Through the years, Portland has bestowed many gifts upon the world. Longfellow. Stephen King. Otto’s pizza.
Now we can add to that list the world’s first “Urban RAID.” On June 30th, up to a thousand people will work their way across a 5K obstacle course in Portland’s downtown. This first-ever event has been put together by Tri-Maine Enterprises (which manages races across the state) and Aura360 Ventures, an event/marketing firm. Recently I sat down with Parker Swenson and Lauren St. Clair, from Aura360, to learn more about the upcoming Urban RAID.
Q: Is this like a 5K run? I see you call it “the next generation of obstacle racing.”
Lauren: It’s the antithesis of a 5K run. It’s more of a fitness challenge taking place over a 5K distance. And this is the first time it’s happening anywhere. That’s part of what’s exciting, it’s originating here in Maine, it isn’t being brought in from somewhere else.
Q: Where will the course be?
Parker: It starts and finishes at the Ocean Gateway cueing lanes. The actual run will go along the Eastern Prom Trail to just about where the boat ramp is. Then it’s up the hill of the Eastern Prom and back down Fore Street. Just before the end, there’s a seven-story stair climb up to the top of Ocean Gateway Garage, at Fore and India streets.
Q: And along the way…?
Parker: There are eight major obstacles, including monkey bar sets, 15 rows of high hurdles, 20-foot-tall cargo nets, and a tire field.
Q: But not with hundreds of people scrambling across these all at once?
Parker: The competitors will start in waves, about five to six minutes apart, based on age and gender divisions, all the way from teenagers to 60-plus. There’s also a non-competitive division, if you just want to go through the course, and you don’t want to worry about people passing you, you can do it on your own terms.
Lauren: That way, you get to compete, you get the energy, you get the endorphin rush, but you’re going at your own pace.
Q: And what happens at the finish line?
Lauren: We’ll have medals for the top three competitors in each division, and there’ll be a whole festival at the finish line with music, and product demo’s – and beer, obviously.
Parker: The way the course is laid out, you’ll be going along the Eastern Trail with the harbor right there, so you’ll get the vistas while you’re moving through the obstacles. It’s the best that Portland has to offer.
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The Urban RAID is actually one of a set of three such events occurring in Maine this year. Following our dash through the city streets, there is a Beach RAID in September in Kennebunk, and a Mountain RAID in October at Sunday River. You can learn more about all three raids, and register for them, at www.raidevents.com and you can keep up with news about the events at their Facebook page.