Editors note: Lisa was attending CMC after breaking ribs on a wall at the Pocono’s event earlier in the year. After conversation she offered to write the featured review for this event – and knocked it out of the park. Thank you, Lisa!
The race was held at the Aviator Sports Park which was a very cool facility. As the CMC was going on outside, inside there was a hockey game, a gymnastics class, and an arcade just to mention a few things. The park was very easy to get to with ample FREE parking! (Thank you I-95 for cooperating!) The parking lot was so close to the event that when you pulled in you could see the pit. In fact, my friend and I were so mesmerized watching the pit that we forgot to pay attention to where we parked. No worries, we did find the car by remembering what view of the pit we had.
The “security” at the gate was very laid back. They simply asked if you had any glass in your bag, and if your answer was no, they waived you through. Registration was pretty easy, just a short wait to get your packet. The bag check, however, had a very long wait. Like close to 10 minutes long wait. The folks working the check were very nice, and even let us get our water and money out of our bags when we learned our start time was delayed. More on that later. The bag check cost $5.00, but when you retrieved your bag, they gave you two $5.00 merchandise coupons. Fair enough.
The festival area provided great spectator views of the course and Pit. Spectators could also walk across the course to view many of the obstacles. Surprisingly the festival area was dog friendly. So dog person that I am got to pet and love up several awesome dogs, one of which was 4 year old blind pit bull. He kissed me. Heehee.
There were vendors for energy drinks and foods, and a couple for swag. Sadly I waited until after the race to get a Brooklyn CMC t-shirt and all they had left were men’s XL. So I didn’t get to use my merchandise coupons. Lesson learned.
There was a giant military vehicle available to explore and mug up for awesome photos. They let you climb on the truck and pose with a variety of big guns while their professional photographer took pics. The pics will have the CMC logo on it, or you can buy the photo logo free. I like the idea of having the CMC logo – bragging rights. And frankly in the photo I saw of us we look bad @$$, so the CMC logo is icing on that bad @$$ness.
The food and drinks were surprisingly inexpensive. $2 for a bottle of water, $5 for a chicken sandwich. The food, however, was in no way gourmet. I forced myself to eat the chicken because my body needed the fuel, but the chicken was kind of icky and dry. I used 5 packets of mustard just to liven it up, and by the way, opening mustard packets was in and of itself an obstacle.
It was a surprisingly hot day for so late in September. At least 80, more like 85, and not a cloud in the sky. The Aviator building was air conditioned, so on such a hot day, it was a welcome relief to have somewhere to go to escape the sun and cool off.
Unfortunately the race was behind by about two hours. As I understand it, about 500 additional people showed up that morning and registered. I’d also heard that something had happened in the morning to cause a delay to the start. Two hours is an awfully long delay, especially when your food intake and hydration is based on a presumed start time. Throw in the high heat, and hydration becomes a real issue. This is where the energy drink vendors came in real handy. Muscle milk took away my hunger pangs. Other than that, I didn’t mind the delay too much because I got to hang out with and get to know some really great Spahten team mates.
I am a crossfitter, so I am no stranger to a 5 minute AMRAP. However, a 5 minute AMRAP in the sun in that sort of heat is a bitch. The judges were from a local crossfit box and were clearly mindful of the heat factor. My judge thoughtfully put my water in the shade, and after 2 rounds, he encouraged me to take a moment as I still had “two and a half minutes left.” I was thankful for that permission and I did take a moment before I finished Bravo with 74 reps.
A thing I really love about the Pit: You have four skill levels to choose from. So if you are recovering from an injury or new to lifting, you can choose Alpha or Bravo. If you are more experienced, there is Charlie or Delta. I chose Bravo because I tore a calf muscle in April doing burpee over box jumps. So not wanting to repeat that movement, Bravo allowed for straight on burpee box jumps. I will say that shoulder to overhead with a kettle bell is a bit awkward. But I got over myself.
We had about 5 minutes tops to catch our breath before the race started. It was a much needed break with plenty of water. We were even offered energy drinks. Then we were off and running onto a very flat course. Runway flat. I would say maybe half of our race was running on old runways. So flat and HOT. As I said, heat was a big issue that day. But CMC was awesome. They had people driving around in little carts handing out bottled water. I think I consumed 3 bottles over the course as well as stopping at the hydration tables. The course was about four miles long, so that tells you about the sweat factor and the need to stay hydrated. An aside – I can’t stress enough BUY A CAMELBAK if you plan on running longer courses. It’s in your best interest.
The obstacles were awesome. There were lots of various walls: inverted, ladders, rope A frames, and the shorter metal walls that were wicked hot when you touched them – thus encouraging you to get over them faster! They had a pretty cool traverse wall that had two levels of difficulty. It’s the first traverse wall I ever completed. Yes! But I will say, it made me a little nervous because the drop was pretty far, and while there was water in a ditch beneath it, it was clear that the water level had dropped significantly. So a fall could mean an injury.
They had a cool cargo net climb incorporated with monkey bars. I tried the monkey bars, but the diameter was much thicker than I am used to so I fell off and down onto the cargo next. While I didn’t see this, I heard that people were crawling over the cargo net at the same time that people were trying the monkey bars. If that is true, that could be disastrous if someone fell onto a person below.
I also liked that they had a variety of ropes to try at the rope climb, some with knots, some with out. I chose the knot free rope with my trusty S hook climb. They also had 2 options for the sand bag carry, 25# and 50#. This lady did 50, though it did get heavy towards the end.
The barbed wire crawl was awesome. Beach sand! No cuts, bruises, or scrapes. My favorite obstacle, however, was a high wall that had rock climbing hand and foot grips. The wall was quite high and intimidating but it was doable. I just had to suck it up and try. The decent on the other side was a ladder.
The final obstacle was this neat Cargo net climb onto a sort of Ranger Rope/Balance beam over a container that ended with a fireman’s pole slide. The pole sort of wobbled as you went down. Fun!
One other note about the course: there were photographers all over the place! I expect there will be awesome photos to commemorate a successful race.
Upon completion we received a nice CMC Dog Tag that is race specific. We also received a fitted CMC America’s Race cotton T, and a Vitamin Shop drawstring backpack with coupons inside for 20% off.
Suggestions For Next Time
My first suggestion is to figure out what happened to cause the delay and work towards tightening that up. I had done the Pocono’s CMC back in May and they also had a delay though it was shorter, just about an hour. As I said, I wasn’t terribly bothered by the wait, but if someone had a post-race commitment two hours could be terrible.
Safety is the next thing to consider. So perhaps have a way to keep the water flowing at the traverse wall. And have a volunteer at the monkey bars to make sure there is no overhead and crawl happening at the same time.
Otherwise I think the event was a huge success and I look forward to next year.
My Take Away
I had an awesome time. I can’t stress that enough. My teammates were great. The obstacles were challenging. There was never any back up at the obstacles, so you kept moving. I got to meet a couple of the race organizers, who were super friendly. Everything about this day was top notch. I really love the CMC races. I’m thinking next year might be a season pass. If you’ve not done a CMC, you need to put it on your bucket list. Sooner than later.