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Recent Race Reviews
3 thoughts on “City Challenge Race”
I volunteered in the morning helping with setup, then ran later in the day.
Emails throughout the week were very clear about where and when to park and arrive for volunteer and race check in.
I arrived at 5 AM and had no issue finding parking. Several people were also there. The coordinators checked us in and we worked on setting up the start and finish line areas. Apparently we had more people show up to volunteer than they expected; the race director, Elvi, commented that at other locations many volunteers didn’t show up. This meant we finished setring up much quicker than expected, and were left with litrle to do during the last two hours of our shift.
The volunteers were supposed to run the course after eveyone else, but I didn’t want ro wait till 1 PM after showing up at 5 AM. I was able to get into an earlier heat (“10 AM”).
The “festival area” was moved into the areba lobby due to the rain, making it cramped and limited to what was available; check in, a merch tent and a few sponsors were inside. There was a large tent set up outside, so I assume the original plan was to use the front lawn as the festival area, which would have made for a better experience.
The MC was great getting people pumped up before starting, getting people up to dance; since he was from Brooklyn, he really played up the Boston-NY rivalry. Due to the large number of people in each start time, the waves were limited to 30 runners at a time. The MC was good at keeping people occupied in between starts, but it did delay many people’s starts.
The course made good use of the streets and campus of UMASS Lowell. 24 obstacles spread across 5K. Several walls, but split up well; one of the walls was very unstable. A few “heavy” carries, including 2 buddy carries, rope climb, balance obstacles and a rig rounded out the obstacles.
Water, bananas, a protein bar and yogurt were supplied at the finish line. Cool medal, with a spinner, and a tech t-shirt a were given out.
Overall, it was a fun race, but the weather put a damper on the desire to hang out before or after the event.
I enjoyed this event. I participated in the elite wave (8:30am) and I found it to be far from crowded … it was great. It rained a bit and still didn’t hinder the experience, if anything it added another element. The route was solid as were the obstacles. Yes, a good amount of walls to climb over but spread out through the race … they became tough. Obstacles were spread pretty well through out the 3ish miles, you didn’t have to run a mile after one to encounter the next obstacle. Sufficient amount of photographers. Was at Umass Lowell, restroom situation was good and packet pickup process was fine. $15 for extra laps which I believe to have been a deal. I would run this back again. I would also recommend this.
I saw a lot of people grabbing the incorrect sandbags on the carry and weren’t penalized for it. I don’t have much else negative to say!
The shirt and medal are sweet too.
First off, this was not a race I originally planned for my schedule. However, having a free weekend and a decent code about a month before the event, I signed up.
I never thought that I would say that an event had too much communication. I would receive at least two emails almost daily for the last month. at least one to each of my two email. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how they acquired one of the emails. The information was not only sent to the email I used to sign up but another. Everything, including race day information. Which for someone who was only receiving updates I believe would cause some confusion.
Many of the emails were the exact same information over and over again.
Also, for the location of the event, the emails only stated that packet pick up Friday would be at the Tsongas Center. On the morning of the event when I went to type in the location for the race I found the facebook events all said ‘Lowell, MA’ and nothing else. So I took a shot and drove to the Tsongas Center. Had to use a bit of common sense, but thankfully it was the right place. I found it odd that I had to search for the actual location or make assumptions.
Venue & Festival:
It was raining, that is not in the control of the race directors of coordinators. This likely contributed a bit to where the festival was lacking.
The ‘festival’ was in the main foyer of the Tsongas Center. It was a bit congested at times. There was nothing to really hold racers’ attention before and after running. There were a few sponsor tents, a merch tent, check in, and bag check. Being inside they still used tent set ups. I’m sure that if it was not raining, they may have set up outside? Otherwise it would have been an odd decision. I heard a rumor there was a beer tent somewhere, but did not see it. It could have easily been pure rumor.
Course & Obstacles:
Too. Many. Walls.
In the start area, an elite that had already run a lap was asked what he thought by the MC. He said there were too many walls and the mic was quickly pulled away from him.
I actually lost count of how many walls there were, but when I did it was over 50% of the race.
Other obstacles felt and looked rickety. On the tires to balance beam they were shaking back and forth horribly. The cargo net, while it was smaller than most I’ve been working towards, I watched the frame teeter back and forth. When I did try to get on it, the ropes slacked that when I was a bit of the way up it had sunk so that I was close to the ground. At that point, I stopped climbing.
The course brought us around Umass Lowell and the Tsongas center. But then it brought us down along the river through an area where it appeared people were residing in tents. Being by myself with no one in sight ahead or behind me, this was a rather uncomfortable situation.
The course continued along the river before you had to climb up the cement wall to the road to get back up. This was beyond my skill being by myself so I had to go around which was a bit off course then back to bring me to the bridge.
I kept being told there were penalties of 30 jump squats where as many other people I spoke to said there were no penalties? In regards to this, I had some volunteers get very rude with me about penalties. I started the race doing them, but then as I kept coming to wall after wall – which supposedly at each one you were supposed to do 30 jump squats if you opted out of the obstacle which included every wall. – I stopped. Back to the comment i made above about having to go off course to get around the cement wall the volunteer became very rude telling me I had to do the penalty. My response was that i had to go a quarterish mile off course to get back on course, that was enough of a penalty.
I understand penalties at races, I am not downplaying this. But so many said they knew nothing of it even when they had to bypass something.
What I am trying to say here is that there needs to be better communication here between staff and volunteers so that racers are all getting the same information.
I feel there needed to be more diversity in the obstacles. The non-wall obstacles needed some better build. I did enjoy the obstacle of going between the two vehicles on the hoods. As well as the short carries early on were a nice break from the walls.
Swag & Awards
The t-shirt is tech material and nice. The logo on the front with their “Think outside the mud” on the back.
The medals were neat, with a spinning feature. However, I did see one or two people in the festival area with broken medals because the center piece broke off.