Leave it to Navy SEALS to jump right into the deep-end with the big boys of OCR: Battle Frog South Carolina sets a new standard in competitive OCR.
A quick thunder storm came in Friday night at Carolina Adventure World to set the tone for the race weekend in which Battle Frog held its second event ever. The storm cooled the air for a little while that night, but it wasn't enough to save anybody from the blistering heat to come during the race. The sun was already shining bright by the time the elite heat racers took the start line. For anybody who hasn't been to an OCR at Carolina Adventure World, it is one of the most underrated and unexpected terrains for a course in the Southeast. Year round the park is an ATV and Dirt Bike trail riding site, loaded with treacherous hills to pulverize your quads and soft sandy creek banks to test your lower legs. The course worked itself in a criss-cross fashion, which actually caused an issue with elite runners that definitely wound up making the top story of the day.
Somewhere about a mile into the course or so there was a section of course crossing that included the jerry can carry. A sign at this section apparently fell down and the volunteers working the water station and jerry cans weren't properly informed of the course direction, so the first seven racers took a turn after doing the carry instead of going straight ahead, and wound up skipping almost 5 kilometers of technical trails and stream running. New addition to the Battle Frog staff Hobie Call fortunately noticed the error and was able to re-direct the rest of the racers fortunately, keeping everyone else on course for the most part. The problem was nobody stopped those top seven to turn them back around so they wound up skipping a only running a 10k course instead of the full 15k. When the elites eventually finished running and it was time to determine the winners this obviously caused a dilemma, which is where the most impressive move by Battle Frog was made: since it was their error on a sign being down, they paid prize money to both the “modified” short course top three elite males as well as the top three full course elite males, $1,000 to first, $500 to second, and $250 to third. They didn't split those amounts; each person received the full check! The course marking error was caught early enough to not cause an issue for the elite females. When I got a chance to catch up with race director Garfield Griffiths I asked him about the decision for them to do that, and he said it was a simple one. “Our series was started with enough investment that paying the extra prize money was nothing compared to the publicity/reputation we would receive for doing right by the athletes.” Alec Blenis, the first place finisher from the “modified” course agreed with the decision they made. “They handled the situation the absolute best way that they could due to the circumstances.”
As for actual details of the course, it was quite a challenge for both 15k “Battlefrog” distance runners as well as the 5k “Bullfrog” competitors. Acknowledging the intense heat that would constantly beat down on the racers, the course was specifically designed to get everyone wet early with small rolling mud pits, and keep the water coming all throughout the course to help. Obstacles along the way included a slanted traverse wall, jerry can carrying, multiple cargo nets of varying height and angle, rope climb, an absolute energy-sapping 87 foot rope traverse crossing, varying walls ranging from 6 to 16 feet, and much more all while constantly fighting up and down the often steep, technical trails. The last section of the course where the 15k merged back in with the 5k included a log carry and more walls to go along with their signature paintball target station, Tsunami vert wall (which I admit I underestimated how steep it actually was), and final crawl through the over-sized jacks wrapped with barbed wire. All of the obstacles throughout were very well built. There was a water station almost every mile as well.
Another dimension that I must rave about with the series was their festival area, which was hands-down the best one that I have had the pleasure of getting to experience at a race! They had multiple vendor tents able to offer products of interest to the race crowd, large tents to take refuge from the blazing sun, unique yet delicious food for sale, and the DJ was playing great music all day (keeping a couple of ladies dancing no matter where they were or what they were doing…). The SEALS had a heritage museum tent to explore, the swag tent had great products available, they provided a tent and beer tickets to the largest team- the GORMR “Dirty Peaches”- to show appreciation to the teams’ support, and they also had a 1k “Tadpole” race for the kids. And, lest we forget what you don’t see at any other race series, the demonstrations by the SEALS in which they flew in on Huey helicopters to subdue “insurgents”. They had multiple weapons firing blanks, an attack dog, and rides in the Huey for all podium finishers as well as a few other deserving individuals! The helicopter ride was probably the peak of my highlights for the day, I must admit.
Besides the course confusion, Garfield Griffiths admitted they weren't perfect for the day. They had a short time that one of the water stations was unmanned and ran out of cups, and they had to switch out water trucks for the shower stations that ran out in the middle of the day. They handled all hiccups as they came along quick and efficiently though, and they look forward to putting on an even better event in the DC area on July 19th. Carolina Adventure World was very pleased with how they took care of themselves on the premises, and they look forward to returning next season to this hidden gem of pain in South Carolina!
I give Battle Frog 4.5 out of 5 Mud Splats. If you get the chance to attend one of their events, GO!
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