Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Battle Frog Pennsylvania Race Review

This last weekend, I got to participate in one of the most fun Obstacle Course Races that I've ever done. It was called the "Battle Frog" and its an event put on by a wonderful group of people, including a bunch of the United States' Navy Seals.

The event was held at a place called "The Mines and Meadows ATV Park" in Wampum, PA. It was only a 5 hour drive from Toronto, so not too bad. I checked out the venue on Friday night, ate dinner with some other competitors and event staff, and then got ready to race the next day.

Overall, the event feel for the Battle Frog was very good. The race went off without a hitch, and it seems like everything ran with military precision, starting at exactly 8:00 am. The fist 100 yards had a few over, under and throughs. Then the next few miles had lots of creek running. They ran the course right down a creek bed for about a mile, interspersed with great natural obstacles, culverts, and logs to jump over. After this, we hit a couple of obstacles, including a huge A-Frame structure that we had to climb over and a few cargo nets.
 After this, we went into a mine. Yes, that's right, and underground mine. They included a few obstacles INSIDE the mine, and also gave us headlights so that we could see. They had us do a 200 yard swim, through fairly cold water, and also had a shooting section, in which we had to hit targets with a paintball gun. The whole mine was a surreal experience, and unlike any other race feature I've ever seen.
After popping out of the mine, it was a little more trail running, a rope climb, and a set of monkey bars. Up to this point in the race, I was leading by maybe 1 minute. I attacked the monkey bars with everything I had. Instead of just monkey bars, the elite men had half the monkey bars replaced with rock climbing holds. This made a high failure rate, since the grips were very small, and hard to grab. The rest of the elite field got shuffled around, since so many people failed on the obstacle. At Battle Frog, they have a "Pass/Fail" obstacle policy. So, if you can't do the obstacle, you can re-try it, but then if you keep failing it, you are out of the money, for the elites. I really like this policy, since I think the obstacles for the elite men need to start getting harder in this sport.

After the Monkey Bars, we did a bunch more running, lots of cool, big obstacles, and the action just kept coming with slick mud, steep hills, technical footing, and even more obstacles. I believe there was over 30 obstacles on the 15 km course, and they were all pretty serious, big obstacles. I had a smile on my face for the whole race, and just had a blast the whole time. The finishing chute had a big obstacle called "Tsunami", and another wall obstacle, with ropes, and quick slides into big water pits. I came through the final crawl, muddy, and giddy with excitement, gushing to the event organizers about what a good time I had out of their course.
Finishing off the day, there was a great event festival feel, kids races, Navy Seal demonstrations and food. I hung out, and talked with all the other racers.

I finished the race in first, in a time of 1:08, and took home a big cheque. The race was tons of fun, with great people, great obstacles, and great use of the natural terrain. I'm not sure what more someone can ask for from an OCR. I hope Battle Frog sticks around for a long time, and becomes a major player in the obstacle course business. If you have the chance to check out one of their races, I strongly recommend it!
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