On November 15th, 1986 I came screaming into the world. Naturally, when I saw that the highly thought of new race series of the year BattleFrog was closing out its first ever race season in their hometown of Miami Florida on the 15th of November, I was sold. As a somewhat newbie to the obstacle-racing world I wasn’t quite prepared for what these Navy SEALs had planned for me. I’ve done longer races, and I’ve even heard that some were harder…but BattleFrog Miami kicked my booty in all the best ways.
The location of the race was on the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park. The course was positioned along the beach, in the ocean, through the jungle and also the swamp. Rumor has it there were three, twelve-foot gators that lived on the island and as far as I know nobody met any of them personally, but I can tell you for a fact that the swamp SMELLED like something was rotting. I hear gators like that…
The elite racers all lined up at 8:00 am sharp, and race director Garfield Griffiths stood in front of 100+ racers with CoachPain Dewayne to send them off. Griffiths explained some ground rules first. One of them was that every elite racer had to complete every obstacle, except for one. This is a relatively new rule in the OCR world. Typically, in the past, racers were given burpees or similar penalties for not completing an obstacle. In this race, racers had unlimited chances to complete an obstacle, but if they felt that it was too much for them they had to surrender their elite wristband. Something brand new for this race was the ringing of the bell. In the Navy SEAL world, the ringing of the bell signifies drop on request (DOR). The tradition of DOR consists of dropping one’s helmet liner next to a pole with a brass ship’s bell attached and then they ring the bell three times. Once a racer felt they couldn’t complete an obstacle they had to ring the bell that was placed next to every obstacle three times after they surrendered their wristbands.
“This isn’t meant to humiliate anyone,” explains Griffiths. “This is meant to humble them, for them to acknowledge that the obstacle beat them. It’s a respected tradition in the Seal world and I wanted to bring that aspect into the race as respect.”
I can say for a fact, that this race humbled me. Isn’t that a great metaphor for life though? When something is too tough, you admit it and you continue on. You don’t let it defeat you, and you prepare better for the next time. The race brought roughly 27 obstacles for the racers pain or pleasure in it’s just under four mile course.
My favorite obstacles include:
1. Over/under in the ocean. You swam about 15 yards into eight feet of water and proceeded to pull yourself over a log and under the next. Repeat for about 10 logs. Leave the ocean with salt water smell in your nose, which smells like victory.
2. Monkey bars. These monkey bars had the standard bars and also the rock climbing grips for the elites. Non-elites could try them as well, but I’ll tell you that they are tough. For someone who has decent grip strength and okay upper body strength, these babies smoked me. I’m on the average scale in the height department so the almost three foot distance between grips was difficult and I rang the bell on this obstacle. The battle was lost to the grips, but I will win the war next time.
3. SEAL PT. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I loved it. Burpees normally suck. Burpees in the water are ridiculous.
4. Tip of the Spear. I’ve heard from many that this is their favorite and now I know why. It’s a challenging obstacle but I love the feeling of Tarzan swinging from one rope to another and then traversing via rock climbing grips.
5. Tsunami. It took me four tries to get up this wall. I was exhausted at the finish. On the fourth try my helper at the top hoisted my butt over and all I could do was lay there for a second and then to tell my helper that I loved him. I guess I move fast. While lying there I looked at the American flag waving above me, and I couldn’t help but feel so proud of this race series. They put everything they have into each race with their creativity and design.
Overall, BattleFrog has become one of my favorite series with this brief preview of what their 15k course looks like. If you are an experienced racer or not, this is a race you can’t miss. Start with the 5k and I promise you’ll be hooked.
*Photos By: BattleFrog Race Series and Amber Anderson
Amber Anderson has the flare of the Wild Wild West running through her veins. She hails from the great state of Wyoming, but somehow landed in Nashville TN. She’s a snowboarder, backpacker, sometimes half marathon runner, and now OCR addict. This is her first review for ORM.