Third Annual Barbarian Challenge on tap


 Towns and cities lived in fear of invading barbarians thousands of years ago, but the horde that will invade Gadsden on June 22 will arrive as welcomed guests.
Participants will seek to conquer a specially-designed 4.25-mile course through the rugged terrain of Noccalula Falls Park as part of the Third Annual Gadsden Barbarian Challenge, the ultimate competitive event for anyone seeking a unique and fun physical challenge.
Designed to resemble training courses used by the military, Barbarian Challenge participants test their endurance and stamina on the most extreme terrain that Mother Nature can provide.
Last year’s challenge featured more than 900 athletes.
Greater Gadsden Area Tourism Executive Director Hugh Stump worked closely with Xtreme Events to bring the race back to Gadsden for the third year. 
“This is a perfect event to showcase Noccalula Falls Park as a great natural resource for recreation and fun. The trails being used are great for hiking, running and riding a mountain bike. The Black Creek Trail will be a featured part of the course. Throw in all the other fun things to do at the park like mini-golf, the train ride, the animal habitat, and of course, Noccalula Falls, and you have a great location for a fun event!”
The course includes miles of gut-wrenching mud, twisting trails, creek-crossings and a dozen man-made and sometimes nature-enhanced obstacles of tunnels, tires, walls and barbwire.
Xtreme Events Race Director Scott Cochran said the Gadsden site is the best natural course he has ever set up.
“Our extreme athletes love the mud and water, creek crossings, insanely steep hills and natural obstacles on the mountain. This year we’ve added more upper-body challenges and lengthened the course by including a route that local resident Ed Whatley showed us.
“Plus, the community has really embraced the race and the staff at Noccalula Falls Park is tremendous to work with.”
Cochran said more than 1,000 athletes, many from outside the greater Gadsden area, have already registered. 
“It’s common for thrill-seeking athletes to travel hundreds of miles to compete in the Barbarian Challenge because it’s nothing like the average 5K road race. And Gadsden has a vibrant downtown nightlife and enough hotels to accommodate the invading horde.”
Early package pickup and pre-race expo will be held at the Noccalula Falls Park’s Kiwanis Pavilion on June 21 from 1 to 6 p.m.  The Coosa Valley YMCA will be on-site with games and will be pre-registering children under 15 for the Mini Challenge on Saturday that will have similar obstacles to the adult version. There is a $10 fee to participate in the Mini Barbarian Challenge, with proceeds benefiting the YMCA. There is no charge for spectators to attend the Barbarian Challenge and post-race party. Food, beverages and other entertainment will be available at the event.
Cochran said a portion of the main event proceeds will be used to benefit the Etowah County Rescue Squad and the Coosa Valley YMCA. Rescue Squad volunteers will be on hand throughout the course to provide water and first aid if needed.
The fastest male and female barbarian to complete the course will win an authentic movie replica Conan the Barbarian sword, while members of the fastest tribe receive a replica medieval mace. Awards will be given out at 1 p.m. to first, second and third place finishers in each age group.
Pre-registrations are being accepted until June 15.

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