On Saturday, May 17 I had the privilege of racing the 2nd annual Navy SEAL Bone Frog Challenge on the ski slopes of Berkshire East Resort. This was Bone Frog’s true coming out party and the message was clear: “Bone Frog is here and the big OCR brands had better step up their game.”
I won’t mince words when I tell you this race obliterates all. Without question, it was the best race I’ve ever run. I can’t remember smiling more during a race in the face of pain and fatigue.
Owned and operated by Navy SEALs, Bone Frog managed to assemble a mountain course with relative balance between climbing and obstacles and that tested both the upper and lower body. That is a rare thing to find. As it says on their website, “Would you rather tell your mom you completed a course designed by a Harvard MBA or US Navy SEALs?”
The 9.2-mile course featured between 4,000 and 5,000 feet of elevation gain, an endless flow of mud and 44 obstacles officially, although that number is lowballing it. The true number lay somewhere in the mid 50s. For example, one obstacle required competitors to hurdle a dozen chest high logs.
Later after climbing to the top of the mountain, competitors had to navigate an obstacle course that included a log hurdle, a rope climb up to a monkey bar traverse, a rope climb down, a barbed wire crawl, 3 walls (6, 7, and 8 feet), balance beams and another barbed wire crawl. According to Bone Frog, that counts as one obstacle.
The ascents and descents varied as some required competitors to march straight up the mountainside while others wound their way gradually up the mountain, and there was no avoiding the mud, which was ankle deep in many places throughout the course.
The race also featured 3 uphill heavy carries. Early in the race a log carry, toward the middle a sandbag carry and at the end, an 80-pound tank tire carry.
The obstacles themselves were constructed sturdily and with great creativity, and included 4 different types of monkey bars and two floating bridge traverses. One of those bridge traverses included a snow machine blowing 85mph wind in the faces of competitors. The Bone Frog team also had the foresight to place 4 water stations on the course.
On their site, Bone Frog writes, “Our obstacles are designed to test your functional fitness with the same style obstacles Navy SEALs use to train for combat. You will NOT be electrocuted or covered in paint by the end of the course because this does not test you in any way other than humility.” I respect these guys more because they respect their participants.
But it wasn’t just the race itself that Bone Frog did right. They put on a pretty impressive festival. The festival area lined the final finishers gauntlet, providing an excellent view of the finish as well as the log carry and a few other obstacles from earlier in the race.
Each finisher was awarded a medal in the shape of a Navy SEAL Bone Frog, which was hung around their necks by actual retired Navy SEALs. You could feel the military influence at this event, as SEALs and other military, both active and retired, came out in force. And it was no coincidence that the event was even hosted on “Armed Forces Day.”
Bone Frog CEO Brian Carney, who is a class act, a great American and holds the rank of Chief, knows how to organize a mission and lead men. He doesn’t believe in watering down his event. When you come to Bone Frog, you’re coming for a Navy SEAL Experience. When you come to Bone Frog, you’re coming for a Navy SEAL Experience: Challenging obstacles, brutal terrain, and gut checking fatigue. In only their second event, Bone Frog functioned as a well-oiled machine. It had a lot to do with the fact that it was staffed and organized by a team with a “whatever it takes” mentality.
Parking was easy, registration was organized and quick, and the swag bags were high quality, including a high quality T-Shirt, gift cards, some snacks and a free beer. Afterward, the festival offered $1 beers all day, relatively inexpensive food and a live band that kicked off later in the day to keep the party going. The festival area was of adequate size with tents from various vendors and plenty of free samples. And for those who needed to get out of the sun, access to the ski lodge was provided. The awards ceremony was quick and efficient, with the winning male and female receiving $1500 and the top 3 finishers for each gender receiving an engraved Navy SEAL paddle, which is a symbol of service awarded to a SEAL upon completion of active duty.
It was evident from start to finish that the Bone Frog team did their homework, had a plan and executed, just as you would expect from Navy SEALs. But the most telling thing about the future of Bone Frog was their interest in improvement as soon as the event was finished. Their entire team was seeking input, scribbling notes furiously as we discussed the course mile by mile. The men who run Bone Frog Challenge are seeking perfection. They don’t cut corners and they don’t settle for OK. This race has the potential to consistently be the best obstacle race around. Their next event is scheduled for October 4th in Staten Island, New York. You’d be crazy not to be there.
David Magida is the General Manager of Elevate Interval Fitness and an OCR Pro with nearly 60 ocrs and numerous podium finishes under his belt. This is his first review for ORM
This and future Bone Frog Challenges are OCR World Championship Qualifiers. Read more about OCRWC here.
Nele Schulze reviewed the inaugural Bone Frog last September and gave it favorable reviews as well.
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You’ve got a great attitude, David. Nice to meet you this weekend!
This was my first Bonefrog and 5th OCR style race. I found Bonefrog to be the best of all I’ve done so far.
SO well organized. totally agree with this review. The hardest OCR I have ever done, but at the same time I smiled all the way.
The 31 Burpees in honor of the Navy Seals was a class act, too.
I WILL be back
I agree this course was top notch. While this was my 2nd OCR (first was the Spartan Invitational in Canton) it is easy to see how this course would be hard to beat. The uphills were challenging and the obstacle seemed non-stop. If you want a real challenge, look no further.
Thanks for the informative review. I’m signed up for this Saturday in Staten Island, the full race. Can’t Wait!!!
This sounds like a really good organized challenge but let’s not get carried away saying it obliterates any other challenge, I did the spartan ultra beast last year, 30plus miles over 70 obstacles and I mean hard ones like carrying 2 60 lb sandbags up a half mile steep muddy trail. That’s just one, under ten percent even finished the course, took me. 12.5 hours which put me in. 9th place for the open, now that’s a challenge, I’m sure this is tough but how hard can 9-12 miles be , if everyone or most finish is it really a challenge? Not knocking it but the obliterate review is ridiculous
Why don’t you sign up for the next New England Bone Frog Challenge May 21, 2015 and check it out for yourself.
This was a great review. Glad to hear the love for this race.
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