the course continued the trend of obstacles often and many of the remaining obstacles were all challenging and built well. Several worth mentioning are: “Don’t Monkey Around” which was a suspended beam that racers had to hold on with both their hands and feet to traverse across and what made this one really challenging is it changed height a little more than half-way across the beams. I also must mention the “Mighty Moguls” obstacle, it was a series of very deep mounds and mountains to climb through and I seriously was very impressed with how challenging of an obstacle this one was. I have seen this type of obstacle many times, but this version was brutal and taxing on my cardio.
The course ended with a brief sprint away from the bay/beach and back to the festival area and the last obstacle on the course was “Wave Goodbye” which was a swim through a large wave pool with large and strong waves. I was so excited when I saw this obstacle and enjoyed it more than words can describe. I wish all obstacle course races included a wave pool swim and placing it at the end of the course really helped clean racers gear!
The bling included a very sexy and heavy finisher medal that has a can opener on the back! A stylish Dri-Fit type shirt, and a nice little carry bag. The finisher medal is as nice as any of the ones I have received at the more well-known OCR races.
This race/event has been going strong now for five years and raises money, awareness, and support for the Barber National Institute who works with children and adults with disabilities and behavioral health challenges. They are a non-profit organization serving more than 5,200 individuals annually with a wide range of educational, vocational, residential and behavioral health programs.
Over the past four years (2013 – 2016) through general registration and sponsorships, Barber Beast on the Bay has raised $175,000 to support the Barber National Institute. They are still finalizing numbers for this year, but it looks like they raised about $75,000 to add to that total!
In addition to the amazing course I recapped above, they also had an adaptive course for both intellectually and physically disabled racers/athletes. The course was one-mile in distance and included fourteen obstacles, featuring nine obstacles that involved pulling, pushing, carrying and navigating ramps. A total of 128 adapted racers ran that course this year!
Overall Feelings and Event Rating:
This was an amazing event, with an amazing course, run by even more amazing people to raise money, awareness, support for a great organization and finally, bring smiles to the faces of 128 amazing special adapted racers!
The course rocked, the obstacles were all well-built and very safe, the staff & volunteers were simply amazing. The bling is as good, if not better than you get at one of the bigger races. One of the obstacles was a freaking wave pool (that is worth the price of admission alone), the festival area was set up well and most of all, they raised a lot of money for an amazing non-profit organization. I am rating this 5 out of 5 stars! I look forward to being invited back next year.
Registration for 2018 is already live!! I suggest registering ASAP! The cost is currently $50 and will increase to $75 on November 1st, 2017 and even with the discount codes that will be available after November 1st, this is the lowest price and best opportunity to register for a race that is worth a lot more than $50 when you consider the quality of race, medal, shirt and chance to give back to an amazing origination!
Article Written by Walter F Hendrick (OCRSandy)