My race season is minimal this year. To be honest, I’m being extremely picky and doing the races I enjoy, and the one’s that seemingly will bring on a challenge. BattleFrog fit into the latter as it’s an OCR founded by Navy Seals, it’s supposed to be hard. Based on reviews of their previous events, photos and the folklore (the Mines) that elucidated fear and excited from OCR veterans; the expectations were super high.
It was announced that the location would be in Barre, MA, specifically the Carter-Stevens Farm. The first, and major, question was, “on what mountain do they plant to hold it on?” Just a quick Google search shows that they are roughly 780 feet above sea level, and the highest point in Barre is 880 feet above sea level. I probably went a little “off-course” there but the point is, 100 feet difference does not make a mountain. Hell, it’s barely a hill in the OCR world. There was grumbling from the recent Spartan Super that had been run at the very same location. Massachusetts waited for some time to get a super and people were not so excited to find out it would be at one of the flattest places in the whole state. I think some people are still pissing and moaning about it.
So how on Earth were the planning to make this course different from any other flat course?
While doing recon of the farm, race director Chris “The Beard” Acord, found some of the gnarliest sections. A course doesn’t have to have elevation all the time. As a matter of fact, I can appreciate a course that is riddled with roots, rocks, ankle biters and other nastiness just as much. I find that some of the technical mess is just as difficult, it slows you down. You literally, and no pun intended, have to think on your feet at all times. One brain fart and it’s a rolled ankle, or since this was a farm, a slip into a cow patty! I’m sure that SOB was smirking behind that beard knowing the surprises that were hidden under the thicket.
I’m not going to go into it deeply, because we all know at this point. BattleFrog is transitioning. Industry insiders have them dead and buried as they seem to be following the pattern of many failed OCR’s that have come before. The difference I notice is the fact they are still forging ahead, they are making adjustments on the fly rather than just shutting it down and hoping they can get their act together. We all can appreciate a fighter right? That’s what I think these guys are doing, their scrapping for a place at the OCR table and they want to be taken seriously.
They came out of the gate so hot and heavy it was hard not to notice them, yet for some reason, they weren’t pulling in numbers that could sustain the roadshow they were bringing to each event. Little by little, this guy was gone and obstacle or two was missing and your favorite local rep was now looking for work. What the hell were they doing? Let’s leave that to the experts, we are here to talk about New England and it’s success or lack thereof.
I chose to run the 8k distance, which was one full lap of the course. There were all sorts of options you could pick. One lap for a total of 8k. Two laps, which was billed as 15k even though math tells us it should be 16k!?! But, what’s a k between friends right? If you were feeling ambitious you could run the elite wave, which was two full laps but running against some of the sports top athletes. If you were feeling stupidly ambitious you could do the BFX! What in the world is the BFX? It is as many laps of the course as possible. As you do another lap, you are awarded a star to put with your medal at the end. So many stars….
I’m not going to breakdown every single obstacle, you can find other reviews that do that already published. You had typical walls to hop over, walls to go under, and some to go through. There was a rope climb, which I was excited to see was at the beginning of the race. When I arrived at it, it was already bottle-necked and I saw more successful climbs than I have ever seen on a rope climb. It’s obvious people were really fresh and able to complete it. Instead of the barbed wire crawl you will find at other races, the BattleFrog signature crawl is the Normandy Jacks. No barbs to catch your back, but still was just as challenging, if not maybe a bit more because the wire was 2″ off the ground at some points. There were tire flips. Carrying of heavy things for long distances. Nothing groundbreaking so far…
Speaking of breaking though… I got to an obstacle called “The Dirty Name” and saw a crowd on the right side of it, which other were completing, or trying to complete, the obstacle on the left side. A woman had fallen off and, without going overboard, it surely looked like she maybe broke her back. She was in massive pain, was yelling loudly and was not moving! There was an obvious bottle-neck so I had time to watch how people were attempting the obstacle. Some were successful, most were not. They were slipping off, many of them falling onto their backs just like the woman to the right. Not only was it slippery though, but you could see it rocking back and forth as people were jumping on it. For safety reason, I walked to the side and did my 8 count bodybuilders. I like my back intact, thank you.
The only other obstacle I had to bodybuilder out on was the Platinum Rig. People were dropping like flies on this one, and for good reason. If you have no grip, or have had that grip taxed from a variety of others obstacles, this is going to give you fits.
The 60 Degree Wall was a ton of fun, I liked that you had to climb it in reverse and that it wasn’t flat. The Delta Ladder was cool, nice and high up. Those folks with a fear of heights had some issues, but working on a ladder every day I found ti to be a quick up and over. The last obstacle was probably my favorite of any obstacle to date, the Tip Of The Spear (pictured to you right). There were three sections of inverted walls. The first and third had ropes strewn from the top and you had to move horizontally from rope to rope. The section in between them had just a plank nailed to it. You had barely a couple inches of space to grip onto and you shuffled along to get to the end. I honestly felt like giving up on it. This was right near the end of the race and their were more than a few spectators. One woman saw that I was thinking about dropping and gave me a lil encouragement. I finished and loved the obstacle. Can’t wait to do it again.
I’ve talked about the obstacles they did have, but there were quite a few BattleFrog signatures that were missing. For instance the was no monkey bars, rope traverse, no Hooyah and the one I was looking forward to was the paintball challenge. I’m curious why these guys were omitted.
I wanna touch on on thing real quick, one major thing that they are doing 100% right and there is no taking this away. They are treating their biggest teams with a ton of respect. They were in constant communication with us on rewards and how our members could make sure they got them. The biggest thing for me that proved just how solid they were was on race day. There were 300+ of us and as we all headed to ward the starting corral the emcee was saying some folks have 30 seconds to get over the wall or miss running with the team. The Beard had issues with this, grabbed the mic and told our team members to get over that wall and line it up. No team members behind!
All in all, a great day. The ups most certainly outweigh the downs here. BattleFrog pulled it out and I can’t wait to see what they have to offer in the future as they streamline things.