Posted in 10k, obstacle run, Trail run, trail running

The nonparticipant survivor… Men’s Health Urbanathlon: Survival of the Fittest

Men’s Health Urbanathlon and Festival 2014 was my 2nd favorite running even last year. When the 2015 edition was announced carrying the ‘Survival of the Fittest’ name from the international version of the popular obstacle run, I got even more excited and immediately considered this among my top priority runs this year. Unfortunately, due to complicated in-store registration (because I don’t like online registration and have never joined a running event that way), I wasn’t able to join the run. The problem was the in-store registration, I have no idea why Men’s Health didn’t have registration sites in Chris Sports (which was a major sponsor) branches. Instead, they offer registration in Crossfit MNL, Functional Fitness, VXi and JTI offices. It confused me because I’m not familiar with the locations of the sites and when I asked questions on Men’s Health Philippines and Leadpack (the race organizer) facebook pages, I get no responses (worth noting that anyone who asks get no responses and their posts have fewer than 10 likes, so it’s likely that they don’t bother responding. One exception was my inquiry for the possibility of an event day, on-site registration, which they said was not possible). Registration in ASICS store in Greenbelt was opened on November 11 – 20, but I was busy during that week not just in work-related activities, but also preparation for PinoyFitness 21k Challenge on the 15th. My last chance was the registration in their office in CyberGate Tower 3 on November 16-17 and ASICS 3 registration was still open until the 20th. The problem was during that time, the preparation for the APEC Summit was taking place, so extreme traffic and closed routes were the obstacles of the registration process. I did try to register on November 20 at ASICS  Greenbelt(Friday and the last day of registration), but when I heard the bus conductor said that some of the routes in Ayala are still closed (APEC Summit), I decided to just go home and sit this run out. Then I just had the idea to go for a short run in Nuvali and be a spectator of the event. All I can say was that I was very jealous of the participants, they get to run one of the best obstacle runs in the country. So, this article is my race report and review from a spectator’s point of view.

Arrived at the site before the 5:30 am gunstart.
The very first wave of solo runners.
Awesome logo, badass title.
The stage is set.

After the release of the last wave of runners, I jogged around the area of Abrio to see some of the obstacles. The race course is 10 kilometers with 15 obstacles. First thing I noticed is that they don’t have the large three stacks high cargo container wall from last year. That was one of the best and toughest obstacles (if you don’t ask for the marshals’ assistance) last year, too bad the newbies didn’t experience it. What they have was a mini obstacle course that tests, I don’t know, stepping skills? and lateral movement?

The Mini Obstacle Course. Since I wasn’t a participant, I have no idea how hard or what this obstacle is about.

The Arm Bar obstacle course was slightly different from the Monkey Bar we had last year. When I first saw it, I thought it was harder than the Monkey Bar, but in reality, it was shorter and seemed easier. A lot of participants easily made it through with assistance from the marshals. As far as I remember, marshal assistance was not offered on the Monkey Bars and it was the hardest obstacle IMHO.

The Arm Bar is one of the hardest obstacles in any obstacle run. It requires good grip and upper body strength. But, this year, Marshal assistance is an option to make it easier.
What makes this obstacle harder is the runners’ exhaustion from the 8+ kilometers or road and trail running. The bars were already slippery and anyone can lose their grip. Last year, the Monkey Bar is the hardest obstacle for me. I had 4 (or maybe it was 5) retries before I successfully crossed it. I even had cramps while hanging. 
Marshal assistance is optional making it easier for anyone. IMO, for Urbanathlon to be considered ‘hard mode’ as advertised, there should be penalty for not being able to finish an obstacle. Like in The Guerilla Race where you have to do 30 burpees if you can’t finish an obstacle.

The Network + Mudpit obstacle is harder going up and down depending on how slippery it is when you step on the ropes.

Better to climb this with barefoot.
Going down is easier.
You can jump down, but be wary of the risks.

The Hill Slide and Ice Bath is probably the most fun obstacles. Just slide and have fun. I have seen some runners hurt their butts by sliding all the way to the dirt.

Just make sure that the slide is still wet or the marshal just poured water on it and you’re all set. It’s fun.
Selfie of a jealous nonparticipant.
The Ice Bath (or pool) is soothing. Just wash away that dirty bum bum.

The Tire Field can surprise you, it can pull you down if your foot got caught. Happened to me last year. I saw some participants who were very tired that they just walk through the tire field slowly instead of quickly breezing through with a bouncy motion.

Third to the last obstacle of the race. Comparing the photo of the Tire Field from last year, this looked shorter in length.
Women are quite agile in this obstacle.

And just a few meters away from the Tire Field is the Net Crawl. Bounce for the Tire Field, then get low and crawl (or roll).

Others crawl, others roll.

The Modified Wall + Stuntman Jump was the last obstacle of the race. Last year, it was called the Gatorade Wall.

Climb and Jump like a stuntman.

Surprisingly, there are medals for the survivors of Survival of the Fittest. It was announced in Men’s Health Philippines that the medals were dropped, which is disappointing considering that this is an obstacle run. But, to the participants’ surprise, the finisher medals were announced before the start of the race. The medals could’ve motivated me to push through the planned Nov 20 registration despite the heavy traffic and re-routing. Now, I feel even more jealous of the survivors.

I collect medals of achievement, especially ones from obstacle runs. Too bad I missed this.
Glory awaits.

I didn’t see the other obstacles, namely the Traffic Jam and Hurdles. The route seems to be the same as last year. The notable difference I know of from last year was the placement of the Arm bar. Last year’s Monkey Bar, was placed at the end of the Abrio trail, this year’s arm bar was placed somewhere in the middle of Abrio and the Fields. The Hill Slide and Ice pool was the most notable addition I saw in the race. I also believe that this year’s Urbanathlon, despite having the Survival of the Fittest name, was easier the last year’s. But, it’s not the ‘Hard Mode’ as advertised, but it was still fun. The only real issue with this event was the registration. The event gathered an estimated 1,800 participants according to, not bad, but if you want more runners like the international counterpart, in-store registration should be prioritized especially locations that can be easily accessed. Last year, you can get the race kit upon registration, this year, it’s either you get it by free delivery by registering early or you go to the Summit media office. Last option was picking it up at the event site in Nuvali (which doesn’t give you time to fit or wash it). I was really jealous of the participants, I don’t like to watch, I want to go out there and rock. I am a survivor, a survivor of the previous Urbanathlon and the Guerilla Races (let’s include the zombie apocalypse run, Outbreak Missions series), but this year, I’m the nonparticipating survivor. It’s too bad that I’m about to close this running year without at least 1 obstacle run (I also missed the Guerilla Races), but it’s not the end of the world. There’s always a next time. Congratulations to all the survivors. Enjoy the glory.

I’ll run strong next year. See you Urbanatlon. You too, Guerilla Race.  



  • Camera used for taking photos for this review is the Alcatel Flash Plus 2.
  • For a look back at last year’s event, go here:
  • For inspiration, check out this parathlete’s story here:






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s