Race Recap: City Challenge Race

For me, finding a good local race is a challenge. I tend to like interesting locales (such as this airport 5K) or great scenery (like this triathlon), and those can be hard to find in NYC. I don’t find running through the streets of Manhattan to be very appealing. So when I saw that the City Challenge Race was on Randall’s Island, I jumped right on it. The waterfront location (well, since it’s a small island, the entire thing is waterfront) provides a unique view of Manhattan without all the crowds. There aren’t too many places to do an obstacle race in the city, so I was so excited to try this one.

Angry face selfie!

The August 2nd Race Recap

I’d been to Icahn Stadium at Randall’s Island before, for the Girls on the Run 5K which I volunteer for. Walking through the parking lot, you can feel the excitement. Everyone is in their OCR best – compression sleeves, headbands, and crazy team t-shirts. Participants were taking pictures on the police car and taxi parked in front of the entrance, so I had to jump on that bandwagon.

Listen, I’m not a model…okay. *photo by @Sean_Virgo

Since this was not a mud run, I was eager to see what kind of obstacles the race would have (I didn’t check the website before…yeah, I definitely need to start looking at race details a bit more closely). I knew there would be some wall climbing and jumping over stuff, but since I’m used to barbed wire crawls and swimming in mud, I was curious too see how this event would challenge me.

I realized at some point before the start that I forgot my gloves. (Will do a blog post later with tips for obstacle racing.) Not good. Remember, I have a herniated disc in my back, plus inflammation in my left hip and knee, and plantar fasciitis in my left foot. So I did this race with a body that was only abut 30% healthy. :O

HELLO! Can You see me?*photo by @Sean_Virgo

HELLO! Can You see me?*photo by @Sean_Virgo

At the start, the MC had us doing all sorts of warm up exercises – lunges, jumping jacks – and stretches. These are important, never skip them. They always use this time to boost your spirits, to motivate and inspire you to go as hard as possible. It’s a great start to a race that may be the very first race for some people. Here, standing in the corral, I watched such a variety of people, from future Mr. Olympia to grandmothers. It’s crazy how different the people who do these things are. And some of the outfits were amazeballs!


The race starts on the track. *photo by @Sean_Virgo

At 10:30, the horn blew and we were off. I positioned myself in the back of the wave, since I knew I would be slow. Some people took off, only to have my slow ass pass them after only 50 yards. Pace yourself people!


Man, it was hot! *photo by @Sean_Virgo

The first obstacle was climbing over a couple of metal partitions, and of course, I jumped right over it, banging my knee in the process. I’m gonna feel that later. Then we had to make it through some heavy bags, provided by CKO Kickboxing. Luckily no one was in front of me, so I flew right threw those.


Get outta my way! *photo by @Sean_Virgo

Afterward there were a few walls to climb over. Then we had carry a cement cinderblock, with some really crazy people choosing to carry two. *side eye* After that, we had to do 50 Kettlebell Swings (video). I knocked those out easily.


I’ve turned climbing over walls into an art. *photo by @Sean_Virgo

Wall climbing is probably one of my favorite obstacles, because I can generally get over them without much stress. Of course, every wall is difference – with variations on angle and height being really important. Climbing walls that are angled toward you are the hardest. But, if you don’t mind someone giving you a butt-shove, its manageable.

After all the walls, there was the jump over the police cars (I took it easy on that one), carrying of sandbags, the rope climb (passed that one because of my back) and monkey bars (made it half way, but fell off the because the bars were so hot and I ripped some of the skin off my hand), then you get to run the rest of the way.

There was a small bridge you go over and at the end of it, I nearly ran into a large spider web. Then, I realized there was a white butterfly stuck in it, flapping away. Yes, I was that person who stopped during the race to safely remove the butterfly from the spiderweb. It happily flew away. A race volunteer watched me and applauded my efforts. My job for the universe was done that day.

The course went under the highway (SHADE), where there were 2 low crawl obstacles. I saw a couple of people stand up too quickly and hit their heads on the 2 by 4 at the end. One woman almost knocked herself unconscious. People, pay attention!


Carrying the water jug. *photo by @Sean_Virgo

After that, it was a run through the sprinklers and back into the stadium. Here we had to carry water jugs up and down the stairs. Women carried one, men carried two. After dropping them off, it was time to run back to the top and jump rope 50 times. Now these weren’t just any ropes – they were battle ropes, which can weigh anywhere from 6.5 to 15 pounds (or more probably) – so it was not easy.

After that, we ran down the stairs and guess what….there was the finish line!

Bling earned! *photo by @Sean_Virgo

The race was over and I was glad. The sun was hot and I was tired! It was a blast, even though I left some skin from my hand on the course. I had no idea what my time was, nor did I care. That wasn’t the point. It was just to have fun and challenge myself, and I succeeded on both accounts.

In the end, the race was very well organized, had great sponsors, and the overall atmosphere was “have fun and go hard”. I really enjoyed it.

City Challenge Race Recap

Nope, this beer was not big enough. *photo by @Sean_Virgo

Afterward, we went to downtown Brooklyn for a small *ahem* drink. Now that’s how you end race day!

Have any of you done an urban obstacle race? How did it compare to a mud run?


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