I was fortunate enough to be in Orlando in March when The 2015 BattleFrog College Championships were taped. The concept was to take 4 athletes from 16 schools (in a team format) and match those teams in head to head competition, on an OCR short course. These races would later become a 3 episode series airing this week on ESPN2 and ESPNU.
I spoke to many of the contestants and found out that, much like the rest of the OCR community, they were from very diverse athletic backgrounds. Many of them participate in what is known as “club sports”, organized college sporting leagues not regulated by the NCAA. For this event, those clubs included Cross Fit, Triathlon, and believe it or not, there are some OCR clubs beginning to appear.
The students were all very excited to be part of this project, and why not!? Number one, they were going to get to play on obstacles all weekend. Number two, they were going to be on television. Last but not least, the end all, be all for all college kids…Free Stuff. All of them were given head-to-toe racing gear including some Inov-8 X-talon 200’s to run in.
One of my first observations was seeing certain athletes who brought obvious OCR experience to the competition against those that did not. There were some misguided attempts at what many would consider basic obstacle techniques. Additionally, since this was a 3 day event, many of the competitors had to chance to hone skills on their particular obstacle section. This helped some of them learn how to cut valuable seconds or half seconds that can make all the difference in competition.
Day 1 of taping back in March were the qualifying heats which were shown in brief at the beginning of Episode 1 last night. The remainder of the episode showed all 8 matches from the opening round in their entirety. The Army cadets of West Point, who had put up the fastest qualifying time and were the number one seed, did not disappoint and crushed lowest seed, USC. Penn State easily defeated NC State. Wisconsin took down Big 10 rival Michigan. The University of Virginia (who have one of 3 Coffin siblings in this competition) took down Illinois. Ole Miss, showing fantastic obstacle proficiency with the only athletes so far to jump through the “through wall” and kick the bell on the rope climb, defeated Texas A&M. Alabama beat SEC rival Florida. Virginia Tech, who has Corinna, the Coffin you are all familiar with defeated Kentucky . In the final showdown of the first episode, Syracuse was cruising and looking to upset Miami. Then, one of those obstacle missteps that we spoke of earlier occurred at the Jerry Cans, and allowed Miami to overtake Syracuse and go on to victory.
2 hands (and a back) are better than 1
The feedback from last night’ episode was almost 100% positive today on social media. Many were thrilled that the OCR community finally got LIVE coverage from an event as it was happening.
Hard Charge, which lasted for about a year, televised races but didn’t bother to use anyone familiar with obstacles in the announcing booth. In addition, that broadcast team clearly did all of the the “announcing” inside a comfy studio, weeks later. Spartan Race has been showcasing their events on NBCSport Network since December of 2013. However, they have chosen to show everything “documentary” style which many like, but doesn’t cater to the live experience.
With BattleFrog College Championship, The OCR community got Evan Dollard, obstacle racer and American Ninja Warrior competitor as color commentator and they brought them to the site to live broadcast an action packed event. This show caters more to the sport watching crowd that likes their sports to be exciting and be involved just enough to have context.
Episode 2 What To Watch For
Miami’s fashion statements – Can shades and a half shirt win the day?
Coffin domination? Will All 3 Coffins make the Final Four
Shenanigans. We watched some of the teams get a little wacky as the day wore on, see if some of their (not so) subtle moves make the final cut.
And if you sign up for a Battlefrog Race use the discount code BATTLEORM to save big
Matt B. Davis
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