From: Sandy Rhee
I hadn’t planned to attend the Fitathlon event. A weekend off to rest was the plan until a great deal was released that changed my mind. If nothing else, it will be a great workout, was my thought. I’m glad I went!
Kimball Farm has hosted events previously, so it was easy to get to and parking was a breeze. It did cost $10, which I don’t agree with, but that has become the norm, unfortunately. The parking attendant let us know that we shouldn’t take in food and beverage, so it was nice to know in advance. The attendance was fairly small, so parking was close and it was an easy walk in to the event. Bags were checked on the way in and they allow water bottles.
Spectators were free!
Registration was easy and fairly quick. As the event grows, they will definitely need additional volunteers so that more than one person at a time can check in. They did have a bib pickup on Friday, though, so that gave another option to participants. The only vendors were a medical emergency office and food (burgers, dogs, chicken strips, wraps, and stir-fried veggies). There was a bag check for $5, but I didn’t need to use it.
I’ve heard from others who arrived to volunteer early that things were not ready when they showed up. However, by the time I arrived, everything was up and running smoothly. With small numbers, this is possible. As the event grows though, it will be more vital to be ready to go when the first volunteer arrives.
The course began with a boot camp style set of exercises. Each participant was able to choose their fitness level (Newbie, Beginner, Challenger, Competitor, or Super Competitor) which would determine the number of repetitions of each exercise required. It would also determine the length of some of the obstacles on the course such as the chain drag and wheelbarrow run. This is fantastic for everyone. A whole family can come and enjoy the event at their own level and no one is left out. This is a strong selling point for Fitathlon – the fact that they recognize and adjust for people at all points on the fitness scale.
I chose to do the Challenger level, which meant 40 each of squats, sit ups/crunches, pushups, and squat thrusts. Once those were done, it was time for lunges – seemingly hundreds of them, uphill. There were poles mounted for each level and even though I had no problem with 40 of the other exercises, I looked longingly at the pole for Newbie and Beginner levels as I passed that let them stop the lunging! Eventually, we hit the Challenger level pole and were able to walk or run from then on. Some of the obstacles on the course were typical of most races – walls, slant walls, over/unders, monkey bars, traverse wall. The big difference was quantity. Instead of one or two walls to go over, it was 5. 3 slant walls, 12 each over and unders! Other obstacles were more boot camp based – battling ropes, chain pulls, tire flips, wheelbarrow push. The course was well laid out and there were volunteers at every single obstacle explaining the rules and the expectations based on your entry level. In addition, I believe that there were 5 water stations and one also had Gatorade.
The race ended with one last sprint to the finish line where medals, water, Gatorade, and bananas were all available. They took care of the athletes on the course.
The event was not officially timed, so if timing is important to you, you’ll need to bring your own watch.
Ultimately, I am very glad that I changed my mind and ended up attending Fitathlon. When they come again, I will happily sign up again and encourage others to do the same. There are a few things that they can be doing better, but they all have to do with the support of the race. The event itself had every detail attended to at the highest level. I look forward to the next one!
Rating = Above Average
* From: Gary Miller
* Event Details
I just wanted to add a couple more points not already covered by Sandy’s great write-up.
• Nice quality T-shirts (polyester, not cotton).
• Volunteers (many of whom were Spahtens) were well taken care of – free race, T-shirt, sandwich, chips, apple and water.
* Race Details
Much of the course was open rolling farmland on a hill overlooking the Merrimack River. We had a beautiful sunny day to run. Very scenic! The setting was one of the highlights of the event.
Their big marketing phrase is “No Mud, Water, Fire, or Electrocution. Just Sweat!” . It’s all over their medals, website, and swag.
So it was a bit of a surprise to actually encounter two or three stretches of mud, that could not be avoided unless you like thorns.
Obstacle racing veterans probably didn’t care, but a significant percentage of their racers were in the “Newbie” or “Beginner” classes. I think you’re just asking for people to be upset if you prominently advertise no mud, and then hit people with it.
The other line from their T-shirts, “The Official Sponsor of Sweat”, is much better. More accurate and less defensive.
Two significant injuries occurred when racers fell from the monkey bars despite the very short distance across, the presence of two volunteers, and the small total number of racers. Fortunately, this was the last obstacle before the finish line, and it was accessible by vehicle. If I had to guess the next obstacle to be ‘Gladiatored’, it’d be the monkey bars.
Also, two wooden blocks on the traverse walls snapped off while racers were standing on them. No injuries occurred, but still. Not Cool.