A Race with a Purpose
Frontline OCR is an obstacle course race in Byron, IL dedicated to first responders and the military. Anyone who runs obstacle course races in the Chicago area knows about Frontline's reputation for having the toughest competitive waves around. They also have a Heroes Heat specifically for military members, veterans, and first responders. Their Fifth Wave took place on Halloween weekend, October 31st. Their obstacles are purposefully designed to embody the hardships encountered daily in the line of duty.
Frontline calls their competitive class “Special Forces” for a good reason. The elite athletes are challenged to complete the 5-mile-plus course while wearing a 20-lb. weight vest. They tackled obstacles like a 14 ft warped wall, a low multi-rig called the Vest Collector, and a stunningly inventive twister on crack- The Kraken. They could only keep their vests if they completed every obstacle. Very few vests were in sight in the festival area after the race. However, no one I spoke to was discouraged by the toughness of the race. Instead, there was an air of excitement. People were strategizing new ways to train and looking forward to the Sixth Wave in May 2021.
Upon arrival to the race, everyone entering the festival area passed through a temperature check and was provided with a mask if they did not bring their own. Of the over 500 registrants, about 400 braved the cold morning weather. A variety of participants came, from the OCR families with their children on the kids course, to the “Grey Berets” and other teams in the open waves. Many of the racers (myself included) celebrated the occasion by running in their halloween costumes. Although everyone recognized the somber focus of the Frontline, Jacob Bosecker and Leah Hensley from BROCR dispatched us from the start line with joy and enthusiasm. At the finish line, everyone received a finisher shirt, EMS-badge medal, and a pair of Goodr sunglasses. Hairy Cow Brewing Company supplied the finisher beers, and DJ Eddie Dominguez provided the soundtrack throughout the day.
Chad Coleman came in first in the Special Forces heat. Michael Clift took second, and Anthony Parlick was in third place. Aaliyah Emas won the women's Special Forces heat. Additionally, they had an Endurance Class. Leo Armenta completed four laps to win the men's division. Chris Tauer and Akash Garg were in second and third, respectively. Also, Rory Scher and Hannah Carta were co-champions of the Women's Endurance class. Beatrix Kenesei was the runner-up.
The Blitzkrieg was one of the highlights of the day. It is a distinctive short-course battle between the first- and second-place Special Forces finishers. Right in the middle of the festival area for all to see, the winners and their closest competitors first donned full firefighter turnout gear. Spectators that were mostly other racers from the day shouted their support and cheered as they raced to complete a set of Blockies (burpees with a cement block). Next, they sledge-hammered a log across a 10-foot chute. They ended by picking up atlas stones and throwing them over their shoulders. Undoubtedly, the Blitzkrieg is a genius idea to make our sport more spectator-friendly
The Frontline offers racers an eye-opening experience that will put their strength, endurance, and mental toughness to the test. Participants leave with a new (or renewed) respect for the daily duties of first responders and those in the military. Frontline OCR's Sixth Wave on May 29, 2021 will include a new team option, with a laborious twist. Check them out on Facebook, Instagram, or register here.