By Walter F Hendrick (OCRSandy)
This was my fourth BattleFrog race in six weeks and my goal was to complete at least three laps for my eighth BattleFrog BFX medal over the past two race seasons. I also always look forward to visiting the New England area because I have several friends I always look forward to seeing!
- Registration and Festival:
I was running late (my fault) and arrived at the venue just as the BFX pre-race briefing started, so I was happy that I was able to get through registration fast and easy.
The festival area was set up perfectly and was by far the best organized BattleFrog festival I have seen this year. My suggestion is to let the same group of staff set up the next festival area because they did a great job.
- Pre-race MC:
I hate to sound like a broken record, but Coach Dewayne Pain killed it as always! He has been the pre-race MC for three of the four BattleFrog races I completed this year and his motivational speech was awesome and different than the previous ones. It’s amazing to watch people that have never experienced Dewayne before and watch them get both motivated and emotional.
- The Course:
According to my GPS watch, the course was about 8.5K and it started out in the festival area and immediately entered the woods and out of the direct sunlight which was awesome because it was a hot and sunny day and the heat played a major role for probably every racer.
The first three obstacles on the course where the thru, under, and over which typically is considered one obstacle, but because they were spread out a short distance apart from each other the course designer considered them three individual obstacles. I personally am not a fan when courses split something like the O-U-T into three individual obstacles and boost the obstacle totals, so I had to mention it, but wasn’t a big deal with this specific course because they didn’t do it to meet the minimum requirements for advertised obstacles.
The course included the majority of the BattleFrog staple obstacles, including Normandy Jacks which was a much shorter crawl than typical, but on such a hot day a short crawl wasn’t such a bad thing. The course utilized it’s two Platinum rigs side by side as one obstacle and I actually just learned that whenever the registration is large, BattleFrog utilizes its two rigs this way to avoid bad delays which is a very smart idea. Other obstacles present on the course where Confident Climb, 60 Degrees, which is an obstacle that I used to only see used by BattleFrog, but is now becoming very popular with Canada OCR’s, the 12’ Rope Walls, 4’ Walls, Wedge Traverse (an always challenging inverted/wedge wall to traverse across), the rope climb, which was the nicest rope climb set up I have seen at a BattleFrog at least this year, 8’ Walls and 6’ Walls.
The course also included its fair share of carrying obstacles which included the Strongman which was filling a bucket with gravel and carrying it a short or long trail distance depending on which version of the course you picked. The same rules applied to the Wreck Bag Carry and Jerry Can carry. I personally felt that last year’s carries (at the same venue) were much harder than this year, and again this wasn’t a bad thing when you factor in the sun and heat.
The course had what they referred to as a “Riverbed Rumble”, but it was actually a dried up stream rock bed and this section of the course was, at least for me, brutal. I remember thinking during lap # 1 that this stream bed section of the course had to be at least 1K in distance, so on lap # 2 I made sure to note the actual distance of the stream bed and it was only .40K which I have to admit came to a shock to me.
Following the stream bed section, we climbed up a not so challenging hill and then the course made its way over to the 12’ Rope Walls Climb obstacle, that regardless of the version/level of the obstacle chosen is a challenge for almost every level of racer. After a short distance came the next obstacle the Monkey Bars and up almost immediately next was Mud Mounds, which was a fun chance to climb up some mounds of mud and then slide into some muddy water. I remember being thankful they didn’t have these two obstacles in reverse order. The course continued through a section that wasn’t so easy on the ankles and feet for a short distance and then made a sharp turn and came to HOOYAH which is what I was screaming as I slid into about knee deep water and had a rare opportunity to get wet and cool down!
The trail now made its way towards the finish of the lap/course and you could hear both the festival music and Coach Dewayne doing an awesome job and the next few obstacles on the course were the Ramp Walls and then its similar cousin the Inverted Walls. Next came the Tip of the Spear which I have to mention, the novice version was set up a lot easier than it had been at the two East Coast Canada events or New Jersey. The last two obstacles were the 12’ Ladder Walls, and the Delta Cargo Net climb and then came the finish or turn to do another lap (if you were doing Elite or BFX).
The additions of a penalty loop for some of the BFX obstacles and three versions of the majority of the obstacles are a great step in the right direction to make a course/event that is fun for racers of any skill/experience level and should help increase future registrations.
- The Bling:
The bling has had an update for 2016, the finisher medals for the 8K and Elite are new, but the medal for the BFX is the same, which is cool, because it is still sexy and awesome. The shirt has a new color, logo, and simpler design for 2016 which is nice, but I personally miss the original shirt design with the BattleFrog on them. I did notice that at this event I received a grey colored finisher shirt with a green thread, which I like a lot better than the above mentioned shirt that comes in blue.
- Overall Feelings and Event Rating:
The course was challenging and BattleFrog even used a part of the venue’s land never used before (the venue owner suggested using it) by any other obstacle course race so that was a fun change. The volunteers, staff and Police Officers that worked sections of the course that had active motor vehicle traffic worked hard all day and I feared many of them were not drinking enough water so I made sure to ask them on each lap. I am rating this event a 4.8 out of 5 stars.
The only complaint/critique I have at all, was that they broke up the O-U-T obstacle into three separate obstacles. To be fair, I want to point out that I have noticed obstacle design improvements from race to race, so it’s good to see BattleFrog is always making improvements. I personally would like to see BattleFrog now work on a few new obstacles and bringing more obstacles to future races/events.