From late September of 2014, Paul Jones and I have been working hard on the 2015 #racelocal Grand Prix. Everyone knows who Paul is, he is arguably, the face of NES. Me? Not so much, mostly by design. I have always been a “behind the scenes” type, this is where my comfort level is. I’m not a stranger to the Biggest Team tent, and a lot of you know me and have met me, but I’m much more involved in areas a lot of you will never know. A “forced extrovert” is how I’ve always defined myself, I’m definitely on the quiet side.
But, boy…have I enjoyed watching this season. Every time someone posted pictures of their medals, every time I saw someone in a #racelocal shirt. Showing up at Killington and having someone race past me in a #racelocal “hoodie.” Reading the reviews of the races, seeing the pictures of the events I wasn’t able to attend, seeing the triumph at the ones I did. Paul and I had so many “behind the scenes” talks about how proud of this community we are, supporting this effort.
As the races signed on and committed, everyone “behind the scenes” became more and more excited. Amazing races like Pounder, Shale Hill, O2X. You know the names. I was stoked about all of them, and started checking ones off the list, what have I never done before? Snow race. Bone Frog. Shale Hill. My “to do” list went through the roof (and a lot of it still remains).
I remember the days leading to this year’s Blizzard Blast. I looked outside and, speaking to a friend on the phone, we both thought out loud “it might be a blast, but there won’t be much blizzard!” It was warm, and very non-snowy, right up until a few days until the event. Boy, did the weather change, just in time!
…and then it wasn’t! More snow than we knew what to do with. It was awesome, and a sign of an amazing season to come! We raced, slipped, slid and slipped our way through six miles of fresh snow (that wouldn’t stop falling all year). And, with that, #racelocal 2015 was off and running!
I’ve wanted to do a Bone Frog for a couple years, this was going to be the year I would not be denied. Setting out with my buddy Rob, I can’t think of a course that pushed and challenged us more. Another unexpected weather day, yes? So much for “60’s and raining,” by the time it was all said and done, we saw mid 80’s that day! #racelocal was certainly an adventure this season. I watched my wife crush Bold R Dash (I was sidelined with injury), same with FIT in April. I was this (-) close to finally getting to Shale Hill (which will not elude me in 2016), only to be derailed by child care issues. And, through all the races, I was able to do my “thing,” watch from the back ground and really enjoy all of your successes.
So, you may be asking yourself how I could have all these cool memories and still have this “strange FOMO.” Last year one of my best friends moved to North Carolina. We planned a time for me to fly down and see him, coinciding with Spartan’s Beast weekend. Bought my plane tickets, booked the hotel and the plan was set. The #racelocal Grand Prix was scheduled to end weeks before this event, there were no conflicts. I figured, great – I get to see a friend, and race. It sounds like a great weekend!
…And then Robb McCoy announced the fall FIT Challenge. Now I was going to be missing something. Now my weekend away wasn’t so clear and easy. Everyone “behind the scenes” would be at FIT, except me.
I had an amazing time with my buddy, we had a great weekend; however it is really hard knowing that everyone it gathering at an event, except you. An event you had a large hand putting together is going to be ending, there will be a lot of smiling faces, awards, laughs, memories…and I won’t be there.
It was a strange feeling, being at a fun event with a great friend and, yet, having this strange FOMO feeling at the same time. While I was running with, literally, thousands (and thousands) of people in South Carolina and doing the exact obstacles I’ve done hundreds of times, my mind was wondering what you folks were doing. I loved being with my friend, I wouldn’t trade that weekend for the world. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit I wasn’t jealous, and I didn’t miss you guys.
I guess that is what #racelocal does to you.
I was glad to have Paul to talk after both races, yours and mine. I loved seeing the pictures of the event, and the prize winners. But, really, aren’t we all “prize winners,” everyone who ran even one #racelocal event? I know that is how I feel.
And next season I am determined to not have the FOMO feeling again. I hope you avoid it as well. How do you avoid it? Pretty simple, something Paul and I have been working on since about October of this year..
Soon, the 2016 #racelocal Grand Prix will be on us. Walls will be climbed, heavy things carried, miles will be run, mountains will be scaled. There are medals to be earned. One of the items we are very excited, and very proud, to announce about ~this year’s~ 2016 Grand Prix is it’s not just for *you* any longer.
It’s time to get the kids into the game!
A few early details for you: Some races will have a minimum age requirement, some will not. Some will have a minimum age requirement, and require the child to run with their parent. But this year your children are going to have the ability to run, crawl, jump, get muddy, and #racelocal right along with you! FULL details are coming very soon!
Along with the registration information, there will be information about how to register your child for #racelocal as well. While you are earning swag for your races, so will your child (or children). Oh, wait…you didn’t think we’d save all the cool stuff for the big kids, did you? Oh, no…we have a lot of very cool things lined up just for the kids division! The more they race, the more they earn!
What could be better than spending the day together, racing, and earning cool swag? That’s what we thought, too…nothing! Which is why we’ve put this whole thing (and prizes) together!
Racing should be able to combine all of your passions together, and now it can. We told you the 2016 #racelocal was going to be bigger and better than ever, and we mean it.
Now, look – medals and prizes are fantastic, we all enjoy earning them. We have all crossed a finish line with friends, our battle buddies. Imagine taking on a race with your family! Helping each other on the course, building memories as you finish the race together; those would be memories which would stay with you, and your family members, forever! Ultimately this is the big goal, to bring us all together. #racelocal #strongertogether
We hope you have questions, and we hope you’re as excited as we are! Keep your eyes peeled, more information will be coming soon! All questions will be answered soon!
Editors note: Lisa was attending CMC after breaking ribs on a wall at the Pocono’s event earlier in the year. After conversation she offered to write the featured review for this event – and knocked it out of the park. Thank you, Lisa!
NYC CMC – 9/27/14
The race was held at the Aviator Sports Park which was a very cool facility. As the CMC was going on outside, inside there was a hockey game, a gymnastics class, and an arcade just to mention a few things. The park was very easy to get to with ample FREE parking! (Thank you I-95 for cooperating!) The parking lot was so close to the event that when you pulled in you could see the pit. In fact, my friend and I were so mesmerized watching the pit that we forgot to pay attention to where we parked. No worries, we did find the car by remembering what view of the pit we had.
The “security” at the gate was very laid back. They simply asked if you had any glass in your bag, and if your answer was no, they waived you through. Registration was pretty easy, just a short wait to get your packet. The bag check, however, had a very long wait. Like close to 10 minutes long wait. The folks working the check were very nice, and even let us get our water and money out of our bags when we learned our start time was delayed. More on that later. The bag check cost $5.00, but when you retrieved your bag, they gave you two $5.00 merchandise coupons. Fair enough.
The festival area provided great spectator views of the course and Pit. Spectators could also walk across the course to view many of the obstacles. Surprisingly the festival area was dog friendly. So dog person that I am got to pet and love up several awesome dogs, one of which was 4 year old blind pit bull. He kissed me. Heehee.
There were vendors for energy drinks and foods, and a couple for swag. Sadly I waited until after the race to get a Brooklyn CMC t-shirt and all they had left were men’s XL. So I didn’t get to use my merchandise coupons. Lesson learned.
There was a giant military vehicle available to explore and mug up for awesome photos. They let you climb on the truck and pose with a variety of big guns while their professional photographer took pics. The pics will have the CMC logo on it, or you can buy the photo logo free. I like the idea of having the CMC logo – bragging rights. And frankly in the photo I saw of us we look bad @$$, so the CMC logo is icing on that bad @$$ness.
The food and drinks were surprisingly inexpensive. $2 for a bottle of water, $5 for a chicken sandwich. The food, however, was in no way gourmet. I forced myself to eat the chicken because my body needed the fuel, but the chicken was kind of icky and dry. I used 5 packets of mustard just to liven it up, and by the way, opening mustard packets was in and of itself an obstacle.
It was a surprisingly hot day for so late in September. At least 80, more like 85, and not a cloud in the sky. The Aviator building was air conditioned, so on such a hot day, it was a welcome relief to have somewhere to go to escape the sun and cool off.
Unfortunately the race was behind by about two hours. As I understand it, about 500 additional people showed up that morning and registered. I’d also heard that something had happened in the morning to cause a delay to the start. Two hours is an awfully long delay, especially when your food intake and hydration is based on a presumed start time. Throw in the high heat, and hydration becomes a real issue. This is where the energy drink vendors came in real handy. Muscle milk took away my hunger pangs. Other than that, I didn’t mind the delay too much because I got to hang out with and get to know some really great Spahten team mates.
I am a crossfitter, so I am no stranger to a 5 minute AMRAP. However, a 5 minute AMRAP in the sun in that sort of heat is a bitch. The judges were from a local crossfit box and were clearly mindful of the heat factor. My judge thoughtfully put my water in the shade, and after 2 rounds, he encouraged me to take a moment as I still had “two and a half minutes left.” I was thankful for that permission and I did take a moment before I finished Bravo with 74 reps.
A thing I really love about the Pit: You have four skill levels to choose from. So if you are recovering from an injury or new to lifting, you can choose Alpha or Bravo. If you are more experienced, there is Charlie or Delta. I chose Bravo because I tore a calf muscle in April doing burpee over box jumps. So not wanting to repeat that movement, Bravo allowed for straight on burpee box jumps. I will say that shoulder to overhead with a kettle bell is a bit awkward. But I got over myself.
We had about 5 minutes tops to catch our breath before the race started. It was a much needed break with plenty of water. We were even offered energy drinks. Then we were off and running onto a very flat course. Runway flat. I would say maybe half of our race was running on old runways. So flat and HOT. As I said, heat was a big issue that day. But CMC was awesome. They had people driving around in little carts handing out bottled water. I think I consumed 3 bottles over the course as well as stopping at the hydration tables. The course was about four miles long, so that tells you about the sweat factor and the need to stay hydrated. An aside – I can’t stress enough BUY A CAMELBAK if you plan on running longer courses. It’s in your best interest.
The obstacles were awesome. There were lots of various walls: inverted, ladders, rope A frames, and the shorter metal walls that were wicked hot when you touched them – thus encouraging you to get over them faster! They had a pretty cool traverse wall that had two levels of difficulty. It’s the first traverse wall I ever completed. Yes! But I will say, it made me a little nervous because the drop was pretty far, and while there was water in a ditch beneath it, it was clear that the water level had dropped significantly. So a fall could mean an injury.
They had a cool cargo net climb incorporated with monkey bars. I tried the monkey bars, but the diameter was much thicker than I am used to so I fell off and down onto the cargo next. While I didn’t see this, I heard that people were crawling over the cargo net at the same time that people were trying the monkey bars. If that is true, that could be disastrous if someone fell onto a person below.
I also liked that they had a variety of ropes to try at the rope climb, some with knots, some with out. I chose the knot free rope with my trusty S hook climb. They also had 2 options for the sand bag carry, 25# and 50#. This lady did 50, though it did get heavy towards the end.
The barbed wire crawl was awesome. Beach sand! No cuts, bruises, or scrapes. My favorite obstacle, however, was a high wall that had rock climbing hand and foot grips. The wall was quite high and intimidating but it was doable. I just had to suck it up and try. The decent on the other side was a ladder.
The final obstacle was this neat Cargo net climb onto a sort of Ranger Rope/Balance beam over a container that ended with a fireman’s pole slide. The pole sort of wobbled as you went down. Fun!
One other note about the course: there were photographers all over the place! I expect there will be awesome photos to commemorate a successful race.
Upon completion we received a nice CMC Dog Tag that is race specific. We also received a fitted CMC America’s Race cotton T, and a Vitamin Shop drawstring backpack with coupons inside for 20% off.
Suggestions For Next Time
My first suggestion is to figure out what happened to cause the delay and work towards tightening that up. I had done the Pocono’s CMC back in May and they also had a delay though it was shorter, just about an hour. As I said, I wasn’t terribly bothered by the wait, but if someone had a post-race commitment two hours could be terrible.
Safety is the next thing to consider. So perhaps have a way to keep the water flowing at the traverse wall. And have a volunteer at the monkey bars to make sure there is no overhead and crawl happening at the same time.
Otherwise I think the event was a huge success and I look forward to next year.
My Take Away
I had an awesome time. I can’t stress that enough. My teammates were great. The obstacles were challenging. There was never any back up at the obstacles, so you kept moving. I got to meet a couple of the race organizers, who were super friendly. Everything about this day was top notch. I really love the CMC races. I’m thinking next year might be a season pass. If you’ve not done a CMC, you need to put it on your bucket list. Sooner than later.
A few weeks ago, our team was afforded the opportunity to be the first made aware of the Reebok Spartan Race Invitational to be held at Reebok HQ in Canton, MA. A mile and a half course, littered with a bunch of obstacles. The price was $150 plus insurance and fees, which brought the cost to right around $165. Many cringed at this price, but I gladly shelled out the money. Why? Why not! Canton isn’t far from my place of residence. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get myself out on the course that already existed on the Reebok campus, anyway. Sign me up! Take my money!
Let me say, I thought it was well worth the price! It was far more than just a race, as there were a number of events happening at the same time. More on that later.
For us Wohlens, the trip was pretty straight forward. Take 128N off of 24 and then get on 138. As we were turning onto 138, we already knew we were in the right place! Obstacles were visible from the main road…um…Awesome! One additional turn and we just had to find the entrance, loop around the whole campus, and park in a garage(!!!) for free(!!!).
Registration was a little confusing. Everyone was coming across the festival area and having to loop around the other side of the registration tents to get on the correct side, but with only 800 participants this wasn’t pandemonium. We got registered in no time, using what might be the new checkin/registration system. It was computerized – licenses are scanned, you initial an authorization electronically, and you get your bib and other stuffs. (Other stuffs included: a food coupon and a 40% off coupon for any purchase made at the Reebok Store until 5pm)
All registered we gathered with some other Spahtens, to prepare for our taste of glory at 10am! We Bag Dropped – that means yet another FREEBIE!
The corral was structured much like the stadium series. Everyone gathered in a pack at their starting time, but only 5 athletes were allowed over the starting wall at a time with each group released approximate 60 seconds apart, with our favorite person sending us off – Dustin!
There weren’t any real surprises for obstacles, but the course was jam packed with all of our favorites and then some. Straight away there was 5 foot wall which led to a short run through a parking garage and “through the bushes” which brought you back out to another sidewalk up over a platform with a “ladder” on either side, and then back on grass. There was another 5 foot wall, a slight hill climb and yet another 5 foot wall at the top of the hill that I treated like a 6-8 foot wall being that it was angled on the hill. Banging a right led to the rope climb, where I earned my first set of burpees (one day, rope climb…). From here we had a decent “barbed wire crawl” (with rope) through a wooded area followed by several trees with rope threaded between them which required going over or through. At the clearing was a 50# sandbag carry, if you put it down at all there were burpees! Next was a personal favorite, the tire flip (I opted for the bigger option), followed by a box over and then down and outs requiring you get muddy by crawling under logs. Once good and muddy, it was time for the Herc Hoist (again choosing the men’s weight)- which is probably one of the shorter ones I’ve seen. The traverse wall was next, and many had problems with all the first handholds being fully muddy. I failed, which I haven’t done in a while, after several attempts at trying to get a good hold and switch pattern to get beyond those first few exchanges. Well played SR, well played! Next was the Slippery Wall. While I didn’t find this so slippery, the masterminds added another angled piece at the top which made it just a smidge trickier. Once over there was a variation on the inverted wall. I had to negotiate this one, as there was an overhang to deal with and a rope on the other side. There was a balance beam made from a log that required a slight incline balance element, then the weighted sleds. These were followed by the log hop, which were all fairly close in diameter but varied in height. From what I could tell, all row options were solid. We climbed under the boxes we went over earlier, looped around and then did a bear crawl through the cargo net, only to go through one more tunnel that led under the ladder platform mentioned earlier. Next was Monkey Bars – the variation was the pegs on either side of the wood plank, then back through the garage, over an 8 foot wall, over the cargo net, hairpin turn and up over the cargo net again. This was interesting since the net was literally being pulled in 4 directions at a any given moment. Finally, there were 3 walls, each 5 foot, before the sprint to the finish!
Phew! See, there was a lot going on, and I know I missed a few things!
At the finish line we received an awesome dated dog tag and a dated unique Tshirt. We also received a swag bag containing: one canister each of Spartan Fuel Energy, Recovery, and Refuel; a roll of Rock Tape; and Joe Desena’s book “Spartan (The F*ck) Up!” (I did censor the title…sorry kids!)
The race itself was really really great! I would normally end here, but we still have a couple coupons to mention.
Food Coupon. So there were 3 food vendors on sight, and this coupon bought you one food item from any of these 3 options. I mainly focused on B.Good because they are so tasty! If you were so inclined you could have requested a double chicken sandwich with lettuce, tomato, avocado, AND bacon on a bun…and you would also get water with that. This was FREE! I also saw a Paleo vendor (Paleo Power Meals), and then there was a 3rd vendor that honestly I have no idea what they were selling. Everyone was pretty much getting B.Good.
Reebok Coupon. 40% can go a long way if you play your card right. This girl bought a new workout outfit (capris and a Tshirt) and a pair of Nanos. Retail was just shy of $200, and I walked away spending less than the Nanos would have cost me all alone! WIN!
The really fun thing about this event: SR wasn’t the only thing going on. In addition there was a Crossfit Competition, so the festival area was geared toward both camps hence the healthy options. There was also a LesMills event going on near the Reebok Store. It was as though Reebok was having a dance and there was mingling going on, willingly. No event conflicted with the others, save for the loud speakers, but as long as you knew where to focus this wasn’t an issue, everyone played nice and I enjoyed the atmosphere!
There is a good reason why Civilian Military Combine has become one of my favorite obstacle course race series – and despite their being several local options, and a great argument for a rest weekend – I still headed to Brooklyn, NY to take on the CMC Urban Assault Challenge this weekend.
CMC is a unique event. If you aren’t aware by now, you start your race in The Pit. This is where you complete a 7 minute long AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) of a three movement workout. Full details are in other reviews and on their website – http://www.civilianmilitarycombine.com/overview/
This is designed to test your strength in a way no other event I’ve ever participated can. It’s a full body workout, and if you do it right, you do it to exhaustion. Then you line up for the race itself, to test your endurance.
It can’t be overstated – this strength workout is fantastic, and everyone should do it. CMC recently offered a “race only” option that a few walking wounded take – and the Urban Assault was also the first time they offered a scaled option, for folks who struggle with the regular weights and movements.
Lets get into the meat of the review.
Aviator Sports Park was our venue – in Brooklyn, NY. Roughly a 3.5 to 4 hour drive for us, we stayed at a hotel the night before to make the morning a little less chaotic – so we only had a 10 minute drive there. The venue was super easy to find, and good signage brought us to the massive parking lot right next to the event grounds. Free parking is always welcome! The CMC event venue was spacious – easy to get to registration, best vendor village I’ve come across at an OCR, great spectating at the Pit and easy access to walk to major portions of the course if you needed.
The course itself was totally flat. My GPS reads a total of 42′ of elevation change, and much of that was on the obstacles themselves. A flat course meant the winds coming off the water was a bit chilly in places, and anywhere the course was open was totally a runners course – fast times were expected.
CMC did fantastic. Firstly, the vendor village was awesome. They had tons of great vendors – very few of them feeling out of place. There were vendors from Crossfit equipment manufacturers, food and drink and supplement vendors, clothing and apparel vendors, energy drink and even chocolate milk vendors.
My favorite piece though – the five biggest Crossfit boxes (the five biggest teams of the day) also had their own space, right there. Some of them used it to sell their box and box t shirts – some used it as nothing more than a place to gather and hang out – and one used it for inflatable jousting tournaments (for charity). Why doesn’t EVERY event out there promote and encourage their biggest teams like this? Such a simple thing – set aside a small piece of space and let your biggest fans and biggest promoters get some fun times in. Great move.
The food was fantastic. We’ve become so used to getting junk food after races – burgers, fries, hot dogs, pizza – that when something different is offered, it’s so welcome. CMC partnered with Caveman To Go – a New York based company offering paleo foods delivered. For CMC, we pre-ordered a hot meal, and at any time during the day we could go over and pick it up. Sitting down to warm chimichurri beef steak and parsnip puree after a race was absolutely fantastic. In our New England region, there are options with companies like B-Good who offer fantastic farm raised beef burgers, and more – yet we keep getting the same pizza, soggy burgers and fries. Time to step this game up, New England.
The beer, an equally important part of many people’s races, was not so good, with Bud or Bud Light. Worth the free beer ticket, and not much more. It looked very much like this was venue provided.
Music was pumping, crowds were mingling and it was very much possible to hang out here most of the day without getting too bored. We ultimately left around 2pm to hit the road.
The reason we’re all here. CMC is broken into two pieces – the Pit and the Race. Strength, then endurance.
The Pit is a 7 minute AMRAP. This time, they mixed it up, and started us with the burpee box jump, then the kettle bell swing, then the push press. I did the standard Pit and scored my lowest score yet, with 96 on the record. Beth did the scaled division, due to a shoulder injury – the 45lb push press was subbed with a 26lb KB press, then a Russian KB swing, and box jump, with no burpee – she scored well into the 150’s! Our friend Chris also had an injury, and took the third option – sitting the Pit out entirely and waiting for us by the start line.
At the end of the Pit you line up, grab some hydration from the table – offering up both water, and some companies products – and 2 minutes later, you go off on your run.
The Race was a flat, 5k course. Right from the gate you were running easy trails with some of CMCs signature all steel walls to break things up, before hitting a sandbag carry – just some tube sand, and they appeared to be breaking open just like any other time we get to tube sand carries. Without trying to remember every obstacle in order – and I didn’t run with my GoPro (which I regret) – it’s easy to say that the first mile and a half was fairly open, flat and mostly a runners course – but the obstacles were heavy and thick for the second half of the event.
And what obstacles! At previous CMC events, we’ve seen fantastic quality all steel constructed walls, ladder walls and wobble ladders – along with some great two story high cargo containers with balance ropes and hanging pole descents. All those guys were here – but they had brought out some really nice wooden obstacles too – as well as some new, and innovative challenges.
There were a few wooden high walls, with a step to get up for the ladies. There were several really steep A walls to climb up with a rope – with the same for the descent – these were quite tricky to get down again! There was an incline ladder wall that was super tough – I’ve only seen it’s like at a Spartan (and this was tougher). There were some ladders to the top of double stacked cargo containers, then climbing over some piping that the course ran through – on the top – super fun! Even some monkey bars right out of a cross fit box – which became only my second set of completed monkey bars at an OCR ever (yes, I have problems with monkey bars!).
We had a couple of prowler pushes that caught many people unfamiliar with them out, and a long, muddy wire crawl that looped around in a couple of circles, and through a water jammed pipe. We even had a really neat dumpster dive water obstacle to chill you off. The finale was a cargo net and rope climb, with the awesome horizontal net to finish.
As I said, the final mile and a half was *really* obstacle heavy, with somewhere in the region of 30 obstacles – if you wanted to make up time running, this wasn’t the place for it to happen.
Of course, these reviews aren’t here to blow sunshine up anyone’s ass – and no race is ever pulled off without a hitch. For as amazingly constructed as CMC obstacles are, there were a couple of spots things needed some work.
The wire crawl was WAY too loose, and the wires they used (not barbed) were laying in the mud by the time I got there – it became a bit dull simply lifting them up to put them over your head.
The dumpsters full of water wasn’t really clear if this was a spot to wade through, or a balance beam across – I saw both, had no one telling us which way to go. I ended up jumping in and wading.
Course markings were a little vague in spots. Right at the beginning, after the sandbag carry, we saw a couple back tracking having gone wrong somewhere, and when the wire crawl took a turn left to over a dirt mound, people were turning right and going back on the portion of the course they already did.
I heard some complaints about the A walls being too tough – especially on the way down again – this didn’t really bother me though.
The biggest problem, in my opinion, was with the second to last cargo net. A solid steel structure, with webbed netting to climb up, over the top and transition right into a knotted rope to come back down. The nature of the structure meant lots of people were getting their feet twisted in the structure at the top – and with no platform or place to move onto, getting onto that rope was a serious challenge that could go horrible wrong if you got it wrong. Fortunately, many people were coming down the support beams – using them like ladders – rather than trying for the ropes and falling 15′ or so. While I made the ropes – it was a hairy moment, and I think the entire obstacle should have been reversed (rope climb UP, them onto the cargo net DOWN).
Across the finish line, and picking up a pretty awesome race specific T that I’ll actually wear again and again, my Urban Assault CMC dogtags and some hydration.
I said it before – CMC continues as one of my favorite race series. The challenge of the Pit is unique, and everyone interested in testing themselves and their limits should do it – then the courses themselves are always a great time, with some solid obstacles that continue to impress.This event was CMC’s biggest event yet, and while the Pit area had a constant crowd, the venue didn’t feel cramped, the music was pumping and motivating, but not over powering.
I know CMC is growing – and doing it organically, naturally and slowly – unlike many other OCR series who are running into their own problems. Hopefully, this means they will be around for the long haul, and I know I’ve got no hesitation in recommending them to the entire New England Spahten communtiy – I will certainly be actively seeking them out more and more in 2014.
Ok, this week we rock out CrossFit style! This bodyweight wod is no joke. If you are thinking you want to do a run, you may want to do it first. Your legs will certainly thank you for doing it BEFORE you do this WOW. Grab some water and a towel. Put on your big boy/girl britches and lets do this!
Either 5 rounds for time (as fast as possible), or 5 rounds with 3:00 rest between each round:
Any time you sign up for a new race, you immediately try and compare it to your previous races. Is it entry level like a Warrior Dash, or tougher like a Spartan, or will be it be as long as the Beast, or short, like a Sprint.
For the Civilian Military Combine on the USS Intrepid – none of that helped. In a sport that is rife with copycats and one up-manship, the CMC is something totally different, and as a result – nothing else out there today can compare to it.
For those who aren’t familiar, I’ll recap – CMC is both a strength and an endurance test – designed to let each and every competitor push their own limits. Costumes are explicitly banned. This isn’t a fun run – it’s designed for the kind of person who is genuinely interested in testing what they can do – the same kind of people who tend to find their way into our little community.
It’s a two stage event – The Pit, then The Course.
The Pit is a 7min AMRAP (As Many Repetitions As Possible) – which means for 7 minutes, you cycle through the following movements:
7 * Push Press (45lbs for women, 75lbs for men)
7 * Kettlebell Swing (26lbs for women, 40lbs for men
7 * Burpee Box Jump Overs (do a burpee, jump over a 20″ box)
The weights are accessible, and regardless of your own physical abilities, this is designed to test your strength and leave you exhausted. It really works.
Almost immediately after, you hit The Course (which will differ at each event) – on the USS Intrepid, we had a short, sprint course of approximately 1/2 mile, looping around the pier in the shadow of the ship, and at one point, looping under the amazing wingspan of the British Airways Concord!
Of course, don’t think of this as a 1/2 mile run – in that distance, CMC had managed to cram 30+ obstacles! They had many many 5′ walls. Many many 10′ ladders, four or five cargo net climbs, a sandbag carry, a bucket carry, a tunnel, a horizontal cargo net, monkey bars, an amazing tilting ladder and a weighted prowler push. In Amesbury, we’re expecting a longer, muddier, hillier course 🙂
Those are the cold, hard facts – but was it any good?
Oh yes. The road trip down from central MA with Nele, Ben and Patrick was much quicker and easier than I expected, and we were at the venue before 10am. For the athletes, check-in was super smooth. We got an envelope with our timing chip, wrist strap and bib. For the spectators, and any time we had to work with venue staff , things were a little less organized – but the CMC side had their act together.
The venue was the entire pier in front of the ship – and they had brought in vendors from local Crossfit boxes, Crossfit suppliers (2pood!), Army and Navy and National Guard booths were onsite too, as well as a well stocked CMC schwag tent selling a range of T’s, hats and hoodies.
Everyone’s packet had a wave number on it – and as the day progressed, they call out your wave, and you have to line up to hit The Pit with the others in your wave. This process was new to me – and worked well – each wave had only four people in it – and the New England Spahtens made up wave 128, 129 and 1/4 of 130 – and it would turn out we’d be some of the last waves of the day, before the top 100 heat.
Lining up in a warm up area that had barbells, kettlebells and boxes to play with, when your wave was called, you would be moved out into a row in the Pit – introduced to your judge (all of who were sourced from local box, Crossfit Revenge – no bored teenage volunteers playing on their phones here!) – The day’s MC, Sean Rogers (who also happens to be one of the minds behind CMC) would count you down, and you’re off!
Now - lets address this here and now - The Pit is a Crossfit style workout. The equipment and standards and judges all come from Crossfit worlds - but don't try and use "I don't do Crossfit" as an excuse - the whole aim here is to push you, challenge you and exhaust you. There are videos released ahead of time showing you how to run through the pit, what standards the judges will use. Nothing here is exclusive to Crossfit, and I think I may have been one of only three or four members of our team who had ever stepped foot in a Crossfit box. Crossfit may help you, but you can still lift a bar, swing a kettlebell and do burpees.
I finished my 7 minutes exhausted, with 105 reps, all told – and I know I can do better next time. Your “wave” was then moved to a water stop, and a start line, and you were lined up – then, with very little rest, we were released onto the course and immediately into the prowler pushes. I did pretty well here, and felt good coming off them, and into a sandbag carry – which went up a couple of flights of stairs, down and back a landing, then downstairs again – it was here that people started passing me :p
After dropping the bag, we hit the wobbly ladder – this was a tall ladder, on a hinge, tied down with a bungee cord – as you went up, and came down, it would move and bounce under you – so awesome. Oh, and monkey bars after this – I made those!
Then, the 5″ walls, cargo nets and 10″ ladders started. Really, they didn’t stop – a bit of a break for a bucket of water carry under the wings of a Concorde, and close to the finish line, a tunnel to crawl through – before the final obstacle, a horizontal cargo net to navigate.
A point to note – we’re used to seeing wooden obstacles. At best, made of scaffolding poles. The good races use heavy duty wood and bolts and everything feels sturdy and safe, the worst races use cheap wood and small fixtures, and you know they own’t last more than one event, if that. CMC used solid metal construction EVERYWHERE. The walls, solid metal, with smooth pipes at the top. the cargo nets, solid steel. The ladders the same. Everything was so incredibly high quality, the monkey bars (which were sourced from a well known Crossfit supplier and designed for super heavy duty gym use) looked right at home alongside them all.
Crossing the finish line was a rush – the course was short enough to get your adrenaline pumping, but not long enough to burn it off – without exception, we were all shaking and buzzing afterwards, and it took a while to settle down again!
The schwag was a neat drawstring bag, unique, high quality, CMC Intrepid race T, a silicon bracelet – which I immediately lost 🙁 – and a really nice, lacquered dogtag and chain, also unique to this event.
The other huge point to note – the coverage of this event was amazing. They had so many professional photographers from our friends at Nuvision, along with a huge number of people doing video. Access to take our own photos was second to none, and spectator viewing was incredible, thanks to the short nature of the venue and course.
We were excited (well, most of us were) when Spahten Steve DellaCroce qualified in the top 100, and was able to go on to run the course again – I’m not sure he was quite so excited … the end result, we got a Spahten in 49th place 🙂
In conclusion – CMC Intrepid was a fantastic event. Well run. Super challenging and testing. Great memories and great schwag to let us relive those memories. I would easily rank this as one of my favorite events of all time, and I’m already signed up for Amesbury, MA on June 29th.
Tough Mudder has been taking lots of heat and deservedly so for changing the date of the Boston event. Even more criticism has come their way by scheduling the New England Mudder on the same weekend as the Spartan Sprint at Amesbury. Add their high prices paired with bully behavior and many Spahtens have written off Tough Mudder for 2013 and beyond. In my opinion, that could be a mistake.
Here’s what you see and experience at a Tough Mudder:
Money spent on the festival area and the course
A lengthy 10-12 mile course that is pure fun other than electrocution
Take a break from burpee penalties
Mandatory assistance to/from fellow mudders
Excellent spectator access to obstacles at many parts of the course
A large variety of obstacles, with new and unique additions built for 2013 (see pics)
Humerous and motivational signage throughout the course
The best pre-race starting line pep talk
Very well supported courses with water, bananas, oranges, energy gel chews (6 stations in Miami, only 2 had just water)
Protein bars, bananas, beer, and water at the finish line
Schwag bag with tech shirt, protein bars and energy gels courtesy of CLIFF
Foil blankets (race temps were in the 50s, which is freezing for South Florida)
The Miami event took place on March 3rd & 4th at the Homestead Miami Speedway. One week’s time made a huge difference in weather. It was cold, cloudy and windy, the exact opposite of the Spartan super a week earlier. Despite that, TM made good use of the venue both inside and outside the racetrack. Athletes ran on the racetrack, pit stop areas, burm top, and the surrounding fields. The festival area, start and finish were located inside the track. Although there were no trails, the 11+ miles were extremely fun and loaded with approximately 25 obstacles that were a refreshing change to my recent Spartan runs.
My only negative issue was the two obstacles that provided electric shocks. The crawling “Electric Eel” zapped me 6-10 times and the “Electroshock Therapy” took out my buddy. The shocks appeared to be much stronger and more frequent than my last TM.
I too was disappointed that the 5/11 Boston event was moved to another date. I negotiated pre-approval with my wife and I was ready to book travel pending the venue announcement. I’m not a competitive runner, so the TM suits me well. You get a solid distance to thoroughly enjoy conversation-paced jogging with your crew and fellow mudders. The TM is a great event to share with friends, teammates, and comrades over a few hours. My advice: Do a TM when it makes financial sense and never regret the decision. You will have a fantastic time with your mates. I look forward to seeing many of you at the Ruckus!
Not everyone can make it to Harvard for Monday night training. Not everyone can make it to the local Crossfit box 4 times a week. Many folks can’t even get to the gym.
We hear you. We’re still going to make you a better human. A better athlete. A better racer, competitor, fitter, stronger and faster. And you can do it at home, with no big equipment lists.
We’ll provide the tools, and the education, and the details – you just provide yourself with some time in the day, and the desire to be better.
Before we get into it – a huge thanks to Robert Gagnon, of Robert Gagnon Fitness Systems and Xtreme Fitness NH for programming this and filming all the movements – he’s worked very hard to put this together, and it wouldn’t have happened without him!
Robert put together a fantastic video walk through on how this program works, and how you can effectively use it to build your own training program – recommended watching if you want to make this as effective as possible