Battlefrog is the new guy on the block. The new big guy, that has a lot of character, is willing to give his money to his friends, and can see into the future of OCR.
What do I mean?
They came out of nowhere and exploded. They saw the potential of a Navy Seal brand in the sport, played it smart, and grabbed Ryan Atkins for their pro team from the get go. The staff is super nice, they are innovative with the obstacles, and brought a lot of new ideas to the sport. For example, mandatory obstacle completion, a paintball shoot, and the fact that they make it a family event by offering tadpole races and 5k’s on the same day. I was very impressed with the event overall. I actually stayed around for about 4 hours afterwards to hang out and check out the demonstrations (Krav Maga, flag ceremony) and chit chat with fellow racers.
The best part, they came out and announced $1 million is awards throughout the year, where’d they get this money?
So preparing for this race I spent more time on the pull-up bar than anything else. I read Ryan Atkins review of a Battlefrog last year and heard about the infamous rock grip monkey bar section. This got me nervous.
So I set out to improve the shit out of my grip. I’d start the day by throwing a towel over a pull-up bar and hanging from that to do pull-ups. I got to the point where I could do 13 and hang for 30 seconds, killer on the grip.
Then I’d move on to super-setting pull ups and dips, usually 100-150 of each total.
After that I’d hit the arms a bit more and do clean and jerks to failure with 95 pounds for several sets, usually finished after completing 50-75 reps.
To finish the day I’d grab 30 lb. dumbells and farmer walk on the treadmill for 5 minutes.
For my running training, I’d either run a 15km in London’s flat-ass Victoria park, or go to the treadmill and run incline (10%-15%) for 30 minutes. The roughest treadmill day I ran was a 5km on 15%, this took me 38 minutes (Ryan did it in 25!).
To the Race
The race was held in Amelia Earhart Park, near the Spanish colony of Hialeah, Florida. It’s pretty far from south beach so rent a car.
The men’s elite heat started at 0730, so I got there around 0630 to register and scope things out. The morning was very warm and I shed everything except for my full leg running tights. I strapped my elite bracelet on my left wrist and tied my timing chip into my laces, throwing away the bracelet I was meant to strap it on with (luckily I did this because my baggage bracelet fell off my other wrist and probably would have lost my chip as well).
About 15 minutes prior I moved to the starting line and got up front with Ryan Atkins. The motivator gave his motivating speech, did the count down, and we were off.
Now this was my first ever, elite heat, 15km race. I didn’t know what to expect, but what I expected was wrong. BECAUSE, I took off at what I thought was a fast pace, but it wasn’t fast compared to these incredible athletes I was up against. I was immediately being passed left and right.
Thank god we hit the water 200m after the starting line for a 50m swim, this slowed everyone down, and became a scene from the titanic. It was a mess. We had 70+ guys in the narrow channel swimming across the water. Feet were hitting hands and hands were hitting feet. I know how to swim but I couldn’t during this. I just sucked water treaded across.
When I got out of the water Atkins was gone and I saw about 20 people in front of me sprinting away. So I did the honorable thing and sprinted as fast as I could.
Next up were several small walls with the 3rd wall featuring a climb through section.
No problem, I trained for obstacles and this was where I shined. I caught up to the runners during the obstacles, only to be passed again on the running sections.
Once we got out of the open grass area we ran into the woods and followed MTB trails. This was tough because the trails were narrow, windy, and had lots of small ups and downs called “jumps”. I continued to be passed through the woods until we hit the tree cargo net where I caught the runners again. Over the net I hung with them for a bit until they disappeared down the trail again.
Next time I saw them we were exiting the woods and running by the lake to complete the wedge Donovan, a V shaped obstacle in which you lay horizontal in the plank position and shuffle your way across with your hands and feet.
Then we ran back into the woods along the MTB trail and everyone disappeared. At least I wasn’t being passed anymore.
In the woods we had a few more climb overs until we hit the dirty name, a low log jump onto a higher log, I did this easy because I did it in the Marines several times. I caught the runners again when one got stuck on the obstacle! Then off they went.
I actually passed someone when we came to the rope ladder climb and rope descent. I liked this obstacle but I wish they would just make it a rope climb and descent; don’t make it so easy!
After the rope climb we ran in the woods a bit more until we exited for the last time to run through the open grassy area along the lake.
The next obstacle was the over and under water weaver, followed by a rope wall, and then the sand bag carry which covered about 400m. By this time I was catching up to the guys in front of me and prayed I’d pass them since we were moving onto the tougher obstacles.
We had several small obstacles running around the park for the next kilometer including a wall and the paintball shoot. We had to take 3 shots in 3 positions and hit each target. The guns were wildly inaccurate but that’s paintball for ya.
The next big obstacle was the rope traverse. This traverse stretched about 25m and took down the strongest of men. Falling off meant you had to start all the way over, or give up your elite wrist band. When I approached I saw about 7 people actively trying it out. I took an open lane and started making my way across hanging underneath stepping with my hands and feet. Once I made it across, I turned around and saw that no one else had made it yet, I just made a huge gain in the standings! I found my second wind and ran off hoping they wouldn’t catch me again.
Now that my forearms and back were flexed and tired from the rope traverse, we moved on to the jerry can carry. I underestimated this obstacle, I figured you’d carry them for 100-200m. NO, we ran a loop through the woods, then had to crawl with them under a wire, then carry them some more, then take another turn, then a little more, then ok, please put them back where you found them. I was knackered, I had trained for this exact obstacle but still had to stop several times to rest. Gotta hit the farmers walks harder!
After the jerry can carry we swam across the inlet, ran through a tunnel, then looped around for the home stretch!
On the home stretch we had 4 back-t0- back obstacles.
First, we had to climb over 60 degrees. This is easy, just use your feet.
Second, we had the monkey bars, first set was decline and second set was incline with a rest in between. They were a little wet but I kept my elbows bent and cruised across passing 2 more people.
Third, the Tsunami, an Everest with ropes followed by and awesome drop-in slide into water. Great fun and great for pictures.
Once you climbed out of the water you had the mad dash crawl under the Normandy jacks to the finish line.
I wrapped up the 15km in 1:23 finishing in 16th in the men’s elite. Definitely need improvement.
Battlefrog is my new favorite race series. There is no mud, no electricity, no fire, just running and obstacles. The course is fast paced and very competitive. It’s the future of OCR, now that everyone has been shocked, muddy, cold, and pissed off. I think we are all ready to get past the challenge/misery aspect and move on to more difficult obstacles and race-oriented format. Keep it up guys, great event!
Also, shout out to Ryan Woods, an All-American runner who is making his debut in OCR. Keep it up man, Good Luck on working those obstacles!
Work on Farmer walks: the jerry can carry killed my time.
Work on my speed: I can run an 8:00/mile all day, but can’t run a 6:00 mile for 15km and that’s what it takes to finish in the top 10 in these shorter races.