New York City's City Challenge Obstacle Race on August 18, 2018, was held on Randall's Island. Located just north of the well known Upper East side neighborhood in Manhattan and south of the heart of The Bronx. This event was by FAR one of the best OCR events of 2018. City Challenge was filled with vendors and surrounded by baseball fields and the Harlem River. The race offered everything you would want for a fun day out in the city.
Lets start with the events leading up to the race first. The event was MC'd by the one and only Justin Manning, aka 1/2 of @MedalAddict. He filled the starting line with good music, jokes, dancing, and more. It felt like one big party with everyone joining in on the fun. Justin's unique ability to get the crowd going made it seem like the time between each wave passed by in seconds. For any new racers to City Challenge or to obstacle course racing, in general, were put at ease thanks to Justin distracting everyone and sending out such positive vibes. The party didn't stop as his infectious energy spread to all the spectators cheering on all the participants in the nearby obstacles.
Now for the course itself. As expected, the course was flat, hard-hitting, and of course MUD FREE. With 27 obstacles jam packed into 3 miles, you definitely earned the snacks and beer post race. The course felt comfortable for experienced racers with many familiar faces. As well those new to obstacle racing were met with smiles at each obstacle.
City Challenge offered a few “new” obstacles (at least to me) to challenge me in new ways. A few of those were the floating walls with rock climbing grips, “Urban Balance Beam” on tires, and of course jumping over the famous taxi and police car seen on the website. City Challenge with it's mix of lifting, running, climbing, and jumping, obstacles created a whole body pumping experience. The diversity of obstacles were perfect. City Challenge lived up to the hype and tagline “Think Outside The Mud”.
The course offered opportunities to reinforce bonds with old friends and make new one along the way when a hand was needed to help get up and over an obstacle. From Justin's dancing and energy to help each other on the obstacles, a sense of unity could be felt in the air. Everyone from the volunteers to even people passing by could be heard cheering on a complete stranger and motivating them to keep going and reassuring them they would cross that finish line. We even had the pleasure of watching members of Operation Enduring Warrior and graduates from West Point Military Academy do their thing and move as a single unit through the obstacles.
Being that this was my first City Challenge I was blown away by the event. With so many OCR events out there, it can be overwhelming to try them all. This is especially true for those (like me) stuck in the endless loop of doing the same two races series over and over throughout the year. City Challenge is yet another example that shows how much this sport has grown and developed. Stepping outside of my norm was enlightening to how much the industry has to offer. If you are like me and normally stick to one race series or two, step out of your comfort zone and see what the rest of the obstacle racing industry has to offer. You'll never feel alone or intimidated at City Challenge, but you'll also know that you earned that medal at the finish line.
Thanks to their unique twist on obstacle course racing and sense of unity, the New York City Challenge has definitely earned a 5/5 (5 best) rating in my book. As someone who has experienced many different levels of competitiveness throughout the OCR companies, I encourage those of you reading this to participate not only in the next City Challenges in Boston and Hoboken but the other OCR events you may come across. Life is too short to stick to the big 2!
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