Earlier this month, MRG social media guru, Bonnie Wilson, broke the news about the Bonefrog Virtual Challenge. The effort was pitched as a way to fill the competitive itch among avid racers, as well as keep the smaller brand afloat during the COVID-19-related event cancellations. Always hungry for a challenge, I opted in for the Sprint distance of this event.
Virtual Challenge Design
The virtual event consists of intervals of running peppered with bodyweight and weighted exercises. Creators cleverly designed this challenge to mimic the metabolic demands of an event. Keeping things #HealthyatHome, the challenge is designed so that racers can perform everything within a ¼ mile of their homes. Better still, the challenge is approachable for all skill levels, building upon the base Sprint challenge by adding more distance and/or reps for the longer Challenge and longest Tier-1 options. After last year’s efforts with endurance distances, I opted for the speedy Sprint.
Race Day Rituals, Redesigned
I awoke on Saturday—race day—and checked the weather, just as I always do first thing upon rising before an event. Initially, I was downtrodden at the forecast of overcast skies coupled with temperatures in the mid-thirties boasting a brisk wind. Lucky for me, I have all the things I need in my climate-controlled basement to avoid these less than stellar conditions. Indeed, the flexibility of this virtual challenge eliminated one of my normal race day worries by eliminating the threat of weather. This got me thinking—this virtual event completely challenged a number of what I consider unfortunate headaches of the sport. I needn’t stress over structuring a section of my life for pre-race travel, packing, arrangements, food prep, etc. before the event. It didn’t matter what clothes I chose for the day, nor did my sleeping routine see interruptions. The unnecessary stressors that can inhibit optimum performance prior to a race had essentially been eliminated. These plus having the challenge sent prior to competition meant that I stood the best shot of giving my all-out best solo performance. No race day jitters, just me versus me.
Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have a reliable treadmill and prescribed weight to knock this challenge out in safety of my basement. While I would never dream to compare the hype of toeing the line for this to the typical race experience, I was pleasantly surprised by my level of excitement as my Apple Watch counted me down. Despite the absence of fellow racers or cheers from spectators, I felt myself push my limits throughout the event. Kudos to Bonefrog HQ for creating the We Are Bonefrog group so that racers could post their times and share in the experience. While I’m good at rising to a challenge, I’m even better when pushed by my peers. Even limited to thumbnails and character limits, the OCR community came through making the challenge an experience out of what normally would have served as nothing more than a benchmark workout.
Bonefrogs Sound Off
After the challenge was completed, I corresponded with Bonefrog Ambassador and fellow Southern states race buddy, Jennie Maldonado, about the event. Maldonado explains, “The entire ambassador team was involved in putting this together. It went from throwing out exercises that everyone could not only physically do (or modify), but also could be done with whatever was around the house (jugs of kitty litter, dogs, kids, grocery bags full of cans). The team did a great job of breaking it down to rep counts, rounds for each distance and layout.
“Though, we might have cursed ourselves with all those frog builders at the beginning and end of the distances.”
I popped into the We Are Bonefrog Facebook group to reach out to other Bonefrogs that competed in this first event.
Trident winner and Bonefrog Elite in training, Robert Williams, chimes in, “I am an avid runner, and after my first Bonefrog event (also my first OCR) I was hooked because of the challenge, community, and overall experience. I originally signed up for the Virtual Challenge to support Bonefrog, but found the challenge itself to be a similar test to the live events. The camaraderie of the Bonefrog community and the motivation you get from it is really what sets this event apart.”
Maria Hanna is one among many a Bonefrog I noticed that took the challenge to the next level.
“I finished the Virtual Challenge at all 3 levels! Great workouts!”
Some are crediting the Challenge for reigniting the spark to train and involve the whole family. Mikey Thompson of Georgia reached out to me with this, “I’m not one who goes to gyms or CrossFit. I stay somewhat healthy from working hard outside every day. I ran my first OCR in May of 2018 I became obsessed like so many others…Because I enjoy it so much I was all for supporting during these hard times because during this I want to do my part to make sure that they all stay in business and they are there when we come through this together…The format has actually been life-changing for me because I will actually do this on the regular as a form of work out I enjoy it that much…I want to thank Bonefrog and the ambassadors for creating a truly challenging and rewarding format and [virtual] race to help us all through these troubled times…My son and daughter will all be doing it [with me] tomorrow evening.”
I think I speak for many a stir-crazy racer, that the Bonefrog Virtual Challenge delivers exactly what this community needed in the face of shuttered events across the country. One part challenge, another part community, and swag to boot? Now, I admit that I am partial to Bonefrog. After all, it is the race that I saw my first OCR podium, and it is the one that gave rise to the “Kentucky Mule” with last year’s Endurance Challenge in Talladega. All this to say that I, for one, am stoked that it is the Bonefrog crew gifting me with my first #MedalMonday of 2020. This is exactly the bright spot I needed to break from persistent low-grade anxiety in these ever-evolving times. Truly, thank you.
Readers interested in tackling the Bonefrog Virtual Challenge can register here for the Sprint, Challenge, and/or Tier-1 distances.
5 out of 5 stars