Monday, September 30, 2013

Brace Against Hunger 5K Recap

Photos by OHventures

It’s so much easier to run when you are surrounded by serene and beautiful scenery.

It’s even easier to run when you know that there is Ohio-made award winning wine waiting for you at the finish line!

Both of those things made for a 5K run that is one of my personal bests, with a time of 24:23!

This feat occurred on the morning of Sunday, September 22 at the Inaugural Brace Against Hunger 5K Walk/Run by the Stark County Hunger Task Force, which took place on the grounds of Gervasi Vineyard & Italian Bistro, as well as on the Stark Parks trails.

The Stark Parks (whose mascot is a creepy looking frog-thingy) trails were pretty brutal, and I was NOT prepared for the amount of hills that were on our course, but they clearly didn't slow me down too much because, as you know, I clocked in at a pretty good time, and placed 47th out of 500-plus runners! I know for a fact that the thought of an early morning wino session at Gervasi is what kept me trucking it!

For years, I have been gushing to everyone about Gervasi being the best winery in all of Ohio, and I still mean it. There really is no place like it that I can think of other than Napa Valley (and that is quite a hike if you want to go there). It's been featured on OHventures as being one of Ohio's Top 5 Best Wineries, and in the OHventures Guide to Canton, among many other mentions!

Now that I live in North Canton (for those of you that don't know, I moved here from Columbus in August!), I have been looking to immerse myself in the Northeast Ohio running scene, and this was a perfect race to do so.

I also recently met a friend of a friend, Katie, who is HUGE into participating into local races. Katie has a goal of running 31 races in 2013, the year in which she turns 31! She is well on her way to accomplishing this, and documents her journey on her blog "Life's Katetastic!" I think that her participation in the Brace Against Hunger 5K is race #21 or something, but she has a TON lined up for the final quarter of 2013!

Anyway. Let's get back on track. Where were we? Oh!

As participants of the race, we had the exclusive privilege of getting a sneak peak of Gervasi's newest addition, the Crush House, which is being unveiled to the public starting October 1. The Crush House was a $4 million project and is nestled int he rear of the property. It offers a brand new restaurant, wine bar and winery all in one, and is nothing short of stunning on the inside and out!

The interior of the Crush House is modern and slick, with dim red-tinted lighting, a 58-foot winding bar, a stainless steel wine production room, and a maginificent second floor with one-of-a-kind jaw-dropping decorative chandeliers made of wine bottles! Even the bathroom sinks are wine themed!

We also got to have a special menu consisting of yummy breakfasts and hand-crafted drinks, such as the apricot bellini, which I promptly sucked down. I am sure there were som nutrients of some sort in that drink that helped rehydrate me after the race!

In addition to the Crush Hous tour, other perks of the race were a car raffle, Subway sammies and other snacks, a finish line party with a DJ, and the chance to mingle with some great folks! I was happy to get to see the former Director of the Stark County Hunger Task Force, and current Director of yStark Eric Smer at the event!

Another pretty cool perk was seeing the impressive stack of non-perishible items, canned goods, and oter donated food that participants brought in to help the cause at hand: feeding the hungry and impoverished population of Stark County. By seeing that mound of food, there's no doubt that this was an extremely successful inaugural year for the Brace Against Hunger 5K!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Warrior Dash Ohio 2013 Recap

Smiling Through The Mayhem! Professional Warrior Dash Picture!

It's that time of year again! Time for thousands and thousands of Ohioans to unleash their inner warrior and tackle the dirtiest and most effed up event to rise from the ashes in recent years: The Warrior Dash. Seriously, hard is it to explain to people that you are paying beaucoup bucks to run through mud? My mother can tell you that I did that for free in our backyard nearly everytime it rained when I was a teenager toddler. So when it gets old telling people that your entry fee for the Warrior Dash is to get yet another snazzy furry viking hat and a t-shirt touting that you "survived," it's time to step it up a notch!

Realistically, I could easily spout off at least a dozen reasons why I love the Warrior Dash (turkey legs, beer, brotherly bonding, moderately enjoyable live music, challenging exercises, a dose of euphoria...), but this year I was able to give one profound reason: I ran to raise money to help terminally ill children through the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. I raised approximately $400 as a "St. Jude Hero" which is way cooler than running just to show off a massive beard - not that I could grow one anyway. And, yes, they give an award to the guy (or gal, I suppose, let's all remember Title IX) with the coolest beard at the Warrior Dash.

As a result of my being a St. Jude hero, I got to trade in my viking hat for a St. Jude bandana, wear some gnarly fake tattoos, and piss off everyone else as I gobbled down some tasty free food and used a VIP shower to rinse off all my mud at the end (not at the same time)! See, it pays to be charitable! Plus, think of all the kids out there who might benefit from a good deed through St. Jude! What's not to love about that?

As you may know, this was my third year participating in the Warrior Dash (see previous posts from 2011 and 2012). It has become a sibling staple with my brother, sister-in-law and myself, and we are always recruiting more morons to do it every year with us! Knowing that becoming a St. Jude Hero is an option is sure to draw more of our philanthropic and charity-oriented friends to come run.

We have seen the improvements from year-to-year with how efficiently things are run and how cool the swag is. In fact, we are all signed up for 2014 already (early bird registration is the way to go).

This year, the race took place at Clay's Park in North Lawrence in Stark County on Saturday August 10 (a second day of muddy goodness also took place on August 11). This was the same spot as last year, however, the obstacles and set up were entirely different - which we liked. I learned that the course was 3.21 miles (I had originally thought it was a true 5K at 3.1 miles) and included 12 obstacles:

List of Obstacles
1. Barricade Breakdown: Hurdle over barricades and under barbed wire
2. Alcatraz: Climb/swim across cargo nets that are halfway submerged in a muddy lake
3. Two X Fall: A series of balance beams that go up, down, and across while being squirted with water.
4. Trenches: Stay low and crawl quickly through the dirt and under logs
5. Cargo Climb: Exactly what it sounds like: climbing a cargo net!
6. Vicious Valleys: Climbing up and down gigantic walls using a rope!
7. Road Rage: Running through good old fashioned car tires!
8. Chained Up: Climb up and over chain link ladders
9. Iron Crossing: Climb sidways across a series of cargo nets hanging above water
10. Storming Normandy: Crawl on all fours under sharp barbed wire
11. Roasted Warrior: Leap over the warrior fires.
12. Muddy Mayhem: Scramble under the barbed wire and through the mud as you near the finish line

The obstacles seemed tougher and dirtier this year. Basically a lot of climbing and crawling in, around, over, and through things. I particularly hated the "Two X Fall," which surely slowed me down quite a bit, as I slowly tiptoed across the balance beams while being squirted with water. I kept envisioning myself slipping off and breaking my neck, and it's got to be the only obstacle I have ever been truly scared of. I may hate some of them and some may seem impossible, but this one freaked me out.

Thankfully, I made it through that obstacle unscathed. During the final obstacle, the Muddy Mayhem, however, I took a beatng! While I army crawled through the quicksand-like mud, I got scraped and bruised and even shed some blood! The Muddy Mayhem is always the grand finale at the Warrior Dash, but this time, it was an even grand-er finale. It was so fucking hard. Pardon my French. In fact, don't pardon it. I was pissed at this obstacle! I was beating my brother up until the very last muddy mound I had to climb over to get out of the pit, but I just simply couldn't do it. As a result, my brother passed me and beat me - by 13 seconds!!

My anger only lasted a split second. I crossed the finish line and we gave muddy high fives and laughed about the course. We said it seemed more difficult than in years past, but then we realized it was because we were BOOKING it! Our times were incredible! My final time was 37:53, ranking 533rd out of 5,343 runners! My brother's time was 37:40, making him 509th! Not sure where my sister-in-law placed...we smoked her! ;-)

The after party of course included the St. Jude festitvities, but also some great rock music and a ton of free beer. How that happened was a miracle. We had our first free beer of course, and by happenstance, we kept being given free beer chips or free cans of beer from people who just simply didn't want their free beer token. We must REALLY look like we like to drink, because all 3 of us had to have each had 4 free beers a piece without even trying. No complaints here!

Cheers to yet another successful Warrior Dash!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Healthy Home, Healthy You!

Lessen Your Carbon Footprint In Your Home and Save Big!
By Michael J. Evans/OHventures
For: Compass Media, Healthy Home Issue


It happens every month: you open your mailbox hoping to find exciting letters from friends and family only to discover your ever-dreaded utility bills lurking inside. Begrudgingly, you take the parcels out, hold your breath, close your eyes, and open the envelope. You are hoping that some magical force has somehow yielded a much smaller, more reasonable dollar amount on the piece of paper inside. But, inevitably the number is far greater than you would prefer. You stare at the bill, sure of the fact that the "8" and the "2" should be transposed, or that maybe you are reading it wrong and need to go get your glasses? But then you finally accept the harsh truth: you really did use that much energy in the past month. But you don't always have to settle for high bills. There are things that you and the rest of those in your household can do to not only lessen the impact energy bills have on your wallet, but to lessen the impact they have on the environment, as well.

Since utilities are the glue that holds a house together, there is no way around using them. Whether you are a homeowner or you rent an apartment, using utilities more wisely is the key to a lower bill. The biggest key to success is making sure that everyone who lives under the same roof lives under the same set of rules when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint.

One of the most obvious contributing factors to a high energy bill is the excessive heating and cooling of your home. In the summer, the electric bill tends to skyrocket when using fans and air conditioning units, and in the winter, gas bills can double or even triple as your furnace works overtime to keep you cozy.

To address rising costs associated with cooling your home, you should first and foremost look for appliances and air conditioning units that are Energy Star approved. Energy Star is a program that was started by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a "voluntary program to identify and promote energy-efficient products and buildings in order to reduce energy consumption, improve energy security, and reduce pollution through voluntary labeling of or other forms of communication about products and buildings that meet the highest energy efficiency standards." Seeing the Energy Star symbol on any product is always a good sign of long-term savings.

Launch Into Space At The Air Force Museum

The National Museum of the United States Air Force, located at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, is the world’s largest and oldest military aviation museum. I hold our nation's servicemen and women in high regard, have a huge interest in history, and like any young boy growing up, always have had a fascination with airplanes. This museum was calling out to me!

It's always FREE Admission to the museum, which is incredible, given that it is one of the best in Ohio! It consists of three large hangars. The first hangar is dedicated to the beginnings of aviation, the second is about World War II and the third contains memorabilia from the Korean War & the Cold War. You can sign up to take a tour to the nearby base to see more planes, but tours are limited. 

In addition to the sections of the museum dedicated to the pioneers of aircraft (from Ohio and elsewhere), there are 360 aircraft and missiles on display, including many rare aircrafts such as Bockscar the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki during the final days of World War II.

Recently (in July), the museum added two new interactive space shuttle simulators. Visitors can virtually fly the shuttle to a safe landing using a joystick and video screens. The simulators are built to resemble the interior of the shuttle commander and pilot's stations.

These simulators are among the first items the museum has received in support of the Crew Compartment Trainer exhibit (CCT) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Learning Node, which are expected to be completed by late fall.

The simulators are free of charge and offer an incredibly unique experience. It's not often that you can say you sat in a space shuttle and "landed" it! With Ohio also having strong ties to space exploration (being home to many famous astronauts such as John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, and 24 others), it's only fitting to have this addition to the museum.

We are truly lucky to have such a renowned museum with such important historical artifacts located here in Ohio. Visit the NMUSAF soon and see for yourself!

ZombiePark Paintball

The zombie apocalypse is coming to Central Ohio this Halloween season as the walking dead infest SplatterPark’s newest paintball attraction, ZombiePark.

ZombiePark takes zombie hunters on an interactive, thrilling hayride through walking-dead infested woods where riders shoot live zombies and other strategic targets with paintball guns to eradicate the zombie infestation of 2013. Open now through November 2, the attraction runs every Friday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

“Zombies are more popular now than ever, and people want to feel like they can be part of the walking dead phenomenon,” said Mike Miller, SplatterPark president. “We created ZombiePark to fulfill that interest and to allow paintball to be more accessible to non-traditional players as well as our high school and college-aged core player.”

The ride is available to anyone ages 5 years and up. Riders may first take practice shots at the Zombie Target Range Test Facility. While riders wait to board the Zombie Hunting Vehicle, a video entertains participants with a zombie infestation backstory. The backstory also is available on YouTube with ZombiePark Breaking News coverage or at

“Paintball has evolved over the years from a sport to activity and now to an attraction,” Miller explains. “We have customers who have always wanted to participate in a paintball activity but were afraid of trying it. The hayride allows riders to have all the fun of paintball but without getting shot or dirty. It’s well suited for families, dates, school-aged groups, and sorority and fraternities.”

The Zombie Hunting Vehicles, which are equipped with blue lights to light the targets, weave through a dark path covering 30-acres of woods filled with live, roaming zombie actors. Admission is $19 and includes 100 UV-reactive paintballs and unlimited access to the target test range. Located in Mt. Gilead, Ohio at 5560 County Road 109, ZombiePark also offers a VIP Package for $29 to skip the line.

“In the dark, it is a completely different experience, and that is when it starts to get really fun,” Miller adds. “We also offer some daylight hours for younger children or the more squeamish.”

At ZombiePark, safety is the first priority. Zombie actors are fully protected with facemasks and padded coveralls beneath their zombie costumes. The paintball guns also are mounted to the Zombie Hunting Vehicle for rider safety.

To purchase tickets, visit or call 1-800-815-2204. Reservations are recommended. Follow SplatterPark on Twitter and Like us on Facebook for updates and discounts as the Zombie Resistance battles the dead.

About SplatterPark: SplatterPark is rated as the premier paintball facility in the Midwest and is featured in the Activision hit paintball video game Greg Hastings Tournament Paintball. It is the largest paintball park between New York and Chicago with 40 acres of park and 12 playing fields. Catering to all levels of play, the park is open every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for open play and private groups. The park also is available by appointment for private groups during the week. ZombiePark is open Friday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. during the Halloween season. The park is closed during the last half of December until the beginning of March. Visit to learn more.