Racer Spotlight: Unmasking CF Bane

Many of you may have seen, “That D-bag in the elevation mask.”, or maybe even rolled your eyes thinking, “Oh look, another guy playing Batman.” if you’ve ever seen him on the course.

Well shame on you if you have ever thought that, and for the record it’s a silicone airtight cosplay mask, not an elevation mask. CF Bane cannot breathe comfortably while he’s wearing the mask, which is almost all of the time since entering the OCR circuit.

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Why does he do this?

Bane runs for a truly amazing cause that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I’m talking about Cystic Fibrosis (That’s what CF stands for in CF Bane, just in case you weren’t aware.), a debilitating lung disease where most sufferers do not live past the age of 40. Their quality of life is extremely challenging every second of the day due to their inability to breathe comfortably. Breathing, something that you and I might take for granted.

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CF Bane wears the mask in order to simulate the sensation of not being able to breathe in honor of these young people who leave us too soon.

Whether it’s running a road race, a Tri-Athlon or tearing up an OCR course, CF Bane has garnered a lot of positive attention and popularity due to his hard work. Even one of OCR’s favorites Hobie Call was so intrigued, he approached the intimidating looking man in the mask at last year’s Atlantic City BoneFrog to ask what it was all about.

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Photo credit: Jonathon Bivens

This is a snippet directly from the Lucosky Brookman Foundation , a group of philanthropic attorneys who has unleashed CF Bane onto the racing circuit in order to be Cystic Fibrosis’s ultimate Super villain.

“We were inspired to try to see what it felt like to have Cystic Fibrosis. Through the unwavering support of the Lucosky Brookman Foundation, the idea for running with the mask was born. As CF Bane runs, he sometimes struggles to breathe, to finish the race, and take each step. His luxury is one that those with Cystic Fibrosis do not have; he can remove his mask at any time. CF Bane’s struggle is temporary.
CF Bane was born to illustrate to the world through wearing a memorable mask in part what it is like to live with CF. It’s meant to try to provide a tiny glimpse into the struggles of living a life with CF. Sometimes concepts and struggles are hard to imagine. The mask serves as a stark reminder to everyone that the struggle is real. Everyone deserves to just breathe.”

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CF Bane with a brave sufferer of Cystic Fibrosis.

Click here for more information about CF Bane and the LBF.

CF Bane vows that he will fight Cystic Fibrosis until a cure is found, or until he breathes his last breath. I was lucky enough to run the Boomer Esiason 4 miler through beautiful Central Park on April 1st, as a part of his nationwide Army. I asked him what it feels like to be the face of the fight against CF in the OCR community. He replied,”CF Bane doesn’t see himself as the face of Cystic Fibrosis. My army and I, along with the backing of the Luckosky Brookman foundation see ourselves as a way to help spread awareness about the dreaded disease. There are so many amazing people fighting CF that are the faces. CF Bane simply wears a mask with no holes to show the public how it feels to not be able to breathe.”

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CF Bane has been fighting CF on the OCR courses since 2014, running over 30 races and many miles to date in that stifling mask. This year he also runs with a purple flag, the color of Cystic Fibrosis awareness. Those that run with him, have run with him, or have seen him on the course all agree that he struggles mightily to breathe in that mask. It is a task that many of us would not want to take on.

If you want to see CF Bane and his Army in action, they will be running the BoneFrog challenge in New Jersey on June 17, 2017. Say hello if you see him, he doesn’t bite… or he might if you bother him while he’s on an obstacle. I make no promises.

Bane-Bonefrog

As if BoneFrog couldn’t get any more intimidating with Norm “EffNorm” Koch as the new head designer for their courses, CF Bane is now also a BoneFrog race Ambassador. This has earned him the adorable nickname, BaneFrog.

BaneFrog

Yes the code works for all 2017 BoneFrog races!

When Bane isn’t running, He loves spending time with his kids at their sports, taking them to playgrounds, and playing Pokémon GO. Bane really does play Pokémon GO, I didn’t just throw that in there to be cute. Bane also enjoys Hooters, not for the pretty ladies in orange shorts, but because he’s an avid fan of wings and owls.

So keep your eyes on this incredible racer as he kicks Cystic Fibrosis right in the jimmies.

Now let’s take the mask off of this man so that he can just BREATHE.

Bane-Unmasking

Photo credits: Poly Poli, BoneFrog race, City Challenge race, Jermone Gonzalez, Ryan Sorenson, Jonathon Bivens, newhealthguide.org

Bonefrog New Jersey 2017 – Was it a picnic in the park? Technically it kind of was.

Bonefrog-NJ-Happy-Fathers-Day

I had the wonderful opportunity of running with CF Bane’s Army, a very well known face of BoneFrog on Father’s day weekend, Saturday June 17th, 2017. CF Bane’s Army is a mud and road running group dedicated to finding a cure for Cystic Fibrosis, and on this day we ran on behalf of a brave young Cystic Fibrosis sufferer named Conlee. Running for those who can’t. Please click on this link to learn more about this horrible disease, and what CF Bane’s Army with the help of the Lucosky Brookman Foundation are doing to raise awareness for a cure.

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The very first words that I can use to describe the Bonefrog New Jersey 2017 Englishtown course is, “It was like falling down a military themed rabbit hole and my name was Private Alice for the day.”

*Pre race packet pickup was available on Friday night before the event between 5pm – 7pm*

Their insanely fun signature obstacles were there, the venue specific obstacles were fun and challenging, the parking was incredibly convenient at $10 per car. They even had port-o-potties on the course (Thank you Bonefrog!), a very rocking festival area with quality foods stands, water stations on the course galore, and amazingly friendly military and non-military volunteers. They even had the fitness option of knotted and unknotted rope climbs with the good quality rope! So what was it about Bonefrog New Jersey that still has me saying, “What just happened? What was that? Did I like it? Was it a good touch or a bad touch?”, yet it strangely leaves me kind of yearning for more.

Speaking of bad touch, why does Bonefrog have zero changing tents? The only race series without changing tents, that makes no sense to me. While we are on the subject of what’s missing? Where’s Coach Pain!

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The course itself, where many other well-known races are held each year in Englishtown, New Jersey, was turned into a wonderland of crazy obstacles and even crazier people. If Bonefrog New England which I reviewed here was, “Hell on earth.” then Bonefrog New Jersey was an insane tea party picnic in the park literally, I’ll get to that part soon. There was definitely something crazy about this dirty Jersey course that I wasn’t sure if I was prepared to take on so soon after Bonefrog New England.

What Bonefrog New Jersey couldn’t make up for in extreme terrain, they made up for by completely and absolutely playing psychological warfare on your mind with a course that made me go, “WTF is this shit!” many times. The torrential downpour of rain that was on and off like a faucet made the obstacles much more muddy and slippery as well, so add +2 for difficulty thanks to nature.

Imagine being thrown into a whirlwind world of uniformed military men and women manning the obstacles and serving you water, monster trucks in the middle of nowhere,  running across racetracks and up curving motocross hills. Suddenly you are in the middle of a beautiful wonderland of lush green scenery, a secluded manmade beach that looks postcard perfect with a sailboat just sitting there. The scenenery once again changes abruptly into urban-ish areas as quiet as an apocolyptic film and just as creepy. Swamp-like land with shoe sucking mud awaiting unsuspecting racer’s shoes, oh and they made you run through a public park.

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Bonefrog must have gotten a parks permit because suddenly we found ourselves running through children’s birthday parties, family picnics, old men fishing who were extremely agitated because we were scaring the fish away by diving into the water to complete 1 of the 3 swim obstacles. You absolutely have to leave all societal norms at the starting line to be a mud runner. I wish I was able to take a picture of these people hiding their children and the old men looking at us with their jaws dropped. You can almost see the question bubbles over their heads that said, “Are you doing this for fun or did you all lose a bet?”. So instead I will put it into 2 words. Bemused horror.

“Send in the clowns! Here’s your free entertainment folks!”

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I’ll admit it was hilariously amazing! I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. That is definitely something that I didn’t even know was on my bucket list.

Bonefrog if you wanted to take your racers to the brink of insanity with the most amusingly oddest OCR course that I’ve ever run, you’ve done your job correctly in my opinion. My biggest complaint besides that damn grenade throw which I’ll get to in a bit, was the horribly marked course. Terrible lack of markings and mileage signs as well. Oh and little pink badminton birdiess or whatever those are do not help once they get stomped into the ground by other racers. The only mileage sign was a military volunteer that told us, “You’re at mile 4.9.” Great, now what if he doesn’t feel like talking?

Okay aside from bitching about course markers, Bonefrog Englishtown, New Jersey is a fast flat course even by road running standards which had about 40 obstacles for Challenge, a great place to go for the higher tiers such as Tier-1 and Endurance if that’s your thing. Some of the obstacles were not marked on the course so I wasn’t sure if some of them were even obstacles to be honest, and I don’t take Bonefrog’s course map seriously except to see the terrain, I am notorious for not reading course maps period. Bonefrog is notorious for sending out bogus maps anyways. See, mindfuckery. That’s the Navy SEALs for you right?

                                                                        I do not even know if this was the actual course that we ran!

Let me say that Bonefrog has the most amazing traverses in any of the race series that I’ve done hands down. Their Spider traverse on their New Jersey course aka, “The never ending cargo web of pain.” was hands down my favorite obstacle on this course. It was a loose shaky cargo net that looked like a mile long suspended tennis net. It turned you upside down, tangled you with what felt like no end in sight, it was great. Sometimes simple is the best, not always… but sometimes it is and this was definitely one of those times.

Speaking of the traverses, I was wondering where Bonefrog’s signature obstacle the river rope traverse was, but looking at the terrain there was absolutely nowhere to hang the ropes from. Sorry New Jersey, it’s a bad ass obstacle too!

Bonefrog-NE-RiverRopeTraverse                                                                             Just showing you what you missed in New England.

The worst obstacle is that dud of an obstacle the grenade toss. This time it didn’t even have a hula hoop target. There were hints of what could have been green spray paint or chalk. I don’t know, because the green paint/chalk blended in really well with the grass. I don’t know if this fellow racer was joking or not but they asked, “What are we supposed to do? Throw them at each other?”

I so badly wanted to say yes but the thought of being hit by one didn’t sound like a good idea to me. I told them that we were supposed to toss them. “At what?”, was asked so I said, “You’re supposed to imagine a target.” Stop trolling us with this obstacle guys! Seriously.

Bonefrog New Jersey was denser in high wall obstacles and balance obstacles than New England as well. Due to the extremely muddy conditions the group and I were extremely careful using our hands where we could on balance obstacles, and shoving each other’s asses (and sometimes naughty bits by accident) over walls. The Irish tables were MUCH higher than any big name race series that I’ve personally done and extremely terrifying, especially when covered in mud.

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Another amazing obstacle was a water one which even my non-swimming ass thoroughly enjoyed. It was a series of huge buoys which you had to swim under and then crawl up onto a manmade beach. Great obstacle Bonefrog, more of these and fewer grenades please! It also gave you time to wash the mud off.

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Many including myself hoped for a mud run and it was delivered on a silver platter by the dozens. The course was so muddy that sometimes you really do have to be careful what you wish for. There were even mud pits where if you stepped in the wrong spot you sank like a stone up to your waist. This is where running as partners, or in teams and in groups really comes in handy.

Bonefrog-NJ-Friends-That-Race                                                                                     Friends that race together, stay together!

Their obstacle Seat bars or better known as, “The green monkey bars that look like they are made from spare roller coaster parts.” Seriously that’s what a lot of people call them, has had a bit of a makeover. Instead of climbing up a cargo ladder to the bars, now it’s jump to the bars from a sketchy platform and hope you don’t fall off. It definitely clears the log jam but there’s like 4 lanes. Can there be a fitness option for these? One with ladders for amateurs, and the new design for the pros? Just a thought.

Bonefrog-NJ-Seat-bars                                                         Example of the ladders to the bars. This picture is from New England.

Get to the chopper, another grip strength obstacle that many including myself fail miserably at is still in my opinion, “Too damn tall!” Congrats to all of those that beasted this harder than nails obstacle. It takes serious grip strength and strategy to get through this one.

Bonefrog-NJ-Chopper                                                                         How does Justin T. Manning Make this look so easy?

My husband had the pleasure of briefly chatting with one of Bonefrog’s staff regarding difficulty in courses and obstacles. Bonefrog is trying to find a balance of tough as nails while helping those new to obstacle course racing find their fitness levels and reach their goals. I think that they are doing a great job so far, and it seems many agree due to the number of cars I saw filling the lot. So if you’ve never tried a Hesco Bonefrog race, I highly recommend it. Who invented obstacle courses to begin with? The military of course, specifically Lt. Col. William M. Hoge  of the U.S Army.

Bonefrog-NJ-William-Hoge                                                                                                   Meet the father of obstacle courses.

Finally, I’m able to give a HUGE thank you to all of the men and women that not only volunteered their time to this race series, but who also continue to sacrifice for the U.S.A, and those that made the ultimate sacrifice. I hope that you Bonefrogs did 1 for Bart at 31 heroes or signed the Memorial wall if you have a loved one in the service. It’s not all fun and games at Bonefrog.

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Photo credits: Hesco Bonefrog, CF Bane’s Army, Wikipedia

Bonefrog New England Spring 2017 – If hell is easier, I’d rather go there.

Bonefrog-NE-Welcome“Harder than hell.” states Bonefrog’s ads.

On a cold Winter’s day, sometime back in December of 2016, yours truly was making her 2017 OCR list and Bonefrog New England Spring was a definite must. The only obstacle course owned and operated by the NAVY Seals? Count me in again! I ran the Bonefrog Challenge last year at the beautifully scenic Berkshire East venue, and rolled my ankle right after Stairway to Valhalla so I had to finish the next 7 miles injured, but it was still an amazing time, with their well-designed obstacles, enthusiastic racers, and volunteers pushing me through the pain. This injury lasted all throughout 2016, however, so I definitely had a bone to pick with this frog.

As I sat there looking at the Tier options, I must have had a brain fart, because all of a sudden, I was signed up for the Open Tier-1 wave.

Bonefrog has 4 Tier choices: Sprint (3+ miles), Challenge (8+miles), Tier-1 (12+ miles), and Endurance (New this year,) which is Tier-1 and then you run the Sprint course as many times as you can until you drop dead presumably. You get a green frog pin for every lap of the sprint that you finish, a special Endurance medal, and the coveted Golden Frog, if you can do 5 extra sprint laps! Norm was proud to tell us that he didn’t think anyone got the gold frog at this event.

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Tier-1 is Sprint + Challenge, so you get to do all of the obstacles, some of them twice. No going back at this point; so I pulled up my big girl pants and said, “Bring it on Bonefrog, gimme everything you got!”

I must have spoken too soon because shortly after that, Bonefrog announced that the OCR torture master himself, Norm “EffNorm” Koch was now their new head course designer. The word that came out of my mouth when that was announced? It wasn’t fuck… it was, “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!” I’m sure anyone that has run a Norm Koch mountain course knows why.

As Bonefrog New England approached, the pictures and videos of intimidation started lighting up the internet. Norm with his machete and that sardonic grin of his, Bonefrog showing off their new obstacles, pictures of Stairway to Valhalla (which btw no picture that I’ve ever seen has done it justice of showing the actual steepness and distance of this death march), along with the NAVY Seals promising you an ass beating that you’ll enjoy.
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My fellow OCR people let me tell you that I was NOT mentally prepared for what they had in store for us this year. Once the map was released and I saw that long stretch of nothing between obstacles 12 and 13, I pretty much started shaking in my boots. Berkshire East is already known as Bonefrog’s toughest course because it is all mountain. Who loves extreme death marches up mountains? The head course designer of course!

Bonefrog-NE-Course-Map-2017

So on Friday, May 19th I and a car full of other mud running hooligans headed up to Charlemont, Massachusetts to, “GET THAT DAMN MEDAL!” and to “Make that course our bitch! RAWR!” A lot of shit talking from nervous racers, because had we known what we were in for, that car would have been quieter than a funeral. We set out on Friday because Bonefrog offers packet pickup the night before. I personally think that other race brands should also offer this option.

Early packet pickup is picking up your bib and timing chip the night before the race. They also have a cocktail and pasta night social where racers and Bonefrog staff can mingle; you also get to see and try some of the festival area obstacles. Early packet pickup is free, pasta and beverages are not. The pasta dinner last year was around $13 per person and you were offered a plate of pasta with or without meatballs, a mixed green salad, garlic breadsticks and chocolate chip cookie brownies. Unfortunately, we did not make it in time for the food, but we did make it just in the nick of time to get our race packets early, which saved us a lot of time in the AM and allowed us more sleep. You might even get a glimpse of EffNorm!

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The parking situation this year at Berkshire East was such a vast improvement over last year. Not only was it shuttle parking in 2016, but they did not have enough shuttle buses for the racers and spectators so many racers missed their early wave times. This year parking was onsite and they rented some farmland next to the venue so it was all within a short walking distance. Free parking for volunteers and $10 for everyone else.

The morning festivities at Berkshire East started beautifully with the singing of the national anthem as a member of the Navy Seal skydiving team soared his way across the mountains and over the festival area with a huge flag and colored smoke. It was a truly amazing and awe inspiring sight.

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Then it was off to the races as the Tier-1 elites thundered their way through the starting line and veered off left into the mountains. This is where it kind of gets funny at the starting line, btw where was Coach Pain? I don’t know if Norm wanted to see the fear on our faces for himself or what but he was the starting line, “Pump up” man. I am laughing as I write this because while Norm Koch is a brilliant Course Designer, he doesn’t make a great starting line emcee. Sorry Norm but I think you know it too. He is unintentionally funny however. The vollie wave was the next to go out and Norm was like, “Ok, have fun. All 5 of you.”

Bonefrog New England could really use some volunteers everyone. If you’re looking for a solid race with great people please consider volunteering for this brand. You do have the option of running and volunteering on the same day. Click on this link for more info on volunteering for Bonefrog at www.bonefrogchallenge.com/volunteer.

Then it was my turn as Tier-1 Open wave. After Norm showed us a grenade for a new grenade toss obstacle and told us he’d see us sometime in the afternoon, it was off into the mountains we went. The course has been changed, for the harder and better in my humble opinion. Everyone’s favorite obstacles are still there. Like their fun-tastic spider traverse wall, drunken monkey, river rope traverse, tree rope traverse, walls, cargo nets, Black Ops etc…

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Let’s start with the short list of things that I was not impressed with this year.

Where’d the rope climb go? How can you have a military obstacle course without a proper rope climb? Bonefrog also had the good climbing rope too, that nice sturdy climbing rope with knotted and unknotted options, bring it back, please!

The barbed wire crawl didn’t have real barbed wire. It wasn’t even metal. Come on now.

The grenade toss. Toss a grenade into a hula hoop. Really? A hula hoop? Maybe it would be more interesting if the target was better like a doorway structure, or better yet get rid of it all together. It was a dud in my humble opinion.

Bring back the memory test because that was one of the signature things Bonefrog was known for, their hard memory test. If you failed, you had to go back and re-read a sign until you got it right.

The line was too damn long for the new green monkey bars called, “Seat bars.” Many racers, including myself, opted out of this one due to the bottleneck with a 25 pushup penalty for some and 25 squat penalties for others. Yes, Bonefrog has penalties ranging from 25 pushups, squats, burpees and jumping jacks.

The new rotor obstacle, “Twirly Bird” was too damn high and it had a huge failure rate, I personally did not see 1 person complete it. I think that it was high enough where it should have been placed over a water pit or something. Norm, however, did explain after the race that it was due to the wrong length of beams being sent and that it was meant to be lower. I saw one guy land flat on his back from that height and it was not pretty.

Bonefrog-NE-Twirlybird

Porto-potties for the racers on the course would be nice, it’s not easy going long stretches especially as a female, or if you have to take a dump mid-race to just drop trow in the middle of the course since there are not any good places on the course to do so. In the festival area, you have indoor and outdoor potties so no complaints there.

Now on to the good stuff!

Speaking of not pretty, that long stretch of nothing I mentioned earlier between obstacles 12 and 13? It was definitely a long stretch, but it wasn’t nothing. It’s called the Punisher. This is where Norm’s talents and skills really shine through and why every OCR racer has a love/hate relationship with his courses. He bushwhacked a death march with his machete that is more than twice the distance of Stairway to Valhalla up one of the most tree and rock dense areas of the mountain that he could find. Stairway to Valhalla makes you question life, The Punisher makes you question your sanity. I think the name of it should be changed to Tree Hugger (Sorry Savage race) because that is how you will be getting up and down this crazy death march, by hugging onto trees for dear life.

I don’t know how many reading this have seen the Barkley Marathon documentary (I highly recommend it if you haven’t, it’s on Netflix) but there’s a scene where you see people throwing their whole bodies up and onto a plateau while clinging onto trees. That’s Bonefrog’s Punisher in a nutshell and you get 3 long soul crushing peaks of it. What are we being punished for anyways? Someone take away Norm’s Netflix account so that he can’t watch the Barkley anymore.

On my second loop, yes Tier-1 not only got to do Stairway twice but the Punisher twice as well. So that’s 4 death marches total if you are going Tier-1, and 6 death marches minimum if you go Endurance. The Sprint people were shocked that they had to do this mother of all death marches along with Challenge and Tier-1 because in the past Sprint was much easier than the other tiers simply put.

Bonefrog is known for a lot of mindfuckery with fake maps, intentionally leaked false course information and the Punisher was NOT marked on the map for the Sprint course. Surprise!

Bonefrog-NE-Punisher

As for the Tier-1 experience, it was VICIOUS; when I heard at the starting line that Tier-1 would be doing Stairway to Valhalla twice, which I was afraid would happen, but I trekked on starting with the Challenge portion where most of everyone’s favorite and fun obstacles are like the Swinger’s club. It’s a Tarzan rope over water. Lots of fun if you make it, and into the drink if you don’t. It was much improved this year with a longer distance to swing over and a deeper water pit.

Bonefrog-NE-Swingers-Club2

The balance beams aka Walk the Plank this year was really tough, not only were they set over a rocky stream, it was on a fairly steep incline. Elites were only allowed to use their feet, open wave was allowed to use hands and feet to make it across. I personally saw 2 people lose their elite bands on this obstacle. I am usually really good with balance obstacles but I used my hands and feet for this one. The idea of dropping into a stream full of rocks was not appealing to me. Otherwise, it’s a solid obstacle that showed me that my balance can always be improved upon.

Hell’s Gate, which was introduced last year, has had a bit of a makeover, instead of over and then under the walls, it’s now all over the walls. It’s still a lot of fun however and it does prevent potential trampling in such an enclosed space.

The Challenge side of Bonefrog had a good mix of terrain and obstacles. You had a little bit of everything from flat RUN FREE trails, to the arduous death marches, wonderful woodland scenery, and through an area with dead trees that was hauntingly beautiful. Last year it was just up Stairway and across long stretches of flat trails with one long downhill. So much about this course has changed and for the better IMO. Much more challenging and the scenery alone just feels enchanting.

After a merciful stop at a porta potty before taking on the Sprint side of Tier-1, and I 100% admit that it took a lot for me to get back out on that course while smelling BBQ cooking, hearing the cheerful laughter of people who had just received their medals, the music pumping away. The temptation of Black Ops which is the finisher obstacle staring me in the face, seductively whispering for me to settle for a Challenge medal or a DNF. I ignored all of that and got back on that course to get that Tier-1 medal and to show the course and myself who is the boss of me.

Bonefrog-NE-Festival

Now the Sprint side of the course had some of the fun obstacles like the river rope traverse that everybody loves getting their pictures on, where you have the option of doing a full rope traverse, dropping into the frigid water and then swimming a few yards to shore, or you had the express lane option of a lower rope which you used to just drag yourself through the water.

Bonefrog-NE-RiverRopeTraverse

The Sprint side had to do the hardest obstacles like the death marches that the Challenge side did but they had no flat portions. NONE, ZIP, ZILCH, NADA unless you consider slight grassy inclines that are few and far between flat. You were either going up at all times or down muddy, rocky, leafy declines. After my 2nd trip or should I say crawl up Stairway my hip flexors really started feeling it. Every step was torturous and when a kind vollie (that’s short for volunteer) gently let me know that the Sprint had to do the Punisher as well, I took a moment to lay down on a sparse patch of grass somewhere between that water station and the Punisher, and a lone tear just rolled gently out of my right eye like that old Native American Chief in the no littering ads of the past.

Bonefrog-NE-Stairway

Bonefrog made me cry, there I said it.

At this point in the race, the only ones that were on the mountain were a few other Tier-1 and Endurance racers. I saw maybe 2 racers wearing Challenge bracelets but it was mostly Tier-1 and Endurance out there. This is at the point of the race where you start seeing some shit while racing against the clock so that you don’t DNF. The point in the race where you have gone so far, yet that finish line seems as far away as it was at the starting line. You go past the racers that have had enough and quit halfway up the Stairway or the Punisher and they tend to say, “I tried guys.” and all you can do is smile back and say, “Good job.”

This is where you also start making promises to yourself that you won’t give up. You limp helplessly by the poor guy that a volunteer is taking care of because his ankle is broken. You share your energy snacks and chocolates with those out there suffering with you, yet not tasting a thing except the anticipation of the finish line. You ignore the pain, the voices of self-doubt, your screaming joints, you ignore everything except those that are still sticking the course out with you motivating each other with chants of, “Big gold medal, big gold medal, big gold medal.”

Finally, after another round of obstacles in the festival area, you are brought back around to Black Ops and it was such a beautiful sight to see, but it’s one more obstacle to finish and a big one at that. With my hips pretty much dead at this point, I needed help from the wonderful vollies to get up the rope wall, but once I was on the bars, I flew past it’s spinning rungs and got that Big Gold Medal! That’s what makes Black Ops challenging, it might look like an innocent slightly inclining set of monkey bars, but the rungs in the middle spin so if you don’t move fast you will fall off right into the net.

Bonefrog-NE-BlackOps-View

Bonefrog ran out of Finisher shirts at The New England race and rumor has it, it’s because there were a lot of same day registrations that they weren’t prepared for, so I hope you wrote your bib # down on the T-shirt list if you didn’t get one. Bonefrog says they will be in the mail.

Speaking of shirts, Bonefrog offered a nice selection of shirts ranging between $15 – $20 at their merchandise booth. I wasn’t leaving without some kind of Bonefrog t-shirt.

Bonefrog-NE-Merchandise

As we were leaving Norm Koch was there looking very pleased with himself and relaxed knowing that he took an already tough as nails event and made it even more challenging.  He did ask my husband if he thought that the Punisher should be longer to which my husband said, “Yes.” So EffNorm and Eff you my dear hubby for that. You don’t tell that man a death march should be longer.

As for who won the race between me and Bonefrog New England, let’s just call it a draw since we both got what we wanted from each other. I got my medal and the mountain got my tears.

Bonefrog-NE-Tier-1-medal

Thank you Bonefrog for putting on another great event. Here’s a standing ovation to the racers, spectators, staff and volunteers (All 5 of you guys lol). I’ll be seeing you again at Bonefrog New Jersey!

Photo credits: Bonefrog Challenge, Phil Poli, Poly Poli

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.