BoneFrog Talladega


HESCO BoneFrog launched its second race of the year on March 25th in a location very well known for speed. Talladega Speedway in Alabama was the host site for the Navy SEAL owned and operated event, and while there was no Ricky Bobby, there was a Coach Pain! The weather was perfect for racing, partly sunny skies and temps in the 70’s made this brutal suckfest a little bit more tolerable. 10 dollars for parking got you under the tunnel and onto the racetrack infield where the festival area and start was located along with a few of the actual obstacles making picture taking ideal. The volunteers were all friendly and fast which made the check in a breeze.  Also, located in the infield area were bathroom and shower buildings which is a major upgrade over the usual port a potty thing. Bonefrog offers three different race distances for an athlete to choose from. The sprint, challenge, and a combination of both called Tier 1. After running BoneFrog’s first race earlier in the year at Orlando I was thrilled to be asked to cover their second race of the year for one big reason, new obstacles had been added and I wanted a crack at them!

BoneFrog started us off with a jog through the racetrack infield which really was a massive amount of land to cover and served the purpose of thinning out the crowd before we hit the first obstacle called the siege wall and could best be described as a slip wall with a rope minus the slip. A short distance away was one of my favorite obstacles called rolling thunder. This unique obstacle is series of tires strung together about 5 feet off the ground. Now this might look easy till you jump up on the tires and they spin you back to the ground! This was a killer obstacle for the shorter athlete. Now winding our way towards the open end of the infield we came upon the mouse holes, which is kind of like BoneFrog’s version of over, under, and through. One last infield obstacle, a rope swing over a water pool was in a racers path before finding a water station on our way outside the track. Once outside the track area racers were led up to a 60-degree inverted wall and the new first phase wall {think Battlefrog Delta ladder}. BoneFrog now led us along a grassy trail along the back side of the track where the low crawl was located along with a ring handled traverse suspended off the ground called the swingers club. Grip strength body control really came into play here! BoneFrog is big on its suspended traverse rigs, so work that grip hard before you race your next event with them! Athletes were then led back into the stadium where BoneFrog really used the track stairs to their advantage. The sand bag pulley pull obstacle called dead weight was located here and who could think of running stairs without taking anything with them on the trip? Wreck bags were lined up to be carried up and down the stadium stairs for what seemed like forever.  After dropping off our bags we were led again back outside of the stadium area and on to another BoneFrog suspended traverse called get a grip. This was another series of ring type holds suspended quite a way above the ground and proved to be an area where many elite division athletes were “held” up.

Now racers were led through a section of wooded trail where a series of walls awaited us. Hells gate, a series of five walls increasing in height, then decreasing again was the first wall obstacle followed up by the Irish tables which was a saw horse type structure about 7 feet high! Another aid station was located here at the tables then we set off on again through a thickly wooded section of trail where Bonefrog took advantage of the creek to place their balance beam. Yes, the balance beam was set right over the water and caused an awful lot of wet feet. Now with our shoes soaked we ran along the creek to a burpee fest called 31 heroes. Here each racer called out the name of a fallen soldier before doing a burpee and this totaled 31 burpees. Now winding our way back to the racetrack, we encountered a 9-foot wall to climb then were led back onto some pavement for a tire drag. Bonefrog now led racers up a set of stairs and down to another inverted wall before having us climb up the steep embankment to the top of the track, only to have us slide back down a short distance later.

A low crawl under netting was the last obstacle racers encountered outside the stadium as we were now led through another tunnel and back to the track infield for the last section of the race. A vertical cargo net climb was our first infield obstacle followed up a short distance away by a new rig developed by Bonefrog which used the normal ropes and rings along with a jungle gym type sway bar in the middle. Right after this obstacle was another new Bonefrog traverse called the choppa. Think of it like Savage Races wheel world but with only the spokes. It was a new and difficult obstacle I personally found to be extremely fun! Now getting close to the finish racers were thrown another traverse called the drunken monkey. This was a series of pegs staggered on both sides of a wooden 2 x 12 and was perhaps 30 feet long. Two Bonefrog staples were next up with the rope climb and the ever-popular dirty name. If you’ve never slammed your body into a log suspended in the air you simply must try it once! Now out of breath, either from the running or the slam into the log, an athlete had one last rope climb/monkey bar setup called black ops before one last low crawl to the finish!

I found this BoneFrog race to be a great mixture of distance running, 11.5 miles for Tier 1, 8.5 miles for challenge, and 3.5 miles for the sprint, and bad ass obstacles. The new choppa was a blast to play on along with the new BoneFrog rig. With some other race series becoming easier to better fit the weekend warrior athlete it’s great to see BoneFrog getting tougher. What else would you expect from a series run by Navy SEALs right? Photos were free and of great quality and the race bling was top notch. The kids course could use a little work but kiddies could run it as many times as they wanted. There could have been a few more food and drink vendors on hand but the warm showers made up for that in my book. So, check out their next event in Austin Texas on April 29 for a real test of your fitness level!

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 – Atlanta 2016

HESCO BoneFrog Challenge – Atlanta 2016

5:30 AM, Dunkin’ Donuts– I’m back to my original prerace ritual of a large coffee with two & two, now with a bagel and cream cheese thrown in. I have forsaken the Grey Berets Conference Center and Food Emporium (aka The Waffle House) as no one ever wants to join me anymore. Woe is me.

6:55 AM, 27N, Bremen, GA–A valley is spread below me, a beautiful blanket of green overlaid with low lying mist.

7:07 AM, Hell if I know, GA–Shit! I zigged when I should have zagged! A quick 180 and I’m back on track. Oops, there go three cars in a row doing the same thing. Hope they realize their error.

7:12 AM, Hell if I know, GA–Cows!

7:20 AM, Highland Park ResortI turn into the venue, and for the first time since I started this foolishness back in 2014, I give no fucks how rutted, rocky or rough the venue road is, nor will I panic about the quality (or lack thereof) of the parking area. I’m in my new whip; she’s tall, thick, and has big feet. Writer’s note: Now that I have this Tonka like truck, it will never rain again at Savage Race Georgia. You’re welcome.

7:20 AM, Highland Park Resort–I aim for every dip, bump, hump, swale, and rut I can see, and then I come to an abrupt slowdown as I bump up to the race day ambulance easing on in. Rats! Foiled!

7:26 AM, Highland Park Resort–I park in a “space” that would have swallowed my old wee car. Mwahahaha! Arggh! Arggh! Annnnnd, It’s next to a port-a-crapper. No dings on that side at least.

7:30 AM, Highland Park Resort– Other Grey Berets arrive and we make the short walk to the festival area located smack in the middle of a rise overlooking a dirt bike Disneyworld. It’s a wonderland of whoop-dee-doos. A treasure of tight turns. A mariachi of motorcross.

7:35 AM, Festival Area–It’s still early so registration is quick. It may be an issue later though, with only 4-5 people checking racers in.

7:40 AM, Festival Area – Beer tent? Check. Food truck?  Largest team tent? Huge tent for the masses? Vendors Tents? check, check, checkity check.

7:50 AM, Grey Berets Tent–There is mass confusion as we realize some of us were given the wrong wrist bands for the race. With 3 different lengths (Sprint = 4mi, Challenge = 9mi, Tier1 = 13mi) the paper bands are color coded for their respective mileage. I have the Tier1 bands, and I know I’m not fucking crazy enough to run that many miles. Mr. Pink gets us squared away.

8:15 AM, Festival Area – We all gather around BoneFrog’s signature obstacle (Black Ops) with its huge American flag and sing the national anthem. Then it’s off to the starting corral for the first wave of the day.

OBSERVATIONS ON THE RUN:

  1. And we’re off to an immediate hard downhill left to get onto the dirt bike track that hugs the periphery of the festival area.
  2. The Crag is a large culvert pipe piercing a large mound, no doubt used to catch sweet air with a two-wheeled dirt rocket. The pipe is tall enough, we don’t even have to break stride.
  3. It’s 180 degrees to the right back toward the festival area.
  4. Then 180 degrees to the left. Then back towards the festival area, then away, then….fuck! this thing’s got more hairpin turns than the Tail of the Dragon. I’m getting dizzy.
  5. Whoop-dee-doos really fuck with your pace.
  6. Coming down the hill, away from the festival area for the 600th time, I see a couple of the leaders get shut down by Rolling Thunder. The necklace of tires strung on two horizontal poles doesn’t look that high off the ground. Clearly my eyesight is for shit, because as I get closer, I can see it’s about chest high. But, I’m already going too fast this early in the race and the coast is clear on the right side, so I keep the burners on and jump. I’m flying headfirst with arms out in a Superman vibe kind of way, hoping I don’t wipe out just a half mile into the race or do damage to the cycloptic milk-spitter and the two stones of Zeus. I hit the top of the tires at an angle, chest first, and roll. Success! Bonefrog Rolling Thunder
  7. A few yards more then it’s face down in the dirt at Dust Bowl. The crawl is short, but the non-barbed wire is low and the rough ground hurts.
  8. Shit! I hear the distinct ripping sound of a bib separating from shorts! The bib is still on with two pins, but a third safety pin is hanging on open. I have to stop to pin the fucking thing, lest I prick something delicate later in the race. Luckily it’s downhill from here so I can get back my place.
  9. There’s the split! Dirt bike Disneyland to the right for the Sprint, and a long haul in the woods to the left for the Challenge.
  10. A quick and refreshing muddy water pit crossing and we’re off and running along a trail between the woods and the parking area.
  11. 1 mile buzzer! 8:36?! Fuck, that’s wayyy to fast. Ima gonna die!
  12. The running is flat, and still too fast, as I approach Geronimo (aka, a Tarzan swing). The OCR gods are benevolent in their grace, assuring the far right rope is on its back swing just as I run up on it, speed unchecked. An easy swing across follows.Bonefrog Geronimo
  13. The first water station appears. It’s hotter than a two-peckered alley cat, and I eschewed the hydration pack for the day, so I avail myself of a couple of the conveniently filled cups, all lined up with military precision.
  14. We continue along some double track, still skirting the edges of the parking lot and being teased with the dark coolness of the forest to our right.
  15. Where the fuck is this sand coming from? What a drag on the feet.
  16. Ooo! Look at that big unruly pile of tires ahead! Obstacle time! And there it goes……
  17. 2nd Phase Wall (+/- 6’) appears. Ok, that not’s good! The arms felt a little wanting going over.
  18. The green course ribbon leads us straight into the forest. Literally running in the forest like wood nymphs. Tree fall, a carpet of dried leaves, foot grabbing vines, low hanging limbs; the whole woodland experience, except you know, without the talking animals and birds perched upon my fingertips.
  19. Screw that perfectly nice ATV trail next to us.
  20. Walk the Plank appears out of nowhere. How did they even get those beams back into these woods?! My heart is fucking jacked! I stand on the 2X s holding the +/- 20-foot wood joists in place and take a moment to get the heartrate down below hummingbird level. I’m no Phillipe Petit, so I don’t want to fall down to the dry creek bed about 4 feet below me.
  21. The shade is welcome as I settle in with some other guys (I shall call them the Bearded one, The Boy, and the Black Panther) and we alternate between double track running and bushwacking it.
  22. The pace has settled into a more manageable 11 and change, and the trail has morphed yet again.
  23. My wheezing sounds so much more idyllic running on a picturesque old skid trail with grass like ground cover and tree limbs creating a verdant tunnel.
  24. A quick Low Crawl under a riot of green course tape and it’s a glorious stretch of flat straightaway.
  25. A disembodied voice echoes out from the woods; “Watch out for bees!” Then I see a couple of guys about 15 yards into the woods running the opposite direction. I think to myself, “Fuck! Where?! At what point?! How far ahead are you?! Damnit man, why are you so much faster than me!!?”
  26. The idyll starts to be more Hyde, as all I can think about is bees, bees, bees; where the fuck are those bees?!
  27. We finally turn off the trail and drop into the woods on another non-trail, doing a 180-degree turn to the right. THIS must be the danger zone. I’m on a razor’s edge expecting at any moment to get waylaid by a swarm of vexed Vespula, while at the same time trying to stay on my fucking feet, avoiding every tree, root, stump, and limb that have all converged along this one route in a conspiracy to inflict harm upon my person.
  28. Fucking forest. So pretty. So lush. So wanting to kill me.
  29. A yelp from ahead of me! A caterwaul from behind me! Gird your loins boys, the attack is upon us!
  30. I never see the little fucker coming. The side of my calf lights up as the tiny flying asshole does his dastardly business. Ouch!
  31. How in the hell are we back along the parking area?! I’m so fucking turned around. But hey, there’s a Reverse Slant Wall! Ima gonna jump over it.
  32. Now we are running parallel with the previously ran outbound part of the course. My mind is in a knot trying to figure out where the hell I just ran.
  33. Some nice ATV trail. Some nice forest frolicking.
  34. A curious wall appears in an opening. At about 8 feet tall, it has three square holes set up high along its width. A steel bar at the top of each opening makes getting through Window Walls a snap.
  35. We’ve lost the Black Panther.
  36. The obstacle sign says Mind Games, but all I see is a water station another 25 yards on. I stop to dump water on my head and into my piehole. The gummy goodness of vanilla bean GU goes down like craft paste to a 2-year-old. I take a water for the road to wash that shit down.
  37. The spent paper cup goes into my voluminous pocket. And people make fun of me wearing 10-year-old board shorts. Suck it! I can carry shit, and store trash!
  38. The Bearded One and The Boy, ruminate out loud what “Mind Games” meant. We run for a bit on the now wide open ATV trail. “There was nothing there”, says one of them. “Exactly”, I say. I stun them into silence with my brilliant, yet reductive reasoning. Or it could be the monotony of the trail.
  39. We all run around a puddle. This strikes me as fucking hilariously ironic.
  40. And we keep running.
  41. The Black Panther comes rushing past me, and then stops ahead.
  42. And running.
  43. The Bearded One, The Boy, and I change places multiple times. It breaks up the grind.
  44. And more running.
  45. The only obstacles are the puddles.
  46. Still more running.
  47. The Black Panther comes rushing past me, and then stops ahead.
  48. Thankfully no one is speaking. All of us lost in our own thoughts and respective miseries. But if this goes on much longer, I may break out into show tunes.
  49. I finally start stomping through the puddles for the shear childlike pleasure of it.
  50. And even more fucking running.
  51. I fear I shall never see my wife and child again.
  52. I happen to be behind TBO approaching a curve and I see him through the trees slowing down to a walk. I make the turn and lo! I cry out, “And there it is! Finally!”
  53. IT, is a hill that just disappears up into the trees. I was wondering when we were going to have a climb! Nothing to do but just grind it out.
  54. Each curve in the trail hides the true extent of the distance, until finally, that glorious green tape stops of us from continuing straight and signifying the end to this fucking hill.
  55. The two-foot lip to climb up and out of this atv trail looks like the fucking northwest face of Half Dome at this point.
  56. Oh! What a lovely wooden deck overlooking a spectacular view….which, I paid for with my quivering quads and clinkered calves.
  57. The obstacle sign says Obstacle #14. Obstacle 14?! Where the fuck was obstacle 13? Whatever and wherever it is, the other signs, the permanent signs, are telling me we’re about to get busy on a single track dirt bike trail, number 14……..wait a minute.
  58. The track is very tight and technical. It’s carved into the hill so there’s no real option to avoid it, and in some places it’s a gnarly drop off.
  59. We are going downhill in luxuriously lazy switchbacks
  60. More running, more puddle avoidance, until we come out into the clearing that was behind the previous water station.
  61. Next up is obstacle #15. Obstacle 15?! Where the fuck was obstacle 14? Maybe they’re playing the lonnnnnng game with respect to “Mind Games”.
  62. Hellbox is window wall times three. The first square hole is low to the ground. An awkward shuffle-squat gets the job done. The second wall has a hole at about waist height. The classic step-through-and turn Is the elegant solution. The third wall presents a chest high hole, with no steel bar. Grabbing onto the 2×4 head on the backside of the wall allows for the ol’ pull up-hop- through technique. Writer’s note: Bonefrog, make the backside of this wall smooth and that would make for a hard obstacle indeed!
  63. On the way back into the woods I spy a sign for obstacle #17, wet and sandy, on the other side of the course tape. Looks like I’ll be coming back to this clearing again!
  64. It’s back onto familiar ATV trails.
  65. The Black Panther comes rushing past me, and then stops ahead. What. The. Fuck!? That is a curious strategy. But hell if I can’t shake him. Keep on keeping on dude!
  66. A fucking hill. great!
  67. The running grind just keeps on fucking going. The scenery changes from ATV trail, to woods, and back again, but it just keeps on going. They’re trying to tear a Beret down. Could be working.
  68. I’m trying not to kill myself cruising down some toight single track, when fellow Grey Beret Frosty yells out from an adjacent and downslope track (going the opposite direction?! Fuck! How far have I dropped back!?), “watch out! Big hill coming up!”
  69. Holy fuck! It’s looming! It’s fucking steep. It’s all-other-races-would-drape-this-shit-in-ropes-and cargo nets steep! Base jumping steep. I mean it’s vertiginous. A helpful sign tells me this is Obstacle #16. Nothing to do but dig in the lugs, lean in, and power through. Thankfully it’s short.Bonefrog Cliffhanger
  70. We all mumble to ourselves of the good fortune of dry conditions.
  71. It’s a downhill bombing run on the single track from whence we came……I think
  72. We pop out of the woods and straight into Wet and Sandy. The water feels fucking awesome, but that sign must be a misprint, because just below the surface of the pond is the goopiest, soul-sucking muck this side of a presidential debate. Ain’t nothing sandy about it. TBO, The Boy, Black Panther, myself, and couple of speedsters that just caught up with us decide not to burn the quads out by struggling through the mud, so we float-hand walk the whole thing. Oh God! It feels so gross on the hands. Each “step” plunging the hands deeper into the soupy sludge! Any minute I’m gonna get my hand bitten off by a snaggletoothed snapping turtle. Near the end my crawl turns into some bizarre freestyle stroke pulled from the depths of Michaels Phelps’ nightmares.
  73. We come out smelling like Satan’s shithouse after a late night bender at taco bell.
  74. What looks to be a last minute water station add sits on the banks of the pond. Much appreciated Bonefrog!
  75. I try to wipe my hands on the leaves as I pass by. There’s got to be a grip obstacle coming up soon, after that muddy mess. I know I would do that if I was a RD
  76. We are back in the forest. The trees are widely spaced, the ground flat. Nothing to follow except the green tape. I distract myself from my legs being whiny bitches, by picking lines, like a good snowboard session in the trees. It felt smooth and clean, but most likely looked like Red Skelton stumbling around for his hat.
  77. The Black Panther comes rushing past me, and then stops ahead.
  78. A short stretch of dirt road leads straight to Swingers Club. Hehe, so naughty. What’m talkin’ about?! I’m talkin’ about sex, boys and girls! What the hell’re you talkin’ about?! You know, “l’amour”?! As in “to Swing”!
  79. Thankfully my hands are dry as I step up on to the support bar. Strange softball sized cylinders covered with tape are hanging from nylon rope from one end of a steel frame to the other. I pick the far left lane, but one of my crew (We’ve run together for an eternity. They’re my crew now. Though I’d still shank them to get across the finish line first) helpfully points out one of the thingies is hung up on the support beam, thus leaving a huge gap. This leaves only 2 of the 3 lanes feasible for completion. The volunteer is making no move to fix it.
  80. It’s ugly, but I get through it.
  81. As my plucky pack of pacers leave the scene, we note the volunteer is still not doing anything to remedy the situation.
  82. We have arrived back at the very edges of Dirt bike Disneyland where the Challenge and the Sprint courses merge.
  83. After a quick dash in the woods we come out onto the track. We’re at 6 miles, and I can just feel the engine starting to fail as I have to power walk the hill up to 1st Phase Wall. It’s an easy hop over the +/- 5-foot wall. At least the trees are keeping this edge of the track in shade.
  84. We alternate between the woods and the dirt track twice before the course finally heads towards the heart of the Circus and into the brilliance of a blazing sun.
  85. I get down on my hands and knees to crawl under the wire at Feelin’ Froggy. The mud is a fantastic slurry of nastiness, with the consistency of cake batter and the color of an 8-month old’s diaper after a booby binge, and it feels AWESOME!
  86. I’m right on the heels of The Boy, when his foot comes down hard in the soup and kicks up a Pollock bomb straight into my eyes. FUCK!!!!!! Get it out of my eyes! GAHHH!!
  87. Everything appears a brown/orange color as I stumble from the crawl to the water pit. I Splash the muddy water to clear my face of the heavy mud. It hardly helps.
  88. Stumbling up a hill everything looks like I’m viewing it through a cataract  but with a brown tint. Fuck! I hope there’s a water station soon!
  89. The Wreckbag Carry, is a 25 pounder. This makes me very happy. It’s a quick uphill/downhill loop.
  90. As I approach the Dirty Name, it just gets taller and taller. It’s the love child of the sternum checker and a ranch entrance. It’s muddy, wet, slippery and fucking scary. Any earlier ideas of killing it with 3 bounding steps, like a shadowy ninja, hit the dirt like the guy in front of me just did. Ouch! That damn third log has to be 8 feet off the ground; below it an anemic pile of hay that wouldn’t break a snowfall. With bleary eyes I carefully heave myself up and over. Success!!Bonefrog Dirty Name
  91. I’m really fucking tired and there’s still 2 miles to go, but I see a water station ahead!
  92. I grab cups of water and douse my eyes. The cold water a welcome jolt to the skin. I ask a little kid volunteer If I got all the mud out of my eyes. He nods his head yes and gives me that look reserved for idiots and the insane.
  93. Dust Bowl is a short uphill climb under wire. The mini ravines, rocks, and scorched earth make it absolutely miserable.
  94. Who sprinkled the surface of the sun with dry Georgia clay and called it a race? Fuck! It’s Hot!
  95. One of my crew is about 50 feet ahead of me with the rest behind me, going to the vertical Cargo Net, and just blows past the lines as he climbs the far right side. I follow him, hoping I don’t get daggers in my back. Then I hear “Hey, let the elites go on!” Writer’s note: If you’ve read my oeuvre, you know I don’t like this word. But hey, it helped. Bless you, nameless person! Bless you! I climb up as my crewmember climbs down. The Flip & Crab ™, becomes the Flip & Jump (patent pending). I land in yet another sparse layer of hay and with a bit of stumble brush by a guy who is standing there waiting for a friend. I apologize as I run away. “I hope he doesn’t think I am a douche! That seemed pretty douchey to bump him like that! God! I’m such a douche!”
  96. And then it happens, my adductor thingy in the left leg does the equivalent of a throat punch, AND I feel the unmistakable electrical impulses of impending calf cramps. The pain from my leg is searing and takes me back to OCRWC last year. I hobble up the hill willing it to shut the fuck up.
  97. The pace is just a wee bit slower than in the woods, but certainly speedier than moss. It’s enough to shake out the pain in the leg.
  98. Siege Wall is an angled wall with ropes, the approach side just baking in the sun. I kick up the pace, and sprint at it, knowing my Icebugs are going to stick to this wall like gecko feet. The Bugs take me right to the top, the ropes limp with disappointment at their lack of use.
  99. The obstacles are coming at a good clip now!
  100. I climb the vertical cargo net of Kraken, eager to use the Jump & Roll ™ on the horizontal span of netting. The Jump and two rolls gets me to the other side for the climb down.Bonefrog Kraken
  101. The pace is horrible and every hill taller than an anthill, I walk up. The Sun is giving me a right beat down.
  102. I get to the top of another miserable little hill I should have run up, and find a memorial wall. With a fat black sharpie, I write the names of both sets of grandparents.
  103. As I get low to crawl through Nightcrawler, BAMMMM! I fucking crush my right shoulder against the 2x cross tie that is holding up the leading edge of the black fabric draped over the ground. OWWWWW! Motherf…..!! Ain’t that some shit?!
  104. The fabric is marked with rows of yellow lines. “Stay in your lane!” I randomly yell out to no one in particular, and giggle. I’m losing it. Luckily the ground was moistened, so it’s a wonderful texture of modeling clay, and I find my mind wandering about the bowls one could throw with the stuff. I’m really fucking losing it.
  105. It’s back into the woods. The green tape has created a lane so tight, I’m bouncing off the trees. What a gas!
  106. I can feel the calves sparking, wanting to fire up, my gait now taking on a weird flat footed loping. Every misstep a potential red button switch to defcon-1.
  107. Back out onto the surface of the sun, it’s a zig-zag run to 3rd Phase Wall. 8 feet of pure vertical hell, right when cramps are pulling a trick or treat at the front door. Every race when this moment happens, the climb lights up my legs like a roman candle.
  108. From a hundred yards out I start whispering, “please don’t cramp up, please don’t cramp up, please don’t cramp up.”
  109. I make the minimum jump necessary just to get my hands on the top of the wall. A heel hook is absolutely out of the fucking question. I pull my way to the top, straddle the wall (carefully! I have bad history with the tops of walls!), gingerly swing my legs over, and then eeeeeease my way down. Cramps averted!
  110. Not a couple of hundred yards more and the watch vibrates at the 8 mile mark. Sweet baby infant Jesus, it’s almost over.
  111. The Sandbags are small and lightweight and the loop is quick. If by quick you mean hobble up the hill and stumble down it.
  112. As I pass a part of the course going the other way, some guy named Yuri appears. He sees me and yells out “I’m coming for you!” You have got to be fucking kidding me?! He has already done the 6 miles in the woods, done the first lap of the entire Sprint course, and now is gonna lap me on his second loop to finish out Tier-1?! But he said it with a smile, and he’s my friend, so I tell him to fuck off, and start hobbling faster.
  113. I’ve not seen the Bearded one since Nightcrawler.
  114. And just when I feel I’m going to vaporize in the heat, Bog Hop shows up. I jump down into the cool water and squelchy mud, amongst the cattails. And then it happens. Disaster strikes as I am climbing up out of Satan’s sinkhole; My right leg locks up tighter than a bull’s ass at fly time. I have to stick my leg straight out to even get onto the bank. Fuck! that hurts!!!!
  115. I can’t even to begin to describe the fucked up way I’m running to avoid cramping up. It’s like there’s no toilet paper, there are people about, and I have to go to the closet at the end of the hall to get some more.
  116. The Blank Panther is pacing me. I have to let him by. Ain’t no one got time to follow my sorry ass.
  117. The woods are thick with overgrowth. Someone forgot their machete.
  118. Is. That. Giant Ramp!? Please tell me we are running up it and jumping into the pond!
  119. The Volunteer directs me to go Under The Boardwalk. Nooooo!
  120. I’m in the home stretch now. I can “smell the barn” and my watch is ticking ever closer to 9 miles, as is my body ticking ever closer to failure.
  121. Get a Grip is a confusion of tape wrapped plastic pipe handles, hanging from nylon strapping, and set up in no discernible lanes. As they are not fixed to the strapping, the hand width sections of pipe are in a variety of positions: some horizontal, convenient for gripping, and some vertical with no chance of being able to hang from them. I pick a “lane” that seems to have all of the former and start my traverse. Reaching for the 4th grip my left hand slips! I swing back and rotate, facing the way I came. In that split second I think to myself; “I hope I can spot a good grip when I swing back around!” The copious amount of grips work in my favor and I’m able to flail my way to the finish.Bonefrog Get A Grip
  122. 50 yards away is Hell’s Gate. It’s a fucking horror show of walls. 4-foot, 5-foot, 7-foot, 5-foot, 4-foot. They are all spaced no more than 4 feet apart and you cannot use the preceding wall to scale the next. My calves jump up, grab me by the shoulders, and yell, ”Are you fucking kidding us?!?! You’re lucky we’re not already at the beer tent! We should have left your sorry ass back at 3rd phase wall!!” This can’t be good.
  123. First wall goes smoothly, albeit with the caution of a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
  124. At the second wall, I get a tap on my right shoulder. And there he is, some guy named Yuri, giving me a gigawatt smile. “My man!” While I’m easing myself down as if I’m carrying a Fabergé egg in my shorts, he’s off like a cool breeze, muttering something about wanting to get this thing done. Even the Humble Hero gets tired it seems.
  125. The remaining walls are cleared, the calves oddly quiet. This makes me nervous.Bonefrog Hells Gate
  126. I can see the finish line obstacle 100 yards away. So close, but the tape takes us in the opposite direction to Dead Weight. It’s a hoist obstacle. I look at the thin nylon ropes (with small knots) with trepidation. But, the weight proves to be of no consequence, and I’m able to stay on my feet. Writer’s note: Bonefrog, make this heavier!
  127. Back into the woods. Good Lord! Will this ever end? Hobbling makes for slow going.
  128. I step up to Drunken Monkey stumbling like a drunk, just as the Black Panther is starting and The Boy on my heels. Metal pipes sticking out from either side of a 2×12 flich beam are irregularly spaced and at irregular heights. A nice twist on regular monkey bars. OOO! A camera man! stop! pose! Keep going.Bonefrog Drunken Moneky
  129. This is it, the final two obstacles. The tape is clearly leading me in the direction of the finish.
  130. I jump on the Rope Climb, and as I make my foot hold the inevitable happens. The calves have finally had enough of this shit. Damnit! I know if I muscle up the rope with no feet and they light up again, my hands will open in shock. I stand there a bit dazed when one of the volunteers yells to me, “you can do 25 jumping jacks!”. You got a fucking deal little dude!
  131. A fellow GORMR manning the obstacle gives me shit, but I’m playing it smart and my crew is leaving me behind! Oddly enough the jumping jacks don’t bother my calves.
  132. 25 yards downhill is the final obstacle; Bonefrog’s signature piece proudly stands in all its glory. It’s 50 feet from the finish line and right in front of the entire festival area, with a supportive crowd cheering people on.
  133. Black Ops; It be monkey bars, and monkey bars are my jam! 3 lanes of slightly inclined awesomeness, back dropped by a HUGE American flag. I grab the rope and make the 8-foot vertical wall climb, and as soon as my legs get over the edge onto the deck, both calves light up like a nuclear bomb. I’m lying flat out on the deck and I’m screaming for the volunteer to push my toes back. Fuuuuuuuuuuuck! I gotta get on my feet! I plead for the other volunteer behind me to lift me up. I’m almost knock him off the deck in the process. I’m a fucking train wreck! Finally, to my feet, I try to stretch it out. My crew has since left me in the dust. I can’t get the legs right! I’ll be damned if I fall into the safety net in front of all these people. The seconds turn into minutes. Just before 3 minutes have elapsed, I say “fuckit! They should be good enough for 30 feet of monkey bars!” The sun is blasting in my face as I charge up the lane closest to the flag. OOOO! Cameraman! Pose! Rock on! Writer’s note: this obstacle will give you one of the most epic race photos EVAH! I guarantee it!Bonefrog Balck Ops
  134. I fall to my butt on the deck, eliciting a cry of “be careful!” from the volunteer, and start the forward climb down the angled ladder. The volunteer is not quite sure about that either.
  135. I stumble across the finish line pissed off at my calves. Stupid things cost me three places.
  136. THAT WAS FUCKING AWESOME THOUGH! Tretsch says DO IT!

PROLOGUE:

After I have to have a friend take of my socks for me, the beers flow freely, the food truck is dispensing basic fair, and the comradery is on point. Yuri wins and many GORMRs take home some extra bling. It was a good day.

photo credits (in order of appearance): April Williamson, Cole Darche, Hui Chin Smith, Patti Milio Behrend, April Williamson, April Williamson, April Williamson, Angela Brown Quillen, Bonefrog

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 Bone Frog Challenge New England 2016

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

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

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

13220731_1076891409051207_7382173839887307230_o

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

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

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

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

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

13260062_10100643111022330_100897026324349499_n Photo courtesy: Yvette Tetrault on Facebook

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

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

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

HESCO Bone Frog - Finish Line

HESCO Bone Frog - Course

HESCO Bone Frog - Obstacle

Bone Frog Challenge Discount Code

Bone Frog Challenge Discount Code