BattleFrog returned to the Tri-State New Jersey area this past Saturday with an 8k Obstacle Course Race to brag about. BattleFrog has previously used the overplayed Englishtown, NJ venue but this time opted for the wooded trails and lakes that the Mount Allamuchy Scout Reservation in Stanhope, NJ had to offer, and it did not disappoint.
The majority of the course was composed of double-track, you read right DOUBLE not single-track, technical trails through the woods. The forest provided dense shade through most of the course, which was a welcome feature on a hot and sunny June day. The major benefit of true wooded trails is that they provide undulating terrain for some elevation gain and tricky footwork in the form of roots, rocks, and uneven dirt. The downside is that technical terrain often comes paired with a trail that is only one person wide, making it hard to offer up open passing lanes for the competitors and first-timers alike. This is an often overlooked feature that allows those gunning for the podium to feel competitive and comfortable while also allowing for self-conscious slower runners to move at their own speed and not be concerned if they are holding others up. What BattleFrog managed to find in this venue was technical terrain combined with room to pass, almost without exception. There were also some gravel roads, and a few lakes and marshes thrown in for good measure. I cannot possibly say enough good things about this venue and BattleFrog’s use of it. But maybe widen the Normandy Jacks mud crawl next time, okay?
The facilities offered were also top notch to include seamless parking, shuttles, and registration. This course also boasted the world’s cleanest porta potties, water stops every mile on course, friendly and enthusiastic volunteers and staff, plus one of the best pump-up speeches (with some PT to boot for the BFX runners) given by Coach Pain. For the swag and memorabilia lovers: photographers were a plenty, the medals being earned are bad-ass, and the t-shirts were super comfy. However, my only major complaint with the whole day was logistical: the location of the BFX tent. Typically the tent is located just off the cut-through from the Finish line to the Start line and semi-secluded from the buzz of the festival area. This time it had to be accessed by cutting across the festival and often found it was mistaken as a hangout area for spectators. If the tent was moved to the less accessible side of the festival near the cut through, BattleFrog would have earned perfect scores in New Jersey.
One thing that rang true through the entire event is that BattleFrog is the ultimate race series for just about anyone. The race brand has built-in so many options that no matter your experience or preference, from newbie to elite to endurance OCR athlete, you will find what you are looking for at BattleFrog. The first option comes at race sign-up, and has been a signature of BattleFrog for years in offering 3 race types: open 8k, mandatory obstacle completion elite 16k, or as many laps as possible in BFX. There is a race format for everyone offered.
Next, within the race itself, most obstacles now offer 3 different level of difficulty. I think this change has opened the appeal to inexperienced and casual racers by offering an unintimidating setup where you can work at your own level, and strive to be better next race. BattleFrog is well known throughout the business as one of the most physically demanding race forms in both elite and BFX, yet still manages to be approachable. Ultimately, with all the options, your build your own race flavor. It brought me great joy as an Xtreme racer, to chat with 3 generations of women running together on course, with Grandma leading the pack. BattleFrog is keeping the effort going to expand the footprint of Obstacle Course Racing, as exemplified by this.
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