Train Like a Pro: David Magida

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You may recognize David Magida as the 2016 host of the Spartan Race U.S. Championship series on NBC Sports or even as the current host of Spartan’s live-streaming coverage. However, before he picked up the microphone, he was lacing up his shoes as one of the top competitors in Obstacle Course Racing. Magida, a former member of the Spartan Pro Team, has over 20 podium finishes to his name.

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Despite his larger frame, Magida has been a distance runner for most of his life. In high school, he was a conference champion in cross country and, after being recruited, ran for a brief time in college. After taking some time off from running due to injury, he briefly played DI-AA football at Bucknell University as a wide receiver.

Magida took nearly 5 years off before returning to running during grad school, while training for marathons. After finding success in several Spartan races and completing the first ever Ultra Beast, Magida committed to OCR training. “It was amazing and I loved it. I just fell in love with the sport,” he recalled. “I love that you can be both strong and fast. My size was not a huge disadvantage the way it was with road running.”

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One of his fondest memories of racing goes back to a victory at Spartan’s New Jersey Super. Magida had trailed the majority of the race due to lower back issues. The rest of his body wasn’t giving up, though. “I was so frustrated that day because my legs and lungs felt fine, but my back was limiting my ability to climb. I was in agony. I could not get the legs to go, and I could not put it together,” Magida remembers.

After chasing the leader the majority of the race, Magida went all-in on the downhills, clocking around a 4:30/mile average pace on the rugged descents. “It’s this really brutal course with just these big, clunky rocks all over the ground,” he explained. “So, my feet after the race were just ruined. They were blistered and bruised and felt broken. I couldn’t train for a week.”  Magida’s grit paid off in the end, though, as he seized the lead in the final half-mile. Despite getting out-climbed every ascent before that, his mental focus kept him in the lead on the final climb, allowing him to run a downhill sprint to a first place finish. After trailing for essentially the entire race, Magida won by a mere 11 seconds. “I think the thing that made this particular race special was that nothing was going my way,” Magida said. “Physically I didn’t have it. But if you search inside yourself, you’ll be amazed to find what kind of strength you possess. I learned something about myself that day. It’s the beauty of pushing your body to your limits. You learn what you’re made of.”

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Eventually, he decided to step away from racing to open his own training studios, Elevate Interval Fitness. Currently, Magida operates a location in Washington, D.C. and a second in Fairfax, VA, with a third expected to open in D.C. in 2018. Magida employs many of the methods he learned and relied upon in his OCR training to push his clients to their limits and maximize their performance. Elevate focuses on both strength and endurance training, to help athletes develop mental toughness, stay well-rounded and, as Magida says, “to have zero weaknesses.”

At Elevate, you’ll use equipment like treadmills, water rowers, airbikes, kettlebells, sandbags, TRX and dumbbells during sessions that include circuits, intervals and partner workouts. Plus, the coaches will teach you the correct technique to ensure total effectiveness and avoid risk of injury. For more information and a free intro class, visit www.elevateintervalfitness.com.

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THE WORKOUT

This workout is basically a race-simulation type of workout. Magida recommends doing it only once or twice per season and allowing around two weeks before racing. He suggests only doing some light running the day before and a pretty easy workout the day after.

Pro Tip: Don’t overdo it on the first two miles, or you’ll pay for it later.

Run to be completed at a 5k race pace on a treadmill. If you want to use this as a race simulation, complete as fast as possible. Warm up with a 10-15 minute jog

  • Run 1 mile with the treadmill at 2% incline. Once finished, complete either 30 pull ups or TRX Inverted rows.
  • Run another 1 mile with treadmill at 2% incline. Once finished, complete 30 burpees.
  • Increase the incline to 4% and run 0.50 miles. Once finished, complete 50 switch/jump lunges. That is 50 total, or 25 per leg.
  • Run another 0.50 miles with treadmill at 4% incline. Once done, complete a 100-meter bear crawl.
  • Increase the incline to 6% and run 0.25 miles. Once finished, complete another 25 pull ups or TRX inverted rows.
  • Run another 0.25 miles at 6%. Once done, complete 30 burpees.
  • Run another 0.25 miles at 6%. Once finished, complete another 50 switch/jump lunges.
  • Run one more 0.25 miles at 6%. Once done, complete another 100-meter bear crawl.
  • Finally, run 1 mile with the incline back at 2%. Once done, complete the workout with another 20 pull ups or TRX inverted rows.

Workout Totals:

  • 5 Miles of Intervals
  • 75 Pullups
  • 60 Burpees
  • 100 Switch Lunges
  • 200m Bear Crawl

Writer’s Note: Thank you to David for sharing this workout. You can follow him on Instagram.

Check out past Train Like a Pro articles:

Photo Credit: David Magida, Elevate Fitness, Spartan Race, Savage Race

BattleFrog Greater Philly – A Frog, A Mountain And 50 People Lost

I always find myself being overly critical of BattleFrog.  I think it’s because they have a lot of potential to be a big dog in the business and do good for the sport as a whole, but they always seem to shoot themselves in the foot with senseless, easily avoidable mistakes that call their competence into question.  They’re so close to making the next step in the business but… Two steps forward, three steps backwards.  On this particular week, it started off going backwards, but I think they gained some ground… 2 backwards.. 3 forward.. They’re +1 and here’s why.

This was my first BattleFrog event of the year as my race schedule filled while they were still struggling to finalize venues.  I wasn’t planning on this event, but being a short 30-minute drive from my house, I decided to give it a go after I finished a lap of MudmanX in NY.  Four days before race day, I received the participant email from Battlefrog. I noticed they include start time and bib number front and center making it easy to locate and eliminating the need to search on their site for this info.  Waivers are signed off and agreed upon when registering online, to avoid a paper waiver, which will make the Eco-friendly athletes happy.  Then came their first step in the wrong direction which caused concern for the event itself.

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The night before the event I received notification from their event page(which you would not receive had you not opted to follow the event page) that the parking location had changed. Extremely last minute and unlike other companies to do short of impending severe weather, which was not the case in this situation. Sure enough on event day, I saw one post stating 50 or so people were wandering aimlessly in the original parking location with no BattleFrog representation present to direct to the new location. To BattleFrogs credit, they did issue an email late Friday night, but for many, that was too little too late.

Having the new parking location, I arrived to several buses waiting to shuttle racers to the event. Parking was smooth and the shuttle was a short 5-minute ride to the venue. As soon as we pulled up, I recognized the venue immediately. It was a ski resort that was home to the “Badass Dash” Tristate event last year. I immediately knew I was in store for an interesting and possibly very fun event. During the Badass Dash, I remember thinking it would be a perfect venue for a larger race brand to hold a challenging event, and I wasn’t wrong in my previous assumption.

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Registration was quick and painless, bag check was organized and it was off to the start line. When I arrived at the starting line, there was nobody in the corral; so, I assumed a wave had just departed. My buddy and I had just run the MMX event followed by a near 3-hour drive to BattleFrog so we weren’t planning to stand around. We hopped the start wall and off we went. Later I realized I had sold myself short on one of the most appealing attractions of a BattleFrog (or any OCR start line) – the Coach Pain pre-race speech.

The race started and up the mountain we went. The first thing I noticed, and that concerned me, was lots of course markers going up and down the center of the mountain. Right away that had me thinking I was in store for a lot of tedious and boring up and back to fill space and meet the advertised distance. I was very pleased to find out I was, in fact, wrong in that assumption. Towards the top of the first peak the course veered off.

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At each peak, there was some type of wall to climb. This was my first experience with BattleFrog since they implemented the 3-scaled difficulty options. Having only run the open heat, I must say I enjoyed the options. It provided me with essentially 3 different obstacles at each obstacle location. I took full advantage of this by doing the “elite”, followed by “intermediate” difficulties. For some obstacles, I didn’t notice a difference between the 3 when it came to open heats. The over/under/through walls and monkey bars, for example, were all the same setup at the time I arrived. It very well could’ve had different instructed rules during the earlier heats (please comment any difficulty variances you encountered for those two) but was essentially unchanged for each difficultly level.

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The course had a nice balance of obstacles to appease the Spartan loyalists while staying true to the Frog faithful. The terrain was labeled by many, one of the tougher courses/venues they’ve done. Two separate carries (water jug, wreck bag) would satisfy the “carry heavy shit” Spartan regulars, while still having three scaled options on distance of carry and weight(water jug; wreck bags were all 50lbs).

For those accustomed to BattleFrog races, the test of agility and grip strength was emphasized on multiple occasions in 2 different rigs, on which the rain later in the day made completion more of a challenge, a set of metal spinning incline/decline monkey bars, wall traverse and the always fun, fan favorite made popular by everyone’s favorite Brit, “Tip of the Spear”.

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One section of the course was a boulder/rock climb that, to my surprise and delight, held a fear factor as it was steep, with no clear path and after some rainfall made it slick and quite a challenge in itself, I busted my ass 3 times working my way up it. One major disappointment was the advertisement on the course map of Tsunami. A major fan favorite,two-sided obstacle that consisted of a warped wall with rope assist, followed up by an always fun water slide on the opposite side. For whatever reason, this obstacle was not on site; there was a tarp covered in soap and water with a shallow puddle at the bottom. On a hot day like that, I took what I could get for a cool down.

Now, for my favorite aspect of the entire race. After completing Tip of the Spear, just before the finish line was 3 large, tarp lined dumpsters, originally advertised as ice baths. At this point in the day, it was cold water with no ice. Being the first time(and truly hope,not last) Battlefrog has dealt with ice baths, adding in the heat factor on that day, I can almost guarantee they didn’t have the adequate amount of ice required to sustain the obstacle for the entire event. They could always touch base with Savage Race for input on ice quantities needed for a full day ice bath. But honestly, it was an amazing cool down to finish a grueling event.

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After receiving my medal, I proceeded back into the dumpster to wade around for several minutes. Speaking to many racers who participated in the “Extreme” multi-lap option, the consensus was this course was one of the toughest they’ve done to date. I wish more companies would utilize this venue and all the potential therein that BattleFrog did an amazing job tapping into. I’m usually very vocal on BattleFrogs lackluster business practices and employee turnover, but it’s not possible to say they don’t put on a hell of an event for all skill levels. Continue utilizing an ice bath, avoid last minute parking snafus, and provide more opportunities for free spectators (especially for kids race registrations) and you’ve got my business on future events.

P.S. Beautiful portashitters. 💩💩💩💩/5 turds

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P.S.S. Amazing photographers with a surplus of participant pics but for the love of Hobie please change the search format. Searching by bib number makes zero sense as nobody remembers that info, and if a race has an adequate amount of mud, your bib number won’t be visible.

BattleFrog Tri-State: Mandatory Obstacle Completion … And Getting Lost

BattleFrog has a unique approach to Elite racing–you must complete the obstacle, or you DNF.  I love this concept as well as the two lap set up they use.  This allows a racer to get familiar with the course and really race the second lap.  BattleFrog also offers a nice prize purse to the top 3 finishers of each regional regular season race: $500, $250, $150 for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively.  I had no idea what type of competition would be at a smaller regular season race like this, so I quietly had my eye on a top-3 finish.

Getting to the race from NYC is a breeze and parking is painless, although for a $10 fee.  We shuttle over to the start and work our way through an efficient registration process where we proceed to attach a total of 4 bracelets (one that was never used for anything).   One of the bracelets is for a free beer that we later find out is redeemable at a “local bar” that is actually a 20 minute drive from the race (most people are not fans of this!).  Once registered we have plenty of time and space to get a brief warmup in on some nearby trails.  I even find an old camp pavilion to get some pull ups and climbs in on the wood beams.  There is no line whatsoever for the port-a-potties, which also stay immaculate with a clean up crew going through them every hour on the hour.  All in all, I would say the organization for this “event” appears flawless, but as far as organizing a race, there’s some work to be done.  My overall feeling is that the money is spent on organizing the event for the masses and not making sure there’s a clear and standardized race for the competitors at the front.

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After a whole lot of hoopla from Coach Pain, we are off and I stick with the lead pack up a pretty steady climb (my Strava indicates about 250 feet in the first mile).  There were very few obstacles for the first mile or two, which allows for a good race to develop at the front.  I realize that 10 miles is not the shortest of courses and settle into a comfortably hard pace which has me running smoothly in 6th place.  I am hoping that a few of the guys in front got a bit carried away and will come back to me as the race takes its toll.  Most of the first 2-3 miles is on technical trail.  For those of you familiar with typical “east coast trail” it’s not so bad (I’d say a 3 out of 5), but still rocky and twisty enough to slow you down some.  I bought some new Inov8 X-Talon 212’s specifically for this race, but quickly found out I could’ve worn some road shoes.  I’m sure if there were more rain in the days leading up to the race it would’ve gotten really muddy out there, though.

Coming out of the trail, we reach the Platinum Rig that I’d heard so much about.  Fortunately one of the guys from the lead pack was struggling with this and I fly past him by completing the rig smoothly on my first attempt.  After some quick running I pull up to the 50 pound sandbag carry.  I looked forward to this obstacle as I routinely train with heavy backpacks on my back during my run commute.  I thought I might be able to actually run through this obstacle.  I quickly realize the trail is a bit too gnarly to run well, but I’m still sort of run/hiking through the woods at a nice clip.

And then disaster strikes.  I haven’t seen any flags for a few minutes.  Is this normal?  Perhaps they don’t mark all their trails as well as I’d seen so far.  I push on with the 50 pound bag on my shoulders.  Eventually I come across a flagged trail, and although I can feel that I am probably off course, I’m just relieved to be on the course.  Eventually I come to an obstacle where the attendant has no damn clue why I have a sandbag on my back.  He shows me where I am and I quickly realize that there will be no placing for me today.  I traipse back through the woods aimlessly, but heading in the right general direction.  Fortunately I run into a few others and get back to the start of the sandbag and I’m off and running.  I figure I should at least have fun and finish.  Strava tells me I ran an additional 1.1 miles, most of that with a heavy sandbag on my back.  I later learn that there were others who missed that turn as well.  On the next loop BattleFrog would have an arrow at the fork in question.  Thanks BattleFrog, good thinking.

After some typical rope climbs, a jerry carry, and more trails I find myself sliding down a slide into a lake and swimming.  Yes, swimming, like in water over my head.  I am no triathlete and have never trained to swim, so in a way I’m fortunate I wasn’t still “racing” any longer.  I roll over and float on my back and just kinda cruise doing some version of a back stroke (mostly I’m just floating on my back and treading water in the general direction of the other side).  Apparently most others can’t swim, because I’m not passed and I cover the 70 meters in what seems to be a reasonable amount of time.

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We immediately approach what appears to be the signature BattleFrog obstacle–Tip of the Spear.  I’ve never done this before and my first try is an epic fail as I’m unfamiliar with the technique used to swing from rope to rope.  I blast my shin on the bottom of the wall and it swells immediately.  I wait in a line.  This was new to me and I didn’t like it one bit (“I am obstacle course ‘racing’ here, people!”).  On my second try I make it through after learning the swing technique.  I would later learn that the side I went through had upside down hand holds, so instead of the grooved side with good grip being on top, that was on the bottom.  We had only a flat inch to grip, and I thought this was a bit weird, but assumed it was to make it harder.  This bothered me, because BattleFrog must have learned about this, realized it was too much work to fix now and simply let their well paying racers go through anyways, providing an unfair advantage to anyone who went on the other side.  All things considered, this was a difficult obstacle for me.  I expended a ton of my grip strength messing around with this and dealing with their upside down handholds wasn’t helping!

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With lap 1 complete I tear off on the trail running section, only to learn that there are hundreds of open athletes on these single track trails.  For the most part I am able to sneak past them all while incessantly calling out “on your left, on your right” and people probably wondering why in bloody hell was I going so fast.  Sure I was way out of contention for a podium spot, but I was still moving along and having found my rhythm I wanted to finish as fast as I could.  I love to run trails more than any other thing, the more serpentine and technical the better.  To just continue to push forward despite all sorts of natural obstacles brings me my greatest joy and this was no different.  I run through the remainder of the course and although it was much harder on my grip strength the second time around (I had to set the jerry cans down every 10 feet this time), I was able to finish reasonably unscathed and in 12th place with a time of 2:17.

Post race I quickly learn that there is no beer.  Boo.  I only get a banana and a water at the finish, so I have to buy a burger from the grill for $12.  I linger at the finish for a while, waiting for my girlfriend to finish.  I talk with a bunch of others from the elite race and quickly realize that I wasn’t winning this race even if I didn’t get lost–Matt Kempson and Ryan Kempson (yes, brothers) went 1-2 and they weren’t just going to “come back to me” like I thought might happen.  I quickly learn they are quite good at this OCR thing, absolutely tearing things up this year and winning many other events.  Third place was a nice guy I met from Binghamton who just happens to have in his backyard, a 150-acre obstacle course training compound (I wonder how much that would run me in Astoria, Queens).  Jarret Newby, founder of Newbsanity, is a great guy and an insanely fast runner (former collegiate 800 runner), so I find myself feeling better about getting lost.  If you’re in the Binghamton vicinity, check out Newbsanity; I’m sure Jarret would be glad to have you.

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I am waiting much longer than I anticipated for Kerri to come through and start to get legitimately worried.  I run out on the course a bit to see if I can find her.  Eventually I run into her and learn that she was held up at the rig for about an hour.  Sounds about right, I think to myself.  She was racing elite as well and absolutely would not give up without completing it.  And this is what I love BattleFrog (and her!), the mandatory completion of obstacles.  She finished hours after the 1st place woman and still got 5th overall!  Apparently not many people can finish this race, so just for her to complete all the obstacles is a significant victory and I’m so proud of her for her determination to get that rig.  I am sure you will see more of her at the finish lines and possibly podiums of these events.  She likes the mandatory completion element of BattleFrog as well–obviously.

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After grabbing our bags at bag check and getting our finisher’s photo, we shuttle back to our car and head over to the bar for our free drink.  Place is understaffed, service took forever, food is great, though.  We catch up with some new friends we met on the course, share stories about how we could have done things differently, better.  Most of us are sure we can do better.  And just like that, the grip of obstacle course racing sinks deeper into us all.  Driving home I can already tell we will be back for more.  Both Kerri and I are overall pleased with how BattleFrog does things, despite their poorly marked section that sabotaged my race and drilling in handholds upside down.  I am confident they can get that straight for my next one.  Oh, and hopefully a post-race bash at the actual finish line!

BattleFrog: Inaugural Louisville Race – 2016 Recap

Being an OCR enthusiast from Kentucky typically means lots of travel to attend events.  BattleFrog (BF) finally visited the Bluegrass State last weekend, and I was as ecstatic as a teenage girl at a Taylor Swift concert.  After a lackluster Chicago event two weeks previous, I was hoping BF was keen to “Shake It Off” and get back to the challenging series we have come to expect.  Having the legendary “Beard” back as race director gave me great confidence this would be the case.

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General Butler State Resort Park nestled in the rolling hills of Carrollton, KY 45 minutes east of Louisville was the event venue.  Not only is the park located a mere 2 miles off I-71, the event parking was directly at the main entrance making for one of the easier morning commutes.  Parking fee was the standard $10 and the festival area was a short 200-meter walk away.  As usual, the registration process was well staffed and participants entered through the merchandise tent to the music-filled festival area.

With the clock striking 7 am and the sun creeping higher in the sky, Elites began crowding into the starting corral.  The “Beard” reviewed the rules, Coach Pain provided the motivation, a few Hooyah’s were chanted, and we were off.  Like thoroughbreds at Churchill Downs, participants charged towards a sharp left turn only 50 meters away causing an early bottleneck.  The course then stretched alongside the highway and provided some rudimentary O.U.T obstacles leading up to the 4-foot wall.

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The straight, wide running path then turned into the dense woods and shrunk to more single track racing.  General Butler State Park has many well-groomed trails and BF succeeded in using none of them.  The next three miles would take us directly through the untamed forest, creeks, and ravines providing extremely technical terrain.  The metaphorical and literal pinnacle of the natural terrain was Mount Battlefrog which towered 200 feet in only 300 meters kicking up to a 35% gradient.  Complimenting the natural obstacles along the way were man-made obstacles such as Ramp Wall, Spider Web, Monkey Bars, and a short Jerry Can Carry.

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After three miles of technical running, the last two miles of the course was an upper body/grip strength assault of 14 obstacles.  These included 60 Degrees, Wreck Bag Carry, Wedge Wall, 8-foot Wall, Platinum Rig, Tip of the Spear, and 12-foot Rope Wall.  The thick morning dew during the Elite heat made this sequence even more challenging (not to mention the second lap).  Athletes attempting to conquer the course later in the day would be facing them in the sweltering 95 degree heat.  The finish line was a welcomed sight after this course.

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Podium finishers for the male Elites were Ian Hosek, Alex Stephens, and Jamie McCart and the female Elites were Laura Hunt, Heather Moss, and Jen Kohlbeck.   Greg Bugher, Glenn Nakamura, and Josh McDaniel took the top spots for the Master’s male Elites while Maria Tornudd was the sole female Master’s Elite finisher.  A few brave souls endured the Kentucky heat all day for BF Xtreme (BFX) with Michael Bell and Jennifer Hawkins taking home the coveted trident.

BattleFrog has established themselves as one of the more challenging OCR series and that was solidified with Louisville’s course.  More importantly, there was fun to be had on this course no matter what skill level you entered the starting corral.  BattleFrog’s tiered obstacle system with novice, intermediate, and elite options provided everyone a chance to feel accomplished.  To paraphrase Stephen Foster’s famous state song, the sun shined bright on my old Kentucky home.

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Photo Credits: BattleFrog Series

Give Us Our BattleFrog Back!

Elites who travel for the BattleFrog series do it for a number of reasons, a challenge, training for the OCR World Championship, and opportunity to collect the once rare and coveted Elite band. After experiencing an excellent course in Charlotte just two weeks ago, I was longing to feel that BF rush all over again. With an 80% fail rate, epic PVC monkey bars and 2 rigs per lap, it was everything I expected a Regional race to be! I kept my band, and I added it to my pile of hard earned rubber treasures. This was a stark contrast to the vast nothingness that awaited competitors in DC.

Participants of the DC BattleFrog are wondering what happened to the BattleFrog race they know and loved, and what was the trail run that showed up in its place? After each race, BattleFrog poses the question “What was your favorite obstacle?” When the most common answer was “mud”, you’re doing it wrong. 12ft Rope Wall

The race venue was beautiful: gorgeous bike trails with rolling hills and more mud than you can imagine. The Elite wave took off running, we ran, and ran some more. Finally someone said what we were all thinking, “It would be cool if this obstacle course race had obstacles.” Standard to any race, athletes were instructed to keep the flags to the right, however through the main trail there were not many flags as though the path was implied, but there were a number of off-shoot trails with arrows- for bikers- that lead people off course. Everyone I spoke with post-race had a story of confusion, as did the timing tent with sorting out who actually placed among the top of their respective fields.

The biggest issue with this race was the lack of volunteers (most likely due to Savage Race taking place in MD on the same day). All water stations but one was unmanned. Many stations had large water jugs and no cups. One sip of water on a 10-mile course was brutal; the only saving grace was that the weather was cool and the course mostly shaded. An additional obstacle was trying to shower off because the water wasn’t running, leaving some athletes standing there shivering and others wandering away in search of someone who could assist.

For a “mandatory obstacle completion” race to have no volunteers at obstacles brought out the worst in dishonest racers. I personally witnessed men leaving the rig after failure and running away with bands on, diminishing the value of the band, and having zero respect for the sport. The band has to mean something, otherwise, let me throw my spear and do some burpees.  There are too many people who are training extremely hard so that they can keep their band for the FIRST time.  Don’t insult their efforts by lowering the standard or allowing the band to be given freely to anyone who shows up and “tries”. When elites register as elites, they know exactly what they signed up for. Every time they approach that starting line, they wonder, today, will my best be good enough. Often times, it’s not, and THAT’S what keeps the Elites coming back. My band from this weekend won’t get to join the “collection” because this band has no value, despite a first place finish on the women’s podium. The completion rate had to be 90+ percent. I saw only ONE elite band left at the rig, and as far as I’m concerned, that band was the only one of value in DC, the one that wasn’t earned.  That athlete understands what an Elite band means. I am willing to bet that the respectable athlete who left it behind will be back for redemption when the BattleFrog they know and love returns.

Confidence Climb
While BattleFrog is undertaking a huge task of building a brand and working to attract a larger consumer market, they are making the returning racers wonder where this series is headed. Obviously to stay in business they need to increase their attendance numbers. One way to do this is to be consistent. After talking with Elites, first timers looking to become Elites, and open wave runners looking for a good time, there was a common consensus in DC- that race wasn’t what anyone expected it to be. Having an “elite”,”intermediate”, and “novice” lane is a great way to incorporate all levels of racers, but keep the elite field difficult. One jerry can is fine for open wave but believe me when I say all elites can handle two, regardless of course conditions. Most elites would rather shed blood, sweat, and tears on the course even to leave without a band than to be coddled in an “everyone is a winner” environment.Jerry Can CarryA returning elite who participated in BattleFrog Cincinnati last year had talked up the series to his friends about how it had been the most challenging thing he had ever done. His friends all came to DC to accept the challenge and laughed at the simplicity of it. That stops people from promoting the series, when they themselves no longer know what to expect.

I love BattleFrog. I want this series to succeed.  This race series drew me in at their first race ever-a 5k course in Miami 2014. I have attended over a dozen other BF races across the country. The series was what prepared me for OCRWC.  BattleFrog built hybrid athletes; ones who could adapt, grow, evolve, and mentally be strong enough to believe that they could conquer anything put before them.  Long wait times at obstacles were never “bottlenecks” for people making multiple attempts; they were locations where camaraderie was harvested, friendships formed, and OCR competitors were united with common goals. BattleFrog has an amazing pro team of rounded athletes and some of the nicest people you will ever meet, but for how long? If the series is no longer helping to build better athletes by presenting challenging courses, what reason will they have to stay? BattleFrog could do what they tend to do, and throw more money at problems, or they can listen to people in the OCR community and give us back our BattleFrog!

Photo credit: BattleFrog Series Facebook Page

BattleFrog Dallas 2016: Race Review

BattleFrog Dallas was calling and I arrived in Dallas-Fort Worth early Friday afternoon and was greeted by a familiar face as I walked out of the concourse. My race pal, Jason Bailey, was feverishly waving his hands out of the sunroof of a Mini Cooper he had been fortuitously upgraded to earlier in the day. I chuckled to myself and we were off. We headed straight to Jason’s co-workers house in Frisco, Texas. They were nice enough to welcome us in their home and treat us to a BBQ Dinner at Hard-8 the night before the race. The pulled pork was delicious but I could have done without the side of smoke inhalation. Needless to say, the accommodations were far superior to our usual race day comforts (I’m looking at you Super Ocho).

RACE DAY:
Following the weather all week from my iPhone I a) developed smartphone thumb and b) was somewhat relieved to find a 30% chance of rain throughout the day. Dry rigs are one thing; wet rigs are a whole other ballgame. We arrived at the venue and were directed to a nearby church down the street. Soon after we parked, we were taken to the venue in air-conditioned buses. Not the typical yellow school buses Spa_t_n employs. We breezed through packet pickup, put our bibs on, dropped the bags at bag check and set off for the start line. Coach Pain delivered a signature speech as usual and encouraged us to “handle our business” out on the course. We started in the back of the field and planned on setting out at a moderate pace attempting to spare our upper bodies for the rigors that lied ahead.
BattleFrog Dallas Start Line
The 1st obstacle was your standard Over-Under-Thru followed by a trudge through some knee high water and mud. As we reached the jerry can carry a logjam began as racers had to pull the 2 cans backwards through the mud and underneath wire. The cameraman may have kept a few of those photos for his personal collection #justsayin. After some more swamp and jabby sticks we approached the 6th obstacle Ladder Walls-here they eliminated the step ups making for a sketchy obstacle or essentially a vertical slip-n-slide-especially with muddy ropes and wet racers. Here I only thought I would die once. Ramp walls and the new cylindrical version of 60 degrees next followed the Delta Ladder. The 50-lb Wreck bag carry was a short jog through some trees and pasture. Why not upgrade the Elite Males to 60-70 lbs versions (hint-hint)? Next up was a ring transition into a rope climb followed back by a transition to the ring. Loved this obstacle-it’s almost how I want to get into my bed at night. Six-foot walls followed spinning monkey bars and confidence climb (basically another cylindrical aluminum frame). The wedge wall was slightly different than past versions with climbing holds being applied as opposed to a thin piece of wood. They dunked you in some rolling mud three times just prior to the 1st Platinum Rig. This Rig was comprised of a rope transition into 2 rings-2 nunchuks followed by a tall bar. Some chose to lache from the 2nd ring all the way to the tall bar before transitioning lower to a monkey bar sequence a few feet off the ground. The monkey bars led to a rope followed by 2 poles to the bell. More walls led you to Platinum Rig # 2. This rig was much more playful than the 1st-it started with a horizontal Bar transition into monkey bars/criss-crossed hanging bars into a nunchuk and 2 rings to the bell.

BattleFrog Dallas Cargo Climb
A tall cargo bridge that allowed passerby’s underneath eventually led to the Tip of the Spear. Here the typical 6 ropes were reduced to 4 and the step holds between the gaps were eliminated. The Center piece consisted of 2 pieces of wood in the shape of two upside down V’s, an “M” or winky eyebrows as I like to call them, followed by the final transition a series of 4 ropes well spaced apart to the Finish Line.

BattleFrog Dallas Tip of the Spear Jason Bailey
Jason Bailey (above) in all his “glory”

Volunteers then greeted you with a water/banana/your BF medal before shuttling you into the festival area. Coach Pain was lively conducting fitness tests when he wasn’t inspiring those at the start line. There was plenty of BBQ and Craft Beer to go around post race. Photo ops were plentiful with military inspired props. Cleanest Port-o-Potty’s in the business!
BattleFrog Coach Payne

THINGS I WOULD CHANGE:
Place the Jerry can carry/wire further back in the race as bottlenecks did occur.

Place the 2nd easier rig in front of the 1st more difficult rig allowing racers to get further faster and to help build confidence without risking injury (lache-ing). I did see 2-3 ankle injuries/Face Laceration which did require intervention while at the 1st rig. Luckily no one knew what I did for a living (j/k). The medics were awesome.

Replace a step on the Ladder walls as they are already sketchy AF. If you add mud and a wet rope, you’re a slip away from disaster or becoming a human puddle.

Lastly, why not light the ropes on the Tip of the Spear on fire? It’d make for a hell of a Facebook Profile Pic.

MY EXPERIENCE:
I injured my left hand on my 3rd attempt at the Platinum rig #1 my grip just wasn’t the same after that. I spent nearly 4 hours there stubbornly repeating the Rig to no avail. I reluctantly handed over my band and moved on. They tell you to get your 2 laps in, but I was spent/dejected and didn’t want to risk further injury due to muscle fatigue. I am most curious to see the Elite Field Completion % for this race in particular. I think you’ll find it significantly lower than normal. Race Director Adam Washburn was quite masochistic with his rig configuration on PR # 1. Battlefrog keeps pushing the boundaries of innovation and are upper body destroyers. In fact, I’m using Dragon software right now to transcribe this as I still can’t lift my hands above my elbows. I’ll be back that’s for sure…. #Bandsoverburpees or #Burpeesoverbands I’ll let you decide…#HOOYAH #BattlingisBelieving.