This past weekend I participated in the Trident category of the Washington DC Bonefrog, Challenge, which is the only Navy SEAL owned and operated mud and obstacle race in the USA. The challenge took place at the Wicomico Motorsports Park, which is a 300-acre family-owned and operated motorsports park in Southern Maryland that is near the Maryland International Raceway and Potomac Speedway in Budds Creek, Maryland.
The challenging course winds throughout the various trails throughout the motocross park, the wooded area surrounding the park, as well as an open area with various obstacles that were very accessible for spectators.
For the Trident category, the race length was around 18+ miles and made up of four laps – starting with the Challenge (6 miles), Tier-1 (9 miles), and Sprint (3 miles).
I decided to participate in the Trident category because I really enjoyed racing in the Challenge category two years ago, and the Trident looked like it would be an adventure. Plus, the medal is pretty amazing!
The longest OCR distance I have raced in the past was about 12 miles, so trying to imagine 18+ miles with 100+ obstacles was both intimidating and exciting at the same time.
I knew this was going to be a long and tough event, and my motivation to get from each obstacle to the next came down to reflecting on my personal journey over the years. During this time back in the summer of 2004, I was fighting for my life in ICU. One month after graduating high school, I was involved in a near-fatal car accident with a speeding truck that collided into my driver’s side door. I spent two months in ICU on life support, in a coma, underwent 14 major operations, resuscitated eight times, given 36 blood transfusions, lost about 100 pounds and spent three years in recovery. This was on my mind for inspiration during my preparation for this event, and also throughout the course itself.
All participants had to make their way up and down the hills through the wooded terrain surrounding the motocross park. Some of the hills were steep enough where it was more efficient to come to a fast-paced walk up the incline.
There were about 100+ obstacles that were spread out along the course, with a bunch of the main obstacles being stacked pretty close to each other near the end of the loop. I felt that the high temperatures were an obstacle in itself that we were having to conquer throughout the long course as well.
The Trident included four loops (6 miles, 6 miles, 3 miles, 3 miles) and the first two laps were about conserving energy, trying to find shade when you could, and keeping your hydration at an optimum level the entire way.
Once we made it to the third loop, it was about getting to each obstacle, executing it to the best of your abilities, and then conserving your energy and run/jog speed accordingly.
The final loop was about utilizing the strength and energy you had left and getting to the finish line. After the challenge of the first three loops, and with the heat temps rising quickly at this point, it was encouraging to have the finish line in sight.
Some personal favorites from the obstacles included:
Chopper: This was a tough obstacle that involved swinging from ring to ring, followed by a series of rotating handles that brought you around to the next ring/handle. Grip strength and patience were both important components for this obstacle.
Black Ops: This was also one of my favorite obstacles from when I competed in the Challenge back in 2017 as well. This is the final obstacle of the race and involved a series of monkey bars that you have to climb up to, and there is a safety net underneath the bars in case you can’t make it all the way across. Not only were there a lot of other participants crowded around taking turns to go across the monkey bars, but there were a lot of spectators watching as well. It was very encouraging having all the cheering and support while going across the bars, and the big USA flag next to the obstacle was certainly a triumphant way to finish out a great race. With the Trident having four laps involved, there were four opportunities to get a great photo taken on this obstacle.
This was the second Bonefrog event that I’ve participated in, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great challenge.
During each lap of the four laps needed to complete the Trident, the volunteers on the course were incredible and offered an abundance of well-needed support. The fact that they were out there on the course in the high temperatures with smiles on their faces was awe-inspiring to everyone competing, so again, a big thank you to everyone who volunteered and helped out along the course!
Bonefrog had everything that you would want in an OCR event: trail running, climbing, carrying, reaching, balancing, running and jumping, and sliding. All these types of movements took place in shoe stealing mud, slippery hills, and unforgiving uphill climbs.
It was truly a challenge from start to finish, and I felt that the obstacles were evenly spaced throughout the course to give the body time to recover and move on to the next obstacle successfully. Each obstacle was earned too because you had to really focus in on both strength and endurance throughout the course. Teamwork was also very evident on the course too because all the participants were helping each other.
Overview, preparation, and training/race suggestions
Similar to my experience in 2017, I found that key preparation for this event includes a well-rounded balance of trail running (hiking is very helpful too) up and down hills to help improve ascending and descending and also being able to balance your body weight.
Part of my training this season included two road marathons (March and May), one 50K ultra trail marathon (February), and a shorter distance OCR event (June). I felt with this amount of miles logged on the trails did help when it came to the 18+ miles of trail running in this event.
There were quite a few obstacles that required upper body strength and endurance, followed up with being able to pull your body up and over a few climbing obstacles, so incorporating into your workout routine pull up strength, climbing from bar to bar, and bodyweight exercises are a must. Hanging from a bar to increase grip strength and endurance is very important. I also recommend pull-ups, chin-ups, and being able to carefully move from one log to the next with increasing height.
During the race itself, the Trident and multi-lap participants had access to a shaded tent where they could set up their bags/coolers to help them restock any hydration/nutrition needed during the event – this was very helpful especially with the high temps that day.
First off, there was a great open area for spectators to offer encouragement to their friends and family. This was well needed especially on this day due to the extreme heat, every little bit of encouragement and support was well appreciated.
Not only was there a great support system out on the course with the other participants, but the military presence, from the staff to the volunteers was truly inspirational.
From start to finish, the atmosphere was a combination of adrenaline and patriotism. This was a challenging event that I was glad I participated in and extra glad that I had plenty of training in also.
Big shout out to the Bonefrog team, and all the volunteers who made this event possible – truly a great course that I highly recommend!
coma. After relearning how to walk again and then spending three years in recovery, he went on to participate in over 4 dozen endurance events including 5 Ironman's, 16 marathons, and two ultramarathons. A two time published author, Brian has recently started competing in OCR
events, and is very much looking forward to racing in many more this season.
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