Ultimate Urban Obstacle Challenge in the heart of the city
The Canadian obstacle course racing season has begun and I kicked mine off right here in Toronto this past weekend by taking part in Concrete Rush.
The urban obstacle course advertised as the Ultimate Urban Obstacle Challenge took place right in the heart of downtown Toronto over two days this past weekend, Friday and Saturday. On Friday the first wave went out at 5:00 pm with all heats taking place in 5-minute intervals until 6:30 pm, these were all open waves with the Elite Waves and OCRWC qualifiers taking place on Saturday morning starting at 8:30am-9:30 am with all heats taking place in 5-minute intervals as well.
As a 2017 OCRWC Qualifier this meant the Elite/Pro racers had mandatory obstacle completion and based on time could qualify for Saturday’s finals and top prizes. Top 25 Men Finals took place at 12:00 pm with top 3 men qualifying for the Pro Division at OCRWC and the Top 25 Women Finals at 12:05 pm with top 3 women qualifying for the Pro Division. However, top 10 age groupers overall qualified with a total of 13 spots for men and women. For OCRWC qualifiers they had people overlooking the obstacles to ensure they were done properly. For the Open Waves, you could bypass obstacles without penalties.
As expected due to this event being an OCRWC qualifier some of Toronto’s top OCR racers who didn’t travel out of town for a race showed up on Saturday with many of them passing by on Friday as well to check out the venue and cheer those who took on the course on Friday, like me.
Race Packet Pick-Up:
I picked up my race kit on Thursday afternoon in order to avoid having one more thing to worry about on Friday. Packet pick up was at a local GoodLife Fitness gym which was walking distance from my office. When I arrived there at about 4:00 pm there wasn’t a lineup and it was an in and out quick stop.
Race packet included my bib, my timing chip, a green bracelet with my wave time already written on it and my sweet Concrete Rush participation t-shirt.
I signed up to run in the Open Wave on Friday at 5:30 pm. Since I work in downtown Toronto travel was a non-issue. The hardest part for me was leaving the office early with enough time to change and make it on time to meet up with some friends and my new strength training coach, Nate Scott, who I convinced to sign up for his very first OCR.
Bag check was simple and quick and available for a $5 donation (or more) that went directly to the official charity partner, Special Olympics Canada. With my bags checked my friends and I excitedly took the course on.
The Course and Venue:
This short 2k course with 15+ obstacles took place at Nathan Phillip Square, which is in front of Toronto City Hall. It’s a major tourist attraction that has a skating arena in the winter and fountains in the summer and the famous TORONTO sign where thousands of people stop by to take pictures daily.
To get to the start line you had to jump over a short wall. Once you got over you lined up at the Start Line as the MC was getting everyone pumped before sending us off. Once the race began we ran up the ramp that led us to the first obstacle where you had to carry either a 50# (men) or #25 (women) wreckbag along the course, over a wall, and across a balance beam and back to the sandbag start to drop it off. Of course, I grabbed the 50# and didn’t realize it until I was trying to take a picture while going over the wall.
Once we dropped off the sandbag we continue to run until we had to climb the next wall and proceed to the following obstacles in order:
- Cargo climb
- Traverse walls
- Inverted walls
- Ropes and slopes (no mud)
- SkyLine(from Force5Equipment and used at OCRWC)
- Hole Punch which consisted of climbing a wall either with pegs or without pegs
- Rope Climb
and off to the last obstacle, Avalanche, a quarter pipe wall just before you crossed the Finish Line and collected your Concrete Rush medal.
This was an incredibly fun and very quick flat course to test your speed. It was a well organized chipped race and an OCRWC qualifier. Timed results were provided by SportsStats and racers were able to check results right away. I only heard of very few racers having timing issues otherwise it ran smoothly.
This race was brought to us by Canadian company 365 Sports Inc. otherwise known as the good folks that put on 5k Foam Fest, OCRWC and Mud Hero.
The race took place in a prime location for everyone involved but specially for first timers because of it's convenience. Not much travel required and it was easy to get to the venue, there was no mud for those who don't appreciate getting down and dirty and because of how accessible the venue was, it was very spectator friendly and racers could have their friends and family watch and cheer them on, including tourists who stopped by to take in the action and see what all the fuss was about. It peaked everyone’s interest.
Although more experienced OCR athletes may find some of the obstacles easy, these guys continue to put on great races that remind even the most experienced athlete why we started and continue to run these races, because they are so much fun! These guys continue to put up amazing fun races that are a great introduction to the sport of OCR and the community.
I ran this race with my trainer Nate, who has been working with me on regaining my strength, grip and endurance and to prepare me to finally start racing again this season and who is a newbie, this was his first OCR. Concrete Rush was the perfect way for him to experience the tight knit Toronto OCR community, try out some awesome obstacles and to see what areas I need to focus on since there were plenty of obstacles similar to the one's I will be encountering at other races throughout the season. He had a blast and I didn’t once doubt he would.
I love how the team brought this awesome course right to the heart of downtown Toronto and how it got people in Toronto excited about obstacle course racing, even those who had never heard of it before. As an OCR enthusiast I love to see our sport made available to everyone and taken to different levels. Thank you to everyone involved with this race, from the Race Directors to the photographers and volunteers, you all made this weekend a memorable one.
Concrete Rush was a perfect way to kick off my season!
Have you done a Concrete Rush? Leave your own Concrete Rush review and feedback…