* From: Rob Fournier
* Event Details
A few weekends ago, the RAID series brought the first ever obstacle race to downtown Boston. The urban 5k race challenged participants to run, crawl, jump, climb, and scramble throughout the city streets. We were very curious how they would be able to create an obstacle course race through the busy streets of Boston. We also were participating in a scavenger hunt later that day that awarded prizes for best costume, so we decided to bring our Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe costumes with us. After some discussion and since the obstacle race didn’t involve mud, we figured, what the hell, let’s dress up for the race too! I’m glad we did because it was a lot of fun. So how was the race?
Since parking in the city is limited, most runners were encouraged to take public transportation. Both the Aquarium and Government Center stops on the subway were only a short walk away from the starting line. Since we also had the scavenger hunt in the afternoon, we decided to drive in. At packet pickup the day before, they were offering discounted passes for garage parking. The garage was a few minutes from the starting line and cost a reasonable $13 for all day parking which is pretty much in line with what most other race series are charging. The starting and finishing lines were both located at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. The popular tourist destination was a great venue for the race. They had vendor tents set up giving free samples as well as music and an MC keeping the crowd entertained.
We were able to pick up our runner’s packet the day before the event, so I am not quite sure if there was any delay at the registration tent the day of the race. The packet included the racing bib with a built in timing chip along with a back-up chip to affix to your sneaker. They also provided complimentary gear check. With the recent tragic events at the Boston Marathon, security was obviously a main concern. Any racer looking to use the gear check was given a small clear waterproof bag to store their items. No large bags, backpacks or other personal bags were accepted. We decided to leave our stuff in the car and only take what we needed.
* Race Details
The Urban RAID was scheduled to begin at 9:00 AM. Prior to the first wave, Beantown Bootcamp held a mini-warmup session for any runners looking to get their blood flowing before the race. Starting times were broken up into five minute intervals by gender and age. Since I was running with Elena (Marilyn Monroe) and being in full Elvis jumpsuit, I was coaxed into running in the female wave. Just Elvis and a wave of women chasing (and many of them passing) him! It was awesome!
The race started inside Faneuil Hall Marketplace and headed towards Government Center. Down the brick pathway between the buildings, we encountered the first obstacle consisting of jumping over a stretch of thirteen orange and white jersey barriers. The course continued around City Hall Plaza towards the next obstacle. Set up on both sides of the street were eighteen cone bars which were essentially bars sitting atop a couple orange traffic cones that racers needed to hurdle over. The cone bars were each spaced about 10 feet apart. The race returned through Faneuil Hall towards Christopher Columbus Park. To get over to Christopher Columbus Park, it was necessary to cross the Rose Kennedy Greenway. In order to account for the time lost waiting for a red light, they set up timing mats on both sides of the street. Each runner’s time stopped when they reached the crosswalk on one side of the street and it began again when they crossed the timing mat on the other side of the street. It was a unique way to keep an accurate time, especially for the competitive runners. Within the “no time” zone was the first water stop and an opportunity to catch our breath. It was a hot day in Boston and at this point, as sweat poured down my face, I was questioning why the hell I thought wearing a damn jumpsuit and Elvis pompadour was a good idea!
We continued on and ran around the park toward a couple 5′ high military hurdles. Up the stairs to the sandbag carry (40 lbs. for men, 20 lbs. for women) that took us around the walkway loop. After a couple more military hurdles, we headed towards Long Wharf to the monkey bars. The wharf was crowded with tourists and it was priceless to see the expressions on their faces when Elvis and Marilyn went racing by. We made our way to the A-frame cargo net. The netting was loosely draped over the wooden frame making it difficult to maintain your footing. We followed the harbor walk back towards the crosswalk with the timing mats. After weaving through the city streets and over some more jersey barriers, we headed back over to Faneuil Hall for the final push. The constant chants of “Go Elvis!” and “Hey Marilyn!” were great and helped us finish strong. The final obstacles were the ropes and the finishing wall. The ropes obstacle was like a “reverse fireman’s pole” where you had to climb a knotted rope up through a hole to a platform. With the assistance of a rope, you then needed to descend down a ramp toward the finishing wall. Runners had to choose between scaling the wall with the help of some rock climbing pegs or without. A short sprint to the finish and it was on to the after party.
Once crossing the finish line, you were given small plastic bag containing an Urban RAID doo-rag. Unfortunately, that was the only swag available. They even ran out of water bottles at the finish line which should not have happened. It was disappointing not to receive either a t-shirt or a medal. Each race bib also included a tear off beer ticket that was available at the after party at Ned Devine’s. Another appreciated perk was that Urban Raid also offered each participant free high resolution photos from the race a few days later which were awesome!
For a first time event and with the unique challenges that a city obstacle course race represents, I thought Urban RAID did a great job! The course was well organized and the obstacles, while not overly challenging, were solidly built and fun. I would definitely recommend this race to anyone looking for something a little different than the typical obstacle course race. My only suggestion would be to at least include a t-shirt or medal to go along with the doo-rag. I will be looking forward to seeing what they do next year! Thank you…thank you very much!!! You can check out photos and a video recap of the race atmuddywarthog.com. Thanks!!