Mile 39: Tri-State BattleFrog 8K 2016

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The Tri-State BattleFrog 8K was relaxing. Yes, you read that read that right r-e-l-a-x-i-n-g. You’re probably asking yourself how can an OCR be relaxing. When an event combines 5.9 miles of wooded trails and 25 obstacles you’d think I’d use words like stressful, difficult or demanding. Unfortunately or fortunately, those aren’t the words I’d use for this race. It had it’s challenges at some points, but overall the race left me with a feeling of wanting more. I’ve never really had that feeling before. After spending a full day reflecting on the race I came to the conclusion I felt this way because of the obstacles. I really enjoyed the course, but the obstacles were average at best. I seem to be in the minority with this feeling because on Social Media everyone was praising BattleFrog for this event. I guess they only way you’ll be able to determine if a BattleFrog is worth it or not is by doing one yourself. I’d still recommend this race regardless of my feelings.

BattleFrog has a few different options that you can select for their events. They offer an Extreme (unlimited laps) Elite/Master (two laps with mandatory obstacle completion) and Open (one lap around the course). I selected the Open option, but if I did another BattleFrog I would strongly consider the Extreme. I think two laps at this venue would have been good for me and left me feeling better.

The Course

To my surprise, the venue was better than Englishtown. For the entire race I was in the woods, which was enjoyable because I was not in the sun for the majority of the race. During the race the temperatures remained pretty cool while in the wooded shade. However, once out in the sun the temperatures rose quickly. For the first two miles Keith, Cait and I felt like we were the only people running the race. We solemnly saw anyone on the course. At one point it was so quiet we thought we might have gone the wrong way. Eventually at around mile two we started seeing people again. It was very people for that mile or so. Maybe that’s why I would classify this race as relaxing?

The course had its fair share of steep inclines, which they incorporated with some of the obstacles making them slightly more difficult. The elevation didn’t compare to the Spartan Beast, but it was definitely the most diverse terrain since that race. There were times we were able to run or jog and times when we had to walk/hike due to the narrow trails. Races like these are good for me because it helps with my pacing. Sometimes I tend to overdo it and run too fast, which ends up tiring me out faster. This could be another reason why I felt pretty good after crossing the finish line.

It seemed like a lot of people enjoyed this venue more so than last year. I think the biggest difference between the two, besides the inclines, was the lack of mud. There weren’t many areas that BattleFrog had the opportunity to use the mud factor. I’m not a huge fan of mud so this is not a complaint at all. When I crossed the finished line it appeared as if there was no mud on the course. There were two areas of mud, but the swimming obstacle (HOOYAH!) helped wash all of that off.

The Obstacles

So, I do these events for the obstacles. I love obstacles and I love seeing different and unique obstacles. There is where I think my biggest disappointment came in regards to this event. All of the obstacles were pretty standard. They had walls (lots of them), cargo nets, rope climbs, a rig, wreck bag carry, jerry can carry and tip of the spear. Most of these obstacles or a version of them I can find at any other OCR. The only one that is a little different is the tip of the spear, which I’ll get into more detail later. I was really hoping for at least one obstacle where I could say “wow, that was really different.” Every other race this year has had that one moment where I said that. Hopefully next year BattleFrog can get there.

I think the best greatest addition BattleFrog made to their obstacles was adding a novice, intermediate and elite lane to all of them. Other races should consider doing this! It lets all the participants cater the race to themselves and their abilities. Honestly, this is such a great idea. I attempted the Elite lane for all 25 of the obstacles and only failed three of them (rig, rope climb and tip of the spear). However I was able to complete the novice lane rig, intermediate lane rope climb (finally!) and intermediate lane tip of the spear. I didn’t leave an obstacle feeling defeated and this helps me know what I need to improve on to overcome all the elite obstacles. Great job to BattleFrog for this!

My favorite obstacle was Tip of the Spear. This was the last obstacle I had to complete before the finish line. It was three sets of inverted walls that I had to traverse using only rope (1st set and 3rd set of walls) and blocks (2nd set of walls). In between the walls were short balance beams I had to cross. With wet shoes it made everyone slip while trying to cross. Since I’m tall I was able to use the height to my advantage for each set of walls and spread myself out making it easier to cross. For shorter people they couldn’t do this and had to use a lot on their grip strength. It pays to be tall for the majority of these obstacles.

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Biggest Surprise

I read about the different lanes of difficulty, but was surprised how organized and practical they were. Also, it helped prevent lines at obstacles since everyone could choose the lane they wanted to complete. If there was a line at the elite I could attempt the intermediate and move on quickly.

Biggest Disappointment

The lack of unique and different obstacles. At one point during the race we were jumping or hopping over ratchet straps. That’s not an obstacle. BattleFrog needs to find a unique or signature obstacle that people will remember. I had trouble recalling some of the obstacles because they weren’t impressive.

SWAG

The finisher t-shirts are soft cotton and pretty nice. I think I like last year’s better, but Eve likes this shirt because there aren’t many graphics on it. When Keith and I were talking about the shirt he asked me if I thought they forgot to put anymore artwork on the shirts. Oh yeah, we finished around 1:00pm and they were out of medium shirts. How do you run out of a shirt size halfway through the day? Cait had to get a large instead. Even though she selected a Medium during registration.

The finisher medal was awesome. It’s also pretty heavy. It could be the heaviest medal I own.

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Side Notes

All parking was off-site. The shuttles worked great and were quick. The only downfall was there were no porta-potties at the parking lot location.

After I got my bib number and timing chip they had tables set up so we could put our bags on while we put on those items. It was nice that we didn’t have to put our bags on the ground.

In order to get into the festival, bag check, spectator and start/finish line area we had to walk through the merchandise tent. I wonder if this helped with merchandise sales?

There was a long line at bag check with only two people working the tent. However, they were very serious about security so it was an even trade.

They actually had someone cleaning and restocking items in the porta-potties. A rare occurrence.

The motivational speaker was the start line was pretty good. Keith isn’t a fan of these speeches. He just wants to get started.

Instead of releasing a huge wave they broke each wave into smaller waves of 25 people. This helped prevented bottlenecks and lines at obstacles. This also could be another reason why we barely saw anyone on the course.

They had plenty of water stations on the course. The course was 5.9 miles with 25 obstacles.

Apparently the rinse off station wasn’t working around 1:00pm. Luckily we weren’t covered in mud and didn’t need to rinse off.

They informed us the lake we slid into at HOOYAH! Was 6’ deep, it was actually 15’ deep. I successfully doggie paddled across this.

Cait rolled her ankle for a record five times on the course and one time at the restaurant after the race. She might be done for a few weeks. Such a warrior!

The free beer was at an offsite location since the Scout Reservation doesn’t allow alcohol on the premises. This meant a lot of people didn’t stick around the festival area long. People love the free beer.

There was a food truck festival a mile or so down the road from the venue. It appears a lot of people went there after the race. This was not associated with the race at all merely a coincidence.

Overall Assessment

It may seem to you that this review is negative, but I’d say the overall experience was positive. Sure, they did some questionable things, but they did more positive things to make the day enjoyable. I probably wouldn’t register for this venue again, but I would do another BattleFrog that is closer. In a few weeks there will be a BattleFrog about an hour away that I’m debating about registering for. I would recommend this race to anyone who wants to try an OCR. With the addition of the difficulty lines this race is perfect for a beginner.

It’s Savage Syndicate time! In the next post I’ll cover my pre-race report on the Savage Race. Same Savage Race, but different venue.

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