This November marked the fifth F.I.T. Challenge, a local obstacle course race held at Diamond Hill State Park in Cumberland, Rhode Island. F.I.T. Challenge highlights the great value that smaller local races can bring to the obstacle racing community. Ideally, local races can provide innovation, a community-feel, and give racers great value. F.I.T. Challenge epitomizes the best that local racing has to offer.
F.I.T. Challenge has a lot of bang for your buck. Parking is onsite and only $10, family and friends can attend at no cost, finisher t-shirts and medals are given out, and the event allows participants to run multiple laps (for free if you agree to be untimed for any lap after your first). F.I.T. is also an OCR World Championships qualifier.
Diamond Hill offers the opportunity for surprisingly rocky and hilly terrain, making for a challenging course. This fall’s F.I.T. clocked in at just over 5K in distance, and the park was well-used. The course layout made racers tackle a lot of hills early on, which did a great job spacing out the pack.
The F.I.T. obstacles were numerous, interesting, and a good balance between challenging and do-able. The F.I.T. team gets top points for an interesting course with a good use of Diamond Hill’s elevation, well-spaced obstacles, and obstacle quality. An example of the smart course design could be seen in the juxtaposition of a peg board climb and a rope climb. Both of those obstacles are tough on their own. Back to back they are devious — wonderfully so!
A couple of the obstacles jump out as immediate highlights. The first was an obstacle called The Destroyer, an inverted wall that transitioned to a straight wall on top. Switching between the inverted and straight wall while hanging up in the air was a big challenge. The Destroyer had only a pair of grips to aid that transition, and they were spaced far apart, which increased the difficulty factor.
Another excellent obstacle was a floating wall. This obstacle was a wall suspended on ropes between two trees. The wall was not fixed to the ground and, thus, swung when you tried to climb it. This definitely gave some added interest to an obstacle most people would usually consider standard.
There was also a very good Rig, which consisted of monkey bars to a horizontal bar, to a pair of monkey bars to a cargo net climb. This Rig was manageable for newer racers and fun for more experienced ones.
Running in the open wave, there were a couple of short back-up, but nothing that added more than a few minutes onto anyone’s race time. Lots of the back-up issues from last April’s race were complete resolved at the November F.I.T. Challenge.
F.I.T. is a highlight of what local racing should be. If you live anywhere in New England and can make it to the next F.I.T. event in April, it comes highly recommended.
(Note: Photo credits NE Spahtens — Daniel Parker and Vince Rhee)