Barbarian Challenge

Everyone has a little bit of a He-Man or a She-Ra in them: someone who is strong, fierce, ready to get down and dirty in order to cross the finish line.

On Saturday, the sixth annual Barbarian Challenge at Noccalula Falls in Gadsden invites participants to run, swing, lift and squirm their way to victory.

"We have about 30 obstacles that are pretty strenuous, so it definitely tests your ability … upper-body strength, lower-body strength and running," said race director Christina Richardson.

She is expecting around 1,200 people to sign up to run the 6.3-mile course, which includes rope climbs, climbing walls, tire obstacles, hills, mud pits and barbed wire. "You cross the creek three times, so you have opportunities to wash back off — that’s the good part," Richardson said.

Just because there is dirt and grit involved doesn’t mean you can’t add a little flair to your race-day outfit. "A lot of people will come in silly outfits, or sometimes we’ll see tutus. We have a few kilts show up from time to time," Richardson said.

The Barbarian Challenge is part of the first-ever Alabama OCR Race Series, a series of three high-endurance races that benefit charitable causes. Other races in the series were the Panther Run in May in Springville, and the Mud Duck Run in early June in Gardendale.

Though it’s not a race for the faint of heart, Richardson thinks most athletic people could manage. "We really try, when we’re developing the course, to cater to what we call the Average Joe and the Average Jane — and I consider myself one of those people," she said.

"I think the toughest obstacle that I would really concentrate on training for are the rope climb and the monkey bars," she said. The local playground is a good place to practice.

The Barbarian Challenge is open to the youngest of barbarians, with a special 1-mile, reduced-course for kids ages 5-12.

There will be tents set up for spectators, as well as food and drink vendors on site.

"It’s definitely a family event, and definitely a fun event," Richardson said. "You will be tired when you go home at the end of the day, and you may have a few cuts and scrapes, but it will be well worth it."

Erin Williams is a freelance writer for The Anniston Star.