Men’s Health Urbanathlon (Chicago): 10.8 miles by the numbers; reframe your approach to the run

What’s the saying? All bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon? I’m reminded of this when I think about the Urbanathlon, in the context that ‘all runners can conquer the Urbanathlon but not all Urbanathletes can conquer the run’ … uhhh, it makes sense in my head anyway.

The point is this, and I’ve said it before in this space, but at the Urbanathlon, to the runner go the spoils. Historically (and by that I mean ‘last year’), I don’t know that the obstacles have been enough of a playing field leveler, and in the end, if you can’t do an obstacle you step aside and rep out a handful of pushups and move on. You can’t skirt the run. Nor would we want to.

This guy could definitely win the Urbanathlon. Endurance and speed, your biggest competitive advantage.

10.8 miles, at face value, is a handful. But with an impressive 11 obstacles this year (at least in Chicago), there are plenty of starts and stops, which we should use as an opportunity to reframe our approach to the run and put us in the proper mindset to dominate the course.

Let’s look more closely at the splits between each obstacle and maybe you’ll get new perspective:

(These are my close approximations based on the course map; actual distance will vary slightly. And while they reflect the Chicago course, you can apply the math/approach to San Francisco and New York, too)

1.6 miles
Water / Obstacle 1
0.6 miles
Obstacle 2
2.0 miles
Water / Obstacle 3 / Transition area for relays
1.3 miles
Obstacle 4
1.5 miles
Obstacle 5 Soldier Field Stair Climb
0.4 miles
Water / Obstacle 6 / Transition area for relays
0.3 miles
Obstacle 7
0.7 miles
Obstacle 8
1.0 miles
Water / Obstacle 9
1.4 miles
Obstacle 10
Obstacle 11

Not so daunting when put in this context, I think. As I’ve gotten more serious about running this past year, I’ve become keen on the many neophyte mind games to push me through badgering pain and aerobic thresholds. Chiefly, that ‘you can do anything for one mile.’ I repeat this often, and it helps.

As you look back on these splits, most of which are less than or hovering right around a mile, trust that ‘you can do anything for one mile.’ So run hard. Push yourself. Attack the course. Take advantage of those shorter splits. Get in the proper mindset.

You can do anything for a mile.


6 thoughts on “Men’s Health Urbanathlon (Chicago): 10.8 miles by the numbers; reframe your approach to the run

    • Thanks, Rick! Hope you enjoyed the race, and I appreciate the clarification. There was certainly far less running in Soldier Field this year compared to 2011, but you’re right, they don’t account for this in their distance (maybe 11.2 starts to sound too daunting for the casual runner…?). I’ll have a new post up shortly to recap the ups and downs and will be sure to include your proper distance marker. Thanks again!

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