In 2006, before many races we see on the scene today existed, Men’s Health started the Men’s Health Urbanathlon in downtown New York.
In 2007 the race expanded to hit the historical districts of Chicago and included this famous Navy Pier.
By the year 2011 Men’s health had expanded to hold a yearly annual race in San Francisco with great turn out.
While I have not run a Spartan Stadium race yet, I have ran a few Urban OCR events in the Midwest area. With no question, none of them were as amazing or memorable as the Chicago Men’s Health Urbanathlon. With the rise of OCR in the USA it is no surprise that the sport is looking into new environments such as urban areas, or famous landmarks, that will make the race an unforgettable experience for all attending.
Matt B. takes a selfie going up the steps of Soldier Field
The Chicago Men’s Health Urbanathlon was a one of a kind race held in the heart of downtown Chicago. I arrived in town the night before with the intention of taking on both races that MHURB offered the next day. (The 10.4 mile Classic Distance and the 4 mile Sprint Distance). Waking up while the sun was still down and seeing the steam roll off the streets while sipping my cup of coffee set the tone for this awesome race. With a gun time set at 7 am and the runners being released on the course in a traditional fashion based on mile speed, we got to experience finish times more similar to marathon speed. The race itself started off with a run up Lake Michigan enjoying the morning breeze. The race director took every chance to show off the sights of Chicago such as Millennium Park, setting up balance beams on the famous Navy Pier, and running over a mile of stairs in Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears.
While the elevation was not a challenge (aside from the stair laps) the whole race being paved gave way to much faster pacing times for all runners. The winning time for the men was a finish of under 1:05 for the 10.6 mile classic distance by Justin Stuart. The women’s top finishers were under 1:15 lead by Angela Matthews. Within the race they also had another award for fastest time in the stair laps in soldier field. One of the Amazing sponsors for this event, Tissot, kept track of your time in and out of the Soldier Field. Justin Stuart also won this stretch of the course with a time right over six minutes.
Post-race Men’s Health assembled one of the all-time best villages at a race I have ever attended. This race had vendors giving samples of nutrition supplements, workouts by TRX, and even hair care products from Paul Mitchel. Equinox gym was there providing recovery stretching, as well as massages for the runners to help with sore muscles. This race was easily one of the best-organized races I have been in to date. Between great volunteers, energy at the finish line, and the sights and sounds of Chicago this is an awesome challenge for any Obstacle course runner. The post-race VIP tent located next to the stage was the number one stop for me. With both legs cramping up, I got massage to open up my muscles and let Matt B. Davis run alone and take on the second faster race of the day. The sprint distance course featured a shorter run, but many of the same amazing obstacles. This is a must do race that I cannot wait to run and improve my time on next year.
Editors Notes:. While Jacob stayed warm and comfy, I took one for the team and headed back out for Round 2. A light rain started to fall and the temperatures were dropping as I started the 4 mile Sprint Distance. The short course gave runners almost as many obstacles as the longer course, but in a much shorter time frame, which made for some really tired arms and legs. That happy face you see on me in that Soldier Field photo above was no longer present the 2nd time around. First time on stairs-Fun!. 2nd time on stairs-Not Fun. I was still glad I attempted both, and would recommend others to do the same. -Matt
You can see our video recap of this event here:
*Photos By: Jacob Bosecker and Men’s Health Urbanathlon
Jacob Bosecker is an adventure racer, OCR athlete, and snowboarder from Southern Indiana. Bosecker comes from a background in pole vault and doing parkour in his free time. He lives in Columbus, Indiana and is the captain of an elite OCR team Project Titan.