Goliathon – A New Contender in OCR? (Race Review)

Whether you are planning to be a ninja or a spartan, Goliathon is an event you don’t want to miss for either conquest. Being one of the newest and, quite honestly, hardest events I have participated in, I find this event to be one of the most incredibly challenging and entertaining. Goliathon is an event that brings a different take to obstacle course racing and ninja training events. Its mission is to raise money for Charity Water: a non-profit that funds projects to distribute easier and more efficient means of sanitary water conditions all over the world. To date, they have raised over $60,000 and for this event alone, approximately $25,000.

Over the course of four miles, I had to take on twelve obstacles, each with three tiers of difficulty.  Many kinds of people attended the event. Some were elite OCR runners who you may see at a Spartan or Battlefrog event while others were beginners who do these kinds of events for fun or with family and friends. We also have our “Davids” who have completed all twelve obstacles at the G3 (expert level). We were also lucky enough to have some American Ninja Warriors and past “Davids” attending such as Captain NBC (Jamie Rahn) and Jedi Markowski.

Davids of Goliathon V

After interviewing one of the twelve co-founders of Goliathon, Doug Horton, I found out a little bit about the history of the event. The event initially took off in April 2014 and brought in 550 people. They had set the event for April and November but decided to keep the dates closer to warmer weather in May and October of each year going forward. Doug and a few of his pals had done a few obstacle races like Spartan and Tough Mudder and, as part of their training, they decided to start building obstacles in their backyards. They actually decided to make them harder and more complex than what you would see on course. After a while, they got the idea that they could create their very own obstacle race.  Doug also stated that almost every week, the bunch would have a meeting to discuss what the next steps would be in developing the race. The direction of the obstacle building was done by Paul Stone, a co-founder of Goliathon and the owner of the company, Emerald Windows.  Eventually, they came up with the idea of tiered obstacles (G1, G2, G3) from easiest to hardest respectively. It took a lot of imagination, creativity and hard work to make these obstacles. Thanks to Paul and the rest of the co-founders, we had a terrific event.  Considering that Pinnacle Parkour, a ninja training academy where people go to work on obstacles you may see on American Ninja Warrior, is in the same neck of the woods, people like Jamie Rahn and Jedi Markowski were also able to build the PPK Ninja Killer obstacle that you can see in the video posted further below.

Goliathon V Start.

Just to give an example, one of the obstacles had you climb a rope. For G1, the rope was knotted and the bell was about halfway up the full length of the obstacle whereas G3 you had to climb an unknotted rope with a 45-pound chain draped on your shoulders and once you reached the top, you had to hit the bell with the chain…the point being that it was a lot harder than the average obstacle. That was just a taste of the range of obstacle difficulty but I will get to that later on.

Slippery Wall Money Scruffy Mudders

Another cool topic they had discussed was a “Try the Obstacle Day” approximately one month prior to the event. On these days, you would have local athletes and staff helping you through the obstacles so you get a chance to practice on them…something that you can’t do on race day as one of the rules is that if you fail on your first try on any level, you do not get a band that signifies points that would be tallied at the end of the race. On these practice days, they normally get about a hundred to two-hundred people.

Now on to my personal review.

All in all, this was an amazing experience. This was the fifth event to date dubbing it “Goliathon V”.  Me and my team, Scruffy Mudders, were hyped up to get through this event with the best score possible. I will say it was a little different for me as I am used to running hard through the course but as this was an untimed event, we took our time and it probably took us close to 4 hours to causally walk/jog to each obstacle. One of the first obstacles was a 40 to 80 pound water jug carry around a closed loop. It wasn’t as hard as you would think but the fact that you had to balance the two 40-pound jugs on a metal bar and avoid touching them to the ground was something that made it a little trickier. Next up was the Slippery Wall Monkey obstacle as we had to basically rock climb from one floating wall to another and get though a bunch of monkey bars. Unfortunately, I slipped off the last one before getting to the end which cost me a band. We had a rope climb with varying difficulties but I picked the G3 one which required climbing up a rope unassisted with a chain draped on my shoulders. From there, we approached Circus Maximus 2.0 which was kind of like being at a circus as you had to swing from ring to bungee to ring to more bungees to rope swing over a trench of water to the finishing platform.  This was definitely one of the hardest obstacles. Only a few people from our team made it through to get the G3 band. We got to the PPK Ninja Killer obstacle that had some ANW crew there to help people get through it. This was definitely one of the more advanced obstacles to take on in G3. I actually decided to do the G2 version as it looked a smidge easier. The Ninja Killer is three slanted boards that you have to jump on and stay on without touching the floor to a bunch of platforms where you have to balance on to a rig that depending on your level would have different obstacles on it. One of my favorite obstacles was the Hangman obstacle that had you climb up an 8-foot wall and swing about 5 ropes to devil steps. If you have a chance, look up Goliathon on Youtube as every year this obstacle varies in how it is set up. I can talk all day about how awesome the obstacles but I can leave that to you.

Circus Maximus 2.0 Grant.

If you go onto their site, they have a bunch of videos with tips on how to get through all of them.

Moving forward, I would love to see the company evolve while also keeping the mission of helping people’s lives. Goliathon is also a qualifier for OCR World Championships and will have their next event October 1st, 2016. If you sign up by May 31st, you can get the early bird special using the code SUPER.

PROS: Great cause, great obstacles, reliable staff, festival was enjoyable.

CONS: Only have one chance for a band at each obstacle (doesn’t mean you can’t still play on it if there isn’t a line of people)

GRADE: A

All pictures by Alexander Sallahian.

Bone Frog Challenge – New Jersey: Race Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grade B