Before competitors would take on the wrath of “The Beard” at the BattleFrog Miami race, the first and most painful obstacle at OCR events would have to be defeated. Parking and Packet Pick-Up! How organized an event will be can usually be determined once you pull into the gate. At this event, both parking and registration were run with efficiency and among the quickest I’ve experienced. Staff had packets ready with minimal delays and were funneling participants into the festival area in no time.
Within the festival area, there were the typical merchandise and food vendors. One thing that stood out was the “Largest Team” Tent. By the size of the crowds, it seems that BattleFrog Series has been able to keep people coming back for more by promoting group participation yet still keeping competition at the forefront. There Largest Team competition motivates groups of people to take on the course with their friends and families. With such perks as free bag check and parking, a VIP team tent and a bunch of sexy BF swag, there are plenty of incentives to compete for the title. Team FIT4LYFE walked away with two consecutive wins by rallying over 280 participants.
As usual, BattleFrog would bring out some of the big names in OCR for their Elite Waves. For this showing, the female competition would be the one to watch with returning BF winners Corinna Coffin, Claude Godbout and K.K. Stewart. All of who would finish among the Top 3 in that division.
After the Elite Females blazed the start of the course, it was time for BattleFrog Xtreme competitors to head to the start line. For those not familiar with this division, this is where obstacle course racing meets ultra-marathon running. BFX competitors would have to complete as many laps of the 8k (5 mile) course between 8:30AM and 4:00PM (No additional laps could be started after 3:00PM). After each lap, competitors had access to a Pit/Transition Area where refueling and gear adjustments could be done.
From the start, the BFX course would mirror that of the Elite’s. A mandatory swim was thrown at us seemingly right out of the gate. This would be a mandatory obstacle for the first lap only. A bypass route was offered for BFX competitors. Out of the six laps that I was able to complete, I opted for this route only on my last lap, mostly because the path wasn’t clearly marked and I didn’t want to waste time finding a volunteer to point me in the right direction. This was the only portion of the course where I thought the path could have been marked better.
The course would have a total of three water crossings. None as long as the first. These obstacles usually had a few people pausing due to fear of swimming. I welcomed the water. For those familiar with running in the scorching Miami heat, multiple water obstacles and the forecasted thunderstorms would be a much-appreciated reprieve from the sun.
A good portion of the course would take place on the rock and coral trails through the park. Walls varying in height seemed to be the theme on the course. For the first two miles of the loop, six different wall obstacles would have to be completed. For me, the Inverted Wall seemed to increase in difficulty as the day went on.
The Wreck Bag Carry was the halfway point of the 8K loop and also a mandatory obstacle for Xtreme runners. During my first two laps I wasn’t too happy about this obstacle because it was a time killer. Later in the race I didn’t mind it so much because it gave me a reason to hit the brakes and take a leisurely stroll through the trails.
The last quarter of the loop brought you the Jersey Cans. For those that don’t know about these dreaded green gas cans, the best way to describe them is “they suck”. Each weighing 40-50 lbs., competitors had to carry a pair of them through a winding trail obstructed by logs and branches. After six laps of carrying them, they really suck.
The tail end of the 8K course is where the real action began. What I thought to be the three toughest obstacles were all in close proximity to each other. The 12′ Rope Wall, Tip of the Spear and Platinum Rig. I’m sure that the spike in difficulty was by design. While on the course I caught up with Trevor Hoadley, a BFX veteran who had a similar opinion, “The last few obstacles are really challenging. I like the Rig, it’s extremely hard”.
With mud from repeated climbers and the addition of the falling rain, the 12′ Rope Wall was getting more dangerous as they day went on. With grip strength fading, the transition from the slippery rope to the top metal support beam became extremely challenging. Tip of the Spear, a collection of grip strength obstacles appeared to be uncrossable for most but could be defeated with proper technique rather than strength. This was the same for Platinum Rig, a frame consisting of multiple ropes and grips that has grown in popularity due to its difficulty.
The only major flaw that I saw with BF Xtreme was that competitors are not required to complete all of the obstacles. While on my last lap, I was talking to a couple of fellow BFXers and was told that most of the competitors were opting for the 8 Count Bodybuilder Penalty instead of completing the Jerry Can obstacle as a strategy to increase lap count. I later found out that this was the case with multiple obstacles, especially Tip of the Spear and Platinum Rig. Although BFX doesn’t have a cash prize, a BattleFrog Paddle is presented to the competitor with the most laps completed, making it a title that many strive for. With that, I think the event needs to take on a format that is similar to their Elite waves.
Overall, BattleFrog Miami was a great event, especially due to the BFXtreme course. For those who are “WTM Addicts” like myself, BFX is a welcomed addition to the OCR race catalog. With new OCR companies still popping up like weeds, none have focused on ultra-endurance competition like the World’s Toughest Mudder. BFX is relatively new but seems to be building steam in this department. Can it be that another one of the big boys on the block is inching towards a 24-hour OCR event?? If anyone has the capability and strong following to make it happen, BattleFrog Series is the one.
Erick Hernandez (AKA Leeroy Jenkins)