BattleFrog Greater Philly – A Frog, A Mountain And 50 People Lost

I always find myself being overly critical of BattleFrog.  I think it’s because they have a lot of potential to be a big dog in the business and do good for the sport as a whole, but they always seem to shoot themselves in the foot with senseless, easily avoidable mistakes that call their competence into question.  They’re so close to making the next step in the business but… Two steps forward, three steps backwards.  On this particular week, it started off going backwards, but I think they gained some ground… 2 backwards.. 3 forward.. They’re +1 and here’s why.

This was my first BattleFrog event of the year as my race schedule filled while they were still struggling to finalize venues.  I wasn’t planning on this event, but being a short 30-minute drive from my house, I decided to give it a go after I finished a lap of MudmanX in NY.  Four days before race day, I received the participant email from Battlefrog. I noticed they include start time and bib number front and center making it easy to locate and eliminating the need to search on their site for this info.  Waivers are signed off and agreed upon when registering online, to avoid a paper waiver, which will make the Eco-friendly athletes happy.  Then came their first step in the wrong direction which caused concern for the event itself.

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The night before the event I received notification from their event page(which you would not receive had you not opted to follow the event page) that the parking location had changed. Extremely last minute and unlike other companies to do short of impending severe weather, which was not the case in this situation. Sure enough on event day, I saw one post stating 50 or so people were wandering aimlessly in the original parking location with no BattleFrog representation present to direct to the new location. To BattleFrogs credit, they did issue an email late Friday night, but for many, that was too little too late.

Having the new parking location, I arrived to several buses waiting to shuttle racers to the event. Parking was smooth and the shuttle was a short 5-minute ride to the venue. As soon as we pulled up, I recognized the venue immediately. It was a ski resort that was home to the “Badass Dash” Tristate event last year. I immediately knew I was in store for an interesting and possibly very fun event. During the Badass Dash, I remember thinking it would be a perfect venue for a larger race brand to hold a challenging event, and I wasn’t wrong in my previous assumption.

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Registration was quick and painless, bag check was organized and it was off to the start line. When I arrived at the starting line, there was nobody in the corral; so, I assumed a wave had just departed. My buddy and I had just run the MMX event followed by a near 3-hour drive to BattleFrog so we weren’t planning to stand around. We hopped the start wall and off we went. Later I realized I had sold myself short on one of the most appealing attractions of a BattleFrog (or any OCR start line) – the Coach Pain pre-race speech.

The race started and up the mountain we went. The first thing I noticed, and that concerned me, was lots of course markers going up and down the center of the mountain. Right away that had me thinking I was in store for a lot of tedious and boring up and back to fill space and meet the advertised distance. I was very pleased to find out I was, in fact, wrong in that assumption. Towards the top of the first peak the course veered off.

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At each peak, there was some type of wall to climb. This was my first experience with BattleFrog since they implemented the 3-scaled difficulty options. Having only run the open heat, I must say I enjoyed the options. It provided me with essentially 3 different obstacles at each obstacle location. I took full advantage of this by doing the “elite”, followed by “intermediate” difficulties. For some obstacles, I didn’t notice a difference between the 3 when it came to open heats. The over/under/through walls and monkey bars, for example, were all the same setup at the time I arrived. It very well could’ve had different instructed rules during the earlier heats (please comment any difficulty variances you encountered for those two) but was essentially unchanged for each difficultly level.

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The course had a nice balance of obstacles to appease the Spartan loyalists while staying true to the Frog faithful. The terrain was labeled by many, one of the tougher courses/venues they’ve done. Two separate carries (water jug, wreck bag) would satisfy the “carry heavy shit” Spartan regulars, while still having three scaled options on distance of carry and weight(water jug; wreck bags were all 50lbs).

For those accustomed to BattleFrog races, the test of agility and grip strength was emphasized on multiple occasions in 2 different rigs, on which the rain later in the day made completion more of a challenge, a set of metal spinning incline/decline monkey bars, wall traverse and the always fun, fan favorite made popular by everyone’s favorite Brit, “Tip of the Spear”.

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One section of the course was a boulder/rock climb that, to my surprise and delight, held a fear factor as it was steep, with no clear path and after some rainfall made it slick and quite a challenge in itself, I busted my ass 3 times working my way up it. One major disappointment was the advertisement on the course map of Tsunami. A major fan favorite,two-sided obstacle that consisted of a warped wall with rope assist, followed up by an always fun water slide on the opposite side. For whatever reason, this obstacle was not on site; there was a tarp covered in soap and water with a shallow puddle at the bottom. On a hot day like that, I took what I could get for a cool down.

Now, for my favorite aspect of the entire race. After completing Tip of the Spear, just before the finish line was 3 large, tarp lined dumpsters, originally advertised as ice baths. At this point in the day, it was cold water with no ice. Being the first time(and truly hope,not last) Battlefrog has dealt with ice baths, adding in the heat factor on that day, I can almost guarantee they didn’t have the adequate amount of ice required to sustain the obstacle for the entire event. They could always touch base with Savage Race for input on ice quantities needed for a full day ice bath. But honestly, it was an amazing cool down to finish a grueling event.

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After receiving my medal, I proceeded back into the dumpster to wade around for several minutes. Speaking to many racers who participated in the “Extreme” multi-lap option, the consensus was this course was one of the toughest they’ve done to date. I wish more companies would utilize this venue and all the potential therein that BattleFrog did an amazing job tapping into. I’m usually very vocal on BattleFrogs lackluster business practices and employee turnover, but it’s not possible to say they don’t put on a hell of an event for all skill levels. Continue utilizing an ice bath, avoid last minute parking snafus, and provide more opportunities for free spectators (especially for kids race registrations) and you’ve got my business on future events.

P.S. Beautiful portashitters. 💩💩💩💩/5 turds

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P.S.S. Amazing photographers with a surplus of participant pics but for the love of Hobie please change the search format. Searching by bib number makes zero sense as nobody remembers that info, and if a race has an adequate amount of mud, your bib number won’t be visible.

Mike Natale

Mike Natale is an OCR addict who loves life, family & medals!