It was a long road from the 2014 Killington Beast back to OCR for me. The 6 months prior to this event had been a constant battle to regain strength, speed, and motivation. This race reminded me why I love running races, why I put myself through these things, and why I bother with “health & fitness” at all.

On Saturday, 4/11/15, I ran F.I.T. Challenge IV – Epic F.I.T. and I have to say…it was exactly what I needed. It challenged me, it tested me, it pushed me, and it renewed my drive for all things health & fitness!
So what was so great about Epic F.I.T.? How does it rank? Why was I so sore the next day…and so happy about it? 

This event was just done right. Robb McCoy, the man behind F.I.T. Challenge, knows how to put on a top notch event, and he has struck again with the 4th installment of his series. 
The Score:

Pre-Race: 8
Race Day: 9
The Course: 10

Support / Swag: 9 
Post-Race: 8

Just an all-around well-executed event. Things promised were followed-through on, the course was outstanding, and everyone seemed to have a great time. Would I run this race again? Heck yes I would.

Pre-Race – 8

There were a fair number of promotional emails/Facebook posts and I certainly didn’t forget the race was coming. The “pre-race email” came out the week before the race – I was impressed that it came to me as I wasn’t actually officially registered for the race…I was signed on as a volunteer! Good on ya, F.I.T. Challenge! I DID check with some friends who pre-registered well in advance, and there were PLENTY of emails sent to participants.

Race Day – 9

I must say, I had a pretty good race day experience. Checking in as a volunteer was super-easy – this can normally be a pretty tedious or confusing process. I watched a number of regularly registered runners checking in as well, and it looked to be a pretty quick and painless process. Near registration there was a small festival area with some vendors and a rep from OCR World Championships (yes, this is an OCRWC Qualifier…wow!). There was also ample room to hang out, stretch, and prepare.

Our Team – Photo Credit: Mary Donohue

As part of the New England Spahtens, I was a member of the day’s largest team, which meant I got to hang out pre/post race at our largest team tent. Took a minute to figure out where it was – and once I did I discovered the restroom situation was INDOORS! Huzzah!

Already ran your race? Want to run another lap? Go for it! $15 gets you a new timing chip and you’re off to the races (again). Manage 5 laps and you get a special plaque for doing 25K of OCR.

All in all…everything leading up to crossing the starting mat was pretty darn smooth.

The Course – 10

Photo Credit: Mary Donohue

The course was excellent. There’s no two ways about it. F.I.T. Challenge really nailed it all – use-of-venue, variety, quality, and quantity of obstacles…it was just really well-done. Top-freaking-notch. I’m genuinely impressed here, in case you couldn’t tell. The course was also INCREDIBLY well-marked – trust me…while volunteering post-race I pulled hundreds of flags, a ton of caution tape, and MANY arrow signs…so I can personally attest to that.

I want to point out that part of what helped this race have such an excellent course was the #OCRUnited element – they played well with others. ABF Mud Run, ORTC at Shale Hill, Grit ‘n’ Wit, Blizzard Blast and more – Robb McCoy and his crew aren’t afraid to work with others to put on a successful event. This is something that helped him in planning, execution, race-day experience, the course itself…all areas got a boost. Other, bigger races could learn something from F.I.T. Challenge in this regard. Take notes, big 3.

Support/Swag – 9

Swag and Support was good – above average, even! Swag included a cotton t-shirt, a logo’d headband (similar to what you get at a Spartan Race, but no bib number), and finisher’s medal. I love the medal – shaped like a Wreck Bag (added to the #OCRUnited feel – lots of local races are embracing Wreck Bag). NE Spahtens also got some “cheap sunglasses” (you know, the plastic Wayfarer knock-offs?) with Spahten F.I.T. printed on them. I’m a sucker for “cheap sunglasses”, and I think everyone else is too, let’s be honest. Thanks F.I.T.!

Age group awards were provided (nice), and as an added bonus (I mentioned this before) for those who managed 5 (timed) laps there was a special plaque involved. Nice touch. Not to mention that whole “OCRWC Qualifier” thing.

Support was good – especially when you got to the #OCRUnited parts of the course, especially the big cluster with “rigs” by the big Shale Hill truck. There was a volunteer at every obstacle, as there should be, (some more engaged than others) and I was aware of medical support that was available.

Post-Race – 8

Post-race was pretty good too. Once you cross the finish there was water, Hint Water (review coming) and though I didn’t stop to look, I think there was food of some sort (bananas maybe?). The little festival area was there, so First Aid Shot Therapy was there with their “shots” (think 5 hour energy…but aspirin) in case you were hurtin’. There was a cool little podium/backdrop area for photo ops and awards, but aside from that…if you’re not running another lap (which you could for $10 or $15)…when you finish the race that’s kinda it. Pack it up and go home. You could certainly hang out, though…it IS a state park (and very pretty, I thought).

I personally would’ve gone back over to the NE Spahtens tent to hang out if I hadn’t immediately gone over to volunteer (he was grossly under-supported for PM volunteers. Shame on people for bailing). That’s how I wrapped MY day up, and it was kinda fun to break it all down 🙂

Overall, I had a great time and would certainly go back.

At the end of the day – this was a great race. What you’ve got in F.I.T. Challenge is a great, very well-constructed, very well-thought-out, and very well-executed Obstacle Course Race. You can tell the owner/race director and the team that works with him (i.e. family and friends) really cares about the event and making it great. That’s why I love local OCR’s and why I will always seek them out. The big-name races are really turning me off lately, and “the little guy” keeps impressing.

F.I.T. Challenge V is this fall on 11/14/15, and you can register via this link. If you’re not already committed to something…I heartily recommend you register. Whether you’re a rookie or a rockstar, you’ll have fun at this event.