Over the past couple of years obstacle course racing has become the new recreational activity among thrill seekers across the country. These races seem to attract people from all walks of life and gives them the opportunity to spend the day running, crawling, jumping and climbing across a mud-filled course with some friends. In 2013, approximately 2 million Americans participated in an obstacle course race. With a rise in popularity we have seen many new races enter the market attempting to carve out their own piece in this growing industry. The result has been that many of these new races have become too diluted and unsustainable.
Looking to try something new, I was excited to find out that a new OCR race called the Bone Frog Challenge was coming to Staten Island. The Bone Frog Challenge is an obstacle race that is owned, operated and created by Navy SEALs. The goal of this race is to challenge participants and help them realize that they can do anything they set their mind to while enjoying the camaraderie and teamwork of those they are racing with. My expectations and anticipation for this race was high. It’s not often that you get to meet a Navy SEAL let alone run an obstacle course designed by them. If we look into the origin of obstacle courses it seems to have its beginnings in military training and dates back to the Roman Empire. If any of the newcomers to the obstacle racing community had something to offer, this would be the race. Their military experience would bring a different perspective on what an obstacle course should entail. This was also going to be a challenge for Bone Frog as it was going to be only their third race and the first one on the road.
The forecast for race day called for heavy rain in the morning and early afternoon. Not good spectator weather, but perfect for those racing. At the start/finish line you got to see the final “Black Ops” obstacle. Hanging from it was a large American flag and the infamous SEAL insignia. It was both patriotic and impressive. This Obstacle would require you to rope up to a platform, monkey bar across on an incline to a second platform and climb down. I was looking forward to it as it combined multiple tasks. I would be running the long course which would be 8+ miles. The only thing left to do was give it a go and see
what this race had to offer.
The race started on a gradual uphill that immediately brought you to your first set of obstacles. From this point on Bone Frog continually threw obstacles at you challenging you in many different ways. You never had to travel a great distance before encountering another obstacle. This was refreshing and made it fun. The long course had some distance to make up and did it by having you run about 3 miles of enjoyable and challenging trails. These trails actually allowed you to open up and get those legs moving. During this section you did encounter some challenging obstacles but they were spread out as opposed to the beginning. One of the more demanding obstacles was in this section. It was a tribute obstacle to those 31 Americans lost on Extortion 17. It required you to do 31 burpee sandbag presses. Once completed you had another nice stretch of trail running which lead you to an open field. The field contained a serpentine of about 8 unique and challenging obstacles. Four of them where completely foreign to me. You only had to travel about 30 yards before encountering the next one. It had the American Ninja Warrior factor to it and I really enjoyed it.
Upon exiting the field you were in the home stretch. A mud filled trench and a series of walls awaited you. These obstacles stressed teamwork as many people worked together to get through them. Prior to getting to the “Black Ops” obstacle and finishing the race you had two water crossings. This was no surprise for what would a Navy SEAL obstacle course be without water! At this point the water was refreshing and nobody seemed to mind. The knowledge of what laid ahead energized you. The Black Ops obstacle was intimidating. Having racers tackle the monkey bars from an elevated platform gave racers a different perspective and added to the excitement of the obstacle. It was refreshing to see the will on the racers as they worked to get across.
The Bone Frog Challenge did experience some challenges during the race. A number of racers on the long course did get turned around and lost their way. They were slightly undermanned as this was their first road trip. In the end I wasn’t looking for a perfect race. I was looking for something that would challenge me mentally and physically. I actually ran by the Extortion 17 obstacle because the volunteer had not reached the station. When I realized I had missed it I was about a mile away. The decision was easy to turn around and complete it. Did it affect my time and placing? Yes, but really who cares. As Bone Frog states in it’s Ethos “Attitude is Everything. Don’t let a bad attitude be your biggest obstacle.” I got to run an extra two miles and completed their tribute obstacle. Thats a win for me. This is a good event and I am looking forward to seeing it grow in the coming years. If you have an opportunity to participate in this race you won’t be disappointed. In addition this race appealed to the patriotic side of me. If your going to try a new race why not do one that is helping some of our finest warriors transition into civilian careers. I am confident that any miscues from this race will be improved upon. The Bone Frog Challenge will be a force in the OCR community!