Sunday, August 17, 2014

Warrior Dash Ohio II 2014 Photo Blog

Who: You and 10,000 fellow runners
What: The craziest frickin' day of your life (AKA Warrior Dash Ohio 2014)
When: Various dates across the country. These pictures are from August 9, 2014.
Where: North Lawrence, Ohio.
Why: To challenge yourself physically and mentally to run through crazy obstacles and get dirty!
How: Visit the official Web site to find out more!

Photos by OHventures and Gameface Media









Warrior Dash Ohio II 2014 Recap

Photos by OHventures and Gameface Media

Another year, another Warrior Dash come and gone!

Warrior Dash has certainly become a tradition for me and my brother (see 2011, 2012, and 2013 posts for proof). Each year, it becomes more and more familiar and really feels like a part of us!

If you are unfamilar of what Warrior Dash is, you might be living under a rock. I say this because it has blown up exponetially over the years and is one of the most popular and largest obstacle race series in the world. It is an event that is tailored to please the most novice of runners to the most extreme thrill-seeking athletes.

This year, the Warrior Dash seemed like old hat to me and my brother. Maybe it was because we have been doing it so many years, but we arrived on scene with no butterflies or worries! This also could be due to the fact that this year, there was a major change: the race was NOT timed. In years past, you would secure a timing chip to your shoelaces which would clock you in when you began and finished the course. The chip would later become your free beer token (thankfully the free beer still was offered despite there not being a timing chip).

Me, Curt, & Regina BEFORE the muddy madness!

This was somewhat disappointing that we did not have an official time looming over our heads, lighting a fire underneath us to force us to race the clock and beat our previous year's time. However, it also made things a bit more lighthearted. My brother and I decided to stay in pace with his wife who was joining us this year, and just have fun with it! We came to find that there is a special competitive heat that took place in the early morning hours, so that is something to keep in mind for the future.

Our start time was 9:00 AM Saturday, August 9, 2014. We lined up at the corral and we were off and running when the horn blew and the fire erupted!

Highlights of some of the 12 or so obstacles we encountered on the 3.2 mile course this year were as follows:

1. Storming Normandy: It took a while before we reached our first obstacle. A lot more running leading up to this obstacle than in prior years. We had to army crawl under barbed wire in mud with strong blasts of water shooting at us as we went through.

2. Great Warrior Wall: Wooden walls we had to hoist ourselves over top of. My brother had to help a couple of other strangers get over

3. Shock Top Unfiltered: Named after a major sponsor (Shock Top Beer), you had to crawl into a tube (like the top of a Shock Top bottle) and then crawl on your hands and feet under a large, heavy tarp that got lower and lower to the ground.

4. Iron Crossing: Climb sideways on cargo nets above a pool of water.

5. Slippery Ladder: I doubt this is really called Slippery Ladder, but I don't know the official name of the obstacle, and this is essentially what it was! A large wooden ladder with water being sprayed at you. I thought it was kind of dangerous because you could definitely slip off and crack your head open. Thankfully, that did not occur.

6. Trenches: Huge trenches were dug into the ground and covered with wooden boards. You had to squeeze in the trenches and make your way through. It was dark, and extremely wet and muddy. After we emerged, I wiped my muddy hands all over my brother's back and kept running ahead!

7. Giant Mud Pit: Up until now, I hadn't thought that many of the obstacles were all that difficult. But this one takes the cake! It was literally a giant mud pit you slid into from about 10-12 feet above ground. Then, you had to try to claw and fight your way out of the pit. But the walls were so incredibly muddy and messy that it was extremely difficult. I would climb up halfway then lose my grip and slide back into the water. This happened many times. There were plenty of failed attempts, even after getting assistance from strangers. Finally, I saw my brother at the top. He reached down and I grabbed his arm. He pulled me out! If it were not for him literally saving me from the pit, I would probably still be there to this day!


8. Cargo Climb: A large cargo net we had to climb up and then climb down on the other side.


9. Vicious Valley: Here, we had to grab a hold of a rope and climb on an inclined ramp. Then, we ran down the other side. A couple of runners dressed as Batman and Robin posed on the way up for some pretty awesome pictures reminiscent of 1960s Batman TV shows!


10. Goliath: Okay. This name fits this obstacle. It was the most massive and complex of all obstacles I've ever encountered in these races. First, you had to climb up a cargo net to the top of this contraption. Then, you had to cross a very narrow balance beam (literally a 2x4) with nothing to hold on to but loose ropes on either side. There was water spraying on you the entire time, and it was HIGH up! It was honestly the most frightening part of the race for me. Then, the grand finale was sliding down huge red tube slides full speed into a deep pool of mucky water!! It was the thrill of a lifetime!

Horrible form!


11. Warrior Roast: Simply jumping over two-foot high flames. Harder than you think after running for so long!

My bro looking intense

12. Muddy Mayhem: As with all Warrior Dash races, this is the final obstacle where you have to trudge through thick, goopy mud under barbed wire! It was, as always, glorious!

We crossed the finish line in about 45 minutes. I know this thanks to runners around us who had GoPro cameras on filming the shenanigans. You can check out a cool POV video of the Warrior Dash Ohio II that I found on YouTube HERE.

Kyle, Katie, & Me AFTER the run!


After getting our medals, we headed straight for the beer tent to get some Shock Top, and mingle with friends (such as Katie, Kyle and Jason). We enjoyed some live music and visited some of the vendors.

Completing a Warrior Dash is a strange feeling. You look like hell, much like pigs after rolling through mud. You feel beat up and banged up from the obstacles. And yet you feel like you just walked on the moon or won Olympic gold. These events make you feel like a warrior. They take you out of your day-to-day adult lives consumed with bills, deadlines, housework and work-work - and takes you on an escape where you can push yourself to your limits physically and mentally with thousands of others looking to have a good time. These are moments we need in order to keep us sane and keep us feeling truly alive. There's no better rush of adrenaline than tackling such a feat.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

National Hamburger Festival

Photos by OHventures

Apparently, Akron, Ohio claims to be the birthplace of the world's very first hamburger. As the story goes, Charles and Frank Menches invented the first hamburger and showcased it at the 1892 Summit County Fair. After doing just a little bit of my own research (AKA Wikipedia), I found that the history of the origin of the hamburger is a cloudy one indeed. Others claim the first hamburger to have come from Connecticut, Germany, Texas and Oklahoma (to name a few). 

Despite all of these various claims, Akron most certainly takes pride in the Menches Brothers, and for nearly the past decade, it has celebrated with the National Hamburger Festival. This year, the 9th annual event took place on Saturday August 9 and Sunday August 10. I decided to check it out for myself. So, after running my buns off in the Warrior Dash on Saturday morning, I had worked up quite an appetite and headed to the festival that afternoon (after washing off all of the mud of course).

The streets of Akron were lined with dozens of street vendors ready to feed the throng of hungry fair-goers. Admission to the festival was just $5, with a separate tent set aside to purchase food tickets. There were a ton of places to spend those food tickets, it was hard to decide where to begin!



Food trucks such as Spinelli's Food Truck and the Green Machine Food Truck joined tents from local restaurants such as The Game Grill + Bar (Akron), Menches Brothers (Uniontown), Legends Sports Pub (Green), Smoke: The Burger Joint (North Canton), Sammies Bar & Grill (Tallmadge), and Bob's Hamburg (Akron), all serving up their tasty hamburgers! I devoured a "chiles con queso" burger from the Green Machine Food Truck as well as a stack of hefty onion rings from Spinelli's.

There were also some chain establishments offering burgers, such as Max & Erma's and White Castle (both of which started in Ohio, at the very least). There were also some non-burger food options including Stray Dog Cart, Retro Dog (Cuyahoga Falls), Quaker Funnel Cakes, and Backyard Kettle Korn (Valley City).

Additionally, beer, specialty juices, lemon shakes, and wine were all availabe alongside the yummy eats. Non-food businesses such as Tubbs Chiropractic, The University of Akron, and the Akron Beacon Journal were on site as well. Plus, live entertainment at the Lock 3 main stage went late into the evening, with plenty of fun activities for the kids (such as bungee trampolines and a caterpillar fun house) and adults (such as the hamburger eating contest and bobbing for burgers contest).

With all of this, it's no wonder this festival was voted as one of PARADE Magazine's Top 50 Food Festivals in America.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Wineries at Put-In-Bay

Photos by OHventures

392 Bayview Drive
Put-In-Bay, OH 43456
(419) 285-3343

978 Catawba St.
P.O. Box 300
Put-In-Bay, OH 43456
(419) 285-2811

Put-In-Bay is an ideal location for wine production, as it is situated in the middle of Lake Erie on South Bass Island. The humid lake air creates rich island soil that helps it grow some of the highest quality grapes in the state. Admittedly, most of the grapes in PIB (and Ohio as a whole) tend to be on the sweeter end of the spectrum, which is not always the preference of every palate. But, there is no denying the extreme popularity of wines that originate from this tiny section of the Buckeye state!


As mentioned previously on OHventures, Put-In-Bay is home to one of our favorite and most unique wineries in Ohio: Heineman's Winery & Crystal Cave. It's not by any means fancy like those I've been to in Napa Valley, California or other parts of Ohio. It reminds me of a tiny home in the suburbs with a backyard full of picnic tables. It's very quaint, very cheap and very "Ohio." But that is all part of its charm. 


When my friends and I made a recent visit to Heineman's, we had just finished kayaking for over an hour. We were sweaty and smelled like lake water. Most of us were still in our bathing suits, or in my case, wearing a tank top and camo shorts. None of this mattered when visiting Heineman's backyard winery. It has extremely laid back atmosphere and lacks a formal dress code, as it recognizes that many people are in similar situations, having come from exploring the island!


Without hesitation, I created a miniature tasting platter, as I always do when visiting wineries (pictured below). Heineman's has been producing wine since 1888, so they know what they're doing! There are more than 20 different wines of a wide variety. From this large selection, I chose Pink Catawba (the most popular wine, and the one that looks most like candy! It is a gold winning wine that is sweet and strong), Cabernet Sauvignon (always my go-to wine, since I prefer dry reds), Island Chablis (a blend of white island-area grapes), and Niagara (had to get it based off of its name that is reminiscent of Niagara Falls - another white with a medium sweetness).


We all had our fair share of wine in the backyard, but also made note of another great feature of Heinemans: "Crystal Cave" which is attached to the building! As its name suggests, it is a cave full of "crystals" (a blueish mineral called celestite) and is the largest geode (a rock cavity with crystals inside) in the WORLD. Most geodes you can not even put your hand inside, yet this one you can WALK inside. You can get tours of this while also touring the winery. This, along with the island grapes, makes Heineman's Winery & Crystal Cave one of the most unique wineries in the whole state!

But after all of this, our group was not quite done with Put-In-Bay wine! Luckily, a new winery was established here in 2009, fittingly called Put-In-Bay Winery. Half of us decided that we HAD to pay the extra cash to be led on a guided tour of the Doller House Estate (pictured below), which is an Italianate residence preserved over many decades from its original owner, Valentine Doller, who was one of the wealthiest residence in PIB history.


The tour takes you initially through the Doller Estate, where you learn more and more about the very eclectic family that used to live there, all while tasting a different sample of wine in each room. The tour guide was awesome - she did a great job keeping everyone's attention with the captivating tales of runaway daughters, giant fires, and mysterious family dynamics. It was like hearing about a Put-In-Bay soap opera!

The tour moved from the house to the grounds of the estate, where we saw the rest of our group hanging out and sipping on wine in a gorgeous gazebo. We were then led into the last remaining icehouse on the island, and the Island Life Museum where we learned about the 100 year evolution of winter travel across the frozen Lake Erie ice! Again, throughout the icehouse and the museum, we got the chance to taste more wine! (and that's what we came here to do, after all)!


After all of these tastings, I managed to find a favorite - American Merlot - of which I bought a bottle of to take home with me! The Put-In-Bay Winery was an idyllic locale to sip island wines and varietals grown around the regionn while relaxing in the wine garden or on the front porch of the Doller House Estate with its wonderful view of the Put-In-Bay harbor.