Twice a year F.I.T. Challenge hosts a small race in Rhode Island. November 17th at Diamond Hill State Park I had the pleasure of attending my 1st F.I.T. Challenge race. F.I.T. has won and been a top contender for many Mud Run Guide best of awards the last few years which made me very excited to see what all the talk was about. The weather that day was in the '30s early on but did hit the 40's that afternoon. The mountain had some snow left over from a storm still on it making the ground a bit slick and muddy at times.
For a small brand, it has all the normal things you would expect of a big brand. Parking is on site and simple. They checked with us about 4wd when we pulled in to make sure parking wouldn't be a problem. The festive area was within sight of parking. Plenty of bathrooms for runners and spectators and check in took only a few minutes. I arrived early and they even offered for me to run the earlier wave that was starting in about twenty minutes.
One notable thing is that there is no bag check. Previous events it was just never used I heard so they got rid of it. However, since you can see your car from the race area and are allowed to leave the festival area to go back to your car to get things it wasn't a big issue. I debated going to swap socks after lap 2 for dry ones but did not. When I checked time post-race it took me 3 minutes to get to my car at a slow pace. So not a major issue.
They offer various different lengths depending on what you are looking for. F.I.T. has a 12-hour Ultra, a 5-hour multi-lap, or a single lap option.
Winners from this race for the Ultra were Joshua Fiore with 13 laps in 11:58:57 and Rebecca White with 10 laps in 11:43:31. Male second and third place finishers completed 11 laps. This took Jose Tecson 11:57:06 and David Maher 12:08:17. Katie Purcell took second place for women and Kristina Petit third place. They both had 10 laps as well and finished with times of 12:44:53 and 12:45:55.
Multi-lap finishers had a range of one to six laps completed. This was the race format that I chose to run. The top three male finishers for this were Nathan Oriol with 6 laps in 5:30:59, Bo Blaine Gumalo with 5 laps in 5:12:43, and Micheal Rosigerz with 5 laps in 5:34:29. The female top three runners all finished with 4 laps. First place was Emma Hermanek in 5:03:00, second place was Rebecca Alencio with 5:30:05, and in third was Abigail Locklear at 6:38:09.
Adam Riberio won the Elite one lap format with a time of 39:55, followed by Richie Hilton in 42:31 and Jared Forman in 42:39. Cassandra Ohman finished 1st for the elite women with 49:35 followed by Joslin Amaral at 1:05:27, and Kristien Cincotti at 1:05:38.
I went into this race really excited to see what it was about and was not let down. This race had been on my radar since I first heard about F.I.T Challenge last April from friends. The problem was the distance for this race made it difficult as due to my family I do not do overnight stays for races. Drive time for this race was about 5 1/2 hours without traffic on major highways. I decided to go for it anyways.
An early season snowstorm on Thursday made way for a messy commute on Friday which wrapped up with me getting sick Friday night with a migraine. So I went into the race undernourished and dehydrated. I woke up at 2:00 a.m. on Saturday so that I could get the Rhode Island from Pennsylvania in time.
Each lap took me on average 1:38 to complete. For being in Rhode Island there is a lot more elevation then you would think. Each lap has three major assents making for about 1,000 elevation gain per lap. After I finished my 3rd lap I decided to call it a day. I had gone with a goal of 4-5 and could have finished 4 if not for my timeline to get home with drive time and just exhaustion at that point mentally.
The obstacles were unique and enjoyable. Some of them were easy enough to complete and others, I am looking at your Devils Playground, were the bane of my day. I loved it. I have never struggled so much on an obstacle and kept wanting to come back for more every lap. Compared to the hanging cargo net provided a basic obstacle concept done in a way that made it challenging yet complete-able. Destroyer and Destroyer 2.0 were great. I helped a few racers get up and over that wall. Racers were helpful and encouraging to everyone around them for the most part. The course was spotless with almost no trash left behind.
The one issue I observed and speaking to a few others seemed to be the biggest gripe occurred on one specific obstacle. It is a wall that wobbles as you climb over the top of it. As you swung over the top it would move drastically and a few times other racers would grab the wall and start climbing stopping your momentum and if you did not have a tight enough grip launch you to the ground. An ultra runner I spoke to sadly landed on his hip and while he was still going his pace had slowed drastically.
One of the most noteworthy things at this specific F.I.T. Challenge race was the first time professional photographs. Owner Robb McCoy said this will be a reoccurring thing from now on. I felt the photographer did a great job capturing candid photos at various spots along the race. I would give this race a 5 out of 5. Totally worth the almost 12 hours spent driving that day to attend.
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