What is The Civilian Military Combine? How Difficult is This Mud Run?

Although most mud runs tend to be alike, there are certain races which add their own flavor to it. With the Civilian Military Combine, also known as CMC, it’s a bit different.

The flavor is that they first have you go through a difficult strength “test” they call “The Pit” before starting the actual course. What is involved in this Pit and what else do you have to do to complete the CMC? Let’s examine this mud run to see if you can take it on:

Basic info on the Civilian Military Combine:

The obstacle course is about 5 miles long. No other version of it is available (For example, events like Tough Mudder have 4 different course choices for adults).

Most of the obstacles are said to resemble military type challenges but for the most part, if you’ve done a regular mud run, you’ll see pretty similar challenges here too. This race is not as mainstream as other races, but it is challenging and you can find events in places like NY state, including Brooklyn, Miami and Arizona. 

Now prior to the 4+ mile course starting, every person who participates must go through the Pit first.

Let’s go over “The Pit”:

You enter an enclosed area with barbells, kettlebells and other workout props. There is a space for each participant to stand in with each of these tools.

Your goal inside The Pit is to complete a series of exercises as many times as you can in 5 minutes. Here are examples of the types of exercises you’ll find:

Kettlebell swings, burpees (a common thing in the Spartan Race by the way), and with barbells, you’ll be squatting and doing things like the overhead press. There are also exercises with lunges and jumping. 

Now you can pick a level for which you can do these exercises and in some, there will omitted ones, but there is an order to which you do them and after you complete 1 set of these exercises, you go right back to doing them over again until your 5 minutes are up. This is actually similar to the types of things you see going on in Crossfit games. 

Tips for beating the Pit:

  • Although the focus is on maximum reps, I would recommend doing it the safe way, picking a level out of the 3 available that correlates to your fitness level. 
  • Make sure to study up on each exercise before you enter this area by hitting the gym long before and practicing the forms needed for each exercise or asking a personal trainer to assist you in helping you. Each exercise, especially those that deal with swings or lifting require excellent form, not just for the best results, but for safety. Make sure you practice and get used to doing them the right way before the race.
  • While speed is emphasized in this area, I do recommend you make sure to take your time with each exercise you do. Generally the faster you try to complete an exercise, the worse your form will be and the more likely it will be that you can get hurt. Forget competing against the others or the clock. Do the maximum amount of reps you can, but not at the expense of form.

After you finish that area, then comes the actual race:

The test of the Pit is designed to really get you tired before you even start the obstacle course. If you’ve ever done any kind of strength training or lifting prior to cardio workouts, you know how difficult it can get and how tired your muscles are.

This is also going to happen when you begin the CMC course which makes that focus on proper form in the Pit that much more important. The less injured and more correctly you complete the challenges in there, the better of you will be for the next part of the race.

What kinds of obstacles are in the Civilian Military Combine?

Besides basic things such as hopping through various sized walls, there’s also climbing up poles and walking/pulling on ropes to get you across different points. If you have ever done BattleFrog or the Spartan Race, then you’ll have no problems here. But since Battlefrog isn’t around anymore, if you’re interested in something else similar to CMC, I’d say Bone Frog is an option, and it’s more difficult.

And if you though the strength training ended with the Pit, you would be wrong as there are a few obstacles on the course  where you will have to carry weights. 

What is the best way to prepare for CMC?

Ideally you’ll want to have to at least 1 or 2 mud runs completed before trying this out. But if CMC is your first introduction to mud running then you’ll want to do 2 things:

  • Study the exercises they require you do in the Pit and practice them a lot.
  • Do the following workouts that will help you on the course itself.

How difficult is the race overall?

The race itself isn’t that hard if you’ve already completed something as difficult as a Spartan Race and I would say that is harder, but what can really make this event difficult is that Pit element they put you through before the race.

Most mud runs have you start fresh and full of energy so you don’t get tired until well into the race, but in here, you’ll get tired before the race even starts which is why if you practice getting used to the workouts inside the preliminary stage of this race, then do things like long distance jogging or the other helpful workouts above, you’ll be able to complete this race much easier.

As long as you don’t go crazy inside The Pit and try to get as many reps done as possible, you’ll be better fit for the next stage. During workouts, lots of people like to prioritize speed over their form and like I said before, this leads to injuries and on a race as important as CMC, you want to be as loose and healthy as possible. The last thing you’d want is to start the race limping or pulling a muscle, then it would just be foolish to go further.

Overall, this event is very run and challenging! 


3 thoughts on “What is The Civilian Military Combine? How Difficult is This Mud Run?”

  1. I’ve never even knew races like this existed! I assumed trials like this were strictly saved for military training. I think the closest thing I’ve heard of is the Zombie Run. Would you recommend folks who are debating going through boot camp to try out a challenge like CMC first, prep and all? I feel like this would be a great opportunity for someone to see what they’re made of.

    • Of course preparation is necessary Penny, otherwise you risk injury. I don’t know how regular boot camp training compares to this, but if someone is fit enough to do CMC, they are definitely prepared to go through boot camp.

  2. We didn’t have such events that I know of in the Navy. At least, none that were required. There was a lot of skills I didn’t polish and activities I didn’t experience while I was in that I wish I did.

    They should require this for all military just because it looks like fun and a proud accomplishment to complete it!


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