* From: Paul Jones
* Event Details
Aviator Sports Park is easy to find, right in Brooklyn – well signed, TONS of free parking, and the venue itself is flat flat flat, which was very welcome the weekend after the Beast!
Registration was super smooth, but $5 bag check was backlogged. They did let us get access to our bags again later on though, that was nice.
Plenty of vendors, Hylete, Steeltribe and a few Crossfit boxes brought their own tents. Some energy food and drink vendors too. Food and drink was “ok” and catered by the venue itself – I miss last years option of a hot paleo meal waiting after the race!
Spectating was awesome – TONS of course access, tons of visibility into the Pit, plenty of portapotties and changing tents.
Weather on the day was unusually hot hot hot, with little shade available, access to the main air conditioned building was fantastic and appreciated.
I heard this was their biggest turn out yet, and the activity levels were high, without being overcrowded.
* Race Details
Firstly – they were delayed over two hours. It’s not uncommon for their to be a delay before the Pit – the process of moving that many people in and out is a big job, and doesn’t always go smoothly – it also sounded like they had a delay in starting, which is impossible to recover from. Personally, I didn’t mind – I was with friends, hadn’t scheduled anywhere to be post race, the weather was glorious – we got some fun team photos, I wandered around the vendors, grabbed my wallet out of my bag and stayed hydrated and cooled off in the main building. I could see they were moving along as fast as they could, and keeping their judges in mind, they took a lunch break.
Secondly – it was hot. As a result, I likely sweated out anything I put in, before I started the Pit 🙂
I’m no stranger to the Pit and took on Charlie again, getting an official score of 71, my third best score (72 in PA and 75 in MA being better. I’m happy with it, I haven’t been training). But, like a rookie, I gassed out. Didn’t catch my breath in the two minute break and for the first mile or so of the course I felt dizzy and couldn’t really run … while I did the big walls, I did skip the inverted walls …
but, CMC NAILED it with hydration. At the beginning of this long stretch of running and walls, guys were riding up and down in gators handing out bottles of water. After taking one of these on board, I felt a million times better and could pick up the pace a little.
Almost the first half of the race was flat trail or runway, with lots and lots of walls. Big wooden walls to start, then tons of their signature stell 4′ walls and large ladder walls once we got into the grass. It was a nice way to break up the field, and get people moving.
In the last half of the race we hit the bigger obstacles. We saw a new variant on the traverse wall – back to back, with slopes and narrow footing – my concern here was that the water in the middle had dried up by the later waves when we came through – a fall would have been pretty dangerous – fortunately, I was good 🙂 Many more tall obstacles – a large (like, Shale Hill large) slanted wall with rope to get up, a tall wall with a hole to poke through, the huge monkey bar / cargo net contraption (I totally used the net, not a good monkeybar athlete!), a nice tall rope climb (nailed it), and some sandy wire crawls to the final Brooklyn bridge obstacle (two story cargo containers with traverse beams and hanging firemans poles to come down.
I don’t even know how long the course took me – it pegged in somewhere between 3.5 and 4 miles and earned me my 6th finishers dog tag.
CMC continues to be one of my favorite events. Not because they have the best courses (but they are right up there) – but because they are welcoming. The Pit is unique and challenging EVERY time. The staff know us and our shirts and what we do and you can’t move in the festival area without someone from HQ recognizing your shirts.
It’s a breath of fresh air from the big box events where the team is barely noticed, and vanishes in a sea of other teams.
CMC Balitmore, I’m coming for you!
(Above Average rating. Excellent would have been achieved if we started closer to our intended time)
* From: stephen rodericks
* Event Details
Parking was free! (Varies based on location) and on site, just a few min from the start line, plenty of vendors selling clothes, food was meh, (i am a food snob) they had plenty of sport type drinks, i did not oay too much sttetion to them, but i did stop at naked juice, i like their stuff. Schwag was a finishers medal, thry use venue specific dog tags, which is pretty cool. Finishers shirt, it is cotton but pretty conmfy, (soft, softer than spartans finisher from last year) 20% off coupon at vitamin shop, viamin shop branded draw string bag, seems decent quality. Better than you would exspect from a small company. Bag check was a long line, like really long.
* Race Details
The course was just under 4 miles, but was awesome. Flat and a little under half was on pavement, so this was a fast course. I love the idea of starting in the pit and doing a workout before you run, it was great! They offer different levels of skill, different weight, or no weight. The judges were from a local cross fit box, and they were very nice. This is an easier race, but if you want to make it a challenge it is easy to make that happen (do not use the ropes when going over the taller walls) they had a plethera of 4 ft walls, some nore that were taller, do nit know exact height. a cool traverse wall that you do not need to be as skilled to get by (more doable than a spartan) barb wire crawl over SAND! I loved that so much, no rocks! Rope climbs monkey bars, actual rock climbing wall grips up a wall. Wreck bag carry. It was a hot day, unusual for the time of year, 80s and they had plenty of water, right after the pit, several stops and people driving around in gators giving them out. A cool contraption that they call a bridge that is awesome, hard to describe, cargo not up, walk across a pipe with hand gaurds above to stabalize, and slide down a pipe, all built on shipping containers. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. They had s long delay but the enviromennt was so much fun it did not matter that much. Wile we waited we got some awesome photos on a giant military truck, with weapons and awesome photographers just waitibg to take oictures and to tag you in them when they upload the to facebook. They are free unless you want to get the without the cmc logo, but i want the logo on the photo, it is cool. The photographers on course were also top notch. I also watched the waves before me in the pit as they worked out, and it was pretty cool. Overall i see how they have gotten a following and i am on the band wagon. I look forward to the next race i do. They owners and high ranking staff walked around and looked. For feed back as well, yet another thing to like about them! Bottom line, do thus race!
* From: Lauren Gray
* Event Details
I’d like to preface this by saying this was my first Civilian Military Combine. Also, Paul had talked it up so much, my expectations were pretty high (as was my anxiety of my first OCR without my battle buddy/safety blanket!). This is also the first time I’ve felt so strongly about a race that I was compelled to write a review. So take from it what you will.
TLDR; If you like fun and you like obstacle course races, REGISTER FOR THIS RACE. I would do this race ten thousand times over and I’m already sold on going to Baltimore in December.
I drove to Brooklyn by myself as it’s fairly local. Unfamiliar with the area, I was so incredibly relieved to see giant signs indicating parking directions for about a mile before I even arrived to the venue entrance. I pulled in and was greeted by a parking attendant directing me to the far end of the lot where I was greeted by another attendant gesturing me to the first available spot. Not sure if the attendants were venue or event provided, but parking was onsite, within a quick walk to the event, free, and painless. No shuttles necessary!
The festival area was decently sized and never felt overcrowded or particularly empty. It was blanketed with canopies for event appropriate vendors (Naked Juice, Hylete, GRAE Therapy, Muscle Milk, Born to WOD, etc.) doling out free samples/swag as well as local CrossFit gyms that even went to the trouble to set up inflatable chairs and couches as a hangout area.
It also included the typical race tents (Scoring, Merch, Bag Check, Men’s/Women’s changing tents/Food) and racers and spectators also had access to the venue’s outdoor bar as well as indoor facilities including bar/arcade/gaming/food/restrooms. The latter was a nice break in light of the unusually hot day, allowing us to take in some air conditioning and refilling our water bottles instead of having to purchase new ones.
One of the most striking features of the event for me was CMC’s accommodation of spectatorship. Bleachers lined one side of “The Pit” area while everyone was free to stand outside the remaining two available sides to watch racers take it on. The fourth side was used as a corral to line up the next wave. On the course itself, it seemed that if spectators were willing to venture out into the obstacle laden portions of the course, they were absolutely welcome there. It didn’t seem as though there were designated “spectator viewing areas,” which must have been so nice for family and friends coming to cheer on their athletes. It also meant everyone probably got some great action shots for those who have maybe have had disappointing experiences with “free” pictures at other races. (I know Stephen Rodericks did after he finished! Thanks Stephen!!)
…Which brings me to the second aspect that caught my attention: the attentiveness of the event photographers. While there was only a handful, it seemed like they were everywhere at once. I was stopped pre-race in the festival area for a photo, a videographer in The Pit corral, a photographer made his way to me three or four times during my Pit AMRAP, a videographer post-Pit at the race starting line, the photographer at the military truck taking posed team photos encouraged us to send people his way, I was caught by another photographer on top of a two story cargo net/monkey bars obstacle, AND the same photographer was kind enough to take another team photo for us post-race in the festival area before our departure. Seriously.
The third and final thing that absolutely blew my mind about CMC? The availability of the staff. While the Spahtens are a pretty recognizable team at OCR events and are familiar with the CMC staff, the staff solicited our thoughts both pre and post race. They were specifically looking for areas of improvement in the face of higher registration. I was introduced to at least three employees and all of them were nothing less than excited to have us, kind, and genuine in their desire for feedback in order to do more and/or better.
Event Areas for Improvement:
Bag Check. Our bibs came with bag check tags, but the people manning the bag check tent were handwriting additional tags to loop through the hole of the bag check tag and tie it on the bags, and then handwriting a bracelet for each participant as well. I can only surmise this was because they had no way to attach the bib bag tag to bags. Perhaps they would have been better off forgoing the bib bag tags, and just writing out two bracelets, one for the participant, and one for the bag. We waited close to twenty minutes with only 5 or 6 people in front of us in line.
There were three or four people taking bags, but it seemed like there were an additional 4 or 5 milling around at the back of the tent. I realize this is in part because CMC allowed people to go back to their bags, and participants were allowed to retrieve their own bags with bag check people confirming bracelets against tags on the way out. It might behoove them to rotate the shifts to better accommodate the waves. Have more people taking bags prior to 11AM (if the last shift of racers is a 1PMish wave) and shift to more people on the back end after 11AM to help the early racers retrieve bags.
Wave timing. I understand this is an extremely fluid thing and revolves around the judges in The Pit more than anything else. It also seems like it is something CMC is actively working to negotiate. I had to rearrange my evening (6PM dinner reservations in Manhattan) despite only a 4ish mile course and a 1213PM start time because everything was running so late.
Showers. I hadn’t been planning on using them as I was going to go home to shower, but because of the aforementioned timing issues, I had to hose down there. It was the end of the day by the time I got there, and I realize this is more a venue thing than an event thing, but the hoses had such low pressure that if you were standing and trying to hose yourself down, the hose ran dry in about fifteen seconds. You had to sit in everyone else’s used water and mess of dirt and hold the hose over up you to get any water to find its way out of the hoses at all.
Ultimately, nothing about any of these three things was so severe that it influenced my thoughts on the event itself or my desire to do it again. Because I would do it again in a second.
* Race Details
This was my first time in The Pit because it was my first CMC. I’ve been suffering from a weak left shoulder and some mobility issues, so through a mutually agreed upon decision (I got overruled by Sandy, heh!), it was decided I’d go Alpha division as I can’t muddle my way through any additional injuries prior to an upcoming marathon in a few weeks. My judge (Elizabeth) introduced herself, and without my asking, counted my reps out loud to keep me on track and would always let me know when I had one rep left, and remind me of the upcoming movement. At the end of the 5:00 AMRAP, she also gave me some encouraging words and told me I did really well eking out 96 reps. I no-repped my first box jump because I didn’t lock my hips out. Bummer. Take note, folks. They’ll call you out on it, as they should!
The end of The Pit dumped you to the starting line of the race. Two tents were set up with some sort of flavored something (which was delicious) as well as plain water. It was hot, everyone was sweaty, and it took me a full minute and a half of the two or three minutes we were standing there to realize that we were actually at the starting line because waves are only as big as the amount of athletes in the pit (awesome!). By the time I realized, it was time to go.
The course was flat. When I say flat, I mean not even a little hill. As flat as you can possibly imagine, which also means fast and fun, and an ability to focus on the obstacles.
The first bit of the course is an old runway and it was littered with high walls alternating with inverted walls. All of them had one side (left side) with a step or two built in, and one side without (right side), three walls wide. I loathe walls more than anything but these were scalable and doable for most participants with or without assistance. This part of the course was hot and exposed. Our saving grace was golf carts being driven by with water bottles being handed out to runners on the course. Amazing.
Next part of the course encountered was a flat, somewhat shaded trail(ish) run punctuated by what seemed like a never ending series of three 4’ walls and a tall, rung climb-y ladder structure thing (probably not the official name). I think we went through three of these series and they were quite fun. The last tall climb-y structure had a very bent rung, and while no one may have mentioned it to CMC staff, it would have been nice to see it addressed rather than being left out on the course for safety reasons.
I don’t quite remember the order of the obstacles after the trail run, so I’ll just go with a rundown of what was there in a somewhat loose order.
Wreck Bag carry is self explanatory, runner’s choice of 25lbs or 50lbs. Love Wreck Bags!
A jump over a water pit with very little water onto a small hill of dirt (two of these, actually). Having just come back from a sprained ankle, this terrified me. I ran toward it twice, chickening out both times, only to watch the next guy attempt it and fall into the dirt pit, hurting his ankle badly enough that we had to call for medical. (Saw him in the medical tent later and he was all smiles but bummed about the ankle. Thanked the Spahtens for staying with him until Medical got there!)
The traverse wall with two different types of grips. First angled upward had a small handgrip for fingers to fit into for the length of the it, the second portion was straight and had a ledge for standing but only a small piece of wood to grip onto with your hands with nothing to actually hold, and the third was the same as the first except angled downward. Again, later in the day on a hot day, most of the water in the pit below was gone. Had I not been confident in my ability to cross the wall, I probably wouldn’t have attempted it out of fear of falling into a big hole in the ground.
A couple of walls with ropes, one standard wall (steps on the left, ropes on the right), one A frame wall with rope much like Spartan’s slippery wall but bigger. My eyes widened at the sight of it. Exciting stuff, both of them! I love climb-y things.
Also, a rock climbing wall. This was a definite highlight for me. I only wish there was a series of these instead of just the one!
The cargo net/monkey bars thing (also maybe not another official obstacle name). Climb up was no problem and a photographer was waiting right at the top to snap racers prior to the monkey bars! I don’t have a lot of upper body strength and I eat it on the monkey bars every time. There was a pretty decent drop if I was to fall and worrying about re-injuring a freshly healed ankle, I opted to dip down onto the cargo net and cross there instead of risk a spastic fall, the only kind of which I’m capable.
Rope climb. There were three different ropes. No knot, sparsely knotted, and well knotted. Again, scalable. Again, awesome.
Brooklyn Bridge (Official obstacle name. Maybe.). This involved a cargo climb, a ladder climb, a balance beam/pole to traverse, a cargo climb down, and a fire pole. A fire pole!! Who does that?? CMC, that’s who. And it was a hoot.
I saw some obstacles here that I haven’t seen before having only participated in races from the bigger guys. I was thrilled with the amount of climbing involved, especially considering such a flat course. CMC really goes out of their way to make this a fun race for EVERYONE and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Paul’s chatter set the bar pretty high. CMC hurdled over it without question.
In short? DO THIS RACE.
* From: Erick Coleman
* Event Details
The NES team descended upon the Aviator Sports Park in Brooklyn, New York for the Civilian Military Combine. Largely misunderstood due to the large decaying hangers on the edge of the airfield which give the appearance of a decommissioned military base, ASP in Brooklyn in not. It is, however, in fact New York City’s first municipal airport = Floyd Bennett Field. It opened in 1931, the same year the Empire State building was completed. Notable pilots who took off from the air field include Howard Hughes and Amelia Earhart! It’s pretty awesome knowing you’re walking on grounds rich with history.
I tell you all this for a reason – next time you race, be a bit of a history buff and learn about the venue. You may be surprised about the heritage and history of where you’re about to race! Racing in New York is cool, all by itself, however. The drive into the venue was easy, and ASP was right off the interstate. While on the highway we drove past Manhattan and even got a view of the Freedom Tower. Not a bad way to start your day!
I digress, let’s talk race stuff…shall we?
Upon arriving the venue staff directed us to our *free* and easy parking. I stress easy as well, because our parking spot, although arriving well after the event started for the day, was a mere two – three minute walk from the event grounds. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Lots of vendors on site, including CMC’s new partner Hylete. By the way, NES members…you get 20% off Hylete orders!! We can hook you up! I did not get to experience the food, but they had a large food / beer tent, and plenty of vendor samples including Muscle Milk (full samples for racers or spectators alike). CMC had a nice selection of shirts, shorts and hoodies for purchase.
The facility itself is huge and, along with the race was also hosting the following:
1: A varsity football game (with a TON of people in the stands)
2: Ice hockey practice
3: Gymnastics practice of some kind
4: A cross fit gym
With ALL this activity it never felt over crowded, or full. The facility had a “main building” – not part of the race itself, but complete with indoor plumbing, food, seating, TV’s and so many things for kids to do. It was a welcome place to duck inside, as it was very hot…and, as you will read in a moment, we ran late. So the shade was welcome. While not part of the race, we were welcome to the building. And the toilets inside were not the only toilets available, plenty of portable toilets on site for the race itself existed.
The one downfall for the festival area was the bag check. I was four people deep and waited in line for :20 minutes. They were largely disorganized and painful! But hey, they checked and kept my bag checked…even if it took them a bit to get it right.
* Race Details
The race itself started late, and this has to be addressed. The name of the event is Civilian *MILITARY* Combine. I am a veteran. I know a lot of you are as well. So I know the veterans in this group will understand when I say this: If you’re on time, you’re late. We were in heat 27, scheduled to run at 12:13. We ended up starting at 2:25.
I don’t, nor will I harp on this too much – but I will say this: This has to be addressed, and it has to be fixed. I spoke to, and overheard a lot of people say something along the lines “they aren’t as late as ____ event!” Running CMC, apparently, has become synonymous, and acceptable with, being late. It should not be. You’re asking your consumers to arrive one to two hours early, and then delaying their start above and beyond that. We arrived at 10am, and did not leave until after 4pm. Our bag was checked, we were newbies, did not have any idea who the day would “flow” – and our nutrition and hydration greatly suffered. This weekend it was more than a nuisance issue, it was a safety one as well.
CMC – fix this. Take pride in the *MILITARY* portion of your name, and understand no branch of the military would have ever been acceptable to being two hours tardy to a mission.
The course itself started with the pit. I immediately knew I was in trouble the second I dropped for my first set of burpees! I’ll back step a bit here and explain “The Pit” for anyone who isn’t familiar. CMC starts their race with a :05 “as many reps as possible” (or AMRAP) set of exercises. Depending on your comfort or fitness level, you can choose from Alpha, Bravo, Charlie or Delta division. I chose Bravo. This consisted of the following:
5 military pressed of a 45 pound bar
7 reps (burpee, box jump, burpee is one rep)
9 Russian kettlebell swings with a 44lb bell
Lather, wash, rinse, repeat!
I scored a 62. I’ve been told this is “really good” for my first pit ever, but I felt like the last :90-:60 I sat for too long with my hands on my hips, gasping for air! My wife, as a matter of a comparison, also did Bravo (she had different weights). She nailed a 77! So, you can see where I’m a little “tail between my legs” on the 62.
Cautionary tale…approach the pit with care!
I would like to say this about the pit – as soon as I entered, my “judge”: was amazing. I never caught his name, but he gave me a high-5, asked me to show him my form on the exercices. My kettlebell swings were too high, he caught that during the pit and advised I was using too much energy. He probably saved me from being in the 50’s! Super cool, super supportive!
After the pit, we were ushered to the starting line and given two minutes to recover before we started the race. Those two minutes go FAST! Then, we were off! Being on an old airport, a lot of the race was on tarmat. Within :60 seconds we were approached by staff on a four wheeler asking if we needed bottles of water. Seriously? That was the coolest thing ever. This would happen (the staff making sure we had plenty of water) a bunch of times during the race.
The race started with 8′ walls and the option of going it alone, or using a “cheat” step. No penalty, no one to scream at you for using the cheat step. After this was a severe inverted wall, and then another 8′, and then another inverted. After this, into the “woods” we went!
A lot of races have people run…and run…and run…with nothing. Or little to nothing. CMC broke up the “space” with a series of 4′ metal walls and then what I believe were 14′ ladders. It was wall, ladder, wall, ladder. I lost count, but I believe this totaled around 6? We also encountered a very cool rock climb wall (around 12′ total, leaned slightly), and then a wreck bag carry (flat). Men got the 50lb bags, while women carried 25lb.
CMC had a cool take on the traverse wall. For anyone who has done both Spartan and Tough Mudder, it was a combo of Spartan’s traverse wall and Tough Mudder’s “Just The Tip.” Challenging, and a good obstacle. My one concern with this one: At one point we were at least 4 feet above the ground, with…the ground below us. No water, no hay…the ground. Falling would have had nasty results, and I saw a bunch of people go around due to this.
Tubes lead to a small barbed wire crawl, which led to a mini “miles of mud” – which wasn’t that muddy. This led to the longest, steepest “slip wall” I think I have seen yet! After this there were a couple other very cool items, including “Brooklyn Bridge.” This one was pretty sweet. Cargo containers on top of each other. Upon arriving, climb a cargo net up to level one, and then another cargo net to level two. At the top, there is a balance beam, with a cargo net under you…about three feet! There is a cord at your chest to grab to steady you across the beam. After making it across the beam (if you did), down the cargo net to the second level. At the second level there were poles to slide down to the ground (think fire house / fire station poles). Grab on tight, we were about 12 feet up and you better be sure before grabbing that pole!
CMC’s take on the monkey bars were interesting…and maybe a tad dangerous, too. Like Brooklyn Bridge, it’s a structure you climbed up to. On the second level you could choose – grab the monkey bars and take a shot, or go across the very unsteady cargo net! Now, here is the issue: This wasn’t being regulated well. So, two things:
1: If you fell off the monkey bars, you were 4-5 feet from the cargo net. It was HIGH. It wasn’t a “sure thing” you would plunk neatly onto the net, there was a realistic chance one, or both, of your legs could go through the netting. I can’t imagine what that would feel like, but I am positive it’s happened.
2: If you took the cargo net route you had to make sure no one on the monkey bars above you fell ON YOU. The people running it weren’t doing that for you. I saw two people almost get cleaned out while I watched before my heat. It happened again to a guy right in front of me. I made sure to stay to the side.
Note to CMC: This one isn’t unlike Tough Mudder’s “Walk The Plank.” You can’t have people falling 4 to 5 feet from a monkey bar on to someone below, trying to crawl across a cargo net. Someone could literally die, or become traumatically injured. Please regulate this better in the future. If someone is on the bars, don’t let anyone else on the net. Likewise on the net, they need to be across before anyone is allowed on the bars.
The run ended with a unique take on the barbed wire crawl. It was on sand, and the wire varied in height. You never had to worry about what was under you, only above you…and it made it cool for strategy!
Overall, it was a fun day. I would have preferred to not have been there for six hours. I made a family trip out of the weekend, and CMC was a portion of the day, which turned out to be much longer than expected. I also didn’t get to experience any of the “fun” after – we got our bags, shirts, etc and had to bail. But I really did enjoy myself, and I’m glad I did it! Will I do another one? I would love to!
Oh, the finisher shirt? Awesome. The custom to the event finisher dog tag? Fantastic! Well done!