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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, 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.

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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 schedule 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:

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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.

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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. šŸ˜‰ 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….

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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).

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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.) šŸ˜‰

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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.

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