September 14th, 2013 Bone Frog Challenge
Let me start off by saying the Bone Frog Challenge is the toughest race I’ve done to date. That being said, I’ve also never had more fun or enjoy the obstacles of any other OCR as much as this one. The men and women who conceived the idea, planned it, put it on, built the obstacles, and marked the course did nothing short of an absolutely outstanding job. If I were wearing a hat, I’d take it off to them.
DISCLAIMER: The following may contain curse words, typos, and general rambling as well as run of sentences and discombobulated thoughts. Also, if you’d like a brief summary, skip to the end.
I’m going to really get into the details of this 9+ mile, 36 obstacle course from the beginning. Parking was free and it was extremely close. You may be thinking “okay, parking was free and close. Who cares? That’s how it should be!” Exactly! That’s how it SHOULD be. From the parking lot, I waltz on up to the registration tables with receipt and license in hand preparing for something painful, but what’s this? I give my name (didn’t even have to how my license although I did) and the pleasant woman sitting there asked someone to grab bag number 192. While waiting I sign a couple forms for the race and resort (no, they don’t want to be held liable either, why would they?) and then I’m handed a bag. The contents of the bag were placed nearly inside, a bib and shoe marker both with sensors to trip at the start/finish lines to give your time, 4 heavy duty safety pins, a well printed Bone Frog Challenge t-shirt, some kind of blueberry muffin energy snack, $20 gift certificate to somewhere, and a few other things that I can’t remember this early in the morning. Also, I hope you enjoyed that run on sentence.
Before the race started, a few people talked, both I believe to be the men that came up with the idea for the race. At least one of which is or was a Navy Seal. At the moment their names escape me, but when I stop being lazy, I’ll look it up. The first wave of “Elites” left at 0915. Little did I know that two of them would be finishing in the next hour and a half?
My wave was sent off at 0930. Here begins the 9+ miles of fun. It started with some hills, nothing too crazy, a path across the mountain and about 1/2 a mile in was the first obstacle. It was simple, but effective, climb through a window size hole in a wall. What you aren’t expecting is the 75 degree downhill a meter after you exit the window. Run down the hill another 1/4 mile or so and you’re at a 15ft rope climb where you have to ring the bell at the top. Venture another 1/3 to 1/2 mile down and you come to what I believe to be a 10ft wall. The team work here is unprecedented. If you’re a single you can use the 2x4s screwed to the wall on the right side to get up, but if you’re a team, you have to hoist each other over. I was racing alone, but helped someone up, then was helped up by two men (who later adopted me as part of their two man group). Once on top of the wall, I leaned over to help pull both of them up and then was on my way.
This is where they start packing the obstacles in and the hills start demolishing whatever level of fitness you think you have. Run 300ft from the wall to the next obstacle where you balance your way down a telephone pole to a raft. On the raft there in a net about 5.5 ft up. Get on the net, crawl (or roll if you’re smart) across, and plop down into the water, swim 50ft or so to a nice, steep hill covered in pallets for grip. Once that’s cleared, there is another 900-1200ft until you get to the slide. It’s a thick piece of black plastic going down a hill covered in water and soap with a 2ft deep pool at the end. This is the only obstacle I can even remotely complain about. My big butt could only slide about 1/2 way before I had to stand up and jog the rest. I’m hoping for a steeper slope next year.
Once out of the shallow pool and over the dump truck full of sand, there is another 1200ft or so until the next obstacle. Remember how I mentioned soap? Soapy, wet, sandy, and welcome to the monkey bars. They are at an incline, then decline. I fell off about 4 from the end. All my dignity fell with it. I failed the monkey bars…
If I remember correctly, this is where one of the longer, uninstructed hill runs comes in. Run up the hill for quite some time and pass rungs on your left, what looks like a monkey’s playground, and continue up the hill. Once at the top, turn around and go on the other side of the tape (these trails were so well marked) and make your way through the tires. Down the hill we come back to the monkey’s playground. Here you have to swing from ring to ring (so many to choose from) until the end. Here was my problem, even with my knees bent, I was still about 4-6inches of the ground. They even scraped at one point. After falling off of this, I realized I need to work on grip strength. The penalty? 20 burpees.
After enduring 20 dignity stealing, life sucking, failure burpees, you’re allowed to continue up a hill where you go over a couple dump truck loads of sand. Continue up the hill until you see some 3-4ft tall “Glory Blades” (as TM would call them”. Ahhh, here we go, so water, gummies, and terrible tasting protein packet with 80mg of caffeine. After you’re full of throw up material, continue down the hill into the woods to find a wall with places to grab/put your feet on. This obstacle has two 8-10ft sections with a bend between them. This obstacle reminded me of the embassy building that Jason Bourne scales down in Paris. I imagine that’s why Seals would have to do this.
When you continue through the woods you will come to a tree with tires around it about 5ft up that is parallel to the ground. You think “okay, run, jump, get over. No big deal”. For someone my size (6’3″) it’s not a big deal, but anyone smaller will have issues when those tires start spinning. Oh, also, there are two of them. Enjoy, anyone sub 5’8″.
A short run later, you come to the Tee Pee Walls. They are a set of walls with something around a 75 degree incline and ropes that you get to pull yourself up with, climb over, and lower yourself down. I didn’t find it to be a hard obstacle, but it was definitely fun. After coming down from the second Tee Pee Wall, you’re immediately in your next “obstacle”, the Solar Field. It’s a large clearing with 20’x20′ solar panels on top of the mountain. It’s not so much an obstacle as running through an area that a skidder left behind a year ago. This does, however, allow you to pick up your pace a bit and come time down the mountain to your next obstacle, the boat bridge. It was a series of 10 or so white water rafting type rafts tied together across a pond which you needed to run across. Again, more fun than anything, but you know when someone is behind you because they start moving unpredictably.
Now, here come some ropes! After a short woods run which places you on a ski trail, you end up at the infamous cargo net. 15-20ft high, climb to the top, get over, and climb on down. Run back down the path you came up (all marked off for people doing up vs. down) and hit the rope swing. You really just have to swing onto a few hay bales and call it a day.
Down the road (up the road, rather) you’ll hear some music and see groups of people. Hey, what do you know, you’re at the top again and it’s time for yet another obstacle. The Rack. Climb an 8ft wall with a rope, then monkey bar your way back down to some tasty energy gummies, some kind of protein milk, and water.
After some well-deserved beverages, continue down the hill, around the turn, and into the Snake Pit. It’s a tunnel in the ground with knee deep water. Don’t worry, the ceiling is high enough so you can crouch. Fly through that and continue up the mountain to your next obstacle, Slide For Life. Hop up on a platform, stand up, pull yourself up through an opening above you, then get your Seal on and shimmy your way across a rope. At the end you have to hang and state your name as well as where you’re from. Come back down, hit the snake pit again and you’re off!
Have you ever seen a large spool that telephone lines are wrapped on? Well, imagine 3 of them stacked as a pyramid. Now, climb that baby. Okay, you’re over the next obstacle. Continue down the hill and pass a man in a chair that tells you the next two men down the hill will tell you the challenge. Well, these guys aren’t your friends. Not in the least bit. Grab a 75lb tire and bring it back to the last guy… Then back down to your frienemies.
After your friendly neighborhood tire carry, run down the hill some more to Spider-Man a wall. Okay, so you don’t need to be bitten by a mutant spider for this one. It three 20ft telephone poles with 2″x8″ running across it that you need to climb over. If you’re not fond of heights, you way not enjoy this guy… Continue all of 100-200 meters down to really test those Spidey-like reflexes that you hopefully have with the Stump Jump! You’ve got it, jump stump to stump without touching the ground. The heights and thicknesses vary. Some even wiggle/shake/tip.
Now, we are really nearing the end here. Run through the woods, make it through the wires (yarn tied through the trees) and crawl under an incredibly short barbed wire section (20ft… Maybe) and make it to the balance beams. There are 3 rail road ties propped about 2ft off the ground and you have to pick one to walk across. Luckily, since I can’t balance like a gymnast and I was adopted by a group early on, we figure out it was easier to go two at a time and balance on each other.
Jog it out because you have about 400 meters and a fire jump before you hit the finish line.
The Bone Frog Challenge was an incredibly fun race. The staff as well as other runners were fantastic and helpful as well as kind. The obstacles were all military influenced if not an exact replica of them and truly presented a challenge while still influencing you to have fun. If you’re looking for a race in the New England area that is more challenging than a Tough Mudder, but not quit on the level of a Spartan Beast World Championship race, then this is definitely the stomping ground for you. Just remember one thing about all OCRs, they are meant to be fun and challenging, so never take yourself too seriously and enjoy it as well as the people you meet!
I’m number 192 in the photo. The other three men adopted me into their group at the Spider Walls.