On Saturday, April 6th F.I.T Challenge held their 12th challenge since 2013. Located at Diamond Hill Park in Cumberland, RI, it is clear to see why the readers of Mud Run Guide have voted this race series best local OCR race year after year. It also could be because this is a qualifying race to World OCR. To those who qualified, congratulations! Now lets get into it….
There are many things I like about F.I.T, but one thing that stands out is how approachable it is to new racers, yet how challenging it can be to veterans of the sport. During the one day event there are three races that occur. The first is the 12 hour ultra event where racers have 12 hours to complete as many laps as possible. This year a new course record on both the men's and women's side were set. Erin Rost who finished second at World's Toughest Mudder 2018 completed 12 laps beating Rebecca Whites prior record of 11 laps. On the men's side, Adam Ribiero completed 14 laps breaking Josh Fiore's prior record of 13 laps.
The second race option is the multi-lap event. Racers have five hours to complete as many laps as possible. Finally, there is the traditional one lap option. There is also an elite wave that takes place. This year Ryan Kempson dropped in on the race and took first with a cool 34:39 completion on the men's side and Cassandra Ohman finishing in 46:07 which I believe I overheard was a course PR for her.
This year's course was 3.35 miles with 1,000 feet in elevation gain and 30 obstacles packed along the course. Us New Englanders lucked out and had a beautiful sunny day to race. The morning was raw and cool in the 40s as it rained the night before, however by about late morning we were up into the mid 60's. The terrain itself is the traditional ankle biting knobby/rocky technical terrain, one slip and there goes your ankle. Man, I love New England!
Another thing I love about FIT is that the course can be miss leading. After all it's held on a “hill” and usually, local races don't kick the crap out of you. Well, that hill isn't a lush, soft, green hill with Julie Andrews singing “THE HILLS ARE ALIVE” at the top. They're alive alright… Be ready to bring your A-game on the terrain alone.
Second is the obstacles. I LOVE THEM AND THERE ARE SO MANY! They range from simple to complex, and for the new racers, they don't have the pressure to complete each obstacle. Let me be clear, if you are in the elite wave you MUST complete every obstacle. For the rest of the general population, it's strongly encouraged to do as many as we can and be able to go to work on Monday morning. We saw the obstacle Destroyer twice on the course this go around, this obstacle is worth mentioning as it was voted best obstacle by the readers of Mud Run Guide back in 2016.
So far we've covered race results, course, and obstacles. Lets get to the important stuff….the swag. Race Director Robb McCoy channeled the great poet “Flavor Flaaavvvv” and turned these medals into coasters. They're huge and the perfect compliment to designer outfit for your next event. Prom and wedding season is right around the corner. I may wear it to my friend's wedding in July. Maybe it will make me a bit more appealing to any eligible bachelors there. Am I right? Oh, I should also mention the T-shirts are pretty awesome as well- they're dry fit and very comfortable. There was a good amount of merch to purchase and I got a sleeveless sweatshirt. Yes, a sleeveless sweatshirt, those things Amelia Boone is obsessed with. I mean if it's good enough for her, it's good enough for me. They also threw in some cooling towels and stickers, again more free swag.
Most importantly what I love about F.I.T challenge is the community. I had the opportunity to spend some time with race director Robb McCoy who created F.I.T back in 2013. Not only does Rob and his team make every race feel welcome but they create a fun and inviting atmosphere where strangers quickly become friends. To quote the late, great John F. Kennedy. “A rising tide lifts all ships”. Without a tight-knit and supportive community, this sport wouldn't be as successful as it has been.
The next F.I.T Challenge race will be held on Saturday July 20th. Please note this is the last year F.I.T will have two events. For more information check out fitchallenge.org. I'd strongly encourage you all to make the trip to this race this year. It's absolutely incredible and well respected by races of all abilities. This race is without a doubt a five-star race.
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