So this article is alotta late. I’m sorry about that, but I was busy living life. Winter is my favorite time of year and I spent it snowboarding, hiking in Patagonia, and proposing to the girl of my dreams.
Anyway, this gave me plenty of time to reflect on what was one hell of an event. I say event because it was less of a race for me and more of a challenge to complete all the obstacles (in BF you must complete all obstacles to keep your elite wrist band and finish the race). BattleFrog has a reputation for having some of the toughest obstacles in OCR and this being BattleFrog’s first ever championship race, I knew they’d go all out!……..And they did, there was a technical 40 ft. platinum rig and a forearm pumping 80 ft. platinum rig. Ouch.
I came to the race for 3 reasons. 1) I qualified, 2) it was the first ever BF championship, and 3) I wanted more experience at the rig. The rig is OCR’s toughest obstacle, brings up a lot of hate and debate, and therefore is never going away. I want to be competent at it. BF is the best race to practice at because you get to do it all twice 🙂
Now, I wasn’t coming to win obviously, I was still pretty beat up from WTM I didn’t think I could beat the unBFeated Ryan Atkins (not that I could on a good day). I came to finish in the top 30 to get a season pass.
***Well, turns out I read the rules wrong and only top 30 in “series points” get season passes. Makes sense now, but at the time I figured BF is known for giving a lot of their precious money out so it seemed reasonable.
Now on to the event
BF champs was the final championship of the OCR’s season following Spartan, Warrior Dash (is that even a an OCR), OCR worlds, and World’s Toughest Mudder. On arrival I felt pretty bad for them because the turnout was very small compared to what I followed at Spartan and saw at WTM. There was probably 70 men in contention. I hope they made their money back with the open waves.
*I think everyone was worn out from WTM (I know I was).
The event was held on a flat dry state park north of Orlando and the day before they allowed a walk through of the 5-mile course (a first in my book). I took advantage and checked out the platinum rigs to try and form a strategy across. This was futile though, I’m no ninja warrior, I can barely plan a route on a bouldering wall. I just looked at them long and hard then decided I was screwed…..I’d wing it race day.
The course was flat, sandy, dusty and littered with easy obstacles besides the 2 platinum rigs. I was a little disappointed that there was no swimming obstacles (which I would expect from a Navy SEAL event) and they left out their signature obstacle Tsunami. Their caving ladders and rope climbs were a joke as well. I scaled both with 2 arm pulls.
Dwayne gave a motivational speech about how awesome we all were then the race started with my friend Bobby tripping in front of me and setting us back 30 places haha. I didn’t care one bit cause I knew these guys would crash into the platinum rig like water on rock. I set a comfortable 7:30 mile pace and saved my energy for the 40 and 80 footer beasts up ahead.
The first 2.5 miles of the course was littered with easy obstacles like their walls, monkey bars, a very short cement bucket carry, the 10 foot high caving ladder, a tire flip that took maybe 5 flips to finish, and a nice iced coffee flavored pool for you to jump in and cool off. Nothing was very difficult and some of their regular obstacles seemed dumbed down, especially the monkey bars and caving ladder. I think I know what the beard (course director) was up too…..”Give them a nice long run to spread out and a false sense of confidence with the easy obstacles, then destroy ‘em with the rig”….that’s what it felt like
When I ran up to the rig there was already a line (including Marco Bedard) of men shaking out their arms. The bars were still wet from the morning dew and people were having trouble holding on to the long vertical metal pole. Beyond the slipperiness most people just couldn’t figure out a technique across the 40 foot traverse.
I rubbed my hands dry the best I could and climbed the rope, reached out to the T handle and 1 arm swung across both to reach the 2 monkey bars. From the bars I used my feet to pull in the second rope to get it in reach for the transition. I used the rope as a resting point before traversing the crux – a long vertical pole followed by 2 shorter vertical poles before the final ring.
First time reaching the crux, I grabbed the long vertical pole but couldn’t get a grip. I slid down the pole like a fricken fireman and hit the ground. This happened again and again as the line of failures kept growing. We separated the rig into lanes, right side for guys just arriving and left side for repeats. By the time the dew was off the bars and dry enough for me to grip across the entire men’s heat was stuck on the rig. Simply completing the rig on your first try would’ve put you in the top 10.
Finally across, it was a short run to the next big obstacle, the Jerry can carry. Now in the past, the men had to carry 2 jerry cans, roughly 45 lbs each, over a 400-800m distance. but for some reason they reduced it to 1 Jerry can carry for the biggest race of their year (maybe they got sick of Atkins dominating this obstacle). I didn’t complain though, I did the whole loop, over the cargo net, up the rope, and across the log without taking a rest. I didn’t see anyone struggle with this obstacle.
After the Jerry cans I climbed over the roped wall and moved onto a cool new rock wall traverse obstacle. It is what it sounds like. A slightly overhanging wall with rock grips for you hands and feet. It was kind of short (3 big moves got you across) but I liked the idea. Keep going with it….maybe make it climb then descend like an “A”.
I jogged the wreck bag carry and moved on to the 80 ft. Platinum rig, the behemoth.
The major difference between the 80 footer and the earlier 40 footer is that the 80 footer had occasional foot holds/ resting positions and it was less technical. These resting positions were 1 Olympic ring dangling from a strap and were very tough to rest on. People were grabbing for rings and ropes to help balance out, which of course didn’t give your forearms a rest. On an 80 foot rig your forearms get pretty pumped holding your body weight off the ground while you traverse 20+ rings and ropes.
I discovered this when I failed it my first couple times due to arm pump. I only made it across when I (out of desperation) wedged my head through the ring straps so I could rest my feet in the ring. This allowed me to have both arms free to shake out and recover.
Finally across the rig I cruised over the lengthy tip of the spear and started my second lap.
My second lap was beautiful. I was warmed up, running fast, and completed all the obstacles my first try. I think I was just elated when I realized I could actually get across those rigs and that gave me the confidence to run faster and start taking this event on like a race. My watch spazzed out when I was downloading the move, but from what I remember the second lap took less than an hour with the first lap costing me most of the time.
I finished the race in 2:22:30 and 24th overall….not to shabby
What I learned from BF champs
Improve grip strength and grip endurance
Warm up better before a short race
Read the rules better before flying to Florida expecting a sub-par finish to get you a season pass 🙂 …..All in all it was a great event and vacation to Disney World with my girlfriend – who is now my fiancee!