BattleFrog Dallas 2016: Race Review

BattleFrog Dallas was calling and I arrived in Dallas-Fort Worth early Friday afternoon and was greeted by a familiar face as I walked out of the concourse. My race pal, Jason Bailey, was feverishly waving his hands out of the sunroof of a Mini Cooper he had been fortuitously upgraded to earlier in the day. I chuckled to myself and we were off. We headed straight to Jason’s co-workers house in Frisco, Texas. They were nice enough to welcome us in their home and treat us to a BBQ Dinner at Hard-8 the night before the race. The pulled pork was delicious but I could have done without the side of smoke inhalation. Needless to say, the accommodations were far superior to our usual race day comforts (I’m looking at you Super Ocho).

RACE DAY:
Following the weather all week from my iPhone I a) developed smartphone thumb and b) was somewhat relieved to find a 30% chance of rain throughout the day. Dry rigs are one thing; wet rigs are a whole other ballgame. We arrived at the venue and were directed to a nearby church down the street. Soon after we parked, we were taken to the venue in air-conditioned buses. Not the typical yellow school buses Spa_t_n employs. We breezed through packet pickup, put our bibs on, dropped the bags at bag check and set off for the start line. Coach Pain delivered a signature speech as usual and encouraged us to “handle our business” out on the course. We started in the back of the field and planned on setting out at a moderate pace attempting to spare our upper bodies for the rigors that lied ahead.
BattleFrog Dallas Start Line
The 1st obstacle was your standard Over-Under-Thru followed by a trudge through some knee high water and mud. As we reached the jerry can carry a logjam began as racers had to pull the 2 cans backwards through the mud and underneath wire. The cameraman may have kept a few of those photos for his personal collection #justsayin. After some more swamp and jabby sticks we approached the 6th obstacle Ladder Walls-here they eliminated the step ups making for a sketchy obstacle or essentially a vertical slip-n-slide-especially with muddy ropes and wet racers. Here I only thought I would die once. Ramp walls and the new cylindrical version of 60 degrees next followed the Delta Ladder. The 50-lb Wreck bag carry was a short jog through some trees and pasture. Why not upgrade the Elite Males to 60-70 lbs versions (hint-hint)? Next up was a ring transition into a rope climb followed back by a transition to the ring. Loved this obstacle-it’s almost how I want to get into my bed at night. Six-foot walls followed spinning monkey bars and confidence climb (basically another cylindrical aluminum frame). The wedge wall was slightly different than past versions with climbing holds being applied as opposed to a thin piece of wood. They dunked you in some rolling mud three times just prior to the 1st Platinum Rig. This Rig was comprised of a rope transition into 2 rings-2 nunchuks followed by a tall bar. Some chose to lache from the 2nd ring all the way to the tall bar before transitioning lower to a monkey bar sequence a few feet off the ground. The monkey bars led to a rope followed by 2 poles to the bell. More walls led you to Platinum Rig # 2. This rig was much more playful than the 1st-it started with a horizontal Bar transition into monkey bars/criss-crossed hanging bars into a nunchuk and 2 rings to the bell.

BattleFrog Dallas Cargo Climb
A tall cargo bridge that allowed passerby’s underneath eventually led to the Tip of the Spear. Here the typical 6 ropes were reduced to 4 and the step holds between the gaps were eliminated. The Center piece consisted of 2 pieces of wood in the shape of two upside down V’s, an “M” or winky eyebrows as I like to call them, followed by the final transition a series of 4 ropes well spaced apart to the Finish Line.

BattleFrog Dallas Tip of the Spear Jason Bailey
Jason Bailey (above) in all his “glory”

Volunteers then greeted you with a water/banana/your BF medal before shuttling you into the festival area. Coach Pain was lively conducting fitness tests when he wasn’t inspiring those at the start line. There was plenty of BBQ and Craft Beer to go around post race. Photo ops were plentiful with military inspired props. Cleanest Port-o-Potty’s in the business!
BattleFrog Coach Payne

THINGS I WOULD CHANGE:
Place the Jerry can carry/wire further back in the race as bottlenecks did occur.

Place the 2nd easier rig in front of the 1st more difficult rig allowing racers to get further faster and to help build confidence without risking injury (lache-ing). I did see 2-3 ankle injuries/Face Laceration which did require intervention while at the 1st rig. Luckily no one knew what I did for a living (j/k). The medics were awesome.

Replace a step on the Ladder walls as they are already sketchy AF. If you add mud and a wet rope, you’re a slip away from disaster or becoming a human puddle.

Lastly, why not light the ropes on the Tip of the Spear on fire? It’d make for a hell of a Facebook Profile Pic.

MY EXPERIENCE:
I injured my left hand on my 3rd attempt at the Platinum rig #1 my grip just wasn’t the same after that. I spent nearly 4 hours there stubbornly repeating the Rig to no avail. I reluctantly handed over my band and moved on. They tell you to get your 2 laps in, but I was spent/dejected and didn’t want to risk further injury due to muscle fatigue. I am most curious to see the Elite Field Completion % for this race in particular. I think you’ll find it significantly lower than normal. Race Director Adam Washburn was quite masochistic with his rig configuration on PR # 1. Battlefrog keeps pushing the boundaries of innovation and are upper body destroyers. In fact, I’m using Dragon software right now to transcribe this as I still can’t lift my hands above my elbows. I’ll be back that’s for sure…. #Bandsoverburpees or #Burpeesoverbands I’ll let you decide…#HOOYAH #BattlingisBelieving.

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 – San Diego: January 2016

Editor’s Note: After our recently published article concerning safety issues, we asked Chris Cow, a seasoned race reviewer for ORM, to note what safety improvements BattleFrog had implemented in this first race of 2016. Chris put lots of attention into this aspect of the review, and did an excellent job reporting on the results he found.

Hooyah!  After 2 years of waiting and hearing rave reviews from events on the East Coast, BattleFrog has finally made the leap (pun intended) to the West Coast.  They kicked off their 2016 season with a race at a new venue east of San Diego this weekend.

BattleFrog dawn SD Jan 2026

The venue itself was a motocross park on an Indian Reservation in the mountains, about 1-1/2 hours from San Diego itself, and featured rolling, sandy hills with windmills spinning in the distance.  The day dawned crisp and cool, and was overcast and a bit windy through much of the day.  Pretty much ideal running conditions, actually.

BattleFrog Elite start San Diego Jan 2016

BattleFrog set up the race with 26 obstacles over a nominal 8k course that measured closer to 5.2 miles by several accounts.  All of the obstacles were very solid and professionally made, many featuring massive steel trussing for support. Coach Pain DeWayne was there at the starting line, and we watched him inspire and send off the elite men, then the male masters division and elite women, followed by the brave souls taking on BFX: BattleFrog Xtreme, in which the goal is to complete as many laps as possible during the day.  When Coach Pain tells you to get ready for the BFX heat, don’t be late.  Oh, and don’t let him see you walk around the short wall at the start corral either.

Coachpain BattleFrog San Diego Jan 2016

Then it was our turn.  The course started off with a fairly long uphill slant to the first obstacle: a standard over/under/through.  Many of the obstacles on the course were fairly standard fare – lots of walls, some tunnels and mud, but many also had twists to them. A 12′ wall with a rope gave many, especially those with a fear of heights, pause, as did a very tall metal A-frame with very widely spaced steps (there was a safety net on the inside of this structure in case someone screwed up).

BattleFrog A-frame San Diego Jan 2016

There was a very interesting wall climb to tunnel slide into a small pond as the only real water crossing, and boy, did that water take your breath away!  Although swimming wasn’t necessary if you were on the taller side or skirted the shore, there were some definite deep spots, and I was pleased to see three lifeguards on hand; two in the water and one standing on the bank to oversee runners’ safety. There was also a sign for a non-swimmers option, though I didn’t see what that option was.

BattleFrog water crossing San Diego Jan 2016

Another interesting obstacle was a slackline balance: elite racers had to cross while stepping on only one line, while open heat runners could use two lines at the same time to cross.

BattleFrog Slackline San Diego Jan 2016

Then there were the Platinum Rigs.  Two of them located at different points in the course to provide a huge challenge to the elite runners (BattleFrog has mandatory obstacle completion for the elites; open heat runners can elect to do a penalty of 10 8-count bodybuilders if they’re unable to do the obstacle).  For those who haven’t encountered these yet, Platinum Rigs have rings, ropes, monkey bars, and other items designed to test your grip strength and agility.  Comparing them to the Spartan Multirig (which many may be more familiar with) is like having a Porsche parked next to the car from the Flintstones that Fred would drive with his feet.  Platinum Rigs are nearly infinitely configurable and can be tuned from “tricky” to “damn near impossible”.

BattleFrog Platinum rig San Diego Jan 2016

The two rigs at the San Diego race were somewhere in the middle. As a volunteer on Friday, I had the opportunity to play on them and found them both doable after a couple of tries. During the race was another matter, and I eventually wandered over and did my bodybuilders in shame after multiple attempts at each.  Several friends who I expected to place very well in the masters division were forced to surrender their wristbands at these monsters.

BattleFrog Platinum Rig2 San Diego Jan 2016

Another obstacle of note was the Weaver, a series of parallel bars where you have to go over one, then under the next, and so on until you reach the end. I’ve seen this one before, but again, BattleFrog added an evil twist; on theirs, the bars were square. And so far, the bruises on arms and legs I’ve seen from it have been spectacular in both color and size. I can’t imagine how it was for the BFX racers who had to do this one 3,4, or 5 times.

BattleFrog Weaver San Diego Jan 2016

Finally, shortly before the finish line, there was BattleFrog’s signature obstacle, Tip of the Spear. This obstacle has steeply inclined walls that you have to traverse with the help of ropes or sometimes wood studs to grip. Again, changes were made – where before the walls were plywood, here they opted for a much more slippery plastic, and the middle section with the inclined hand grips as your only hold were particularly tough.

BattleFrog Tip of the Spear San Diego Jan 2016

Of minor note was a planned waterslide to the finish line that turned out to be a dud; the slope wasn’t really steep enough or the water flow high enough to make it viable, and this was summarily scrapped, leaving just a couple of shallow mud pits before the finish line.

Dr. Bronner’s was on hand with their awesome customized mass shower to wash away the mud with modestly warm water and their foam soap, a big improvement from the hoses that are standard at many events/venues.

BattleFrog’s medals are great (same designs as last year), and their merchandise tent had a wide variety of high-quality items to choose from.  The one minor negative nit that I’ll pick with this race was the choice of beverage for the free beer ticket: cans of Budweiser and Coors Light really don’t cut it when your event is in the heart of craft beer country. They could definitely up their game in this regard.

While the turnout at this race wasn’t huge (they estimated around 800 without counting the volunteers), the crowd that was there represented a core of OCR enthusiasts, and BattleFrog put on a great race that impressed us.

BattleFrog CEO Ramiro Ortiz was at the San Diego event and gave this official statement about the race:

We’re thrilled with the way the San Diego race turned out; this being Ryan Atkins’ first time as Race Director.  It’s our first race of the 2016 season. We’ve also introduced a number of new obstacles and received great feedback from the OCR community. We expect a great season as we expand coast to coast.

BattleFrog Tip of the Spear San Diego Jan 2016

Having (finally) done a BattleFrog event, I am now an enthusiastic fan of this series.  It was professionally run, well-staffed, fun, and challenging.  I can’t wait to try my hand at multiple laps for the BFX in Los Angeles. Fortunately, I don’t have to wait long; they’ll be there in two weeks.  If you are at all interested in obstacle racing and are anywhere in the SoCal area, you should make plans to join me.