The Black Bear Attack obstacle course race has been a fan favorite for students and faculty since it began five years ago in 2009. This year, however, the race has been cancelled.
The Black Bear Attack utilized the running trails behind the New Balance Student Recreation Center, ran about 3.5 miles, and included obstacles such as a pumpkin carry, a mud crawl, a water slide and a zombie chase. Every year after its first, the Black Bear Attack race reached its maximum participant cap of 350.
Lauri Sidelko, the director of the Student Wellness Resource Center, has always headed the effort to put on the race.
“We used to do [the Black Bear Attack] as part of national hazing prevention week… it was also in conjunction with family and friends weekend, and we did it as an activity at the beginning of the year to promote hazing prevention, but also to have fun,” Sidelko said.
It has always been very popular amongst students like Hallie Geldermann, who ran the race for the past two years.
“It was just a great opportunity to do an activity on campus as well as be out there and be active. It gave me motivation to keep running even past the summer, and stay in shape,” Geldermann said. “One of my favourite obstacles was the big mud crawl into the swampy area in the field… it was really fun to get down and dirty and just be active on a nice fall day.”
Sidelko said it began with the combining of “family and friends” weekend with Homecoming weekend.
“A lot of things came together to make that decision,” Sidelko said. “Moving the race to later in October [during the new “family and friends” weekend] means that the weather is kind of a crapshoot… it’s iffy. So there were safety concerns with that.”
Sidelko was also concerned with the lack of volunteers, capacity to close roads and keep the woods safe, and how the race would fare against others of its kind.
“We had an obstacle course race coming to campus, the Insane Inflatable 5k… so we knew there was an adventure-type race that was already going to occur, and that was going to conflict… we didn’t know how that would change our numbers.”
Sidelko and the Student Wellness Resource Center gave forewarning, broadcasted the absence of the Black Bear Attack on social media sites, and received little backlash.
“That leads me to believe that people just moved on from it.”
Geldermann disagrees; for her, it was more than a race.
“I’m really bummed about it being cancelled this year… I was actually gonna [sic] invite my parents to come up and run it with me, and it was gonna be a weekend where they would come up and see UMaine,” she said. “I’m an out of state student, so they don’t get many chances to.”
According to Sidelko, they will re-evaluate for next year. In order for the race to continue next year, they would need more resources, and Sidelko isn’t sure that that will happen.
“You know, we had five great years. We don’t know what the future of it is, but we had five great years.”