BattleFrog – 2016 Greater Nashville

12987078_1210208305663996_8757510483983590275_nThe 2016 Greater Nashville BattleFrog was held April 9th just South of the city at Wooly’s Off Road Club in Lynnville, Tennessee. Two things were evident right off the bat upon showing us at the 5.25 mile course that would make this an epic challenge. The weather, with Elite start time temps hovering around the freezing mark with a slight breeze it was going to make it a chilly event. And…… those hills, and hills, and more hills. With a one lap elevation change of 1,500 feet on very technical terrain athletes knew we were going to be in for a very long day. BattleFrog was nice enough to limit our time in the water with no swim and only a few swampy areas to slosh through. I think this was a wise choice due to the near freezing tempratures, having an athlete become hypothermic wouldn’t be good for business. Especially with BattleFrog adding so many new events this year, but those hills, and hills, and more hills….
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With a rather small group of elite’s taking off around 7:15 after a pumping up speech from Coach Pain, BattleFrog wasted no time and took us up a series of small hills filled with loose rocks leading us up to the over/under through, and the ramp walls. It was during this initial obstacle series that a new BattleFrog idea was put into place. Most of the obstacles now had six lanes. Two lanes dedicated to Elite racers, two lanes dedicated to intermediate racers, and two lanes dedicated to novice racers. Personally I’m not thrilled with this decision from BattleFrog. It caused long lines for the elite racers at such obstacles as the first rig, which took out a reported 50% of elites, and rope walls. And on the second time through elite’s could basically pick their own lane due to the vast numbers of all levels of racers now on the course. There was such a crowd now on the obstacles that it was next to impossible for the volunteer course marshal to keep track of who was doing what level.12936598_1210208858997274_341383369697562899_n
That being said, we were now off through the technical hills where BattleFrog lead us to the spider web, and the delta cargo before loading us up with our wreck bags for a dangerous carry down and back up a weather-beaten “path” where our first rig was sitting there to greet us. The wind at the top of this hill where the rig was located was strong and put a chill in the athletes as we waited our turn to take a spin on rig number one. After rig one we were immediately lead to the 12-foot rope wall and then back down into those hills, and hills, and more hills…. Till we came up upon the jerry can carry down and up a weed-choked hill where tripping was a real hazard and cursing was the norm. Once complete we set off towards the “wet” portion of the course. Normandy jacks were placed around a rather small patch of trail water and this was kind of a lame attempt at fulfilling this obstacle. We were then sent under a series of low bars over a small pond of knee deep water where the weaver was waiting for us. Possibly due to the temperature again, BattleFrog only made us bear crawl over the weaver instead of actually weaving over and under the bars. Trying to keep athletes out of the freezing water made this obstacle a breeze to complete but took the fun out of it for the elite type racer. Monkey bars were next up before we were send onto the most technical series of hills along the course where BattleFrog tucked in the delta ladder, 60-degree wall, inverted and 8-foot walls.
12961150_1210208188997341_28571003240138868_oDuring the final stretch of the winding, hilly course took athletes through some of the toughest climbing I’ve personally ever done on our way finally back down to ground level where BattleFrog had set up rig number two, the mud mounds, and the tip of the spear all in a row where spectators could see you finish up and get a handshake from race director Chris Accord. Elite and BFX athletes were directed back onto the course after rig number two for their multiple lap option during this section of the race. While BattleFrog did slow us down with their dedicated lane idea, they did make a good choice to keep people mostly dry to avoid medical emergencies. The terrain and weather really was the highlight of this course making the already difficult obstacles that much harder. Most athletes agree that this course was on par with the legendary Battlefrog Cincinnati course of last year terrain wise. I walked away feeling that I was really tested and would certainly go back and run this race again. Maybe after some time spent running miles and miles of hills on the treadmill with a Wreck Bag.DSCN0099

BattleFrog Greater Nashville Review

Leading up to the BattleFrog Series Greater Nashville race on April 9, 2016 near Lynnville, Tennessee, Chris ‘Beard’ Accord and Ryan Atkins had been talking all kinds of smack about how difficult the course would be.  I saw quotes like ‘challenge may be an understatement’ and ‘one for the record books.’  Add to that the predicted low of 35 for Saturday morning, and people were pretty damn nervous about Saturday morning.  Living in Middle Tennessee myself and knowing the terrain of the area, I still wasn’t convinced.  Boy was I wrong.  BattleFrog and Wooly’s Off Road Club packed a punch that I’m still feeling down my posterior chain this morning.

BattleFrog Nashville Terrain

The Terrain at Wooly’s Off Road Club (photo credit: Brad Heilwagen)

First the boring stuff – Standard parking ($10) was about a mile from the venue in a mud-free, relatively flat field.  School buses were shuttling people from the parking lot to the venue with such regularity that we never had to wait more than five minutes to go either way.  VIP Parking ($25) was also available right across the road from the entrance to the venue for those who can’t ride or fit on a school bus.  Don’t joke, I literally heard a pregnant lady say, ‘my belly don’t fit on this bus’.  I got there right about 6:00 am, my wife and kids got there at about 11:00 am, and neither of us had to wait in line to park.  The festival area was packed tight between Mooresville Road and some trees.  The only way in or out was to walk underneath a horizontal cargo net with finishing race participants raining mud and dirt on your head.

BattleFrog Nashville Cargo

Cargo Net Over the Entrance (photo credit: Sara Heilwagen)

Apparently BattleFrog took a cue from Cracker Barrel, because everybody going in and out of the venue had to pass through the merchandise tent.  I wonder how sales went.  From there the festival area opened up a bit, but was still fairly long and narrow.  Bag check, potties, changing tents, and showers were all very close together, and the changing tents were heated.  Heated changing tents were especially appreciated given the abnormally low temperatures for this time of year.  There were two food trucks, and although I didn’t catch their names they both looked busy all day.  The only drawback I saw was that the beer tent was way at the end of the festival area and you had to walk around the finish chute to get to the food trucks.  No big deal.

BattleFrog Nashville Showers

A Finisher Gets Creative with the Shower Hose (photo credit: Sara Heilwagen)

The course itself was very spread out, maximizing the nearly 2,000 acres of ‘wooly’ terrain at their disposal.  Not super spectator friendly, since all you could watch from the festival areas was Platinum Rig #2, Cargo Crawl, and Tip of the Spear.  With only 100 yards of bushwhacking and very little mud, we spent most of our time on rocky, double-track ATV trails, going up and down calf and quad-burning hills.  Before the race, Beard told me 5 miles and 1,600 feet of elevation gain, but I saw some GPS readings of 5.25 miles and 1,875 feet of elevation gain per lap.  With every step there was potential for ankle sprainage.  Up the hills, running turned into power hiking, which turned into the occasional rest-step.  Definitely not a ‘runner’s course’.  I saw a lot of ‘elites’ who were on the fast train to crampy town, and after two laps the BFX tent looked like a Civil War field hospital.

BattleFrog Nashville Hills

Runners Head Uphill Immediately at the Start (photo credit: Sara Heilwagen)

The obstacles were typical of what has become the new standard for BattleFrog:  modular construction and multiple skill levels.  Logs and wooden beams have been replaced with lightweight aluminum bars.  Not quite as natural feeling, but I can see what they’re trying to do.  I only wish they’d bring back the round bars on the 60 degrees obstacle because the square bars are pretty tough on the nuts.  I was really looking forward to trying the new “Weaver” obstacle, and was disappointed to see that for this race the weaver was essentially laying on the ground.  The volunteer told me to just bear crawl across, and later in the day I saw they had it surrounded with caution tape.  Not quite sure what the story is there.

BattleFrog Nashville Weaver

Athletes Bear Crawl OVER the Weaver (photo credit: BattleFrog Series)

Walls, ramp walls, inverted walls, and both platinum rigs now have three skill levels:  novice, intermediate, and elite.  On the walls, where the elites may have a smooth wall to attack, the intermediate and novice have a few extra footholds for support, making it feasible for just about everyone.  Only the male elites are required to do the elite rigs, which at this race were absurdly difficult.  Rig #1 was on a windy hilltop right after the wreck bag carry.  So you’d get all sweaty coming up the hill with a wreck bag, then stand in line on a windy hilltop shivering in the cold breeze before attempting the brutal combination of ring – pipe – pipe – ring – pipe – pipe – rest…I don’t know what the rest was because I never finished the damn thing.  The elite women had it a little easier in the intermediate lane, and the novice lane was a pretty cushy combination of rings, footholds, and ropes.  This new arrangement made the platinum rig a doable obstacle for all but about 10% of participants.  Elite Platinum Rig #2 started out with a sagging horizontal rope (no feet allowed), transition to two round bars, then rope – ring – ring – rope – pipe – ring (said in my best Adam Kwitko voice).  Intermediate had it a little easier with ring – rope – bar – bar – bar – rope – ring – ring – long pipe – ring, which was totally doable because I actually did it myself and I’m no ninja warrior.

BattleFrog Nashville Platinum Rig 2

Elite Female Andi Hardy Attempts Platinum Rig #2 (photo credit: Sara Heilwagen)

As an aside, I really appreciated how involved the BattleFrog Pro Team and Elites were in the kid’s races.  I saw Ryan Atkins, Lindsey Webster (with Suunto), Corinna Coffin, and Laura Messner out on the course giving words of encouragement to the kids.  Coach Pain even gave them a little motivational speech.  It was clear that the kid’s course wasn’t just an afterthought.

All in all, the BattleFrog Nashville race turned out to be a great event for the whole OCR family.  You can see how much they’ve adapted to the changing times and feedback from participants.  I’ve heard a lot of people talking crap about how they change too much and how with only 1,600 participants at an event they can’t keep going.  I really hope they do.  By including open, elite, and BFX distances, as well as novice, intermediate, and elite obstacle levels at all their events, they satisfy the OCR needs of weekend warriors and extreme athletes alike.  Although I’m not currently a season pass holder, I will be very soon. If you haven’t done one of these, you really should.

BattleFrog Nashville TreeCargo

Female Stars of the Upcoming Fox Reality Show American Grit Climb the Tree Cargo (photo credit: Ryan Richey)

So in honor of our friend Merle Haggard, who passed away just last Wednesday at the age of 79, I offer you this song to the tune of the first verse of The Fightin’ Side of Me.

I hear people talkin’ bad, about the BattleFrog Series.  Harpin’ ‘bout their platinum rigs, and gripin’ ‘bout the way things oughta be.  I don’t mind ‘em switchin’ races, and getting’ medals of all shapes and sizes.  When they’re puttin’ down this series, man, they’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me.

They’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me.  Putting down a series that keeps changin’ to align with all our needs.  If you ain’t done it, try it!  Let this song that I’m singin’ be a warnin’.  When you’re puttin’ down this series, boss, you’ walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me.

BattleFrog Nashville Medals

BattleFrog Elite and Open Wave Medals (photo credit: Sara Heilwagen)

BattleFrog Nashville TipoftheSpear

Athletes Attempt Tip of the Spear, Elites on the Left, Intermediate on the Right (photo credit:  Sara Heilwagen)

BattleFrog Nashville Coach Pain

Coach Pain Demonstrates the 8-Count Body Builder to Open Wave Participants (photo credit: Sara Heilwagen)

BattleFrog Nashville Kids

Completing the Last Obstacle of the BullFrog Mile with Race Director Ryan Atkins Overseeing (photo credit: Sara Heilwagen)

Find more BattleFrogs and other races near you with our new calendar.

Battlefrog 24hr Xtreme: A View from the Podium

BattleFrog 24hr Xtreme - Lap PinsBattleFrog race series put on its first 24hr obstacle race (BattleFrog 24hr Xtreme) in Miami on March 4th, 2016, and continued to set a new bar for obstacle races. I have competed in two BattleFrog races prior to their 24hour race. I knew to expect a fun challenging course with unique obstacles. I also knew that the legendary Ryan Atkins (World Champion obstacle racer) was the course designer, Chris “The Beard” Accord was on hand for race operations, and David Moore was the creative director (the Trifecta of BattleFrog Brutality right there) and I knew this was a race I had to attend! I was so excited!

The concept of the race was whoever ran the most laps of the 5-mile course in 24hours, wins! They also had an added prize, whoever completed the most number of laps penalty free (i.e. King and Queen of THE RIGS) would receive a neon lime green nunchuck. I really liked this added bonus because it provided more incentive for athletes to complete the obstacles instead of taking a penalty.BattleFrog 24hr - King and Queen of the Rigs
What made this race so special was the choice of venue (and its perfect weather), the obstacles, and the amazing ultra racing community.

THE VENUE
The race was held at Historic Virginia Key Beach Park in SoFlo (South Florida for those of you who aren’t hip with the lingo) and the weather was amazing. It was a comfortably warm temperature for the entire race. despite some threatening clouds and forecasts for rain. I really liked this aspect because it kept the focus of the race on athletic ability and not cold tolerance. This also allows for the use of significantly less equipment. I love World’s Toughest Mudder’s 24-hour race, but it was so nice not having to worry about lugging multiple wetsuits, windbreakers and ski goggles. I didn’t have to worry about hypothermia and how I would survive cold waters at 3am when I am exhausted. For the BFX 24hr race, I wore the same outfit for the entire race (sorry about my odiferous aroma people who came within close proximity) .  It wasn’t too hot during the day (thank you cloud cover and onshore breezes) and it stayed a comfortable temperature at night (thank you mild SoFlo winter weather). The race started at 5pm, which was also nice, as it allowed competitors to race during the night while they are at their strongest, which in my opinion is safest for everyone.BattleFrog 24hr-Sunrise with Wall
THE OBSTACLES
The obstacles were great, and the course was fun! The obstacles showcased upper-body and grip strength. I like this because I love monkeys bars and Platinum Rigs (that neon nunchuck was going to be mine!). I found the penalties for failing obstacles were brutal, but also fair. If a racer failed the monkey bars (which requires a lot of grip and upper body strength) the penalty was to carry a heavy bag for extra distance. The penalty was significant enough that it was always worth doing the obstacle over the penalty, which isn’t always the case for other races. I loved the general layout as well. BattleFrog - King David (Moore)
A good portion of the race was running along the beach – queue beautifully, breathtaking sunset and sunrise – and I never got bored of the course because BattleFrog did a great job mixing up the variety of obstacles (and changed obstacles and penalties as the race progressed).  The original penalty for Platinum Rig #2 was 2 Jerry Cans and a Wreck Bag; as the race went on, the penalty became only Jerry Cans, then only the Wreck Bag, then only 1 Jerry Can, then carry David Moore…hahaha! Not really, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that were a penalty next year.  The only obstacles I began to dread were the walls…. eww walls. BattleFrog 12-ft Wall
What I also really liked was a mix of mandatory obstacles and camaraderie type obstacles. This allowed serious competitors to get ahead on hard technical obstacles while keeping the community together with obstacles that racers are allowed to help each other on…i.e. walls – did I mention I hate walls? Help was really nice after lap 10 when everything in my body was aching and screaming.

THE COMMUNITY
The community Battlefrog race attracts is very special. Everyone there is very supportive of each other. I wasn’t able to bring my own crew with me, and that was completely fine, Melissa Dugan did a fantastic job of setting up an “Orphan Tent” open to any racer that needed assistance during the race (Chris Maxfield masterfully manned the Orphan Tent for the entire event-silly costumes, music, and all.). They literally have everything from bandages to bug spray to donuts and bananas. I was also very lucky that my friend Matt Hanson (he placed 3rd for males by the way) was attending and shared his crew with me. They were amazing support!BattleFrog 24hr PitAlso, a dad of another racer came right over to me in the pit when he saw my hands had ripped open and I was bleeding. He patched me up right away even though I was technically competing against his daughter. We all have a sense of competition, but the sense of camaraderie is greater. We all want each other to succeed and push new limits. The organizers and volunteers were also great. I remember this one volunteer cheering like crazy for racers in the last few hours of the race. I was so tired I could barely smile back at her, but she was giving us all new energy!BattleFrog 24hr Night Ops Orphan Tent

The only thing I would change for next year is some sort of system to update racers on their positions. It was very confusing and nothing was in place. I had to rely on volunteers looking up stats on their phones, and most of the time I didn’t trust anything anyone told me. Besides that, I would not change a thing! So please Battlefrog, put on another 24hr race next year because we all loved it!
BattleFrog 24hr - Tired Beard
TAKEAWAYS
I’ve competed in World’s Toughest Mudder for the past 4 years, and every year it has been goal of mine to podium, and every year I’ve come up short.  As a personal trainer, it’s hard to swallow your own shortcomings.  Also, as a personal trainer, I know how growth happens…when you commit to it.  I started working with Yancy Culp in June 2015, and it is paying off.  I finally feel as though I’m ready to compete for the podium, and BattleFrog 24hr Xtreme was my first outing.  I wanted to run 75 miles (15 laps)! I wanted to win Gettin’ Riggy with It (come on…you all know I LOOOVVVEEE me some rigs!). I really wanted to win!  And, although attaining all my goals I set for this race is FANTASTIC…what’s even more AMAZING was the experience – it’s always the experience and the people.

When I started to feel really delirious and exhausted, I saw Cassidy Watton, who was crewing for a friend. They ran with me for a little bit and made sure I was staying hydrated and didn’t wander off-course. When I finished my 14th lap, there were 3-4 hours left to race. I knew my lead was enough that I could stop racing. Everything was aching and I felt exhausted. I saw Phoebe Brimer and Corey Herzlich and told them what I was thinking. They urged me on to complete another lap; they knew one of my goals was to hit 75miles (what I didn’t know was that they had hatched a plan to make sure I did that 15th lap). Corey walked the entire last lap with me. I was so thankful. I also thought about Milla Bizzotto- a 9-year-old girl who was still on-course completing her 6th lap, and she wasn’t quitting, so I couldn’t quit either!

I knew I would regret not giving this course everything I had.  When I crossed the finish line, I had finally accomplished all of my goals that I had been working towards for years. It was one of the greatest moments in my life. 2016 – I’m coming for ya Eh!
BattleFrog 24hr - Morgan's Map

BattleFrog Atlanta 2016 – Beaches and Hills Blend to Competitors’ Delight

BattleFrog Series brought its action back to Georgia for the fourth time since their start in 2014, with Lake Lanier Islands Resort hosting both their standard Saturday event along with the return of their now annual ESPN sponsored College/League Series event kicking off earlier in the week. Taking their festivities to the beach immediately set a different tone from most Georgia races, leaving the typical horse and “mud” parks in the wake.
BF ATL Elite Female Fun
Let’s talk about the course: with the start and finish lines right in the sand, competitors immediately took off for a short jaunt through waist deep water then skirted the rocky and somewhat treacherous opposite side of the cove before starting  the first of many climbs. This was the primary theme of the course, splashing along the shore or climbing the many hills through the woods between obstacles. Although there was no extreme test of will compared to the peaks of Tahoe, Wintergreen, or even Pennsylvania, I challenge any series to find a venue with as many transitions between the sand/water to hill climbs. I didn’t even realize I was running on a golf course until my second lap! The overall natural beauty of this venue was absolutely stunning, with a wild deer sprinting out in front of me in the middle of the race. I have to admit, this venue might be my new favorite for the Southeast.
BF ATL Jerry Cans
Because it is BattleFrog, the obstacles themselves deserve their own section. The series has faced two reputations in the past: being extremely difficult, and occasionally of questionable safety. BattleFrog officially squashed these problems at this race! What many racers running in the open waves appreciated was that some of the typically spirit-crushing obstacles, such as the platinum rig and tip of the spear, had several ability levels to try-elite, intermediate, and novice. Adding the extra lane allows a challenge for those desiring a true test, without discouraging participants who are still developing their skills or are new to fitness. Also, the physical construction for many of the obstacles was upgraded, using more structurally sound materials and design (many obstacles switched from wood to metal frames). The added rings made an interesting twist for the common rope climb, and the elite lane rig completely changed up the expected race results for many, including myself unfortunately. The only obstacle that many of us didn’t appreciate was the squared metal weaver, with surprisingly wide spacing even for a taller racer such as myself. Switching to round pipes and closing the gaps by ~6 inches won’t make the obstacle too easy, it will simply leave less unnecessary bruising on the legs and arms. Overall, the obstacle set-up and spacing was expertly done.
BF ATL Tip of Spear
After the event, I was able to get in touch with new race director and course designer Adam Washburn, himself a veteran competitive obstacle racer. Some late changes ensured that the course used more of the lake and “took it off the fairways of the (golf) course.” Putting Hooyah out into the water was a late decision that paid off, and he had nothing but praise for his build team for getting it done; “They do a lot in such a short time and don’t get much credit for their work. Most of them are coming off of 6 events back to back.” The only true venue regret was that they were unable to use some of the amusement park water slides which required re-surfacing and essentially the only true off-limits area for their build, added Adam.
BattleFrog continues to grow and develop as a race series, just like it’s participants that keep coming back for more. Bravo for a job well done this weekend BattleFrog, and I truly hope to see more events at Lake Lanier!Battlefrog ATL Biggest Team

Battlefrog Atlanta -Spring 2016

PROLOGUE-BATTLEFROG BOUND:
March 19, 6:05 AM, My Driveway – The doom and gloom reports of a frigid morning prove inaccurate. It’s 57 degrees out. Nice. Let’s hope the rain doesn’t show up either.

5:35 AM, Buford, GA – It’s always gonna be a good race day when there is a Waffle House and a QT at the exit to serve both ends of the body.

7:20 AM, Lake Lanier Islands Resort – Parting with my $15 at the gate house hurts as I enter OCR’s newest venue.

7:23 AM, Lanier World – I pull into a giant parking lot with asphalt and painted parking spaces and everything. Such wanton luxury.

7:25 AM, Lanier World – Registration is right at the edge of the parking lot just before the entrance to the water park. Sunrise is struggling against the gloomy cloud cover.

7:30 AM, Lanier World – – It’s a curvy downhill sidewalk to the water park. There are strings of edison bulb café lights strung along and over the sidewalk. I feel as if I’m going to some fancy wedding.

7:31 AM, Lanier World – – Oh look! There’s the wavepool: serving Atlanta’s chlorinated pee wave needs for over 20 years. Very strange to see it empty.

7:45 AM, Lanier World – – The festival area is on the soft, white (and obviously imported) sandy beach. All the tents are laid out along an arc of the sheltered cove near the water, the start line inflatable is damn near in the water (facing TOWARDS the water!), and the main stage IS in the water. This is one cool set up! I even see a few obstacles in the distance near the mouth of the cove.

8:00 AM, Lanier World – – Though it is in the high 50s, the heavy cloud cover coupled with the fact that the water is 5 fucking feet from the start line, cements my decision: it’s another long sleeve compression shirt, pecker pants, and skull cap kind of day.

8:10 AM, Lanier World – I take a quick warm up jog, thinking about the fact I’m not running the 2 lap elite wave. I’m just going to do the 8k and then do a second lap for fun. I’ve been a lazy fucker this past winter, so it’s just as well I’m not having to try to crush it for 2 solid laps.

OBSERVATIONS ON THE RUN:

  1. The 8:00/8:30 open waves have been combined for unknown reasons. I nudge my way to the front of the corral. I pay for it with my right ear being 12” from a monstrous fucking speaker turned to 11.
  2. We are down on one knee as Coach Pain, the Bishop of BattleFrog, the Sensei of the Start Line, the Monsignor of Emcees, the Preacher of the Pep Talk, delivers unto us his sermon. He really is the best at the motivational style of starting.
  3. Damn, that water looks cold! Sun, where for art thou?!
  4. And we are off! It’s a high-stepping, wide arc, following the beach in the knee high water to the opposite side of the cove. I am moving too fast and the adrenaline is pumping too hard for me to notice the water temperature. The sand turns to riprap on the other side of the cove. BF start line
  5. The riprap immediately drops the pace next to nothing to avoid turning an ankle on the submerged rocks. Now I’m feeling that water!
  6. I clamor out of the lake and straight up steep fucking Hill Scramble 1. I’m half way up and my heart is jackhammerin’ my chest into a heaving mess.BF Hill Scramble1
  7. Well, that’s a bitch of a way to start a race.
  8. After a bit of pavement running, we drop onto an abandoned golf green and immediately hit Over/Under/Through.
  9. It’s a looong rolling par 5 to Confidence Climb. This is a new BF obstacle: fifteen vertical feet of square aluminum tubes spaced ass puckering distances apart. The side roll technique at the top works well. These will suck when wet and/or muddy.
  10. As I continue, on it becomes obvious we will be running the hilly fairways of the closed PineIsle Point Golf Club.
  11. The pile of Wreckbags is so clean, and neat, and dry, and heavy looking.
  12. Within 50 yards, I’m climbing over the 4-foot wall. Of course, a short but fucking steep hill immediately follows it. What the hell? Another 4-foot wall awaits at the top.
  13. I drop off Beelzebub’s bolster and it’s a barely controlled run down a steep hill through the trees taking us to the next fairway. Oh goody look at that fucking long hill!
  14. I’m starting to get pretty warm. I wonder if it was a mistake to wear a shirt?
  15. The two 8-foot walls are our reward at the top. Interesting, there is an elite lane and a novice lane. Step boards on the novice and the standard smooth wall for Elite. Elite it is. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
  16. A hard 180 and I’m shooting down another single track “trail” in the woods, getting wacked by branches, right through some squelchy mud and straight up a fucking hill. I’m sensing a theme here.
  17. Back on a fairway, I’m bombing down three tiers of tee boxes. No time to wash the balls. Looks like a long, straight, downhill three wood from here.
  18. After another fucking hill (who knew that Lake Lanier was so fucking hilly!) I see a small wrought iron structure perched on a dais, framing a spectacular view of the lake below. Another wedding image flashes through my mind. What the fuck?! I’m a walking (running actually) romantic comedy.
  19. A sweeping 180 degree lie and we arrive at the Monkey Bars. Looky here! BF has brought back monkey bars. Not the original beast with the long downward angle, horizontal transition to the long  upward angle (how I miss you so) mind you; but rather a shorter, and fairly staid, classic up/down configuration. Again, it seems to be part of the new concept of building the obs out of aluminum box beams.BF monkey bars
  20. Fellow Grey Berets, Mr. Bean and Fireball, are there volunteering. Supportive hugs are given. This obstacle is also divided into “skill” level lanes. So, I beat feet to the elite lane. I figure I normally would have to be in this lane anyways. I step up and grab the first bar. What the fuck?! These bars are not secured down! They freely spin within the holes of the castellated beams! You tricky motherfroggers! The angle of the beams and gravity pretty much keep the bars where they need to be so it goes off without a hitch. Wetness would cause havoc though, I think to myself.
  21. It’s a straight, short 3 iron to 60 Degrees. The elegance of the original construction of this obstacle has been changed to another sterile aluminum mess, and the bars are now square!BF 60 degrees
  22. A long putt and I’m at the base of Hill Scramble II. Fuck! That is a steep hill in the trees. “Scramble” invokes visions of speed and agility. I’m trudging up this fucker with neither speed or agility. This sucks! At least I’m not dragging a fucking sandbag filled coffin-wheelbarrow.
  23. I come out of the woods (at least I haven’t lost my balls) onto another fairway. We’re still heading in an upward direction. Fuck!
  24. Hump Over is a series of four horizontal logs in increasing heights off the ground. Not hard to get over, but after that damn hill slog, certainly not welcome.
  25. I finally reach the top of this long uphill fairway and drop into the woods for some single track trail running. It’s apparent now we are getting into a rhythm of fairways to woods to fairways to woods; exactly like my fucking golf game.
  26. I’ve always hit Ramp Wall with one step on the wall and then launch to the top. Without even thinking I took two steps, my Icebugs like glue on the wood, and was at the top without slamming myself or Elmer the glue shooter and his BBs against the wall. Yay for that!
  27. After some rolling hills, I start a descent towards the lake that offers up another fantastic view. The clouds hang heavy, dark, and ominously.
  28. The pink course flags lead me along the lake’s edge on a cracked and weed-choked golf cart path. And then just like that, I’m in the water again. Well, no worries about overheating now.
  29. It’s tough going on the slippery riprap hidden under the murky water. It’s not above thigh level so all the important bits stay warm and dry.
  30. I pick my way up the bank. We are now way out on a point, connected to the main island by an isthmus. This would have been a spectacular green. I would have shanked a fuck ton of balls into the lake on this approach.
  31. There in nice neat rows are the Jerry Cans. Camo green cans of pain and misery. I take my two and head out.
  32. My little pink flag friends take us on a wide arc around the fringes of the green. We are going to be circumventing this entire point, I just know it!
  33. Just after I drop down onto a rocky “trail” just above the water line, I have to stop and pause for a moment. Fuck! The lack of winter training rearing its ugly head again!
  34. Negotiating the rocks as I have to head into the water is a fucking nightmare. The unsure footing in the water not much better.
  35. We wade onto a beach (Like MacArthur, but without the aviators and brass balls), climb back up to the grassy point, and finally drop off Satan’s sippy cups.
  36. Back down to the beach, and back in the water and back on to a fairway.
  37. Oh goody more hills! This whole golf course was built on an ancient fucking mountain. Stupid tectonics. Yeah, for erosion though!
  38. Wobbler looks like it was designed by a bored 14-year-old summer intern at BFHQ, with no access to good supervision or software. A cargo net on the ground followed by a classic spider web, all under the framework of a huge, but old, set of monkey bars. This made it on the course versus the Delta ladder?
  39. I laugh at the signs telling us to keep off the monkey bars. BF knows its audience well.BF Wobbler
  40. I manage to stay on my feet through the spider web. In fact, I haven’t fallen on my face yet! This day is lookin’ up.
  41. More fairways, more woods. This is such a great fucking course!
  42. At the bottom of a hill, I arrive at Hump Over 2. I’ve seen this obstacle on videos and even at last year’s BattleFrog College Championships, but I had never experienced it myself. A series of beams (again, with the aluminum castellated box beams) alternating between chest height and knee height. Over the first one, under the second one. Repeat.
  43. The volunteer is yelling, “try to avoid putting your hands in the holes!” I roll my eyes, as I think about what I’ve been telling people about this style of obstacle building. (writer’s side note: BattleFrog, this is my biggest beef with aluminum framing – the edges of the metal at these holes can be sharp! Using these beams on the parts of the obstacle that will be touched by hands is stupid. I said this about some of Spartan’s obstacles last year. I shouldn’t have to be told to avoid a part of the obstacle that I have to touch in order to successfully execute said obstacle….rant over)
  44. Fuck! How long is this hump….over?!
  45. It finally ends, I suck down a GU, grab a water at the aid station, and keep on keepin’ on.
  46. More fairway, more hills, but all the body parts are intact and feeling fine.
  47. I’m enjoying the long range view of the lake as I crest a hill and head down to the next obstacle. It appears to be some sort of traverse type obstacle.
  48. Wedge Wall is a piece of cake. 2Xs for the feet, incut 2Xs for the hands, and straight as an arrow.
  49. As I approach the Mud Mounds, I hear the volunteer yelling “keep those hands dry! The platinum rig is next!” My hands shoot up over my head faster than a teller’s at a bank heist.
  50. The mounds are not too high/steep and the pits are not too deep. (Any of you who did BF Carolinas last year know what the extreme opposite is like. Oy!).
  51. The mighty Platinum Rig, taker of bands – destroyer of dreams. It also is split into skill level lanes. I’m running for time in the open heat but still choose the elite lane. There is a bit of a backup. I take the time to assess the set up: ring, nunchuck, rope, fixed bars (round and square), ring, nunchuck, rope, low-hanging cargo net, rope, stripper pole, nunchuck, nunchuck.BF Platinum Rig
  52. The clock, she is a-ticking!
  53. I finally get my turn. It’s easy peasy until 1/2 of the way through, when I get all twisted around and flailing. Next thing I know, I’m doing my 8-count body builders. I would love to take another crack at it….or two, or ten, but I have no band to defend.
  54. I stop at the adjacent aid station for a quick water and realize how much time I burned when I see some fellow Grey Berets have caught up to me.
  55. With a twinge of disappointment for not giving it a few more tries at the rig, I head on down the hill.
  56. The sweet tug on all my body parts by sweet Lady Gravity is short lived as she suddenly ups and leaves me in a huff, and her idiot brother Benny Hill shows up.
  57. It’s another long uphill slog in the woods.
  58. Every time the course turns towards the lake, the vistas never disappoint. As I soak in the view this time, I spy an obstacle far below that is in the water just off another sandy beach.
  59. After wading into the lake up to waist high, a short climb up a saggy vertical cargo net gets me to the top of Hooyah: plastic culvert pipes all angled down to the water. Fuck! more than just my feet are going to get wet now! The sun has not won its battle with the clouds. The temperature is fine, but there is a bit of a breeze. I do not want to get fully submerged.
  60. I pick the furthest pipe to the left, since the course goes left from here. I plan to control my descent so I can ease into the water. Feet first!
  61. My concerns are quickly proven wrong, as I slowly…..slowwwwly, painfully slowly slide down. It is the very antithesis of the slide at the 2015 OCRWC. At the bottom, I actually have to grip the edge to pull myself out.
  62. The water is chest deep and fucking cold! I have to take a long route at an angle to the beach. The going is slow. I could swim and get through it faster, but I just don’t want to get more wet than I have to.
  63. Inverted Wall has a commanding position on another picturesque point.
  64. I get to the top in my usual manner, but as I make the transition, something goes horribly, horribly wrong. My foot slips and Slug Gherkin and the testaculars take the brunt of all my weight. MOTHERFUCKER!!! OWWWWWW! I slide down the other side and collapse on the grass. Fuck! Fuck! Owww! The dude behind me asks if I’m alright with genuine concern in his voice. “Yeah, I just racked my nuts and pinched my pecker!”, I tell him. I get a look of understanding that only men can share in moments like this.
  65. As I stumble in the sand of the next beach, my shelled nuts crying holy havoc, I realize I did the intermediate lane of the inverted walls. Well shit! There goes that whole paying attention problem again.
  66. OWWWWW! My twig and berries hurt!
  67. Back on the grass, along the shore, I see the Rope Wall. Yet another BF original obstacle now divided into skill level lanes. I start to get the post nutsmash cramps as I climb the wall. Thank god it’s dry out, so it’s a quick easy climb. I’m almost glacial in my movements at the transition. The little gentleman in the pink pullover and his manbags is yelling at me like Samuel L. Jackson on a tirade, “Motherfucker, you best move slow and careful!!!”
  68. The course takes us along the lake, and I’m relishing the flatness. Just before I follow the flags away from the lake, a big motor yacht comes into view. There are a bunch of people on the deck cheering as the racers go by. Certainly don’t see that at every race, I muse. I throw em’ some metal horns and head up yet another fucking hill.
  69. As I get out of the trees and along the edge of another fairway, I am treated to a view of the BattleFrog College Championship 2016 course down at the lake’s edge. A spectacular scene of awesome obstacles and ESPN crew and equipment everywhere.
  70. Heading down the remnants of an ancient driveway/road, I see the staging area for the production.
  71. Delta Cargo has changed! Beyond the obvious new construction style, the angle seems different, at least sixty degrees! I do the Flip-n-crab ™. The new steeper angle makes the crab walk down a might scary!
  72. Rope Climb didn’t escape design changes either! What’s this? Use the two rings to get to the rope, climb the rope, ring the bell and then touch the last ring after climbing down? COOL! This is a great twist to the classic rope climb. Best perfect your foot technique now people!BF rope climb
  73. Down and out of the woods and I am back on the road from the beginning of the race. A giant loop has been made, I gotta be close to finishing now!
  74. The course flags take me up the road while people from a newly released wave run in the opposite direction on the other side of the street. I can hear the festival area speakers.
  75. A hard right and I hustle down into the woods in some kind of ravine. The sound of the music is muffled; the thick leaves under my feet making a nice rustling noise. What is that strange black cable running along the ground? Someone bootleggin’ Comcast? I hope no one trips on it.
  76. It’s all very pleasant, and then the fucking hill that takes me up and out of this idyllic spot appears. Oh for rice cakes! Will it ever end?!
  77. Through a small park and the cove appears! I can hear the music. I can smell the barn.
  78. I turn onto a sidewalk that leads down to the cove. Gotta check the speed on a steep downhill curve lest I end up in the lake. The sidewalk leads directly to a marina that spans the width of the mouth of the cove. Walk the Plank is the floating dock that connects the two sides of the cove. It is absolutely the coolest approach to a festival area I have yet experienced. It puts a little more pep in my fucking step!
  79. I hit the beach and am confronted by the Weaver. Fuck! This thing is made out of small, SQUARE aluminum tubes! That’s gonna hurt!
  80. I hop on and realize they have spaced the bars for someone of Kareem Abdul-jabbar’s  height. I’ve only ever done a weaver once before (at OCRWC), and I’m not sure my method will work here. Lots of grunting and groaning ensues. Half way through, going under, my legs slip and my feet come within inches of touching the ground! Shit! that was close. I dismount at the end with a graceful ass plant on the sand.
  81. I jog the 50 feet to Tip of the Spear trying to get my breathing under control. This BF classic has also been updated. The wall angles seem steeper, they’re covered in BF blue FRP panels (what the fuck!?), and the finger boards at the middle wall ascend and then descend. The shoes prove worthy and I ring the bell. Those damn plastic panels are going to absolutely suck when they are wet during a race!BF tip of the Spear
  82. I sprint to the finish line and it’s over. No elite loop for me.
  83. HOLY COW! This race was awesome! Lake Lanier Islands is an awesome venue for a race. Tretsch says DO IT! Do ANY ocr that comes here!

POSTSCRIPT:
I stumble across the finish line after my “fun” second lap. My legs are screaming at me. All I want is a fucking cold beer.

It never rained and the sun even peeked out for a second. The temperature is just right for hanging out with my toes in the sand.

Walking back up that hill to the parking lot sucks. The walkway has lost all its wedding bliss charm from the morning.

I need an ice bath for my nuts.

Photo credits: Patti Milio Behrend, Kimberley Williams Blake, BattleFrog

BattleFrog Extreme (BFX) – Tampa, Florida 2016

This weekend I took on the challenge of BattleFrog Extreme (BFX). Having never run BFX, I was nervous upon approaching Maddox Ranch in Lakeland, Florida. The registration lines were a bit long, which caused me to miss the BFX briefing-don’t be like me. Coach Pain greeted us late comers by making us earn our BFX bands: this included a run, push-ups and flutter kicks. After earning my band, I jogged over to the starting corral, still nervous, jumped the wall and waited with a large group. Coach Pain gave the best motivational speech I’ve ever heard. My nervousness faded, and I was ready to tackle this course with everything I had in me. I wanted as many laps as my body and time allowed. I ran this race for my buddy Joshua: a 7-year-old boy with a congenital heart defect that leaves him unable to be as active as other children.  I felt pretty great starting my first lap; there was a good jog before we came to our first obstacle of 6-ft walls .

Battlefrog 6FT WallWe were running in sort of a creek that had two fun tunnels to run through. Next came Jerry Can Carries, these sucked! It was a good distance that took us back into a creek and under several walls. My forearms were burning  by the time I dropped them off. I figured this would be one of the more difficult obstacles on my following laps.

IMG_5547Battlefrog Jerry can kiss After the Jerry Cans, the course led us into the woods. There was a lot of trees and mud to jump over . Coming out of the woods was a rope climb / rig. Basically, there was a ring, then a rope followed by another ring. You needed to use the first ring to swing to the rope, climb the rope up and hit the bell, then descend the rope, grab the final ring and swing off the obstacle. Continuing back into the woods, we were met by deep mud. Trudging our way out of the woods, the next obstacle was ladder walls. Up and over two sets, then followed some man-made terrain rock and dirt piles (mounds of grounds) were the next mile with an obstacle cargo climb, 8-ft wall, and monkey bars scattered throughout.Battlefrog TerrainBattlefrog Under TiresThe last part of the course had a 12-ft rope wall, under tires, the platinum rig and 60 degrees. The platinum rig had many athletes doing 8 count body builders as the required penalty for not completing the obstacle. After these obstacles, there was a quarter mile run until tip-of-the-spear and the finish line.Battlefrog RigFor BFX runners, you didn’t cross the finish line, you circled around to the BFX tent and a special entrance was flagged for us to start another lap. I ran 3 laps before I really began to feel the course and all the aches and pains that come from so many obstacles and miles. That last lap had to be started by 2:45 and I barely made the cut off with 7 minutes to spare. To be honest, I walked the last lap, really struggling with each obstacle. The pain in my feet and legs was really becoming noticeable. I pushed forward because 4 laps was my goal and I was so close . When I finished this lap, I was relieved and overjoyed.  This had been one of the hardest challenges I’d put my body through. I completed 19.2 miles and over 120 obstacles. Tired, sore, sun burned, and bruised,  I made it, proving to myself I’m stronger than I realize. The finish line was done right, with a large banner, music and several volunteers ready to give you your medal and direct you to the awesome photo area making it a special moment. As always, Battlefrog gave us a hell of a course, and I can’t wait to go back and tackle five laps in December! Hooya

BFX Medal