Upon leaving my hotel for Battlefrog’s Greater DC event the receptionist said to keep an eye out for deer in the road while driving to the venue. To me, nothing else can better explain just how “out there” this venue was. And it made for an excellent race. From the race, to the festival, to the volunteers and workers, this was one very well executed event. Despite being new to the OCR scene, Battlefrog has set a very high bar.
Hobie Call kicked off the elite wave by listing off the rules (really just one rule: all obstacles must be completed with the exception of the paint ball gun obstacle). Once the runners took off there were immediately the over, under, and thru walls. While this did create a slight and instant bottleneck it was nice to have a couple obstacles right at the beginning to get warmed up. After running a little farther there was a mud hole (which could be avoided) followed by a small A-frame cargo net and then some nice up-hill action that led into the woods. After running through the woods for a stint the 8-foot walls were next. There was a slight oversight on the walls and no “boost-up” step had been installed so Hobie Call actually helped the elites who needed a step-up get over the walls. This was remedied before the open wave heats began. Then came the oh-so-painful jerry can carry. And this was absolutely a tougher route (in this racer’s opinion) than the Atlanta route. With all the brush that would trap your feet it was such an intense several minutes. Each runner was instructed to grab two cans and carry them down and then back up an extremely steep hill. A delta ladder followed with steps so far apart that if they had been spaced just a half-inch more I wouldn't have been able to reach with my foot on the way down, so I found it to be quite challenging on my quads! Runners were then led back into the woods to hop over a few waist-high logs and then stumble through the spider web obstacle, which were several bungee cord-like ropes tangled between the trees. The courses then split after a short run, the 5k to fork to the left while the 15k was to the right. The water pit came next which wasn't terribly deep or long, followed by the extremely challenging rope traverse wall. It was this obstacle that many of the elite females struggled severely with. This obstacle consisted of 4 or 5 ropes hanging from an A frame wall that you had to either jump or swing or slip from one to the other. Once that section was cleared a short balance beam led to a traverse rock wall and once you reached the end of that you rang the bell and jumped off to continue your race. Not an easy task, to say the least! The ladder wall was next, which was honestly a nice break during the intense race. Then came a very loose cargo net draped between two trees. The net was so loose that the volunteer (excuse me, the most enthusiastic volunteer ever!) was yelling out warnings and actually pulling on the next to make it tighter. This was a very interesting twist and made it quite fun.
A bit more running led to the sandbag carry. Runners would pick one up (avoiding the spiders that were chilling on the bags), carry it down a steep hill that was riddled with rocks, and climb back up. This of course was not nearly as intense as the jerry can obstacle due to the fact that there was not brush catching on your feet and having the ability to sling the bag over your shoulder, but the hill nonetheless was guaranteed to drain some energy. The short, and only, rope climb followed. Runners had the choice of knots or no knots. A few six-foot walls were then sprinkled into the trail. Next came a super steep hill for the fixed line ascent. This brought runners to an extremely narrow path leading to some more very steep terrain. An awesomely tall A-frame cargo net was the next obstacle to conquer. And then came the dreaded rope traverse. The slack in the rope actually had people’s backs in the water. Once your body was burning from this obstacle you ran back into some beautiful wooded trails to come out and complete 20 8-count body builders led by a high-energy volunteer who insisted you “COUNT OFF” after each one. Running back up a hill into the woods runners came to the 12-foot rope wall, which had options for different fitness levels. You could pick a rope with or without steps built onto the wall. This is the one point in the race I felt the signage was not clear. I literally stood there trying to see where the exit from the open circle was and the volunteer had to point it out. After running through the last bit of woods on the course runners burst out into mud terrain and army crawled through extremely low trenches to fall into a very smelly pond of water. Climbing out of the pond to a yellow cone was no easy feat and then came the inverted wall, which again had different options of difficulty (steps vs. no steps). Into two more ponds runners went and then came to the pipe tunnel which actually was put under a later part of the course (I love when they do that!). Continuing through muddy terrain, runners next faced the monkey bars with another extremely encouraging volunteer.
Tsunami followed with different levels of difficulty (different length ropes, slick footing vs. a carpeted footing for the climb). The slide for tsunami was awesome, as it had two levels for the ride down (it was long enough to allow me to turn 180 degrees around) before landing in the shallow pool at the bottom. Best slide I’ve been on! Continuing to run through the mud, which was being maintained by lines of large sprinklers, led to the heaviest cargo net ever. And also the tightest. After fighting your way under this obstacle came a hill with hay bales lying on their sides at the top to be hopped over. Down the hill runners went to the paint ball obstacle where they had three tries to hit a target and if failed then completed some 8-count body builders as previously mentioned. Hooyah came next which consists of an A-frame wall rope climb to the top of a platform and then sliding down a black tube into a good-depth trench of water. Climbing out of that trench brought runners to the next obstacle which was the most original one of the course: a swinging narrow wire ladder that had to be climbed which was hanging next to a rope you would transfer to for the climb down. Again, this obstacle had a wonderful volunteer helping and cheering on participants. The last obstacle were the Jax which had plain wires hanging over them under which runners would crawl while another great volunteer cheered you on and reminded you that the finish line was just up the hill.
The ceremony was hilarious. None of the 5k winners stuck around for it and the announcer played it off beautifully. The 15k winners as well as the Clydesdales were all present to receive their awards. The first place male finished with a time of 1:07:41 and the first place female came in at 1:27:10.
ALL THE STUFF IN BETWEEN
Registration was quite simple. I forgot my ID in Atlanta and had no problem just using my confirmation email to obtain my racing packet. The layout of the festival area was very well done. The food tent was the center point with the bag check, dining area, changing and results tents being the borders. There were plenty of bathrooms with hand washing stations. The showers had tons of hoses available as well as platforms for runners to stand on. The food was bar-be-que themed and the beer was plentiful. Hobie Call was making the rounds and arm wrestling with Junyong Pak at one point. The guys running the results tent were very helpful with helping people figure out their times as well as quickly correcting wave-placement errors (cash vs. open). The results tent had several tablets runners could enter their bib number into to see their results. The kid’s race was absolutely adorable, with all the kids climbing over the wall to get into the starting corral. There was a play area near the dining hall where children were playing throughout the day which contained a rope climb and tire. There was also an inflatable slide for the children to enjoy. The merchandise tent was well stocked and had a very nice selection of items from clothes to toys to decals and more. A SEAL museum could also be found in the festival area.
GET TO THE POINT ALREADY…
Overall this was a great event that was manned by a staff of enthusiastic workers and volunteers. The race was comprised of well-made, challenging obstacles placed on a very nicely laid out course that made excellent use of the terrain. If I knew nothing of the OCR world, I would never guess that this was only Battlefrog’s third event. They are doing an amazing job and I cannot wait to go to another one!
5 out of 5 stars
—–Laura Carroll —–
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