BattleFrog Obstacle Race Series is on a roll! This past weekend they hosted their 3rd race event delivering another solid, quality race experience that we are quickly getting accustomed to. BattleFrog is fast becoming the emerging favorite race for many OCR veterans and newbies alike, garnering a loyal following of OCR fans willing to travel to their next calendar event to get that unique “BattleFrog experience” one more time!
Launching onto the obstacle course racing scene in June of this year, BattleFrog held their first inaugural race event in Georgia, my home state. I missed that event, but attended their second race last month in South Carolina and ran in the 15K competitive cash wave. I was so enamored with the challenging course, use of terrain, unique obstacles and overall amazing race experience, I had to “get my BattleFrog fix” and packed up my car and hit the road for the Greater DC race!
Venue Location – Beautiful
Once again, BattleFrog chose a perfect location to host a race of this caliber, the Tomahawk MX Park, a motocross park nestled in the upper corner of West Virginia. The more rural location provided ample natural terrain for BattleFrog to draw from, which they do so well, and was within a reasonable driving distance from many bordering larger metropolitan cities. The drive to the race did have a feel of “getting out there” a bit with roads going from single lane paved then narrowing into a windy, unmarked road, but with the great signage guiding racers to the event, it was easy navigating.
Parking & Festival area – Easy & Hassle-free
Parking was also easy with cars being directed by friendly staffers to park in the open grassy fields near the entrance. Once parked, there was a modest walk toward the registration tents and main festival area. It had rained the night before making the grounds in the festival area a little soggy, but this didn’t hinder anything. It is an obstacle course race after all, not a road race, and most of us are accustomed to the difference. BattleFrog does an excellent job putting on an event for the joy of not just its racers, but for the spectating crowd as well. All of the extra details within the festival area impressed my sister, a newbie OCR spectator seeing me race for the first time. Her first initial impression of the festival area and venue was that it felt like a “professional operation” to use her words. She appreciated the large mounted course map, schedule of events, and enjoyed the rocking music they had going as she meandered around checking out the scene. After scoping out the obstacle locations within viewing distance mid-course and near the finish my sister said “I think I’ll be able to see you on the course a good amount – this is going to be fun!” So nice job BattleFrog, my sister was impressed and the race hadn’t even started!
Race Rules & Terrain & Obstacle Extravaganza
BattleFrog offers 4 different race distances (2 of which are designed to involve youngsters) and I competed in the 15K cash wave again for this race. For this elite heat, they announced exciting new race rules of mandatory obstacle completion to remain eligible for the cash prize award. One obstacle, the paintball target shoot, was the only exception of mandatory completion, and would allow the 8-count bodybuilder penalties if you couldn’t hit the target.
With the rules announced and anthem sung, the elite wave started prompted at 8am with a jumble of racers tackling the over/under/through wall combinations put right at the start. We all sprinted down a little slope of groomed, muddy tracks, blasted through some shallow mud water pits, hustled over the 8 foot walls where the course veered up into the wooded sections for some trail running. I reunited with their unique “Jerry Can Carry” obstacle, which many know I am quite fond of. This time, they lengthened the down and back distance we had to carry the heavy, weighted cans which made for another great shoulder & forearm burn reunion experience. After stumbling back up the grassy, vine covered hill lugging my beloved Jerry Cans, I happily handed them back to the attentive volunteers manning and took off into the wooded trails for more running. (I’ll see you again soon Jerry….’til then.)
Within the canopy of dense woods the slippery, rocky trail footing from the night’s rains had many of us sliding all over as we pounded our way through the course. BattleFrog spaced several obstacles throughout this running trek, from water pits to their “Spider Webs” obstacle which is always fun. There’s nothing like a bunch of rubber webbing to bring your running pace to a screeching halt while you go horizontal to navigate through the cording trying to maintain balance and keep your feet from getting caught and tripping.
The trail running then opened up into a grassy meadow leading up to a highlight obstacle of the course. Obstacle design is another area that I find BattleFrog really shines at. They’ve done a great job adding new and interesting twists on obstacles and one of my standout favorites from this race was the “Rope Traverse Wall.” This involved a very steep incline of a double-face wall with 5-6 dangling ropes (the same on either side) that you had to hold onto and hoist yourself across to the other end. The rains from the night before made the wood surface very slippery, and what was certainly a more challenging obstacle given the incline became an even bigger challenge to keep your grip and momentum without losing your footing and slipping off. Many of us struggled with this more than we normally would have, but that’s the beauty of obstacles! They challenge and push us and keep us coming back for more. Again, nicely done BattleFrog – I loved that obstacle even though it was frustrating for many of us at the time. I hope I’ll see it again at a future race– it was great!
I’ll call the last third of the race the “water” course section…….meaning, I wasn’t just wet, I was soggy, soaking wet through all of it. There was a shallow, claustrophobic trench crawl that opened up to a drop-off plop into a big murky pond with mud on the banks so thick you could lose a shoe! Once emerging from that, we enjoyed a pipe crawl which plopped us into more muddy water and then over to the dripping wet monkey bars which is always harder to get across with soaked hands. All the while, the last final loop into the finish we’re being “rained on” from 6-foot tall sprinklers swinging back & forth pelting us. I absolutely loved this additional touch as it really added to the “full onslaught” race experience feel. Just trying to run and stay upright and we rounded the last loop to the finish was a serious challenge with the motocross water system hosing us down!
And last but not least, my other favorite stand-out obstacle near the finish was the “Caving Ladder Rope Transfer.” It was a neat twist on a rope climb. It involved a narrow cable ladder we had to climb up, ring a bell at the top, and then transfer over to a thick climbing rope and shimmy our way back down. They had a traditional rope climb mid-course, making this rope climb version an interesting variation. I love clever obstacles BattleFrog and this was a neat one!
As with any race, there are always ideas and suggestions we may offer up. BattleFrog provided a wonderful rinse-off station that was great and I enjoyed my hose-off. I recommend they consider a changing tent nearby at their next race to make the muddy-to-clean clothing transition a little easier for their participants. BattleFrog offers a fun festival area with SEAL demonstrations, kid events, and fitness contests which certainly helps justify the cost of spectator entrance, but even so, I still heard mention that the cost feels too high. Perhaps shaving even $5-10 off either between the spectator entrance fee and/or parking fee could encourage even more spectators to hand over their hard-earned money to attend the event to cheer on their racer.
A “2 Thumbs Up” Race Experience
BattleFrog advertised 32 obstacles for the 15K course and they delivered. From their brilliant use of natural terrain that had us slogging through murky bogs, sloshing down creekbeds, and rope-scrambling up near-vertical inclines, they once again created an extremely challenging course. This, paired with the unique man-made obstacles and clever use of tactile obstacles such as the water sprinklers made for a overall incredibly challenging and rewarding race experience and I look forward to the next BattleFrog race!
*Photos by GameFace Media
Shenoa Creer, a.k.a. ‘The Wolf’, is an avid OCR enthusiast who embraces all things deemed challenging. When not representing ORM out on the race course, she might be seen running with one of her beloved weimaraners. Shenoa moves to her own cadence which coined her nickname. She loves the spirit and community uniquely found within obstacle course racing.