If you haven’t run a Bone Frog Challenge before… you’re doing OCR wrong.
I could simply end the review there but for those of you who still aren’t convinced, let me spend the next 840 words changing your mind.
Former Navy SEAL Brian Carney’s HESCO Bone Frog Challenge, now in it’s fourth year, has attracted the likes of OCR heavyweights Hobie Call, Junyong Pak, Amelia Boone, Cody Moat,
Josh Chace and more. Why haven’t you heard about it? Well, if you’re an OCR enthusiast and not just a single brand-loyal racer (Spartan AROO’er, Mudder, or that other Frog), hopefully you have. Nestled deep within the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts, the HESCO Bone Frog Challenge started in 2013 and then expanded to several other locations in the last few years – also launching the Bone Frog Championships, a 6-mile obstacle intense course for all the marbles at the end of the year. Now when I say “obstacle intense”, I mean that HESCO Bone Frog Challenge has some of the most challenging and original obstacles in the industry today, hands down.
Before we talk obstacles, let’s look at the choice of distances offered. HESCO Bone Frog Challenge has expanded it’s offerings in the last few years in an attempt to draw the hardcore OCR enthusiasts as well as capture the folks new to the industry. In New England this past weekend, they offered the following race options:
Sprint – 5K
Challenge – 9 Mile
Tier 1 – 12+ Mile
I opted for the Tier 1 course because I can not get enough of Bone Frog’s obstacles. From their extra-high sternum checker (appropriately named the ‘Dirty Name’ because people are constantly swearing as they round the corner towards this thing) to the highest monkey bars you’ll ever do (also conveniently placed directly in front of the festival area for maximum exposure). Bone Frog crams 40 great non-filler style obstacles into their Challenge and 20+ into their Sprint. You get the usual rope climbs, hoists, wall climbs and more but intertwined between those staples in OCR are some amazing hurdles. A tyrolean traverse over a freezing cold lake – that was only after two previous submersions atop Berkshire East. Great upper body testers like handhold monkey bars, some Ninja Warrior style grip traverses that have still defeated me after 3 years and walls that range from A-frame style, to traverse and inverted options – but it was the Stairway to Valhalla that deserves honorable mention today. Each mountain course typically has what the racers like to refer to as a ‘Death March’. A hike that looks like a crowd of zombies from The Walking Dead is slowly walking up, single file. Last years Stairway was only about 350 feet and started more than halfway up the mountain – well Robb McCoy (of F.I.T. Challenge fame), who was brought on as Co-Race Coordinator this year, decided that this needed to be stepped up a notch or twelve. If you don’t know Robb, know this: Robb McCoy loves hills like I love post-race McDonald’s cheeseburgers (see):
And Robb uses every foot of a hill to beat, batter and bully his racers – in a good way, of course! The Stairway to Valhalla this year started at the base of the mountain and went straight up 800 feet of elevation and over half a mile in distance. If you opted for the Tier 1 race, you had the dubious distinction of climbing this beast twice. Thanks Robb. My calves look epic now thanks to you.
Bone Frog got a little extra boost of exposure this year thanks to Mr. Hobie Call. You may recall that Hobie challenged Ryan Atkins earlier this month (and took the title of UnBFeated away from Mr. Atkins in quite an upset). Never satisfied, Hobie then moved on to challenge 2x reigning Bone Frog Challenge winner Junyong Pak and wouldn’t you know it, he handily slayed that dragon today as well.
All of this made for a great day at Bone Frog Challenge and hopefully a day worth inspiring more racers to attend in the weeks and months to come. I promise you, this is an event worth marking on your calendar – they’ve got five events left in 2016, seen here: http://www.bonefrogchallenge.com/events/
The event wasn’t without it’s small share of logistical missteps: unfortunately UPS decided not to drop off the race shirts until after the course had shut down, so racers will be getting those in the mail in the follow days/weeks. Beyond that, Bone Frog has mastered the parking, festival, spectator areas and food/vendor balance at a relatively small resort at Berkshire East. What they do have is an AMAZING mountain full of challenging terrain and a staff that truly loves building some of those most amazing obstacles in the industry. They were also all over the course throughout the day calling in requests for more water at plentiful water stops, and there to help out the few that needed medical attention.
To top it all off, at the end of the race, you are handed your medals by a tried and true Navy SEAL – for me it was from a gentleman who had served from 1977 to 2006. Bone Frog really knows how to pay respect to the folks who share the race’s namesake. Bravo. In summary: A++++ would do business with again!