On Saturday, over 300 racers lined up to run in the Black Bear Attack, the University of Maine’s second annual 5-kilometer adventure race.
By 10 a.m., racers and onlookers alike were not deterred by the dreary weather and gathered on the Hilltop Road in front of the New Balance Student Recreation Center for the “mud run” to begin.
The misty weather was fitting, as the race course was meant to be muddy. Racers were able to sign up individually or by teams to trek the course, facing over a dozen obstacles along the way. Challenges varied from cargo nets to hurdles to wall climbing. There was even a point at which racers were waist-deep in stagnant water.
This year, the turnout was impressive and nearly tripled from last year, according to Vice President of Student Organizations and fourth-year psychology student Sarah Porter, who was a head volunteer for the race.
All obstacles on the course were supervised by volunteers to ensure safety at all points of the race. The University Volunteer Ambulance Corps was also on scene in case any serious injuries were to arise. With one of the obstacles named “Rocks and Roots,” tripping and falling was a big concern of racer safety.
“It was awesome,” Maddie Folger said about her first Black Bear Attack. “It was the best 5k I’ve ever done.” When rehashing the race, she concluded the peak moments were just getting dirty.
“Remember you don’t want to win, you just want to finish,” read a sign at the registration table reminding racers to be cautious rather than put their safety on the line. An attempt at all obstacles was encouraged; if a racer chose to skip one of the challenges along the course, 5 minutes was added onto the race time.
“The hurdles at the end were the worst,” said Rebecca Stanton, as she looked at her race results and caught her breath. The hurdles proved to be daunting at the end of the course, with many racers complaining of being thrown around at the finish line. “They caught you off guard,” said first-time racer Maddie Shaw about the hurdles.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Shaw said after completing the 5k adventure run. “The whole course was sick,” she said, referring to the variety of elements throughout the race.
The course had many of the same challenges from last year’s Black Bear Attack, but it was also “tweaked from the last course,” said Ian Jesse, who worked side by side with Director of the Student Wellness Center Lauri Sidelko. Jesse started planning for this year’s obstacle course over the summer and was very pleased with the hard work put into planning. The race was a huge success, not only because of the larger turnout. “People are just excited. It’s a fun thing to do on campus,” said Jesse.
Although racers looked worn out and tired coming to the finish line, everyone was all smiles for the last obstacle — a slip n’ slide set up next to the New Balance Student Recreation Center, which marked the race finale.
Racers were rewarded with refreshments at the end, as well as a Black Bear Attack T-shirt. An award was also given to the winner for completing the 5k with the best overall time. Proceeds from the race went to support StopHazing.org.