Train Like a Pro: Robert Killian

Robert-Killian-2017-Spartan-Pro-Card

Success came early in Robert Killian’s Spartan career. In his fourth Spartan event, he won the 2015 Spartan World Championship. Most of his success from that race can be traced back to his first event, a Spartan Beast he ran four months earlier in Breckenridge, Colorado, where he placed 3rd overall. Breckenridge is known for having a high elevation gain and being one of Spartan’s toughest races.  “When I did that race, I kind of was like, ‘Okay, this must be what all the races are like. This is how I have to prepare,’” he recalls.  Because of Breckenridge, Killian immediately began running more mountains, carrying everything from sandbags to logs, and increasing his grip strength.

Although, at the time, he’d only run in four Spartan races, that doesn’t mean he was inexperienced. Before ever attempting a Spartan race, Killian had already won numerous triathlons, competed internationally on the Army Biathlon team, and won both the individual and team categories of the military division at the Ironman World Championships in Kona. He was also named 2010 Army Athlete of the Year. 

Robert-Killian-Obstacle-In-Fatigues

Killian has served in the United States military for about fifteen years. During that time, he was able to participate in numerous competitions, gaining experience moving through obstacles. Though they were urban obstacles, Killian had to learn how to properly navigate terrain, move through windows and tunnels, repel, and even climb chain ladders. “It just kind of became second nature,” he explains. “We’d do it so much that once I was introduced to OCR on a normal course, it was just a combination of all the running and orienteering that I had done in the military.” 

After winning the World Championship, Killian joined the Spartan Pro Team and was able to use 2016 as the first year he could dedicate to being a professional athlete. In the inaugural Spartan U.S. Championship series, he finished 2nd overall and never finished worse than 3rd in any of the five series races. When it came to the 2016 Spartan World Championship race, he narrowly missed defending his title, placing 3rd, under three minutes behind winner Hobie Call. Six weeks later, Killian and partner, Chad Trammell, placed 2nd at World’s Toughest Mudder, completing a remarkable 100 miles in 24hrs. Outside of OCR, Capt. Killian won the 2016 Best Ranger Competition with partner, Staff Sgt. Erich Friedlein, becoming the first National Guard duo to do so. 

Robert-Killian-Cycling

To maintain such a high level of performance, Killian continues to focus on cycling, swimming, mountain running and cross training. Many days, he does what he refers to as “power hours.” “Every hour I take five or ten minutes just to do one OCR task,” he explains. This includes carrying a sandbag, spending time on his rig, and climbing his rock wall. In order to help prevent over-training, Killian sticks to workouts that involve what he would see in a race.

The below workout is one that Killian includes in his training program on LeaderBoard. He uses it to practice throwing the spear and performing heavy sandbag carries during stressed effort levels. You will want a station set up for the spear with two or three spears and a 40-pound sandbag (or bucket) ready to go. For more information on LeaderBoard, stick around at the end of the article.


Robert-Killian-Spear-Throw

WARM UP

  • 5-minute progressive warm up jog. Start easy and build up to a moderate pace.
  • Dynamic Drills (10-15 minutes)
    • Two or Three 50-Meter Strides – Run just shy of max speed for the allotted distance.
    • High Knees – Concentrate on ensuring your knees are getting at least as high as your waist. Make sure that you stay on the balls of your feet.
    • Butt Kicks – While keeping your upper body straight, run while bringing your ankles up to touch your butt. Try to keep from kicking your whole leg back. Your knees shouldn’t pass behind your body.
    • Skips – Like high knees, try to get your knee to come up to your waist. While one knee is up, the other foot should “skip” off the ground. Alternate between left and right legs.
    • Walking Lunges – Step out with one foot, keeping the knee at a 90-degree angle. Try not to let your opposite knee touch the ground. Bring the back foot forward so that leg is now the front leg, again, keeping your knee at 90-degrees. Don’t let it pass in front of your toes.
    • Karaoke – Move side to side, crossing your trailing foot in front of the other, then behind it. Allow your hips to twist as you go. Alternate going to the left and then to the right.
    • Progression Sprints for 100 Meters – Slowly build up speed until you are running at almost a full sprint.
    • Jumping Jacks – Start with your feet together and hands at your sides. Bend slightly at the knees and jump a couple inches off the ground, bringing arms up above your head and your legs out to the side. Jump again and bring your arms and legs back to the starting position.
    • Side to Side Ski Hops – Stand feet together, bend at the knees and bring your hips back so that your torso is at about a 45-degree angle. Bend your arms like you would if you were holding ski poles. Jump up and to the left. As you’re jumping, allow your arms to come up, bringing them back down when you land. Repeat to the right.

Robert-Killian-Sandbag-Carry

MAIN SET

800 meter runs should be performed at a 10k race pace. Do 10 penalty burpees for each missed spear throw.

  • Run 800 meters, then perform a spear throw.
  • Run 800 meters, then perform a spear throw followed by a 200-meter sandbag carry.
  • Rest two minutes.
  • Run 800 meters, then perform a spear throw.
  • Run 800 meters, then perform a spear throw followed by a 200-meter sandbag carry.
  • Rest two minutes.
  • Run 800 meters, then perform a spear throw.
  • Run 800 meters, then perform a spear throw followed by a 200-meter sandbag carry.
  • Rest two minutes.

Writer’s Tip: Try to maintain the 10k pace, especially early on. You may be tempted to run the first couple 800m at a quick pace.

COOL DOWN

  • 5-10 minute light jog or walk. Then stretch the major muscle groups.
  • Go for an easy one-mile run.

 

Robert-Killian-and-his-son

 

Writer’s Note: Thank you to Robert for providing this workout. You can follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

Check out past Train Like a Pro articles:

LeaderBoard is where Killian and fellow Spartan Pro Team member, Brakken Kraker, coach elite athletes. Anyone can sign up for a free LeaderBoard Takeoff, to get an idea of how the program works. During the two-week Takeoff, athletes will complete five “Benchmark” tests. After completing a few of these tests, the athlete will be invited to a one-on-one chat with either Kraker or Killian in order to personalize his or her training.

After the Takeoff is complete, you can book a free seven day trial of either one’s program, plus a discount after the trial is up. The full program is personalized and includes a community chat, so you can communicate with other athletes or the coaches at any time. For more information, go to www.leaderboardfit.com.

For those just getting into OCR, or looking to take the next step beyond an open heat, Killian recently introduced his 12-week SGX program on LeaderBoard. Included in the program are detailed workouts, instructional videos, plus technique and pacing tips. Athletes also receive discounts on gear, nutrition products and non-elite wave races. To sign up go to https://leaderboardfit.com/signup-sgx/.

Photo Credit: Robert Killian, Spartan Race, NBC

Train Like a Pro: Rea Kolbl

Rea-Kolbl-Bucket-Carry-MontereyIf you haven’t heard the name Rea Kolbl before, there’s a good chance that will change soon. One of the newest members of the Spartan Pro team, Kolbl has excelled in the early stages of her career.

Because she mostly ran local Spartan races, Kolbl was a virtual unknown at last year’s Golden State Classic in Monterey, one of the five Spartan U.S. Championship races on NBC. So much so, that one of the race referees had asked her to spell her name while she was finishing burpees. Kolbl went on to finish 4th, under a minute from hitting top three in what was her first ever elite race.

Despite being caught off guard by the cold (like many were) at the 2016 Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe and having to complete 150 burpees, she still managed a 7th place finish at the site of the 1960 Olympic Games. That included an untimely fall on the descent, one of her typical strengths. “Usually I’m pretty fast on the downhill because trail running is what I do, but I was so cold that I was shivering and couldn’t see the ground at all,” Kolbl recalls.

Rea-Kolbl-Snowy-Mountain Climb

Originally from Slovenia, Kolbl came to the United States almost seven years ago to attend U.C. Berkeley before moving to Stanford, where she is currently a full-time grad student.

Like many other athletes on the team, she’s had to find a healthy balance of work, training and personal time: Working full-time, this means a morning run, a full day of work, then getting in a second training session with her husband, Bunsak. Kolbl attributes him for most of her ability to keep up with training. “He does all the cooking beforehand and all the cleaning and shopping,” she says. “I do dishes to do my part, but I’m definitely lucky from that perspective.”

Having a full schedule is nothing new to her, however. “Being on the gymnastics team when I was younger,” she recounts, “I had like seven hours of practice (every day)…and I still did school full time so there was always a balancing of the two.”

Rea-Kolbl-Fire-Jump-SoCal

This year, keep an eye out for this up and comer as she takes on more of the Spartan U.S. Championship Series races and looks to improve on her finish (and burpee count) at Tahoe. She’s already started 2017 with a bang, winning both the Sprint and Super races at the SoCal event in January.

Below is one of Kolbl’s favorite training sessions. She generally performs it the day after a rowing session, and follows it up with a low impact cardio day. As you’ll see below, the Stairmaster is one of Kolbl’s favorite forms of low-impact cardio. “It really pumps my heartbeat, but it doesn’t really work hard on my knees or ankles,” she explains. The rest of her week includes some training on a track, trail/mountain running and another HIIT session.

Rea-Kolbl-Spartan-SoCal-Sprint-2017

MORNING

RUN
This part should always be done in the morning. Go for a nine-mile run at an increasing pace. The second half of the run should be at maximum sustainable effort. For Kolbl, this consists of a sub-7 minute per mile average pace on a loop that has almost 800 feet of elevation gain.

Rea-Kolbl-Monterey-Sand-Bag

AFTERNOON

PART ONE
20-MINUTE STAIRMASTER CARDIO
Begin at 96 steps per minute. This is usually level eleven. Incrementally increase each level at the following times:

  • 2 Minutes – Increase to 103 steps per minute
  • 5 Minutes – Increase to 110 steps per minute
  • 8 Minutes – Increase to 117 steps per minute
  • 11 Minutes – Increase to 126 steps per minute
  • 14 Minutes – Increase to 133 steps per minute
  • 17 Minutes – Increase to 140 steps per minute

Pro Tip: If a Stairmaster is unavailable, substitute 20 minutes on a rowing machine or exercise bike. Any form of low impact cardio will work.

Rea-Kolbl-Beach-Swing

PART TWO

TABATA
Perform each set of two exercises in alternating fashion, executing 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest. Complete each one four total times so that each set ends up being four minutes long. Rest 30 seconds between each set. Kolbl usually does this part with an elevation mask set at 12,000 feet.

  • Set 1
    • Burpees: If you’re an avid OCR fan, chances are you know what a burpee is. Just in case: Begin in a standing position with your feet together. Touch your hands to the floor and kick your legs back so that you are in a push-up position. Perform a push-up, then bring your feet back up in between your hands and jump straight into the air.
    • Star Jumps: Stand with your feet slightly spread apart and arms at your sides. Bend at the knees and explode up, spreading your arms and legs out. Your body will create a star shape. As you land, bring your arms and legs back in. It’s similar to a jumping jack, except you aren’t landing on the jump out.
  • Set 2 
    • Squat Jumps: Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Squat down and jump up in the air. Land softly.
    • Lunge Jumps/Split-Squat Jumps: Get into a lunge position. Jump up into the air while simultaneously switching legs. You should land so that your front leg is now your back, and back is now front.
      • Writer’s Tip: This one is not fun. If you run out of gas, rather than stopping, modify if you need to. Instead of jumping straight up in the air, bring your back foot up with your front, sending the previously front foot back almost instantly. If you can, still try to ensure each foot is off the ground at the same time (at least a little) during the switch.
  • Set 3 
    • High Knees: Run in place, but make sure you are bringing your knees to at least a 90-degree angle when it leaves the ground.
    • Mountain Climbers: Get into a push-up position. Bring one knee towards your chest and tap your toe on the ground. As that foot returns to its original position, bring the opposite foot up and tap that toe. Be sure your butt does not stick up. Your body should form a straight line from head to toe.
  • Set 4 
    • Back and Forth Frog Jumps: Squat down and bring your hands to the ground in front of you. Jump forward, briefly bringing your hands above your head. Then do the same, but backward.
    • Kettlebell Swings: With a 25-pound dumbbell or kettlebell, stand with your feet at least shoulder width apart. With a slight bend in the knees, hinge at your waist so that your back is parallel to the ground and the weight is between your legs. As you transition into the standing position, thrust your hips forward so your body forms a straight line. Simultaneously swing the weight in front of your chest, while keeping your arms straight.
  • Set 5 
    • Push-ups: Your hands should be at least a little wider than shoulder width and your back should remain straight through the each repetition.
      • Writer’s Tip: If doing a push-up normally hurts your wrists, grab a pair of dumbbells that won’t roll (hex-shaped or adjustable normally).
    • Elbow Plank with Knee to Elbow: Get in a plank position with your elbows touching the ground. Your first set, bring your left leg up to your elbow and back. Alternate to your right on the second set, so that you are doing two total sets per leg
  • Set 6 
    • Russian Twists: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet touching the ground in front of you. Lean your torso back, while keeping your back straight. It should be roughly 45-degrees off the ground. Straighten your arms and clasp your hands together. Rotate your arms to the right, pause, then back in front of you and to the left.
    • Sit-ups: Lay on the ground with your knees bent and feet touching the ground in front of you. With either your hands across your chest, or touching the side of your head, use your core to lift your torso up to your knees. Return to the starting position.

Rea-Kolbl-Monkey-Bars-Monterey

PART THREE

GRIP STRENGTH
Perform one minute of jump rope. Once finished, immediately dead hang from a bar for one minute. Repeat this five times with no rest, totaling ten minutes of work.

Writer’s Tip: As odd as it sounds, jumping rope may be a bit difficult if you aren’t used to it. If you can’t quite get the hang of it, just keep going. You’ll find that you’re rope jumping will improve each round!

Writer’s Note: Thank you to Rea for sharing her favorite workout. You can follow her on Instagram and catch her training at King’s Camps and Fitness.

Photo Credit: Rea Kolbl, Spartan Race

Check out past Train Like a Pro articles:

HESCO BoneFrog Challenge Championship 2016 – Charlemont, MA

BoneFrog Championships - StartEarlier this year, Bone Frog Challenge announced that they would be putting on their first “Championship” series event where they would invite top finishers from their regional events, to compete in a “winner take all” event in the place where Bone Frog was born – Charlemont, MA. With entry numbers dwindling, the brass at Bone Frog walked back that announcement and transitioned back to a full featured event that all could register for. Could they put together an event on par with their past performance? Let’s find out.

Bone Frog grew to half a dozen events in 2016 – while other races were dwindling, Bone Frog is growing. For a race that does their obstacles and venues right, this is only good news for the OCR community. Finisher numbers don’t seem to be knocking socks off this year but with an improved social media presence combined with the signing of OCR UberNerd Dustin Dorough to emcee their events, they were positioned to make a splash up and down the east coast.

The year finished for Bone Frog right where it began – in Charlemont, MA. If you’re lucky, New England in October can be beautiful, colorful, and comfortably warm. We weren’t quite that lucky on this last weekend of the month. Temperatures barely tickled 40 degrees at starting time, which may be ok for some racers but that’s before you start plunging folks into ice cold waters.

Snow littered a brand new course for runners – each step, an adventure in balance and agility. Each obstacle, that much more difficult when your fingers don’t want to work. For the 66-ish runners lucky enough to choose the Tier 1 Race option, that means they’d be on both the 9-mile Challenge course before heading back out onto the 5K Sprint option – each with it’s own unique path throughout the day. Both of these distances pack a strong amount of obstacles in, many exclusive to this event – and both made sure that racers were waist deep in freezing cold waters early on, and then atop Berkshire East you were wading through chunks of ice as you navigated a second tormentingly cold pond.

The course did struggle at times to find itself. Figuratively and literally. Markings through the woods were few and far between which did lead to several lost racers during the day, myself included. One advantage to running in the snow? You quickly realize you’re off course because you don’t see anyone’s footprints in the fluffy white stuff as you forge ahead.

BoneFrog Championships - Course MapBoneFrog Championships - Black Ops

While it would appear that the draw of a Bone Frog “Championship” was not quite there this year, with under 700 racers attending this event, Bone Frog does everything right when it comes to their events. Adding details like identifying bands for Elites, to great swag, and a phenomenal home venue, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be looking to sign up for a 2017 race. They’ve debuted a new website, and next years brings even more new events in Washington DC, Texas, and Buffalo, NY.

BoneFrog Championships - Celebratory CupcakeBoneFrog Championships - Bling and Burgers

Personal Note: Nobody likes getting older. However, I was fortunate enough to celebrate my 37th birthday this weekend with some of the best people in the world – OCR people. Cheers to you all for being the best community around. PS. cupcakes at the finish line are as good as they sound.

HESCO BoneFrog Challenge Sprint Course – Atlanta Race Review

It’s quite an experience arriving at an OCR venue alone. This is the first race I’ve run without a buddy or two along for the ride and while that always makes for a great time, running solo did help me focus not only on my performance on the course but also the purpose of this particular event. This past Saturday, I took part in my first HESCO BoneFrog Challenge at Highland Park Resort in Cedartown, Georgia west of Atlanta. Proceeds from BoneFrog benefit the Navy SEAL Foundation which, in their own words, “provides immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare Community and its families”. Their goal was on my mind from the moment I woke that day and proved to be all the motivation I needed to finish strong.

My latest OCR adventure began with parking at the venue. I paid and was directed through a fairly wooded area already pretty thick with makeshift rows of parked cars. I got the impression this was unplanned overflow because the attendant to whom I spoke told me, “Just find a spot where you won’t block anybody in. It’s going to be tight today.” I was certain I would end up being the one blocked in when I returned to my car after the race. After pushing that fear out of my head, I headed toward the starting area. Because I wasn’t in the designated parking area, there wasn’t any signage pointing the way, so I just followed the sound of the music and P.A. announcements and ended up crossing part of the course to get there. Whoops.

BoneFrog Atlanta Festival Area

The starting area for BoneFrog was excellent; one of the best setups I’ve seen. There were large signs everywhere indicating the ever present stops at any OCR event: registration tent, bag check, beer taps, etc. I didn’t have to wait in line for anything (with the exception of the hoses for washing off afterward.) Everything was in close proximity to everything else and well laid out overall. Probably the coolest aspect though was there was a fantastic view of most of the sprint course.

BoneFrog Atlanta Sprint Course

The venue itself is primarily used for motorsports like racing dirt bikes and ATVs. Because of this, the majority of the entire sprint route could be viewed from the starting area. Running it was unique in comparison to other obstacle courses because of the constant switchbacks and hairpin turns. Despite all the running, it never felt like I was making progress from a distance standpoint. Even the shorter sections of the course that did go through the surrounding woods off the track remained in earshot of the music, which was strange because I think most people who run OCR associate hearing the D.J. with being near the end of the run. Additionally, it was dry, hard-packed dirt so running it felt more like a road race than a trail run. Finally, this place must have had other designated trails still open for motocross because the high-pitched growl of motorcycle engines was constant along the wood line and I saw more than a few riders fly by on trails adjacent to ours. It was all a bit disorienting and outside the lines of what I’d describe as the typical OCR experience, but those elements did bring some uniqueness and even what I’d consider new challenges to BoneFrog which I appreciated.

As far as the obstacles go, they were solid. Every structure was well-built and challenging though I didn’t see much I hadn’t seen before at other races in some form or another which a few exceptions. (Please note, I ran the shorter sprint course which was about four miles. The nine-mile challenge course ventured much further from the starting area, went deeper into the surrounding forest, and certainly offered more obstacles I didn’t even see. I’m looking forward to checking out the event photos to see what else was there and more importantly what to train for next time BoneFrog comes to Georgia.)

BoneFrog Atlanta Dirty Name

One of those exceptions was a beast referred to as the “Dirty Name”. I have no doubt it got this name due to all the cursing and swearing it generates from those who attempt it. I made it up to the second tier and thought long and hard about going for the third one before jumping to the ground instead. Without mincing words, I’m a short man and that top log was incredibly muddy and slick by the time I got there. I saw a good number of racers hang on for dear life, exhaust themselves, and ultimately fall before I made the decision to abandon it. I’m no elite competitor, just a weekend warrior out for fun, so no obstacle is worth injury to me. It was a good one and I truly hope I have the opportunity to attempt it again sooner than later.

BoneFrog Atlanta Rolling Thunder

Another cool obstacle I’d never seen before was called “Rolling Thunder”. It consisted of a long horizontal barrier with tires running the length of it. To successfully negotiate it, all I had to do was haul myself over it to the other side just like any other static barrier on any other obstacle course. At first glance, it didn’t look difficult at all. It only looked about six feet high and I knew I’d gone over taller walls without help. However, it didn’t occur to me that once I hit the tires they’d start rolling. Very deceptive…that little motion made the obstacle exponentially more difficult. It took me a couple of attempts but I managed to get over it.

When thinking about most of the other more common obstacles I encountered, I’ve come to the conclusion that my OCR performance is a lot like my golf game. I’ve done this enough times now to know exactly what’s going to give me trouble and cause bouts of frustration before I even get on the course. Further, nothing about that observation is going to change until I find time to practice specific skills more than I already do.

BoneFrog Atlanta Black Ops at Finish Line

I’m a three quarter monkey bar man. It seems no matter how long the set is, I make it about three-quarters of the way across before I slip off. Neither Black Ops nor either of the other hanging obstacles at BoneFrog was an exception.

For some reason, I can’t seem to climb a rope to save my life either. I managed to do it once at BattleFrog (RIP), but that seems to have been an adrenaline-fueled fluke. I guarantee there’s a rope climb going in my backyard very soon as I can no longer handle walking away from a rope climb without hitting a bell.

There are some really tall walls out there on some of these runs. I can get over six and eight-foot walls on my own without too much trouble but these ten and twelve-foot monsters drive me nuts. Like I said, I’m not the tallest guy in the world by a long shot and regardless of the teamwork attitude nearly every participant maintains during a race it always feels a little awkward to ask a stranger if I can step on their thigh or even their shoulder. I might just have to learn to get used to it.

BoneFrog Atlanta Cargo Climb

If I were forced to call out BoneFrog on any shortcomings, it would be a big stretch. There’s very little to criticise at all. Here are the relatively minor things I saw that could be improved for next time:

  • I found that my interactions with volunteers at each obstacle varied wildly. At the first wall, there was a kid chastising racers LOUDLY for using the wall support to get a boost. On the other hand, there were other obstacles where volunteers were very friendly and helpful. And, then there were those volunteers that said little or nothing motivational, critical or otherwise. So, the entire volunteer experience was inconsistent and kind of all over the map.
  • The wooded sections of the sprint course were well marked for the most part but they became extremely narrow in some areas and I don’t think any brush had been cut from the path in preparation for race day. I ran into a lot of tree branches and all sorts of other vegetation consistently.
  • In regards to broken trail marking lines, they really only became an issue at a small section of the course near the parking areas. It was hard to tell, but it seemed like part of the course crossed a dirt road very close to the lot and as a result, there were a couple of cars leaving the venue while runners were on the road at the same time. It was an extremely small section relatively speaking, but it could have been a potential safety issue.
  • While climbing up Black Ops near the finish line, I did hear a participant alert someone with the event staff that Dirty Name was unattended and needed to be for safety reasons. There was a volunteer at that obstacle earlier in the day when I reached it.

It’s my understanding that these last two items were being addressed immediately upon being reported. Nice response BoneFrog!

BoneFrog Memorial Wall

(Memorial Wall Photo Courtesy of BoneFrog’s Facebook Account)

Minor complaints aside, this was an excellent event and one of my best OCR experiences to date. My favorite parts of BoneFrog were the two obstacles included for the sole purpose of memorializing the SEALs and other military members who had lost their lives in battle in service to our country. Roughly half way through the run, every racer ascended a long incline referred to as the “Stairway to Valhalla”. At the peak was a Memorial Wall where anyone was welcome to pay tribute to any fallen member of the military close to them or to whom they held in high regard. The view from here was amazing.

BoneFrog View From Valhalla

As if that weren’t touching enough, near the very end of the course, a large wooden sign was posted listing the names of 31 heroes who died in combat. Before proceeding, every racer was directed to read a name aloud, do a burpee, and then repeat. I completed all thirty-one burpees but frankly those last few likely didn’t meet the Navy’s standards. Still, that obstacle and the entire race was humbling and one I’ll be feeling long after the soreness subsides. I could not be more pleased or feel more honored to participate in such an event.

BoneFrog Atlanta Finish

HESCO BONEFROG Challenge: The Original (and only) Navy SEAL Owned and Operated OCR

HESCO BoneFrog Traverse

Back in 2012, some Navy SEALs decided they wanted to create their own obstacle course race to offer racers an opportunity to challenge themselves. The idea was to have a Navy SEAL owned, Navy SEAL designed, Navy SEAL operated, Navy SEAL Foundation supporting organization that was all about challenging limits. BONEFROG Challenge was born!

Now, it’s no secret that Navy SEAL training is extreme. The SEALs are elite tactical military who are expertly trained to deliver highly specialized, intensely challenging warfare capabilities that are beyond the means of standard military forces. Read this as ORGANIZED – COMMITTED – SKILLED! And that is exactly how Brian Carney – Founder and CEO – approaches every race. Brian and the BONEFROG team painstakingly plan and execute every BONEFROG event and have methodically grown the brand from a single event in September 2013 to the 6 events planned for 2016. Is it a plan for success? If the Navy SEALs have anything to say about it…you better believe it is. BONEFROG proudly announced it’s new partnership with HESCO Group just the other day, and it’s a partnership that reinforces HESCO BONEFROG’s dedication to the SEAL ethos.


Press Release: BONEFROG Challenge is proud to announce HESCO Group as our new Platinum Sponsor, creating the HESCO BONEFROG. Based in the UK and the US, HESCO Group is a leader in rapidly deployable, earth-filled barrier systems. Renowned for their military force protection and flood defense capabilities, and recently launched ultra-light body armor for protecting first responders.

Brian Carney, Founder and CEO of BONEFROG Challenge, welcomes the partnership with HESCO Group:

“HESCO BONEFROG is truly a unique experience which will challenge even the highest calibre athletes as well as be welcoming to new OCR racers. With our 3 course options, we truly have something for every racer and our Navy SEAL-style obstacles are the best in obstacle course racing.  As SEALs, we have used HESCO products in Iraq and Afghanistan countless times, and these products have even saved some of our lives. For this, there is no better company for BONEFROG to partner with other than HESCO Group.”

HESCO Bonefrog Jumbotron


2016 EVENTS
May 21, 2016: New England – Berkshire East Ski Resort, Charlemont, MA
Celebrate Armed Forces Day with BONEFROG at their home course in Massachusetts. 9+ mile Challenge, 5+ mile Sprint, and Tier 1 races available. Prizes for all categories.

June 18, 2016: Atlantic City Sprint – Borgata Hotel and Casino, Atlantic City, NJ
$15,000 up for grabs at this special event.  Sprint distance only – about a 5k. Read The Borgata’s press release about the event.

July 23, 2016: South Carolina – Carolina Adventure World, Winnsboro, SC
New venue…new opportunities to challenge yourself. 9+ mile Challenge, 5+ mile Sprint, and Tier 1 races available. Prizes for all categories.

August 27, 2016: Atlanta – Highland Park Resort, Cedartown, GA
New venue…new opportunities to challenge yourself. 9+ mile Challenge, 5+ mile Sprint, and Tier 1 races available. Prizes for all categories.

September 24, 2016: Orlando – The Park at WildWood, WildWood, FL
New venue…new opportunities to challenge yourself. 9+ mile Challenge, 5+ mile Sprint, and Tier 1 races available. Prizes for all categories.

October 29, 2016: Bone Frog Championship – Berkshire East Ski Resort, Charlemont, MA
Qualify for the Championship Heat at another HESCO BONEFROG
Take on the 6+ mile Championship course at BONEFROG’s home in Massachusetts for the final race of the season. MORE MONEY!

CHARITY
A minimum of 10% of sales goes to the Navy SEAL Foundation.  For the 5 BONEFROG events held in 2013-2015, $55,000 has been donated (that’s an average of $11,000 per event). BONEFROG is committed to giving back and actually follows through.  The CEO, Brian Carney, doesn’t take a paycheck.  The HESCO BONEFROG was created by Navy SEALs to challenge, build and inspire participants to become better athletes and recognize that they can do anything they set their minds to while enjoying the camaraderie and teamwork usually reserved for active duty Navy SEALs.

OBSTACLES
Based on SEAL training, the obstacles can provide a unique challenge.  For instance, other races might ask you to complete a memory challenge, but the HESCO BONEFROG has Mindgames – a repeat until success memory challenge (there’s no easy in SEAL training).  Other races might have heavy carries, but the HESCO BONEFROG has the Ammo Carry – a heavy, awkward to carry water filled ammo box carried for some distance (SEALs hump it in and out).  The Monkey Rings and the Gauntlet are also waiting for you, and HESCO BONEFROG is rolling out new obstacles for 2017 at the 2016 Championships in October.  You can bet the obstacle development team is giving their all for the new designs.

HESCO BoneFrog Monkey Swing
HESCO BoneFrog Raft Crossing

PENALTIES
With the bands vs. burpees debate, HESCO BONEFROG has their own missed obstacle penalties – calisthenics based penalties based on the muscle group of the particular obstacle. An upper body obstacle will have an upper body penalty, a lower body obstacle will have a lower body penalty – you get the picture.

PRIZES
Prizes are awarded to the top 3 finishing males and females in 6 categories – you read that right folks…36 awards every race day (with the exception of the Borgata Sprint, which is single distance):
Sprint Elite – cash and paddles
Sprint Open – paddles
Challenge Elite – cash and paddles
Challenge Open – paddles
Tier-1 Elite – cash and paddles
Tier-1 Open – paddles

HESCO BONEFROG is the only event I’m aware of that awards across such a wide breadth of categories.

So who is ready to race like a Navy SEAL?!

Bone Frog Challenge Discount Code

Bone Frog Challenge Discount Code

Bone Frog Challenge – New Jersey: Race Review

Stepping up to the plate this past weekend, only three years old, is the relatively new Bone Frog Challenge and boy DID THEY BRING IT!

Bone Frog Challenge - Kevin on the Black OpsAs the OCR season begins to wind down, finding a good race is sometimes a hard thing to do, but Bone Frog was definitely a good find. Built by Navy Seals, this course felt very challenging, especially if you opted to take the Tier 1 Challenge – which is both the 9-mile course and the 5K course, which was pretty much a shortened version of the full course. Filled with obstacles, I encountered both at Spartan World Championship as well as OCR World Championship, Bone Frog tested my resolve to finish the course. As a relatively new company with no big sponsors, Bone Frog is very much making an impact and a course, which I believe is hear to stay.

THE FESTIVAL
The festival was nice and a good place to relax before and after finishing the course. While the race was held at Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, they had a merchandise tent as well as some other vendor areas. Mostly, they used the resources at the venue which in opinion is all a good race really needs. For completing each distance, you received a cool Bone Frog medal as well as a finisher shirt. One cool thing I noticed was that you received a different color shirt for finishing each distance which is not something you see at other races, at least the ones I have been to which include Spartan Race, Rugged Maniac, Battlefrog, and Civilian Military Combine. Another cool aspect they have that I don’t see much of at other races is the Gym Challenge. In the Gym Challenge, you ran a course with a heavy weighted ammo box in which your team/gym had to carry throughout the course in addition to the obstacles on the course. More than that, at certain points along the course, your team would have to do certain challenges such as doing a cumulative set of 100 sit-ups with the ammo box on a few team members chests. Some of the other team challenges included additional push-ups, lunges, and squats.

THE RACEBone Frog Challenge - Billy under the wire
Now for the actual race itself. While I was impressed with the different obstacles they used, the course itself was similar if not exactly the same path as all the other races I have done there this past year. Obstacles were on par with those of the OCR World Championship, if not harder at certain points around the course. Below is my description of a few of my favorite obstacles during the race.

  • Rolling Thunder – 2 Horizontal beams 5’ high that are lined with low profile tires that spin as you jump over. Racers jump over the tires while the tires roll them back. Both tire hurdles are spaced 15’ apart so there is less room to run and jump for the second hurdle.
  • The Dirty Name – This is our version of the “Sternum Checker” that you see at other OCR’s however ours is authentic to the same obstacle that is at the Navy SEAL O’ Course in Coronado California. Racers navigate 3 logs that are at ascending heights and approximately 5’ apart. The lowest log is just above ground level while the top log is 9’ high. Racers jump from log to log and finally go over the last log, hang from their hands and drop safely onto the ground below.
  • Ammo Carry – This is what separates Bone Frog from other OCR’s. While most OCR’s these day’s have some version of a weighted carry, the Bone Frog Challenge has an authentic military style carry. Racers carry a .50 Caliber ammo can filled with dirt that weighs 70 lbs. Racers carry the ammo can a quarter mile while also navigating a low crawl that they must drag the ammo can through.
  • Black OPs – This is Bone Frog’s signature obstacle. This is the last obstacle racers attempt before crossing the finish line and it culminates what Bone FFrog is all about. Racers ascend a 15’ rope climb up to a platform. From there they jump up to monkey bars that are suspended 22’ in the air and angle upwards at a 2’ gradient. From there they cross 26’ of monkey bars before dropping onto another platform and descend down a large ladder to the ground. All of this is done while crossing in front of a 15’ x 15’ American flag. If racers cannot successfully navigate the monkey bars they will fall into the safety net below.

I would like to definitely single out that results were updated from the minute you crossed the finish line. It was great finishing and getting an unofficial result once I reached the timing tent.

Bone Frog Challenge FinishersMoving forward, Bone Frog plans to expand down south to Georgia and possibly a few other areas and then turn west in 2017. Bone Frog is currently looking for top tier athletes to join their family. So if you think you are tough enough, check out their website and sign up for their next race!

All in all, a great race with great obstacles but the festival could use a little bit more to keep racers occupied. I would suggest maybe a chin up competition or a rig to practice on.

Grade B