RACE REVIEW: BATTLEFROG ATLANTA (Spring 2015)

The best team you could ask for...

I have to be honest with you guys from the jump here. As you already know from my previous reviews- I am a huge BattleFrog fan. I have been ridiculously excited about this race since… oh… last year.   However, BattleFrog announced a major change a few months ago that put doubt in my heart. They were eliminating their 5k OR 15k option and going with a single 8k option. As a trainer, I loved giving my clients this lighter or more challenging option to train for in the gym… and I felt that the reduced length would mean a reduced experience for the 15k racers. I was a little bit peeved at first, I bitched and complained… and I will admit that I was highly skeptical as I walked onto the venue Saturday with my team.

So my opinion flipped... much like my vertical position here.

So my opinion flipped… much like my vertical position here.

SPOILER ALERT: I am not wrong often you guys… but mark your calendars… I was wrong on May 16, 2015.   The race was indeed shorter (I will cover more in the terrain section)… but the obstacles… good lord.

THE TERRAIN:   BattleFrog chose the same location as last year- Georgia International Horse Park- in Conyers, GA.  BF got my attention real damn quick with their use of the property last year. As a matter of fact, the use of terrain was one of my primary reasons for touting this series so highly. We were in rivers, ponds, over slate beds, through fields, woods and culverts. It was incredible. This year… the terrain was not as varied. I will offer that they had fewer miles to work with… which means they can only get to use so much of the property. We definitely did not get nearly as wet or muddy as we did last year. As I mentioned- I believe BF made up for the mileage in their obstacles… but I have to say that there simply wasn’t as much varied terrain as last year- and that was a bit of a let down.

Uphill. Both ways. In the snow. With gas cans.

Uphill. Both ways. In the snow. With gas cans.

THE OBSTACLES: So while I was a little bit disappointed with the terrain and mud… the obstacles were ridiculously hard and strategic this year.   The regular offenders made their appearances this year… Like the Jerry Can Carry that took a trip up hill through single track trails. They stacked obstacles together for increased difficulty… several grip obstacles in a row, followed by several pull-up-and-over obstacles stacked together.   I ultimately decided to forego a monkey bar obstacle (and do my body-builders) to save my grip for the Tsunami (quarter pipe, run and pull up obstacle). There was another grip-burning obstacle that was similar to “tip of the spear” from last year… but wickedly different. On this one, you had to cross slanted walls laterally with ropes, or a small ledge (pretty much only finger tips could fit), and your legs had to stay high and tight to make it work… there were no footholds.   There was an inverted suspended ladder over a water feature (I believe it was named “bridge over river cry”)… another grip and core burner that immediately followed those hateful monkey bars. I have to say that I did find that the cargo nets and Tsunami wall SEEMED more narrow this year- which led to some major major bottlenecking. A small offense… BF just needs to look at widening those obstacles… or adding extra lanes, etc.

THE FESTIVAL: Similar to last year- the volunteers were amazing and pumped. Check-in was more electronic this year, and therefore a bit more elegant. The merch tent was FABULOUS (again, they roll in deep with womens cuts and kids stuff… not to mention tactical sleeves and such that can be used on the course… check out mine in the Jerry Can pick above!)… their gear is high quality and holds up well. Coach Pain Dewayne kicked ass- made your heart swell, and your blood pump fast while warming each of the waves up for their flights.   I feel like BattleFrog did an excellent job of spreading out the festival tents (but not too far) on the campus so that it didn’t feel crowded- but keeping things like the showers, gear check, and changing areas close together in a way that made sense. (however, if anyone from BattleFrog HQ happens to trip over this review: White Tents instead of blue for the changing area… we were changing in the dark in there y’all! 😉

SUMMARY: I walked away from this race incredibly proud. I am proud of myself, my team, and this racing series. I am so happy to see the 2014 freshmen back at it, making adjustments and showing up as solid sophomores… still showing room for growth… but putting on a kick ass and UNIQUE race.   I love that this series is ballsy and not afraid of a little #shirtgate with Spartan… BattleFrog has a sense of humor and cajones! (What more could a girl ask for!??!) I also love that BattleFrog elicits acts of heroism from regular Joes every time I am on their course. You’ll remember Stephanie, the wounded warrior spouse from SC last year… we saw her AND HER HUSBAND on the course this year in Atlanta… and were privileged to run along side them. Then there is my client, Christian, whom has suffered injuries and set-backs… that crossed the finish line- crushing mental and physical goals… with a big WHOOOOO!

Rick Flair said it best... Whoooooo!

Rick Flair said it best… Whoooooo!

This series embodies what I love about OCR’s… it has a magic that brings out the best in people, pushes them beyond their boundaries, and creates a space for racers to see themselves in a different way. Once you’re over the finish line, medal in hand… you can’t help but recount the personalities on the course, the obstacles you crushed, and the ones that beat you this time. That’s why I love and adore this sport: you leave changed athlete every single time… it’s an experience.   Rumor has it that BattleFrog will be back in the Atlanta area in November! It’s at a new venue in West Georgia- and I am pumped to race it! Get in on that early bird action here: http://battlefrogseries.com/battlefrog-atlanta-2015-ii/

RACE REVIEW: SAVAGE RACE GEORGIA (spring)

Race Summary: The Mud. (photo credit: Lloyd Parker)

I personally had a ton of energy coming into this Obstacle Race, and not all of it was necessarily positive energy.  I was very anxious and nervous… both were new feelings about an OCR.  I usually set out to just do my best, not get injured, and have a good time.  But this time, I had set some performance goals that I really REALLY wanted to meet at this race- just for me… because I wanted it.  I wanted a finish in the single digits for my gender/age, and I wanted to finish well under 2 hours.  Hitting both of those goals at a Savage Race would definitely feel like an accomplishment.

Last year I ran the Georgia Fall Savage, and I managed an injury that required four sutures, and a finish time/place that I was honestly surprised by- since I got pulled off course by medical.  Savage definitely brought a race “built to kick ass”… the obstacles were physically and mentally demanding (seriously, you have to get over your issues and force up some courage)… the running portions were moderate in difficulty- all trail, and BEAUTIFUL… and not too bad on the hills at all.

The 2015 Spring Georgia Savage Race will forever be remembered in one word- MUD.  Most Obstacle Course Races do require some mud bathing along the way to the finish line.  However, the Southeast received about a weeks worth of rain leading up to the day of the race (the build had to have been miserable). The grounds were not muddy… no, my brothers and sisters… they were entirely over-saturated.  Thin mud floating over top thicker mud, layered on top of some good, wet, sticky Georgia red clay.  It was a glorious fabulous nasty MESS… and I loved it. So before I get into the rest of my race review- take a good look at the anchor picture up there^^^– that is not the trail… that is on the way from the parking lot to the festival area… yeah.  lol

THE TERRAIN:
Moonlight Stables in Dallas, Georgia has some of the most beautiful pasture and wooded acreage that you could ask to run through.  Grassy, rolling hills… twisty, little creekbeds… and winding wooded paths make up much of the landscape… even mud covered- it is simply stunning. The layout and use of natural resources (creeks and hills namely) were more proliferate this year.  During the fall race I remember the terrain being more visually stunning than technically difficult… the course would have still required more technical running this year even without the mud.  The over-saturation only stood to increase the intensity.

Traverse Wall... with grips that make sense!

Traverse Wall… with grips that make sense!

THE OBSTACLES:
Savage’s trademark obstacles (Shriveled Richard, Colossus, Davey Jones’ Locker and Sawtooth) all returned to the race this year… but a few new ones were included as well. Colon Blow went up onto a teeter-totter (crawl from one end of a tube to another that was situated see-saw style over a pivot point), inverted walls, and a traverse wall with rock climbing grips (yes! thank you!!!!). More insidious than the individual obstacles was the placement- nut smasher was arranged directly after a nice hill sprint and well into the race… creating added rubbery leg difficulty.  Tackling Colossus after several inverted walls and a couple of heavy carries seemed just cruel… grip strength was toast, but you had to call it up from somewhere if you were going to make it up to the top.  In other words- the designer seemed very focused on just how exhausted he wanted you to be when you made it to each obstacle.

THE FESTIVAL:
The mud did put a bit of a damper on things for the spectators… it was an unholy, muddy mess EVERYWHERE.  And while Savage did their best to be hospitable (wood chips and gravel were spread about to calm it down a bit)… there was only so much that could be done with the amount of total rainfall last week.  The Junior Savage race was fantastic (2 of my sproglings ran it). The course was so much fun for both of them. They had to balance, crawl, climb, and push through to get to the finish line.  The organizers could not have been more encouraging and excited for the little savages as they passed out medals, shirts, and high fives.  If your children haven’t ran a Junior race- they MUST.  It is such a thrill and achievement for them to experience.

All of the necessities seemed to run without a hitch save one area- Gear Drop.  Gear Drop was very slow this time… I am not sure what really happened- as I do not remember that being an ordeal at all in the fall.  I waited nearly an hour in line to pick up my bag- and I had an early heat. I can’t imagine that it got much better for a while.  I do also wish that Savage Race would roll in with more “feminine cut” merch… I would love to sport less-boxy Savage Race Tee’s… However, that’s totally inconsequential compared to everything that went right:  Parking was easy and smooth (I got stuck and unstuck by the volunteers in less than 5 minutes, lol), check in and packet pick-up made sense and was not bottle necked, and there was plenty of spectator access to mill through to watch the racers.

kids

As for me personally- It was a banner day! I met both of my goals (3rd place for my age group, with a 1:51 finish time), watched the accomplished expressions on my kids faces, and saw so many friends out there this time!  Everyone went home exhausted and in one piece… woot! Early Bird Registration is going on now for the Fall Savage Race- I’ll be there and you should be too!

RACE REVIEW: WARRIOR DASH GEORGIA

The Medals double as bottle openers... pretty much effing awesomeness.

Warrior Dash is always going to have a special place in my heart y’all… Why? Why would an entry level obstacle race be so special among all of the more “hardcore, badass, kill em dead” races?
Because it was my first. My first love. The Warrior Dash is where my passion for everything OCR related took off. During the summer of 2012, I began to make permanent changes with my nutrition and fitness- cleaning up my eats, and lifting heavy shit. In the meantime, I watched from the sidelines as friends participated in Obstacle Course Races… it looked like so much fun, and struck a chord with my inner rebel. But could I do it? To find out, I signed up for a smaller, lower octane (5k) race- The Warrior Dash. Obviously, that race was a wild success and has resulted in a subsequent 18 race finishes to date. I had the opportunity to race for a second time in the Georgia Warrior Dash this past Saturday… and guys… I renewed my vows to all things OCR. 😉

The Warrior Dash has branded themselves as the event for “Mud, Sweat, and Beer”. In essence, a little race and a lot of party. As I made the gorgeous drive out to the Northeast Georgia mountains for this race- I was anticipating an easy terrain, some fun obstacles, and some music and beer.

THE TERRAIN:
My first experience with Warrior Dash in 2012 was in Warrior, Alabama (I kid you not)… and I do recall that the race designers made excellent use of creek beds to “create” some elevation on that course… but it was mostly an easy jog. The Georgia Race was held Mountain City (again, I am not joking)… and elevation certainly played a part in the first mile or so of the race. In fact, the starting line was literally a little 20-30 yard hill sprint! The scenery was beautiful, and the trails were enjoyable- however, we were put out on the road for the last half mile or so… which was a first for me in any OCR. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the running portions of the race.

The 20 yard hill sprint right at the start line

The 20 yard hill sprint right at the start line

THE OBSTACLES:
Out of the dozen or so obstacles- two really stood out. The first shocker was a swim across a small pond of water. Sounds simple- and on paper it was. However, once I was submerged I realized that this pond was very, VERY COLD. My brain just didn’t want to operate. I half swam, half doggy paddled, and full on cussed the whole way across that pond. The second unique obstacle was a suspended balance beam (maybe fifteen feet in the air or so?) with a rope about waist high on either side to use for support to get across. So you HAD to look down to see where you were going… and how high up you were. Many people bailed on both of those obstacles, which is not a problem at Warrior Dash. One of the many reasons that I refer my clients to try this course is precisely for that reason… it’s for fun, not to be penalized for missed obstacles, and that’s a great attitude to have when you are starting out into the world of OCR’s.

THE FESTIVAL:
The festival was well organized and easy to maneuver through. All tents were well labeled and staffed. Normally packet pick-up and gear pickup/drop-off can be a major pain in the ass to staff elegantly and move people through- Warrior Dash had no trouble with either. The Beer Tent and the adjoining Music Stage and party area were arranged in a way that made sense too. Warrior Dash did all the things right- plenty of staff, organized parking and entry, free pictures, and free gear drop. This is why this series has been around for the last 7 years (which is a lifetime in this industry it seems)… they have their market pegged, they know what they are good at, and they deliver.

Well organized Festival area- happy staffers... and they won't nickel and dime you.

Well organized Festival area- happy staffers… and they won’t nickel and dime you.

Fun Band and GOOD Beer after the race.

Fun Band and GOOD Beer after the race.

I know that entry level races like Warrior Dash get the snub for not being as “kick ass” or “hard core” as other races (hell, I was once a race-snob-asshole too)… But coming back to Warrior Dash reminded me of the best part of the OCR sport that sometimes gets lost with the higher-octane races: the people that come and their stories. I met two inspiring women in particular- one that had lost 180 pounds and kept it off for the last 5 years(!), and a 62 year old marathoner woman who only started running a few months ago. They were both getting their OCR start at Warrior Dash, and had totally been bitten by the OCR bug- looking to do more races this season. And for that- we should all be thankful that events like Warrior Dash have been loyal and faithful to their “entry-level” status- because they welcome new athletes to our beloved sport at each event.

What lit a fire under my ass. Literally.

Do you?

I have had a few clients recently ask me what got me motivated in the very beginning… What was the catalyst that made me stop everything and start running headlong for fire and mud? I thought it would make a good “resolution recovery” topic for the first post of the year.  😉

I would love to tell you guys that it was my kids, or my husband or some profound spiritual moment that shook me to my core… and that from that moment on- I was a changed person… and decided to take better care of my body and health.  But alas… I was forever changed by excellent marketing- a promotional video from Spartan Race… I know, I know… *hangs head in shame*.

In this video they were highlighting “Team X.T.R.E.M.E” racing the 2012 Virginia Super Spartan… particularly highlighting Cpl. Todd Love (Triple Amputee Marine) and Sgt. Todd Galloway (Double Amputee- Army).  The imagery and interview of Todd’s dad are particularly moving, and the clips of these guys just kicking ass on the course- after a little morning tandem jump out of a plane- will get your pulse going and maybe even get you to sign up for an OCR.  But the profound moment(s) for me are at the 8:00 minute mark (click here for the jump to the clip) where Noah says: “You know a lot of people tell me ‘I wanna do this, I wanna do that’. Well you know what? You gotta do it. There is no *want*, either you do it- or you don’t. You just… There are no excuses.” And then, immediate clip to Gary Love “That’s why he does what he does. There is no stop to my son. You know, he has no quit in him”.

It was a kick in the chest. This dude standing there with half an arm clearly visible in the frame- saying “either you do or you don’t. NO EXCUSES”.  I remember just sitting there– (mouth breathing, I am sure)– staring at the screen… and the thought that flashed through my mind was: “What the fuck am I doing?! I have two very capable arms and legs… and this guy is getting up and down a rope with one arm and an ARMPIT”.  From that moment in September 2012, it has been a steady drumbeat of realizing what I am truly capable of.  I ran a Warrior Dash right away- just to try out this mud-running thing.  I loved it.  I went on to run my first Spartan Race (Atlanta Sprint), in March of 2013- 6 months after watching that video:

First Spartan 2013

First Spartan 2013

I was completely hooked and immediately signed up for the Super in Wintergreen, and the Beast in South Carolina to complete my Spartan Trifecta.  The Trifecta consists of completing a Sprint (3-5 miles), a Super (6-8 miles), and a Beast (10-13 miles) in one calendar year…  Here I am with my Trifecta Medal almost exactly a year after I watched that video:

Trifecta- Nov 2013

Trifecta- Nov 2013

 

And in 2014… I added in multiple Battlefrogs, Rugged Maniacs, Savage Races, and a few non-muddy street races like the Peachtree.  I really feel like I embraced my inner athlete in 2014, and while I am not up to snuff to run with the elites, YET… I do finally consider myself a runner, and obstacle course racer:

2014 Racing

2014 Racing

(I do tend to enjoy the races that have a military beneficiary- Like BattleFrog and their support of Trident House… they even dedicate each obstacle to a fallen Navy SEAL… but its mostly because of how motivated I was by Team XTREME)

2014 was full of hard and scary moves, choices, and decisions- and some amazing opportunities and experiences.  I decided to change careers from homeschooling mom, to full-time personal trainer (which was HUGE for me).  I earned a bunch of medals, my RKC Certification, and learned so much about myself- what I am really about, and what I really want out of my life… which if I had to boil it down to one word- it would be “experiences”.  I want to experience so much with my kids, my family, my friends, and on my OWN.  That *on my own* part is a real game changer for me… 100% of my life up till late 2013 revolved what I thought I was “supposed” to be doing and what others thought of me… I finally stopped people-pleasing that year.  I think I have fully recovered from that shit 😉

I am not about to go all “New Year, New Me” on you.  Actually the opposite. I really like who I am becoming.  I am not leaving anything behind in 2014… I am carrying it all forward into 2015.  I have an amazing Client Roster at MBT, a race schedule that I simply CANNOT WAIT to accomplish, and a few non-fitness items on my bucket list that have me just… giddy.  I have no clue where I am going or what everything will look like when I get there… but I am enjoying the wind in my hair and the beauty in the messy parts along the way.  As a matter of fact, I hope that I never “arrive”… I am enjoying the ride that damn much.

And all of this because of a piece of marketing material.  I am not saying everyone has to sign up for an OCR… by no means.  But when something grabs your your attention, listen to it… get motivated… get passionate… and get after it.  There is no want… ladies and gentlemen… either you do it or you don’t.

Much Love,
~January

January Shiflett, RKC is a personal trainer, kettlebell instructor, obstacle course racing coach, and resident potty-mouth at Maximum Body Training in Cartersville Georgia.   You can contact her for classes and training opportunities at January.Shiflett@me.com

RACE REVIEW: SAVAGE RACE GEORGIA

Remember that right arm... it'll be relevant later.

My final race for this season was the Fall Savage Race at Moonlight Stables in Dallas Georgia.  This event was billed as “The Race Built to Kick Your Ass”, it promised 6 miles worth of gnarly trails and intense obstacles that have a reputation for getting in your head-  with freezing ice baths and high jumps into watery graves.  I was originally set to run this event with a team- but between spinal surgeries (my racing partner), and a general chickening out by hardened MMA fighters… I was running this bad boy solo.

THE OBSTACLES:  As I was driving on to the property there were really only 3 things on my mind- Shriveled Richard, Davy Jones Locker, and Colossus. These are 3 are just a couple of Savage’s Signature Obstacles- a quick description of each:

Just go to your warm happy place.

Just go to your warm happy place.

Shriveled Richard: A storage container filled with ice and a bit of water… but mostly ice.  To navigate- you jumped in at one end, completely immerse yourself under a submerged baffle, then swim to the end and hoist yourself out.  I was in the second heat of the day, directly behind the elite heat (I always register early to avoid truly slopped up obstacles and trails) so the ice was really, uh, “fresh”.  This obstacle was just horrid… and there was little relief once I got out.  I really needed to run to get blood circulating and moving again- but this is where faith in muscle memory comes in… because you just can’t feel a damn thing below your belly button.  I was shocked to shit to look down and see that my feet were trotting along down there.

 

As close to terminal velocity as I ever want to be.

As close to terminal velocity as I ever want to be.

Davy Jones Locker: It’s a high jump into water, simple and straight forward.  I have never done a high jump at a race- and simply free falling into not-a-swimming-pool really worked on me.  As I ran up to it- I felt pretty good- ballsy and ready to go.  And I did jump with very little time spent thinking about it.  But about .04 seconds after I jumped, I started questioning some of my capabilities as a responsible adult decision maker.

 

Just a little up and over, and you are done! /sarcasm

Just a little up and over, and you are done! /sarcasm

Colossus: Colossus is approximately a 20ft quarter pipe with a dangling rope.  You run like hell, grab the rope, climb, and pray that someone will help you navigate the transition from the rope to plank.  This is always the hard part for me.  I have no problem getting to the top of any wall… but when a rope is involved, I totally don’t know what to do once I get there. I usually end up just flailing my legs over and free-styling it.  However, on this behemoth- you are damn near vertical at the top of this wall- which would mean some type of muscle up to get on the plank… but with my injury (more on that later)… well nobody had time for that.  Thankfully, a fellow racer grabbed my wrist and put it on the lip- because I just couldn’t trust I would catch it on my own. From there I got the rest of myself up, and then climbed up and over to the slip-n-slide.

I am thrilled that I conquered the 3 obstacles that were totally un-nerving me pre-race.  The obstacles at Savage ran the gamut from pure fun, to miserable, to unique, to vomitous (colon-blow, anybody?).  I was not disappointed in any way- they were all constructed solidly, and I felt the volunteers did a great job encouraging folks, but also avoiding bottlenecks.

THE TERRAIN:  I feel that the terrain was average in difficulty… but STELLAR in beauty.  The run, in and of itself, was such a gorgeous and beautiful run.  The property at Moonlight Stables is just breathtaking- we ran through thick woods, winding trails, and open pasture.  We had some fog, mist, and rain… and I managed to be out by myself for a large percentage of the running and it was just stunning.

THE FESTIVAL:  This race was well-organized and the festival area ran like a well oiled machine.  I was parked in less than 5 minutes from entering the property, and the walk from the car was not bad at all.  Once inside the gates, there were tons of super knowledgeable and helpful volunteers…smooth check-in, plenty of porta-potties, a clean showering area, and ample room in the changing tents.  I don’t normally complain about the standard $5 bag check that most races charge these days… I accept it.  But all of the other major races are also giving race images for FREE these days,too.  Not so at this race… this is a huge deal for a solo runner (I didn’t have any spectators to grab pictures for me)… and I am simply unwilling to pay the Marathon Photo fees. Savage needs to join the big boys and ditch the paid photos.

Tis a flesh wound.

‘Tis but a flesh wound.

Battlewounds...

Battlewounds…

OVERALL: The only major issue I had on this course was totally self-inflicted! Gah! I managed a pretty long and deep laceration at the “Me So Thorny” obstacle (the 17 year old boy that lives in my brain loved all of obstacle names SO MUCH, lol)… which ultimately ended up requiring 4 stitches later that day. But again, the staff at Savage Race (in this case the EMT on the course, and the paramedics in the First Aid Tent) were thorough and diligent in not only quickly treating my wound- but also getting me back on the course- which I truly appreciate.  I had a good streak- 16 races without a major incident. I am kinda okay with Savage taking that honor, and being the first race to leave permanent battle wounds.  That said, I lost approximately 20-30 minutes being treated- and subsequently I didn’t run as hard or fast, and stopped several times to help others up obstacles.  I was having a great run up till that point though… which I saw in my results that were published the next day.  Had I kept the pace and not got injured- I would have likely been in the top 5 women for my age group (I love that Savage does age/gender awards)… With the setbacks I still finished 21st out of 150.  I am pretty stoked about that… but that just means I am ready game for a re-match in Spring!

Girls gotta stick together ;)

Girls gotta stick together 😉

Giving a hand... see bandaged arm. lol

Giving a hand… with bandaged arm. lol

This racing season has been such an amazing season… I hate to see it end. From taking my buddy Stephen on his first Spartan Sprint, to running the inaugural BattleFrog, to my very first Savage Race… I simply couldn’t ask for any better.  As I sit here typing I am so grateful for so many many things… To have a body that has not only survived years of neglect and shitty food- but that has grown and served me in endurance and strength… For my trainer, Beth Andrews RKC, that has worked with me, modified countless workouts, helped me train through injuries, and answered eleventy-seven times “Should I run?”.  I am grateful for all of my running partners… namely Jennifer, David, Don and Stephen… for listening to me bitch about being hungry or needing to pee, being hot, hating elevation, or cursing speedwork… or just totally jumping into a race completely blind- just to do it.  Finally- I am most grateful for my husband- Duane, and my 2 kids… for being so supportive of my hobby… They listen to me dawdle on about which races I want to do, what my goals are, watch you-tubes of races, and put on Academy Winning performances when I re-tell my own race stories.  It has also meant ignoring me bumping around at 5am to beat the heat in Summer to get my miles in, or meeting me at the gym when the schedule called for a “two a day”. It meant metric tons of Epsom Salt, Arnica Gel, band-aids, and motrin.  I am so so grateful… there is just no way to say thank you enough.

That brings me to 2015! (I know, I know!) Here is how my race schedule is shaping up so far. I will have a team at each race- please let me know if you would like to join our wolfpack! I would love to have anyone that would like to attend! If the group wants to- we can possibly even get together to train some before each race:

2015 OCR Schedule:
Feb.  28: BattleFrog Miami (15k)
March 7: Atlanta Spartan Sprint (5k)
April 18: Savage Race Georgia Spring (10k)
April 25: BattleFrog Carolinas (15k)
May 16: BattleFrog Atlanta (15k)
More to be announced as the dates become available! Additionally, I have a big HUGE announcement forthcoming about what I will be doing with all of my time between now and then!

RACE REVIEW: RUGGED MANIAC ATLANTA

Obligatory Solo Race Pose

So in between the badassery of BattleFrog Atlanta and South Carolina… and before what is promising to be an ass kicking at Savage Race– I signed up for a lighter race- the Rugged Maniac.

I highly recommend this race for any first timer that wants to do something similar to a Spartan Sprint… but is not quite ready for a BattleFrog or a Savage Race yet. The distance is like the Sprint- around 3 miles or so, and the obstacles are challenging but totally do-able and approachable for those just getting into Obstacle Course Racing.  The Festival area was a little small- but had everything you need- from merch, to showers and changing tents, to music and games.

This guy... thought he had photo bombing game... great shot of the festival area behind him though! ;)

This guy… thought he had photo bombing game… great shot of the festival area behind him though! 😉

The Terrain: There were a few small hills along the course, and some wooded trail running. But for the most part the course designers stuck to the well-used wide trails that are already established on campus- keeping the hard/rooted/rocky/technical running to a minimum.

The obstacles:  I really enjoyed the obstacles on this course. They were all very approachable and just plain FUN… not too much of a mental block for most of them. The Walls were either ladder style (the taller ones), or the shorter ones had a lip on them that you could wedge your toe on to help yourself up and over with.  The barbed wire crawls were situated between muddy humps and mud ditches- but were plenty wide enough that there wasn’t any bottle neck to contend with.  Their gauntlet consisted of a wide balance beam with swinging bags to knock you off- but the catch is that those MASSIVE bags don’t weigh more than 3 pounds- so you can easily over-anticiapte (like I did) and send yourself off into the water…

The Gauntlet's got Tricks

The Gauntlet’s got Tricks

They also had a slippery slope (inclined wall with rope), and a particle accelerator (waterslide) as their big finish- which again… just total nonsense. But nonsense is fun!!!

Particle Acclerator: AKA Adult Slip and Slide

Particle Acclerator: AKA Adult Slip and Slide

They also had free race images- just like BattleFrog and Spartan. But- one BIG drawback: no bling. When I inquired about Rugged Maniac Medals, I was informed that they will be rolling out finisher medals beginning in September. I do hope they hold to their word as that would really be the only major complaint I have about this race.  So if you are looking for a race to get your feet muddy in- go for this one- it was a ton of fun, and I think a great way to get introduced to OCR’s!

RACE REVIEW: BATTLEFROG CAROLINA’S

RACE REVIEW: BATTLEFROG CAROLINA'S

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.

 

Don't let the smile fool ya- I could hear my skin frying.

Don’t let the smile fool ya- I could hear my skin frying.

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)

  1. 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.
  2. Battlefrog South Carolina… reasons forthcoming…
  3. 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.

 

So happy to be DONE.

So happy to be DONE.

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.

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Serious about the Monkey Bars

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Obstacles like carrying Jerry Can’s up and down the hill were a welcome break to running through the heat of hell.

 

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.

Looking a little ragged here... but considering what all we had been through... lol

Looking a little ragged here… but considering what all we had been through… lol

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!

 

Toughest Race to date... proud as hell to have finished it.

Toughest Race to date… proud as hell to have finished it.