Grit N Wit – 2014

* From: Stephen
* Event: Grit ‘N Wit
* Date: August 23, 2014

* Event Details
Parking was across the street! very close (awesome) only a couple of venders (first race, plus i seldom care about vendors) they had a few food trucks (ate some chicken and fries, they were good) and an ice cream truck! The Shirt is a very comfortable tech tee ( i really love this shirt!) if you signed up early enough you got a pint glass which is pretty cool (race was on the 23rd you had to sign up before the 15th) they had a beverage company in the festival area giving out free water or flavored water w/ electrolytes.

* Race Details
This is a family FUN event (that i look forward to running again), some people complained about how some of it was easy (it was easier, but that is what they advertised) it was. i love to be challenged at a race (ie spartan, shale hill, etc) i love the idea of the brain teasers that they had through the course. some of the obstacles need to be revamped. the monkey bars needed a step for the shorter ones (not a problem for me i’m 6’1) there was a question about imports and they should have made it a various sized loop, rather than having people double back through the trail. the balance beam and maze was a fun twist, i really enjoyed it, however it could have backed people up easily, it was a two person obstacle but the volunteer was happy to help. another obstacle was to copy a design using blocks, that annoyed me (because i could not figure it out, but after a few hints i got it). that obstacle could have used a time limit in case more people were around. they needed to mar
k the trail better, there were two spots i almost ran far off course. they would benefit from a volunteer to do a pre run to make sure fresh eyes look over and prevent confusion for the runners. they would have avoided a bunch of problems with more volunteers, which is not an easy fix. the venue had trash piles, which had been cleared the night before, just inconsiderate people visiting the park ( maybe a different venue next time would avoid that problem). they needed at least one more water stop on course and one at the finish line, the finish line left a little something to be desired, there was not enough of a presence (a volunteer that stayed there the whole time would have been nice, with water and the shades) Lastly the start and finish line were under the same banner which could have been cleaned up by separating the two of them by about 10ish feet. Bottom line, for a first race from these two awesome people, not that bad. just hope they work out the bugs more and mo
re, i will absolutely do their next race, i had fun, and love the concept of mental challenges through the course!

* Rating
Below Average


* From: laurel pickard
* Event: Grit ‘N Wit
* Date: August 23, 2014

* Event Details
Parking when i arrived was plentiful across the street from Keney Park, where the race was being held. There was no signage when i arrived to direct folks, although i think that changed later. It was easy to get to once i got oriented, but signage is good.

The park itself is lovely – varied walking paths, wooded trails, a pond, fields, hills, really a great location for a race. The festival area was set up nicely, although it looks like some (around half?) of the sponsors didn’t show up, so things were sparse – a gym, a radio station, a hydration drink company, the brewery who was supplying the beer and shoe donation maybe?. There were enough porta-potties for the small crowd.

Schwag included a t-shirt, sunglasses (after finishing), a sample deodorant, two sample sunscreens and a bag full of ads. Finishers also got a water or hydration drink (from the tent, not at the finish line) and a (very good, local) beer. There were two food trucks. Additional beer was available for purchase with all funds going to charity.

* Race Details
Before i delve in here, i want to say – new events are HARD, and these guys clearly worked to create something awesome. Using a city park, getting local sponsors, having lead-up events – they really met the definition of #racelocal. This has the potential to be something really awesome in the future if it can fix some things. I had a great time.

The course took advantage of Keney Park’s varied environments – hills, fields, woods, pavement and tall grass. I wish i had logged the distance with a gps, but the course was advertised as a 5K, and that seems about right.

The obstacles included Grit – sandbag carry with 3 different weight options, hay barrel jumps uphill, log carry (with varied sizes of logs), monkey bars, 3 short walls, 1 10 ft wall, a tire pile, tire run, a rope spiderweb, repelling down a short slanted wall, and slatted wall climb. Wit included dead or alive trivia, tangrams with patio stones, a word puzzle, a domino like puzzle with cement blocks and remembering a piechart like design. Some obstacles combined the two, such as doing a wooden maze with a golf ball while standing on a balance beam. Getting the right answer on trivia questions also shortened your log carry or gave you less tires to run through.

The physical obstacles were on the easier side, which was fine. The 10 ft wall was kind of a surprise, since it was totally shear and required help to climb, it kind of stood out in being more difficult than anything else. The volunteer stationed there was boosting people continuously.

There was no volunteer at the tire pile, so we had no clue which direction (long or short) to climb over it, and it was pretty wobbly.

The low crawl was some kind of plastic netting in narrow rows, again, no volunteer nearby. This could have been constructed better. I tried to replace a nail that had popped.

No volunteer at the low walls to confirm if we were going the right direction, which we may or may not have been.

The tangrams obstacle had more blocks than cards set up, which was annoying, but we managed. This was probably the obstacle that took us the longest!

The course was poorly marked, if marked at all, so we lost some time wandering. They were trying to fix it as we were running, but this was the biggest issue – the course needs to be over marked. Arrows at every possible intersection. Tape especially in the open areas to steer people to something of a path. It felt like an extra obstacle was navigating the twists and turns while staying on the course. Some folks took it in stride, others were pretty irked.

Having volunteers at every obstacle also seems like a good idea (i know, volunteers are always hard to come by). But making sure they know the path helps too. I’m still not sure if we were led astray or not by one volunteer.

It was fun. It was different. If they do this in the Hartford area again i’ll do it. You should too, especially if you’re not aiming for a physically demanding race or don’t like mud.

* Rating
Below Average


* From: Scott Sweeney
* Event: Grit N Wit
* Date: August 23, 2014

* Event Details
The event was held at Keney Park in Hartford. Parking was free and less than 100 yards from the festival area. Registration and bag check were right next to each other and the flow through the area seemed fine. There was a packet pickup the night before and that always helps with the registration tent. Racers received their bibs, a cotton tee shirt and schwag bag which was filled with sunscreens and toiletries. Festival area had music and vendor tents Oohrah Hydration drink, Half Full Brewery and Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. There were also a couple of food trucks and Ice cream trucks at the event.

* Race Details
The race was a 5k race and started in the festival area. The race made great use of the massive park and utilized several of the different paths and trails through the park. Runners found themselves running on grass, tall grass, asphalt, small bridges, boardwalks through small marshes and mulched trails. The first wave was 9 o’clock and a new wave went out every half an hour through the afternoon. The Spahten wave was 9:30 however there were Spahtens running in almost every heat throughout the day. One unique aspect of the race was that there was mental obstacles as well as physical obstacles through out the course. Here is the list of obstacles (as I remember them)

1) Sandbag Carry – 20, 35 and 50 pound bags to choose from. The carry was to the top of a hill. At the top of the hill, there was a mental challenge. A multi colored pie chart had to be memorized before we could continue. The bags were carried back down the hill.

2) Hay bales – Right after the sandbag carry, we had to hurdle hay bales while running up the same hill again.

3) 10 foot slatted wall – 8 foot wide, 10 foot wall to climb

4) Tire hop – Tires lined up on the ground and we had to run through them. There was a short length and a longer length of tires. The mental challenge to this obstacle was you had to remember the previous pie chart and choose the correct image on a poster. Choose correctly and you run the short length of tires.

5) Gorilla bars – inclined monkey bars starting at 6 feet off of the ground and transitioning up to 8 feet and then back down to 6 feet.

6) Mental challenge – Cinder block Sudoku Puzzle. A 4 x 4 puzzle was made from cinder blocks and they had to be arranged correctly before you can continue.

7) Log Carry – a puzzle to start with 4 answers to choose. Once you have your answer you pick up a log and carry it into the woods. Based on your answer, you run out to different areas in the woods. Choose incorrectly and you are running a longer distance.

8) Four foot walls – a series of 3 four foot walls to get over

9) 10 foot solid wall – a solid 10 foot wall to climb definitely encouraged team participation.

10) Mental Challenge – a 3 x 3 grid of stone pavers with letters painted on them. The stones had to be arranged so that three words were spelled out

11) Tire climb – a massive pile of tires that had to be scaled

12) Inclined balance beams – Inclined balance beams were set up with an additional challenge. Teams of two got onto the balance beams with a 4 foot Labyrinth puzzle. This is the wooden maze puzzle that you navigate a ball from one end to the other.

13) Spider web – maze of rope crisscrossing between numerous trees.

14) Mental challenge – a question was asked and based on your answer you had to solve the appropriate Tangram puzzle made of stone puzzle pieces.

15) Sloped wall – 6 foot ladder climb and rappel down the sloped wall on the other side using a rope.

16) Finish Line at the festival area. Each runner received a pair of Grit N Wit sunglasses, a Oohrah Hydration drink and a beer from Half Full Brewery.

All of the obstacles were well built and there were water stops along the course. Personally I thought this was a great race!!!!! Weather was great and the park was a great place for the race.

* Rating
Above Average


* From: Olivier Kozlowski
* Event: Grit ‘N Wit
* Date: August 23, 2014

* Event Details
Signage could have been better. As I ran just after the last official heat and some of the vendors had left by the time I finished (including the free beer folks!), I’ll skip commenting on vendors.

* Race Details
Grit N Wit, August 23, 2014

I had the pleasure of participating in the inaugural Grit ‘N Wit obstacle race in Hartford, CT. A novel concept, this race mixed traditional obstacles with mental challenges, even managing to combine both requirements in some obstacles. As with any new race, there were a few things that could be improved upon, but overall a great start.

Arriving at the park, I met the first of the things that could be improved upon. Were it not for my GPS telling me I had arrived and having seen a post by a fellow Spahten warning about signage, I may have missed the very small Grit ‘N Wit sign pointing you to the parking lot. Once parked, there were no signs telling you where to go from there. Perhaps this was the first mental challenge. Anyway, I soon found my way to the sign-in table. I should point out that, having done another race in MA earlier in the day, I arrived a few minutes late for what would be the last heat of the day. This may account for the relatively few volunteers I saw on the course.

The race began with an uphill sandbag carry. Runners were able to choose 20, 30 or 50-pound bags. I hauled my 50-pounder up to the top of the hill, where a colorful pie-shaped image appeared with varying sizes and colors for the “slices.” Runners were to memorize the pattern and return downhill with their sandbags.

Once the sandbags were dropped, runners had to go back up he hill, this time jumping over hay bales. At the top, runners chose which lane to get in based on two differently-colored pie images. As an added twist, the correct image – that matched the one you memorized – was rotated 90 degrees! Those who chose correctly had a shorter series of tires to hop through at the bottom of the hill.

A 10-foot ladder / slotted wall and inclined (up, then down) monkey bars provided nice physical challenges. At this point on the course, I found myself a bit confused as to where to go, with relatively little signage or volunteers.

Next came one of the mental challenges, cinder blocks painted with domino patterns. The point was to align them so each row and column contained the numbers 1-4. The blocks weren’t that heavy, but this was a good combination of physical and mental challenges.

After a bit of running, participants had to crawl under a low net for approximately 50 feet. Then came another of the physical / mental challenges: a multiple choice question based on exports from the state of Connecticut. I hazarded a logical guess, then picked up a log and headed into the woods. The correct answer (thankfully mine) was first, meaning I could turn around and return the log. The course then retraced the path through the woods, past the correct and incorrect answer markers.

One of the best combinations of physical and mental challenges came in the form of the balance maze. Competitors got up on a thin (at least for my size 12s) beam and were handed a wide wooden “maze” with a golf ball on it. It took several side-to-side motions to work the ball from the goal on one side to the goal on the other, all while balancing on the beam. The size and weight of the maze might have been more challenging for smaller competitors.

Additional mental challenges included a word scramble with cement blocks and rules on how you could maneuver the blocks and a “dead or alive” celebrity question. If you guessed right, you had an easier stone puzzle pattern to assemble.

Additional “traditional” obstacles included going over a tire pile, a “spider web” to work your way through (hint: stay low!), a series of 4-foot walls and a 10-foot wall, the latter without any holds and a side-support crossmember placed high up, giving racers little help. I made it over unassisted and overheard one of the volunteers say that very few people accomplished that.

The last obstacle was a climb up a slotted wall and descent down the other, sloped side with the aid of a rope.

This was a nice course with challenges for a range of ability levels. No penalties if you couldn’t complete an obstacle. Better signage and more volunteers – at least for the late heats – next time around will make this an even better course. Letting kids race with adults, or a kids course, would be a nice touch as well. In all, a very nice debut for a novel concept in obstacle course racing.

– Olivier Kozlowski

* Rating
Above Average

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