BattleFrog: Chicago 2016

13332725_1245885512096275_6698609014792783944_n The 2016 Chicago BattleFrog was held May 28th at the Dirt Runner in Marseilles, Illinois. Dirt Runner has been the home of the Illinois Spartan race since Spartan brought their series to the Illinois. But this year Spartan left and BattleFrog moved into this permanent OCR course, which in my opinion, is one of the best in the Midwest. The permanent obstacles that Dirt Runner has installed are top notch with plenty of hills, mud, and technical terrain thrown in. Unfortunately, without Chris Accord there to design the course little of the terrain was utilized and none of the Dirt Runner obstacles were used. The one thing that did stand out to me as my family and I entered the event and hit the restrooms was that there were 3 volunteers that constantly cleaned up the porta potties after each use. This was one change I was excited about! No piss and mud all over!

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Upon arrival to the event, volunteers took your 10 bucks and moved you quickly to the grass field where you were guided to park well within walking distance of the festival area. In recent years, Spartan charged you 40 bucks to park in this vast grass field, but for 10 bucks Spartan would bus you in from 2 miles away. So thank you BattleFrog for not pinching us on the parking! Registration went smoothly and heats were running along on time with Coach Pain giving everyone a good pep talk. They had a few more companies with booths set up to buy things and they had two places to get food and drink. The event didn’t seem to be overly well attended and movement through the festival area was fairly painless.  Plenty of bathrooms, changing areas, and showers were provided as well.

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Now on to the actual course. We were started off in the same grass field used to park cars where they ran us around a small loop and onto the 12-foot ladder walls and the inverted wall. Besides the rig at the end this was the only place along the route where family could take photos along the 5.1-mile course. From there we were led through the flat part of the Dirt Runner course where some halfhearted mud mounds were set up. BattleFrog left room on either side for people to skip the mud though, not a typical well planned course like we expect from BattleFrog. Along the flat terrain were tucked a wreck bag carry, jerry can carry {only one can was carry was the rule for open class}, and an obstacle where you picked up a small cement block and walked it about 10 feet to a line and back. The dreaded jerry can and wreck bag carry were just a circle route through the grass and a paved parking lot. Why they chose to not use the hills on the other side of the course was beyond me. The Normandy Jacks were put across a simple mud puddle on the ground with only wire across them. Not barbed wire, this was one of the few photo set up areas used by BattleFrog and we basically had to cross the puddle one at a time in order to not be on top of one another.

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Further along the course we were able to finally get to some hills along with a dash through a very scenic creek, but BattleFrog didn’t use these natural features to install any obstacles. So this part of the course was basically a trail run. They would sneak in a delta ladder and a rope climb {I was able to jump up and ring the bell without climbing} but other than that it was turning out to be a very lame course for a BattleFrog vet. After our brief trail run which ended up with an embarrassing 312 feet of elevation change they circled us back to the festival area. A small swim, maybe 15 yards, and an obstacle where we actually carried wooden pallets in a small circle before stacking them back up and finishing up at the rig before the finish.

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I was greatly disappointed with the design of the course and obstacles offered at this event. It’s almost as if they just threw it together at the last second. Maybe they had to get the pallets back to Wal-Mart. I don’t know, but they failed to use the great terrain to their advantage and failed to use any of the great, permanent obstacles provided by Dirt Runner. This ended being like a longer version of a Warrior Dash. For an OCR vet this was basically a joke, but for a novice I’m sure it was a great experience. Maybe BattleFrog was told their events were too hard and didn’t appeal to the masses. Maybe this is a kinder, more gentle BattleFrog. If this is the new mainstream BattleFrog, I’m not sure it’s right for a competitive racer. Better luck next year.13316983_1245876122097214_1505358033465460675_o

Scott Brackemyer

44 year old Scott Brackemyer is a self described "Eliteish" racer from Dekalb Illinois. The father of four loves to travel with his family to races to spread the good word of OCR and living a healthy lifestyle.

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