The 2015 Chicago BattleFrog was held on September 19th at The Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. This was BattleFrog’s first event in the Chicagoland area, with Chris Accord designing the course around the ski resorts winding hills. I think most of us were a little curious after hearing how hard The Beard made his last course in Cincinnati. I showed up early and found that parking a half mile away was $10 dollars while VIP parking right next to registration was $25 dollars. None of this was explained on the website, and quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of the new way OCR events are squeezing people for extra dollars. With my whole family along, I’m almost forced to park up front due to all the clothes changing and feeding kids snacks. The registration tents were right in front of the resort with one person getting people signed in úntil the Open class arrived, leaving us waiting in line for longer than expected. Once inside the event area, the music was pumping, and I could hear Coach Pain’s voice on the microphone getting everyone excited.
Walking around the corner, the first thing you see is the dreaded Platinum Rig. This is one obstacle that has cost many an Elite racer his/her band. Further into the gates, they had their vendors and the BattleFrog store, where you could buy all things BattleFrog. BattleFrog started off the day at 7:30 in the morning with the male, female, and masters elites who had to make two trips around the 5.8 mile course without failing an obstacle to qualify for a prize. 8:00 am started the Open class heats that continued every half an hour throughout the day, and 8:30 started the BFX Extreme class in which you need to run as many laps as you could as fast as you could. Another class that BattleFrog offers that’s unique to them is the Clydesdale and Athena divisions in which larger athletes can compete against each other for the Horseshoe trophy. I lined up at the starting corral and took a look around, and wouldn’t you know it – the first obstacle at a ski resort was running up to the top of the ski hill. Now, the whole course was a wet sloppy mess due to the massive amount of rain that the area received the previous two days, so you can imagine how tough it was to get any footing going up the hills. Next up The Beard had us get right to business with the Wreck Bag carry down and up sloppier ski hills, followed by the 4-foot walls, which ended up winding down the mountain to put us smack in front of the Platinum Rig. There was a pretty decent log jam of people here as elites had to finish or lose their elite bands while the open racers were mixing in for their attempts. As with all open class obstacles along the course, failure meant ten 8-count body builders, and there were plenty of people filling up the area just past the rig doing them. This marked the transition away from the festival area and into the surrounding woods where the trails were tactical and sloppy. The Beard then started tucking in some of his other obstacles along the trail where any twists and turns led us to 8-foot and inverted walls, the spider web, the mud trudge, and the swamp attack where the previous day’s rain actually put the Normandy jacks under water! Winding our way back towards the mountain, The Beard hammered us with the cargo climb, the 12-foot rope walls, and very slick ramp walls. At this point, the terrain started to open up a bit leaving us with a false sense of security as our next obstacle was the trap killing Jerry Can carry. Many of us started to gas out carrying these jugs down and up a technical trail slick with mud and filled with rocks, luckily that was one of the locations where there was an aid station with water.
After a drink, we started back down the front of the mountain, where the grass was clipped and the running easy, at least until we hit the balance beam. This was no ordinary balance beam though, as you were required to do the beam while carrying a wreck bag to add to the difficulty. Now, at the bottom of the mountain, we weaved around the spectators and hit the 6-foot walls and the mounds of grounds which were covered with coffee grounds! This was the best smelling obstacle I’ve ever come across! The wonderful smell of coffee was then broken up with a slide into muddy water and a duck under a low hung wall before we hit the swim, which was about a hundred yards long in the resort pond. Four divers were in the water at all times to help anyone in distress. After getting out of the water, the end was in site, but the last group of obstacles leading us back to the finish started with the Tip of the Spear, which was brutal on the grip strength. A 60-degree ladder climb and delta ladder were the last obstacles for athletes to overcome on their way to the finish line and an awesome looking BattleFrog medal and tee shirt. BattleFrog has a well-earned reputation for having some of the toughest courses around, and their race at Lake Geneva certainly lived up to the hype.
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