HESCO Bone Frog: Orlando

The BoneFrog Series OCR got it’s 2017 racing season started off February 25 th in Sorrento Florida. Being owned and operated by former Navy Seals instantly gave this race series credibility in my eyes so I left chilly Illinois and flew down to sunny Florida to check things out. The first thing I found out is that BoneFrog offers three different distance levels for racers to choose from at each event. The 3-5-mile sprint course, the 8-10-mile Challenge course, and their signature Tier 1 distance at 13 plus miles. All three of these options could be ran at the Elite or Open level. I found having the convenience of three different distances all in one location an awesome way to offer many varieties to the masses. Something for everyone is a great idea! For the remainder of this article I will be describing the middle level Challenge distance run at the Elite level because this was the one I picked to run.

The Elite racers of each distance started off first thing in the morning all together with our bright green bands on our wrist. BoneFrog chose to use the “fail an obstacle, lose your band” method of keeping track of Elite racers progress and overall I found that the volunteers really made sure the Elites did indeed finish each obstacle. A timing chip with a built-in wrap around the ankle Velcro enclosure might have been the best and quickest way to put on a chip eve and was a great idea. I’m going to cover the first half of the 8.8-mile Challenge race quickly here because it was basically just running along a sandy trail where an occasional low crawl or 6-8-foot wall could be found. The Spider Wall was just some tape placed between 2 trees and the low crawl was just some wire, tape and in one case palm fond placed close to the ground as a couple of examples.

It was on the back half of the course where BoneFrog brought out all their cool stuff and really picked up the difficulty! Starting off with a semi tire drag and pull we were led to the first of the many body weight overhead grip obstacles. On Get a Grip an athlete needed to traverse a series of moving rings from one side to the other. If you like rig work BoneFrog offered many different variations throughout the course to test you. Next up was the Brute Force Carry which required athletes to throw a sandbag on their shoulders for a sandy jog around some of the trees and vegetation and back before setting off back down the trail to Rolling Thunder. This obstacle gave most shorter racers fits. This obstacle consisted of a horizontal chest high pole covered with different sized tires that would spin. I personally saw many people jump up only to get spun back to the ground. Another of the signature BoneFrog obstacles, Hell’s Gate, was a short distance away and proved to be tough. Hell’s Gate was a series gradual ascending and descending walls all spaced about four feet apart.  The wall sizes were 4 foot, 6 foot, 9 foot, and back down to 6 and then 4 feet. Now feeling very winded BoneFrog set up along the trail the Dirty Name, or sternum checker as most racers have come to know it.

 

Grip strength was a major obstacle focus on the last quarter of the course starting with the Drunken Monkey. This was an overhead peg traverse set into 2 by 12 posts and was suspended maybe 15 feet above the ground. Along the way back to the festival area a unique obstacle called 31 Hero’s gassed out racers in a major way. Names of fallen soldiers were to be called off with a burpee done between each name was how it was completed and let to my personal nemesis Swingers Club. This was a nun chuck style rig traverse that cost me a few tries and a few blisters! Now back near the festival area we had a completely vertical net climb to further sap our grip strength followed up by a rope swing suspended over a pool of water. The last obstacles all situated in a row were a rope climb, dead man’s carry {wreck bag on a pully}, and the Black Ops apparatus. This was a rope climb into a monkey bar traverse and then down into a muddy low crawl before crossing the finish line. The Black Ops obstacle provided the best photo op area because there was a huge American flag behind the monkey bars and looked awesome.

My basic overview of the course was the first half was more like a trail race and the back half was more like a bad ass Seal course. Perhaps better obstacle placement would make this feel more like a complete course, or maybe BoneFrog just wanted to lull you into a false sense of difficulty. Either way, I would certainly do another event, maybe Tier 1 next time! The medals were nice and the BoneFrog apparel tent offered plenty of cool stuff to purchase. Parking was the standard 10 bucks and was located a quarter mile away from the festival area. Photos were free and spectators were free to walk around and see you race at most locations. My conclusion is that Bonefrog is defiantly worth doing, but might be needing a little better management. If you want to catch their next event it’s March 25th at Talladega Speedway in Alabama!

Spartan Race Boston Sprint 2016: Built For Runners & Bovine Manure!!

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Photo Courtesy of Brandon Narciso

While the Spartan Pro Team and other highly ranked Elite Spartan Racers had their sights locked on the large payout and potential face-time on NBC courtesy of the Golden State Classic Super in Monterey California; many North Region Spartan hopefuls toed the line this weekend with dreams of conquering obstacles and claiming their one-way coin West to the Spartan World Championship in October.

SpartanRaceBostonSprint2016-Map Photo Courtesy of Brandon Narciso

The 5.2 mile runners dream came true with just Hay Walls and Monkey Bars in the first mile followed by a few additional walls and sporatic obstacles in the second mile. The proverbial cherry on top revealed itself in mile three where A net, A-frame, and A speedbump of a Sandbag Carry helped these speedsters continue to crush all 15,840 feet of the course thus far.  The Rolling Mud with Dunk Wall and Barbed Wire Crawl of Mile 4 provided little resistance for the sprinters however the obstacle assault of the last half mile bogged down the racers with the Herc Hoist, Rope Climb, Bucket Brigade, Spearman, followed by the Atlas Carry to finish the course but…too little too late for those who favor the physical demands of the obstacles over the faster pace of uninterrupted mileage.

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Photo Courtesy of Nelson “Runaway” Diaz

To add insult to injury, the 80+ degree heat and hives, reportedly from the hay, did not make things any easier. Translation: Other dreams were simply buried in the bovine manure surrounding the Carter & Stevens Dairy Farm. Yes, my dream included.

SpartanRaceBostonSprint2016-bovine Photo Courtesy of Nelson “Runaway” Diaz

The Saturday Elite male landslide, all from Massachusettes, consisted of Ryan Kempson 1st, Junyong Pak 2nd, and Joshua Fiore 3rd of Nor’Easter OCR who now owns a streak of 3 podium finishes in 3 weeks including 2nd at the Endurance Society Infinitus 88k and 3rd at the Bone Frog New England.

For the Saturday Elite females Kathleen Lanphear, Orla Marie Walsh, and Nicole FitzGerald finished 1st through 3rd respectively.

The Sunday Elite Male heat re-introduced the Nor’Easter OCR storm to the Spartan Race community led by Kiaran McCormack 1st, Michael Miraglia 2nd, and Shane Leighton 3rd.

While the Elite females kept it in high gear with Debbie Koch 1st, Kelly Sullivan 2nd (also of Nor’Easter OCR), and Serra Langone 3rd.

Could this race have uncovered an underdog in the Nor’Easter OCR Pro-Team for us to rally behind? The fact is that at least 5 of their members have qualified for the Spartan World Championship at this race alone, and there is still plenty of time for the rest of their team to earn some coin. Do they have enough to upset the Spartan Pro-Team? Can Nor’Easter OCR run with the big dogs or just bark from the porch? Time will reveal.

Spartan inspiration provided by Adaptive athlete Misty Diaz at the rope climb reminded us that we have officially run out of excuses for our laziness…again.

SpartanRaceBostonSprint2016-MistyDiaz Photo Courtesy of Spartan Race

A friend recently reminded me that most of us understand fear of failure and some of us are accustomed to living with that fear. At the same time, some of us have a genuine fear of success and are accustomed to living with this fear. Fear of success is equally real and a true hindrance to our God-created potential. Fear in any form and for any reason is futile. However, there is a reason to fear NOT – so find it – and be prepared to be amazed on the Spartan course but more importantly throughout the course of your life. #inspiresomebody

HESCO Bone Frog Challenge New England 2016

If you haven’t run a Bone Frog Challenge before… you’re doing OCR wrong.

I could simply end the review there but for those of you who still aren’t convinced, let me spend the next 840 words changing your mind.

Former Navy SEAL Brian Carney’s HESCO Bone Frog Challenge, now in it’s fourth year, has attracted the likes of OCR heavyweights Hobie Call, Junyong Pak, Amelia Boone, Cody Moat, Josh Chace and more. Why haven’t you heard about it? Well, if you’re an OCR enthusiast and not just a single brand-loyal racer (Spartan AROO’er, Mudder, or that other Frog), hopefully you have. Nestled deep within the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts, the HESCO Bone Frog Challenge started in 2013 and then expanded to several other locations in the last few years – also launching the Bone Frog Championships, a 6-mile obstacle intense course for  all the marbles at the end of the year. Now when I say “obstacle intense”, I mean that HESCO Bone Frog Challenge has some of the most challenging and original obstacles in the industry today, hands down.

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Before we talk obstacles, let’s look at the choice of distances offered. HESCO Bone Frog Challenge has expanded it’s offerings in the last few years in an attempt to draw the hardcore OCR enthusiasts as well as capture the folks new to the industry. In New England this past weekend, they offered the following race options:

Sprint – 5K
Challenge – 9 Mile
Tier 1 – 12+ Mile

I opted for the Tier 1 course because I can not get enough of Bone Frog’s obstacles. From their extra-high sternum checker (appropriately named the ‘Dirty Name’ because people are constantly swearing as they round the corner towards this thing) to the highest monkey bars you’ll ever do (also conveniently placed directly in front of the festival area for maximum exposure). Bone Frog crams 40 great non-filler style obstacles into their Challenge and 20+ into their Sprint. You get the usual rope climbs, hoists, wall climbs and more but intertwined between those staples in OCR are some amazing hurdles. A tyrolean traverse over a freezing cold lake – that was only after two previous submersions atop Berkshire East. Great upper body testers like handhold monkey bars, some Ninja Warrior style grip traverses that have still defeated me after 3 years and walls that range from A-frame style, to traverse and inverted options – but it was the Stairway to Valhalla that deserves honorable mention today. Each mountain course typically has what the racers like to refer to as a ‘Death March’. A hike that looks like a crowd of zombies from The Walking Dead is slowly walking up, single file. Last years Stairway was only about 350 feet and started more than halfway up the mountain – well Robb McCoy (of F.I.T. Challenge fame), who was brought on as Co-Race Coordinator this year, decided that this needed to be stepped up a notch or twelve. If you don’t know Robb, know this: Robb McCoy loves hills like I love post-race McDonald’s cheeseburgers (see):

And Robb uses every foot of a hill to beat, batter and bully his racers – in a good way, of course! The Stairway to Valhalla this year started at the base of the mountain and went straight up 800 feet of elevation and over half a mile in distance. If you opted for the Tier 1 race, you had the dubious distinction of climbing this beast twice. Thanks Robb. My calves look epic now thanks to you.

Bone Frog got a little extra boost of exposure this year thanks to Mr. Hobie Call. You may recall that Hobie challenged Ryan Atkins  earlier this month (and took the title of UnBFeated away from Mr. Atkins in quite an upset). Never satisfied, Hobie then moved on to challenge 2x reigning Bone Frog Challenge winner Junyong Pak and wouldn’t you know it, he handily slayed that dragon today as well.

13260062_10100643111022330_100897026324349499_n Photo courtesy: Yvette Tetrault on Facebook

All of this made for a great day at Bone Frog Challenge and hopefully a day worth inspiring more racers to attend in the weeks and months to come. I promise you, this is an event worth marking on your calendar – they’ve got five events left in 2016, seen here: http://www.bonefrogchallenge.com/events/

The event wasn’t without it’s small share of logistical missteps: unfortunately UPS decided not to drop off the race shirts until after the course had shut down, so racers will be getting those in the mail in the follow days/weeks. Beyond that, Bone Frog has mastered the parking, festival, spectator areas and food/vendor balance at a relatively small resort at Berkshire East. What they do have is an AMAZING mountain full of challenging terrain and a staff that truly loves building some of those most amazing obstacles in the industry. They were also all over the course throughout the day calling in requests for more water at plentiful water stops, and there to help out the few that needed medical attention.

To top it all off, at the end of the race, you are handed your medals by a tried and true Navy SEAL – for me it was from a gentleman who had served from 1977 to 2006. Bone Frog really knows how to pay respect to the folks who share the race’s namesake. Bravo. In summary: A++++ would do business with again!

HESCO Bone Frog - Finish Line

HESCO Bone Frog - Course

HESCO Bone Frog - Obstacle

Bone Frog Challenge Discount Code

Bone Frog Challenge Discount Code