I had the wonderful opportunity of running with CF Bane’s Army, a very well known face of BoneFrog on Father’s day weekend, Saturday June 17th, 2017. CF Bane’s Army is a mud and road running group dedicated to finding a cure for Cystic Fibrosis, and on this day we ran on behalf of a brave young Cystic Fibrosis sufferer named Conlee. Running for those who can’t. Please click on this link to learn more about this horrible disease, and what CF Bane’s Army with the help of the Lucosky Brookman Foundation are doing to raise awareness for a cure.
The very first words that I can use to describe the Bonefrog New Jersey 2017 Englishtown course is, “It was like falling down a military themed rabbit hole and my name was Private Alice for the day.”
*Pre race packet pickup was available on Friday night before the event between 5pm – 7pm*
Their insanely fun signature obstacles were there, the venue specific obstacles were fun and challenging, the parking was incredibly convenient at $10 per car. They even had port-o-potties on the course (Thank you Bonefrog!), a very rocking festival area with quality foods stands, water stations on the course galore, and amazingly friendly military and non-military volunteers. They even had the fitness option of knotted and unknotted rope climbs with the good quality rope! So what was it about Bonefrog New Jersey that still has me saying, “What just happened? What was that? Did I like it? Was it a good touch or a bad touch?”, yet it strangely leaves me kind of yearning for more.
Speaking of bad touch, why does Bonefrog have zero changing tents? The only race series without changing tents, that makes no sense to me. While we are on the subject of what’s missing? Where’s Coach Pain!
The course itself, where many other well-known races are held each year in Englishtown, New Jersey, was turned into a wonderland of crazy obstacles and even crazier people. If Bonefrog New England which I reviewed here was, “Hell on earth.” then Bonefrog New Jersey was an insane tea party picnic in the park literally, I’ll get to that part soon. There was definitely something crazy about this dirty Jersey course that I wasn’t sure if I was prepared to take on so soon after Bonefrog New England.
What Bonefrog New Jersey couldn’t make up for in extreme terrain, they made up for by completely and absolutely playing psychological warfare on your mind with a course that made me go, “WTF is this shit!” many times. The torrential downpour of rain that was on and off like a faucet made the obstacles much more muddy and slippery as well, so add +2 for difficulty thanks to nature.
Imagine being thrown into a whirlwind world of uniformed military men and women manning the obstacles and serving you water, monster trucks in the middle of nowhere, running across racetracks and up curving motocross hills. Suddenly you are in the middle of a beautiful wonderland of lush green scenery, a secluded manmade beach that looks postcard perfect with a sailboat just sitting there. The scenenery once again changes abruptly into urban-ish areas as quiet as an apocolyptic film and just as creepy. Swamp-like land with shoe sucking mud awaiting unsuspecting racer’s shoes, oh and they made you run through a public park.
Bonefrog must have gotten a parks permit because suddenly we found ourselves running through children’s birthday parties, family picnics, old men fishing who were extremely agitated because we were scaring the fish away by diving into the water to complete 1 of the 3 swim obstacles. You absolutely have to leave all societal norms at the starting line to be a mud runner. I wish I was able to take a picture of these people hiding their children and the old men looking at us with their jaws dropped. You can almost see the question bubbles over their heads that said, “Are you doing this for fun or did you all lose a bet?”. So instead I will put it into 2 words. Bemused horror.
“Send in the clowns! Here’s your free entertainment folks!”
I’ll admit it was hilariously amazing! I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. That is definitely something that I didn’t even know was on my bucket list.
Bonefrog if you wanted to take your racers to the brink of insanity with the most amusingly oddest OCR course that I’ve ever run, you’ve done your job correctly in my opinion. My biggest complaint besides that damn grenade throw which I’ll get to in a bit, was the horribly marked course. Terrible lack of markings and mileage signs as well. Oh and little pink badminton birdiess or whatever those are do not help once they get stomped into the ground by other racers. The only mileage sign was a military volunteer that told us, “You’re at mile 4.9.” Great, now what if he doesn’t feel like talking?
Okay aside from bitching about course markers, Bonefrog Englishtown, New Jersey is a fast flat course even by road running standards which had about 40 obstacles for Challenge, a great place to go for the higher tiers such as Tier-1 and Endurance if that’s your thing. Some of the obstacles were not marked on the course so I wasn’t sure if some of them were even obstacles to be honest, and I don’t take Bonefrog’s course map seriously except to see the terrain, I am notorious for not reading course maps period. Bonefrog is notorious for sending out bogus maps anyways. See, mindfuckery. That’s the Navy SEALs for you right?
Let me say that Bonefrog has the most amazing traverses in any of the race series that I’ve done hands down. Their Spider traverse on their New Jersey course aka, “The never ending cargo web of pain.” was hands down my favorite obstacle on this course. It was a loose shaky cargo net that looked like a mile long suspended tennis net. It turned you upside down, tangled you with what felt like no end in sight, it was great. Sometimes simple is the best, not always… but sometimes it is and this was definitely one of those times.
Speaking of the traverses, I was wondering where Bonefrog’s signature obstacle the river rope traverse was, but looking at the terrain there was absolutely nowhere to hang the ropes from. Sorry New Jersey, it’s a bad ass obstacle too!
The worst obstacle is that dud of an obstacle the grenade toss. This time it didn’t even have a hula hoop target. There were hints of what could have been green spray paint or chalk. I don’t know, because the green paint/chalk blended in really well with the grass. I don’t know if this fellow racer was joking or not but they asked, “What are we supposed to do? Throw them at each other?”
I so badly wanted to say yes but the thought of being hit by one didn’t sound like a good idea to me. I told them that we were supposed to toss them. “At what?”, was asked so I said, “You’re supposed to imagine a target.” Stop trolling us with this obstacle guys! Seriously.
Bonefrog New Jersey was denser in high wall obstacles and balance obstacles than New England as well. Due to the extremely muddy conditions the group and I were extremely careful using our hands where we could on balance obstacles, and shoving each other’s asses (and sometimes naughty bits by accident) over walls. The Irish tables were MUCH higher than any big name race series that I’ve personally done and extremely terrifying, especially when covered in mud.
Another amazing obstacle was a water one which even my non-swimming ass thoroughly enjoyed. It was a series of huge buoys which you had to swim under and then crawl up onto a manmade beach. Great obstacle Bonefrog, more of these and fewer grenades please! It also gave you time to wash the mud off.
Many including myself hoped for a mud run and it was delivered on a silver platter by the dozens. The course was so muddy that sometimes you really do have to be careful what you wish for. There were even mud pits where if you stepped in the wrong spot you sank like a stone up to your waist. This is where running as partners, or in teams and in groups really comes in handy.
Their obstacle Seat bars or better known as, “The green monkey bars that look like they are made from spare roller coaster parts.” Seriously that’s what a lot of people call them, has had a bit of a makeover. Instead of climbing up a cargo ladder to the bars, now it’s jump to the bars from a sketchy platform and hope you don’t fall off. It definitely clears the log jam but there’s like 4 lanes. Can there be a fitness option for these? One with ladders for amateurs, and the new design for the pros? Just a thought.
Get to the chopper, another grip strength obstacle that many including myself fail miserably at is still in my opinion, “Too damn tall!” Congrats to all of those that beasted this harder than nails obstacle. It takes serious grip strength and strategy to get through this one.
How does Justin T. Manning Make this look so easy?
My husband had the pleasure of briefly chatting with one of Bonefrog’s staff regarding difficulty in courses and obstacles. Bonefrog is trying to find a balance of tough as nails while helping those new to obstacle course racing find their fitness levels and reach their goals. I think that they are doing a great job so far, and it seems many agree due to the number of cars I saw filling the lot. So if you’ve never tried a Hesco Bonefrog race, I highly recommend it. Who invented obstacle courses to begin with? The military of course, specifically Lt. Col. William M. Hoge of the U.S Army.
Finally, I’m able to give a HUGE thank you to all of the men and women that not only volunteered their time to this race series, but who also continue to sacrifice for the U.S.A, and those that made the ultimate sacrifice. I hope that you Bonefrogs did 1 for Bart at 31 heroes or signed the Memorial wall if you have a loved one in the service. It’s not all fun and games at Bonefrog.
Photo credits: Hesco Bonefrog, CF Bane’s Army, Wikipedia
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