Race Review: NYC City Challenge

We all competed in the Hoboken City Challenge last fall and had a great time, so when we received the email announcing the NYC course we immediately signed up. The City Challenge is an urban Obstacle Course Race (OCR) that is about the same level of intensity as a Warrior Dash (just without the mud and wilderness).

The obstacles (listed below) varied slightly from the Hoboken course with the addition of the cinder block carry, Berlin Wall and hurdles being the biggest changes. There were also stadium stairs and a bear crawl over wood chips that added more fun elements to it.


  • Police Hurdles: About 4 foot high hurdles just wide enough for two people to go over at once
  • CKO Boxing Bags
  • More Police Hurdles: (side note: even if you have long legs, you’re going to want to jump a little. crotch killer)
  • 6 Foot Ladder Wall
  • 8 Foot Ladder Wall
  • Bear Crawl
  • 8 Foot Ladder Wall
  • Cinder Block Carry (aka: let’s just kill those arms and shoulders real quick)
  • 60 Kettle Bell Swings (aka: if your upper body wasn’t tired, it is now)
  • 8 Foot Ladder Wall
  • Monkey Bars (BAHAHA! Bet the Cinder Block Carry and Kettle Bell Swings warmed you up for this!)
  • Ladder Wall
  • 30 Foot Cargo Net
  • Police and Taxi Car Jump: Best. Photo. Op. EVER.

  • Sand Bag Carry
  • 8 Foot Wall
  • Berlin Wall: an 8-10 foot wall with two small steps on the side that you climbed up with a rope
  • Inverted Wall: By far the hardest obstacles besides the…
  • Rope Climb: All but Jeremy failed  (how do you even train for this in a city?!)
  • Wall
  • 20 Foot Cargo Net
  • 6 Foot ladder wall
  • Bear Crawl (over wood chips..splinters anyone?)
  • 8 Foot Wall
  • Water Jug/Stair Climb
  • 40 Heavy Jump Rope (because your arms just weren’t tired enough)

The race attracts people of all levels of fitness and the obstacles range from fun and easy to very challenging. The penalty for not completing and obstacle was officially 30 jump squats, though we heard different amounts from different volunteers. Overall participants were very supportive of each other and were respectful and encouraging to other athletes that were facing a challenging obstacle for them. There is an elite competitor wave for the folks really going for speed, so most of the folks we were running with seem to be out more to have fun and challenge themselves.

Race Stats:

Race price: 3 – $50. I understand why, but it’s still a lot for a 2.5mi race.

Organization: 4 – The race was well-organized with the waves spaced out well so that there was never a long (if any) wait for each obstacle. No one seemed to be checking athletes assigned waves, but the waves seemed to stay on track nonetheless.

Level of communication: 2– This race loses points like last year for too many emails. I wish that they would change their email database so once you’re signed up you no longer get a million emails about the price increases. It got to the point where I missed important information about the packet pickup because I was barely reading the emails anymore. I (Nicole) unsubscribed to avoid the havoc that City Challenge creates in my inbox. It worked a bit too well because I didn’t even receive the confirmation/last-minute vital information email. Instead, I had to search on their very annoying website for the bib picket and race info. I now have an aversion to the Fantastic 4 since the movie ad kept popping up no matter where you clicked on the site.

Race course: 4– This was a nice loop course and with the start and finish in Ichan Stadium. The race organizers took full advantage and added a stadium stairs obstacle. It was also nice and convenient to have a central place to sit and hangout before and after the race. The main problem with this course that was also true for Hoboken last year, was a lack of water stations. There is only one water station at the halfway mark. For a summer mid-day race, there should be one at every mile.

Map courtesy of Garmin 220 Watch and Garmin Connect App

Swag: 4
– There were some good post race sponsor tents where we picked up Bare Naked granola, Nesquik chocolate milk, chewy bars, and Muscle Milk. There was also a massage tent which we didn’t take advantage of but was definitely busy. The Nesquick tent had a corn hole game where you could win prizes based on how well you performed (Katie won a key chain!).

T shirt: 3.5– Big improvement over last year because they switched to dry-fit. Maybe next year they will improve on sizing since the shirt ran small again.

Medal: 3.5– The medal is nice because it depicts the signature city challenge obstacle – the taxi/police car jump. I like the unique bottle opener medal from last year though because it was so different in look from most of my other medals.

Spectator support: 5-
 This is mainly for the volunteers who were our main spectators, but they were amazing. They cheered, they gave helpful hints, and one amazing lady actually stopped Sirrah from giving up on the incline wall and helped her to propel herself over. We found out from one volunteer that they got to run the race for free in a special wave later in the day which is maybe why they were so encouraging. Our favorite was the man spraying participants with a hose to cool them down. Whatever you’re doing to get your volunteers City Challenge, keep it up!

Overall score: 3.65

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