I don’t even know where to begin with reviewing this race… Because HOLY COW… my brain and body are still fried.
Lets get a few things mentioned up front. This is Battlefrog’s second race, I raced their inaugural race in Atlanta- which was amazeballs and I reviewed it here. My running partner and I were honored to be invited by Battlefrog to come race again in South Carolina (read: way beyond giddy and flattered). I have raced at both the Atlanta and South Carolina venues before with Spartan– twice for a Spartan Sprint and once for a Spartan Beast, respectively. Finally, the weather was an obstacle all on its own yesterday… the temperature peaked at 95 degrees, and with the humidity hovering around 60-70%… it felt like we were running in a hair dryer.
So lets get on with the review… In summary- this race made me question myself many, many times. I would rank it in the top 5 hardest things that I have ever done in my LIFE. And to put that in perspective- I will list my top 5:
1. Labor and Delivery of 2 sproglings.
2. Reconstructive Jaw Surgery (mouth wired shut for 6wks which was super easy since I am so quiet and all)
- The Wintergreen Spartan Super… which I am still pretty angry about (I did finish in just <6hrs). Simply put- they flung the racers at all the ski slopes available, including a couple of double diamonds… with a smattering of obstacles. Around half DNF’d the race. It was bullshit.
- Battlefrog South Carolina… reasons forthcoming…
- Battlefrog Atlanta… Battlefrog stole my Spartan heart in Atlanta- for reasons aforementioned here.
I walked into this race knowing that Carolina Adventure World is full of steep and gnarly quad trails. I ran my Spartan Super at this venue last year to earn my Spartan Trifecta medal. That said, ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you that Battlefrog packed in a way more challenging and intense course in their 9 miles than Spartan could have ever wished for last year within 12. Yes… I said it… The new kids kicked some Spartan Ass.
As I mentioned in my Atlanta BattleFrog review, I loved the intensity and rugged-ness of not only the obstacles but also the terrain. The intention of putting the racers through as many elements as possible was obvious on the course. So I knew that the staff would go ape with all of the diverse landscape, natural water features, clay, sand, mud, and vegetation that Carolina Adventure World has to offer. And yet again- Battlefrog didn’t disappoint… this course was INSANE… easily 3 times harder than the Atlanta course- which was a feat all on its own.
THE 15K TERRAIN: Battlefrog’s use of the natural terrain, water features, and vegetation in South Carolina was impressive. We were sent thru some super thick quicksand-like-mud within the first mile. It slowed us down for the next 2 miles because it added some major weight- and simply wouldn’t shake loose. The sand, clay, and silt became a major factor to contend with as well- as we were in and out of ankle deep loose sand for a good stretch of the race. I am not one to usually look forward to water obstacles- but I was then- just to rinse the pounds of clay and sand that I kept collecting. Carolina Adventure World is an ATV/Dirtbike playland- full of mudbogs, enduro courses, rolling dirtbike trails, etc. This means that as a runner you simply have to attack those hills at a full sprint and then just claw your way to the top… I will summarize the terrain this way: If we weren’t climbing up or down a hill, then we were in heavy mud or water. The terrain was an obstacle the entire way.
THE OBSTACLES: I love the original obstacles that Battlefrog uses… and the way they were arranged them on the course in South Carolina was a major challenge. The intensity and difficulty of the obstacles were again multiplied in SC (in comparison to Atlanta). There were 7 different types of walls that we crossed- from rope-style traverse walls, straight muscle-up and overs, to 12 foot rope and ladders. Then after all of those walls, crawling, humping over, and “PT” (8 count body builders), they tossed us in rivers and ponds where swimming was really your only option. The inverted walls were actually placed IN the water- so not only were they incredibly slick, but you are heavier with all of that fresh muddy water all over you. The rope traverse on this course was easily 2-3 times longer than the traverse in Atlanta… I did not see one person make it across while I was there. I failed the Rope Traverse and The Tsunami… And I will say that both of those obstacles seemed damn near impossible. The length of that traverse just seemed extreme… And for the Tsunami- I really wish that BattleFrog would look into a different substrate for the wall on that. I imagine it is a challenge but doable for the first maybe 100 or so racers. After that- It appears to be more of a challenge for the volunteers at the top- hoisting the racers that are dangling at the end of the rope up onto the platform. There is just no way to get your feet in on the game- the wall is too slicked up with mud and water. I haven’t been sore after a race in a long long time… but 48 hours later my upper body is still shuddering, and I am pretty sure I left a hip flexor out there on the course somewhere.
THE INTEGRITY: Obviously, I believe that BattleFrog puts together a challenging, high quality race that is designed to push you beyond your limits. There was something in the air in Atlanta that felt more genuine about this race than any other I have done. The people that this event seems to attract (from staff, to volunteers, to racers) and their tenacity and passion for racing where the magic is.
For instance, I met Don Mann (CEO of BattleFrog, decorated veteran, 17 year SEAL, 6 year SEAL TEAM SIX, and the Most Interesting Man in the WORLD) at a water stop after the Jerry Can Carry. He was passing out water, asking what we thought of the course, and was genuinely invested in our answers. He lit up when I told him that this course was so much harder than the Atlanta course. He said “Oh just wait! There is so much more fun ahead!”. His description of “fun” may need some tweaking… but so incredibly cool to literally run up on him hanging out with the volunteers doing recon.
I also had the opportunity to meet a Wounded Warrior Spouse while out on the course. I had actually connected with her on the BattleFroggers FB Group Page before the race, and learned that she and Battlefrog were working together to give him his honorary “Final Flight” (Helocopter) that he never got while in service. Which is super cool all on its own. We found her out on the course, badly injured, but pushing through the pain to make a 1pm deadline to see her husband take off. She made it, limping, with sheer minutes to spare to see her husband off. We watched her baby congratulate her, and got a picture with her too… She was nothing short of AMAZING.
I have to say that my experience at Battlefrog Carolina’s blew Atlanta out of the water… And Atlanta received rave reviews not only from me, but from big names like Hobie Call, Obstacle Racing Media, and many many others! Next up for Battlefrog is DC, then Tri-State, and Pittsburgh after that. If you haven’t signed up yet- what are you waiting for!? This is a bucket-list race for sure!