What It’s Like to Complete the Under Armour HOVR Challenge

Runners and influencers break down a one-of-a-kind road race

ken hovr mobile hero imaeg

Earlier this fall, Under Armour flipped the concept of an outdoor race in NYC on its head. Instead of everyone starting from the same place, the runners began in five separate locations and funneled to one finish line on Roosevelt Island.

However, it was never going to be that easy.

The race took place at night, and each runner had to map out their own way to the finish line, a location they were given the day of the race. Everyone was geared up: Equipped with a pair of Under Armour HOVR sneakers, which have impact-eliminating HOVR cushioning built for all types of runs, the runners enthusiastically tackled their task.

We spoke with influencers and UA HOVR Challenge runners Kellen Scantlebury and Kenny Santucci about their experience in the HOVR Challenge and how they approached the unique race.

Courtesy of @beyinspired7

Kellen Scantlebury

ONE37pm: What was the most exciting part about the Under Armour Challenge?

Kellen: The most exciting part about the Under Armor Challenge was definitely crossing the finish line. The crowd and energy were bumping, and it really helped push me mentally as I finished the race. 

What’s your favorite thing about the Under Armour HOVR sneakers?

Kellen: What I really love about the Phantom/SE is how comfortable they are and also how light they are. I had never run in them prior to the race and was honestly a little nervous about running five miles in brand-new sneakers. Once I put them on my feet, though, I quickly found them to be one of the more comfortable running shoes as well as one of the lighter shoes for running. 

Did you find one part of the course harder than the others?

Kellen: One of the toughest parts of the course was running over the Pulaski Bridge. I had never run across the bridge before and was really looking forward to the challenge of the uphill at the foot of the bridge. I was weaving through pedestrians while bumping J. Cole. As you get to the middle of the bridge, you are still on an incline but you see the NYC skyline. It was a moment for me, taking in the Freedom Tower and the Empire State Building. Just thinking about the grind and grit of NYC. I swear I experienced runner’s high at that moment and sprinted downhill like a scene from Rocky. It was awesome.

What was the energy like at your starting point destination?

Kellen: There was a sense of nervous energy at the starting line. I would describe it like butterflies before you have a big game or see your crush. There was a group of about 20 of us who started together at McCarren Park and we really didn’t know much about each other. We were told to have our Under Armor bracelets and make sure that we listened for directions as the race began. The cameras started rolling and everyone started to get warmed up about ten minutes to race time. That’s when the energy really start to pick up and people started to chat and talk with each other. We were talking about our individual planned routes, and once the whistle blew, we were off!

What’s your go-to cross-training routine when preparing for a big race?

Kellen: I always make sure to cross-train while training for any race. The team at Fit Club Physical Therapy and Sports Performance develops strength programs for runners to reduce injury as well as increase speed and reduce race times. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with them on exercises such as lunges, single-leg squats, side planks and various banded exercises. These exercises are specific to my body and its needs. 

I have been injured before and it sucks. I now understand the importance of a cross-training routine that is properly designed by a professional.

What’s your favorite pump-up running song to kick in the last stretch of a run?

Kellen: I mentioned J. Cole earlier. I have been listening to The Blow Up lately a lot. It’s old, I know, but for me, when rappers are grinding before they make it to the top, that’s when they have some of their best lyrics and content. That song is a classic for me and gets me pumped to take on any challenge. “This is a song for my haters, y’all got me feeling like the greatest. Yeah, I’m about to blow up!”—J. Cole

Where’s the coolest place you’ve run in the world?

Kellen: The coolest place I’ve ever run I would have to say hands down is Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town is like California in Africa, it’s amazing. The weather is great. The scenery, Table Mountain in the background, two oceans meeting each other. It’s just a special place on this planet and one of the most awesome places I have had the chance to run.

Kenny Santucci

ONE37pm: What was the most exciting part about the Under Armour Challenge? 

Kenny: There wasn’t a clear course. I loved that each participant had to map out their own way. 

What’s your favorite thing about the Under Armour HOVR Phantom SE

Kenny: Not only do they look cool, they were super comfortable to run in. 

Did you find one part of the course harder than the others? 

Kenny: The 59th Street Bridge always beats me up! 

What was the energy like at your starting point destination? 

Kenny: Super excited. There were all different types of athletes there—not just runners—which made it more fun. 

How do you fuel on your long runs? 

Kenny: Not well! On long runs more than two hours, I make sure to take in 80 ounces of water, a sodium pill and electrolytes.

What’s your go-to cross-training routine when preparing for a big race? 

Kenny: CrossFit .

Do you have any mantras you keep handy for when it gets really tough on a long run or race? 

Kenny: I tell myself to just keep going! 

What’s your favorite pump-up running song to kick in the last stretch of a run? 

Kenny: “Welcome to the Jungle.”

Where’s the coolest place you’ve run in the world? 

Kenny: Salt Flats in Utah.