* From: Robert Fournier
* Event Details
This past weekend, the Civilian Military Combine (CMC) brought its unique race series to the Amesbury Sports Park. The competition is a mix of crossfit and obstacle course racing in an attempt to measure strength, endurance and agility. The first part of the event is known as “the PIT” and following the PIT is a 5 mile mountain run with military obstacles.
The PIT consists of three movements done in succession for seven repetitions each. The goal is to complete as many reps as possible in a seven minute time frame. Once the PIT is completed, all participants are given a short break that is followed by the obstacle course race. Both of these elements are combined using some type of statistical equation to determine the best overall conditioned athlete.
With the current explosion in popularity of obstacle course racing, there are often several races to choose from each week. Many of them blend in and rarely stand out amongst the crowd. I was intrigued by CMC original concept and was looking forward to seeing what it was all about.
Runners familiar with obstacle course racing in New England have become well versed on the parking situation at Amesbury Sports Park. Each race pretty much handles it the same way. Participants are directed to park at a nearby dog racing track in Seabrook, NH and then take a shuttle bus to the venue. Parking was $10 per car (quickly becoming the industry standard) and there were two buses waiting for us. I got there early so there were no lines at all. Not sure how it was for the later waves. A quick ten minute ride and we arrived at the park. Amesbury Sports Park has become the main location for these type of races. There is plenty of room and many of the obstacles are visible to spectators.
The registration tents were broken up by last name letter ranges. Being the first bus to arrive at the park, there was no wait. Simply provide your name and signed waiver to get your wrist timing chip and bib. After registration, you were directed to the nearby bag check tent. This is where I had my biggest complaint. I went to this race alone so I was planning on using the bag check anyway but I don’t agree with how it was handled. There was a race official directing people to the tent where you could check your bag for $5. While most events have this as a convenience for the runners, it was explained to me by the official that no bags were allowed in the venue as a security measure. Therefore, even if you came with someone that you were planning on leaving your bag with, you still needed to check your bag. Usually, I head to a venue early for an opportunity to take pictures and videos before the race. With having to check my bag before entering, I was unable to do that. M
y issue is that if it truly was a security measure then why was I able to pick up my bag after my race wave and walk around the park with it no problem the rest of the day? Seemed like a way to squeeze an extra $5 out of everyone. Apparently, the $5 could be discounted off any merchandise purchased, however that was never explained at bag check.
* Race Details
The day started off with the playing of the national anthem. Nice touch! The first few waves were directed to the holding pen and released into the PIT area. The PIT contained about 50 stations with a judge at each one waiting for the athletes. Like I mentioned before, the PIT, a crossfitter’s dream, was an exhausting seven minutes where you needed to complete three exercises as many times as possible. The first exercise was burpee box jumps. You did a burpee (not the push-up kind), jumped or stepped over a box and did another burpee on the other side for seven reps. Next up was overhead kettle bell swings for seven reps. The final exercise was barbell overhead push presses for another seven reps. All of the judges were from a local crossfit box and were great at encouraging and motivating the athletes. For non-crossfitter’s like myself, the PIT can be an intimidating proposition. They even allowed participants the opportunity to skip the PIT all together. There was one r
acer that decided to skip the PIT, ran the 5 mile race and then was inspired to return and complete the PIT afterwards. The CMC website provided instructional videos explaining each exercise and offering tips. I ran through the exercises a few times prior to the event to get a feel for how to approach the PIT. It was a tough decision on how much energy I wanted to expend in the PIT knowing that I would need to complete a 5 mile obstacle race immediately after. My goal was to try to get 100 reps. I only got to 89 and felt pretty good about that….until I saw some of the scored posted throughout the day. Holy hell!!! I think the high for the day was around 170 reps which sounded absolutely insane to me! Not quite sure how that is even humanly possible. The crossfit people killed it in the PIT! Not sure how they fared in the race portion though. It was an interesting dynamic in the crowd. You could tell who the crossfitters and the obstacle race people were.
Following the PIT, we were sent to the starting line and given a couple of minutes to recover before heading up the hill for our 5 mile run. After barely enough time to catch our breath, we were immediately sent up the mountain. Once we reach the top, we encountered our first obstacle: a 10’ metal ladder wall. Next, we headed in the trails behind the sports park. I have run a few races already in Amesbury, so I was expecting it to be pretty much the same trails. Wrong! While we started out on some of the main trails, CMC did a good job of creating new routes. Many times throughout the race, we were sent off the trails into remote areas that have never been explored in previous races. There were narrow, forest runs where you had to duck and dodge trees and branches. CMC utilized every inch of the woods really well. Due to all the rain we received before the race, there was no shortage of mud and puddles to traverse through. Previous races held at this location had an issue w
ith people getting poison ivy and I thought there was no way of avoiding it with some of the paths we went through. Luckily, I think I was able to avoid it. I’m curious if anyone else had an issue. We returned down the mountain to the double bucket carry which involved carrying a couple weighted buckets a short distance. After another ladder wall, we made our way up a storage container, across some ranger ropes and down the fireman poles. Back up the hill, over a 5’ metal wall and ladder wall towards the slip and slide. A few weeks earlier, I participated in another race at the same location that also included a slip and slide that did not go well. I still have some scrapes on my ass from that experience and had some trepidation about doing it again. However, there was no issue with this one. It was well constructed and ended in a pool of water. After the slip and slide, we navigated through some refreshing, chest-high water filled with hay. Following a climb over a slip
pery mud hill, we crawled up a dirt incline under some plastic orange netting. Through another mud pool and up a deep, shoe-eating, mud hill that was very difficult to climb. After walking across a log balance beam, it was back into the trails. There was a couple ropes criss-crossed between trees that we had to climb under and through some more muddy paths. We waded through a small creek and crawled under another stretch of netting towards a giant boulder that we had to climb over. The trail snaked up and down the side of hill a few times with a 5’ wall to climb at the top of each one. We headed back down the mountain to the final stretch of obstacles. In between a couple of the 5’ walls and ladder walls was the swinging ladders. This unique obstacle involved climbing a metal ladder that shifted towards you while you climbed it. Once you climbed to the other side, it shifted back making it difficult to navigate. It was secured on the bottom by a rope that allowed it to s
wing freely for a couple feet. The final obstacle involved squeezing through the mouth of a horizontal metal frame about two feet wide that had cargo netting above and below.
The course was well marked with caution tape and fluorescent paint. With all of the intricate routing through the fields, CMC did a great job in making sure no one veered off course. All obstacles were solidly constructed and they had a bunch of water stops throughout the race.
Once crossing the finish line, you were handed your dog tag medal and t-shirt. They also offered some CMC stickers and rubber bracelets. The PIT area had a DJ pumping high energy music through the day and an MC hyping up the crowd and athletes. CMC was a smaller scale event than other national race series. Due to how well received it was, I don’t think this will be the case with future races. There were a few vendor tents offering free samples. Typically, each racer was given a free beer and they also offered your standard food choices. As with a couple other races, CMC also used Nuvision Action Image and offered free digital photos. I wonder if other race series understand how appreciated this is. I wish more would follow suit. It’s disappointing to be over-charged for photos after already spending your hard-earned money on the race. CMC also had some touch screen monitors set up to allow participants instant access to their times and scores. They also had some officials
available for any questions. It took a few minutes to locate the wash area which was a giant snow-making fan spraying water out. It worked well enough to get most of the mud off but I would have preferred having a bunch of hoses to use. I’ve been told there were changing tents but I have no idea where they were. Most people simply changed under a towel or between cars. This needs to be better coordinated.
Overall, CMC put on a first class event. Everyone involved acted professionally and were really accommodating. In a sea of obstacle course races, CMC stands out for their unique approach. By mixing crossfit with obstacle racing, it really does balance the playing field and make for an interesting competition. I am looking forward to next year’s race and will begin preparing now for the PIT. Please visit muddywarthog.com for pictures and video of the race! Thanks!!
* From: Jessica Wohlen
* Event Details
Parking: The same drill as with any race at Amesbury Sports Complex: Parking about 10 minutes away at Seabrook Greyhound Park and being shuttled to the venue, all for a $10 parking fee.
Facilities: At first I was concerned that the number of potties available would not be enough for the number of racers, but I was proven wrong. Easily found, easily accessible. Clean off wasn’t bad. It was a warm day so the snow cannon was fine (I do prefer a hose though so I can aim where needed to clean off). The changing tents were a little too close to the cannon leaving very little dry space for your clean stuff. Nothing major, and nothing some resourcefulness couldn’t fix!
Vendors: I only really saw Core Power on site. Beyond that there was the normal food (burgers, pizza, chicken, fries…) and a CMC merch tent.
Schwag: Cotton T, Dog Tag that was specifically made for our event (yeah for cool bling), and a bracelet (which somehow I managed to miss out on, but that’s really not a big deal)
* Race Details
If you’re new to OCR you don’t really know the ins and outs of ASC, but being a veteran I am always curious to see what each race has to offer with respect to the land they are allowed to use. CMC did a great, no, FANTASTIC, job using the resources. We stuck to the well trodden trail for a bit, then used some of the less traveled trail, and at some points we were literally trail blazing. I’m sure I found some poison ivy in my travels, but such is the life of OCR (and nothing a little Tecnu can’t fix!) The course was technical, different, and fun.
None of the obstacles were really over the top difficult, a couple made me pause for a moment to determine my best course of action, not once did I pause for any safety related concerns..
Among the obstacles were:
5 foot (??) walls – Used frequently through the course and frequently found cresting a hill or climbing a hill.
Ladder Walls – Also used frequently. By the last one I think I developed some sort of technique.
Ranger Ropes – A nice, and different, balance obstacle. I wasn’t really worried about falling, but I believe there was a net below to catch anyone.
Hill Climbs – Not just the major ones, they added some steep quick hill climbs into the mix
Wobbly Ladders – Super fun, but watch out when you get to the other side…they do shift!
Lobster Net – A fun way to use cargo nets!
**Water Slide – I told as many CMC staff members as I could that I LOVED the execution of the the slide. I’ve seen a water slide at a few events at Amesbury, and none of them were executed well (See Superhero Scramble’s attempt). This one even trumped the epic slide at SR Super -Vernon, NJ last year. I wasn’t worried about going off to a side, my exit was in a pool of water. It was awesome!
It’s really hard to find anything negative to say about this event. Bib pickup was organized. The festival area was organized well. The Pit was run efficiently. There was plenty of water on course.
I think this is my favorite event to date!
* From: Corrine
* Event Details
Amesbury Sports Park is a fantastic choice to hold a race event. Good parking/shuttle service from Seabrook, not to many vendors at this event but that’s no bigggie. Great Swag! Love the Dogtag,cool CMC t-shirt, and nice litte bracelet.
* Race Details
CMC created one of the best courses I have run at Amesbury. They made great use of the trails (and made some of their own 🙂 Good challenging obstacles and good placement through the whole course. Good stuff. CMC course designers deserve a trophy :). I loved the pit, it’s not that hard to learn the exercises so folks who get scared away by it please don’t be. Put this race on your calendar for next year you will love it
* From: michael downey
* Event Details
parking was the standard drill for races at amesbury, was a little annoyed they would not let us bring bags past the bib check in point. i usually like to bring my bags in get settled in and then about 45 mins before race put on the rest of my gear and then check the bag. as for the facilities the shower was yet again the snow machine cant say i am a fan of that and i would like to see them upgrade to hoses as opposed to a machine shooting water at us at 60mph. not really much for vendors at this event it was a very basic i think there were only 3 vendors. schwag tent was basic but good few different shirts and different colors.
* Race Details
the pit was well laid out and set up so you had enough space between each station you dident have to worry if you would bump the person next to you. the course was GREAT they really used the terrain and park well to give a fresh race and make it a challenge. the obstacles were top quality and you felt safe knowing these were put together well . its obvious they saw where superhero scramble went wrong on the slide and did a perfect slide for the race. they spaced the obstacles well and you dident feel like they were to spread out or to bunched up like some races. as for difficulty i am still new to the OCR world this was my 5th over all ( few spartans , superhero scramble and muckfest) and this was by far and away the most difficult race i have encountered. even as just a stand alone race it would be a exhausting race but throw in the 7 min AMRAP pit and that just cranks up the difficulty that much more. i would highly recommend this race and 100% plan on doing the 2014 race a
nd maybe a few more.