Another week, another race! This week was my first experience with BONEFROG. Sponsored by HESCO, this U.S. Navy SEAL obstacle race is similar to, but still pretty different than most other races. Like most other OCR events you will get dirty, you will have obstacles, and they even offer different race lengths, but it’s all done a little differently. They approached their event with a different perspective than some of the other offerings and I appreciate that, it’s nice to mix it up once in awhile.

This event was held at the Wicomico Motorsports Park in Charlotte Hall, Maryland. For those savvy Spartan racers in the area, you will recognize this venue as the same place they held the first D.C. Spartan Race in 2014 (also MY first OCR race!). It was good to be back and it was even better to see it from a different angle. The first thing that is different about BONEFROG is that all of the obstacles are either obstacles the Navy SEALs actually train on or they are inspired by SEAL stuff. For example, there are a lot of walls to get over in this race. Like “Hell’s Gate”, a 4ft-6ft-8ft-6ft-4ft wall medley.

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Hell’s Gate. Aptly named. Try to get through quickly or you’ll have people jumping over the walls on top of you!

 

But there are some obstacles where they got more creative. “The Chopper” is a body weight grip strength obstacle. Sort of like “Wheel world” in Savage Race or part of “Funky Monkey: The Revolution” in Tough Mudder. The difference is that in the other races it is some sort of wheel that you grab and it rotates. Instead of a wheel this is a 4 “Bladed” rotor, sort of like the blades of a helicopter. It also rotates and you have to move from one to the next without falling to ring the bell at the end. I actually found this obstacle to be much more difficult than the other variants. I think the narrow space it gave you to hold and the spacing of the handles made it a little tricky and while I completed it on my first try it took me awhile, with a lot of spinning. You definitely want to keep your momentum in check on this one!

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The Chopper. You might have to look close, but you can see the handles. A lot of people failing this one!

 

I do want to take a moment to call out the “31 Heroes” Obstacle. I thought this one was really awesome. As you are running through the trails you come to a large vinyl banner with a story, instructions, and names. Each name on the banner (31 in total) is the name of a solider who died in the service.  To honor their sacrifice and their memory you must read each name out loud and perform one burpee for each one. So, you complete 31 burpees before you proceed. I really liked this obstacle as I think it is important to remember those who have gone before you, especially our veterans. It also helps to put into perspective what you are going through on the course, and it really made me realize that the challenges placed before me were nothing compared to what they had to endure. I want to extend a sincere thank you for your sacrifice.

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It’s a little blurry, I didn’t take this one, I borrowed it from the BONEFROG Instagram account. You can’t really read it, but I felt I should include it nonetheless.

 

The next, but maybe more distinctive quality of BONEFROG, is the distances offered. You have several options here: Sprint, Challenge, Tier 1, and Endurance.

Sprint – 5k with 20+ obstacles.

Challenge – 8+ miles with 30+ obstacles.

Tier 1 – Both the Challenge and the Sprint, back to back, so around 11 miles with 50+ obstacles.

Endurance – Tier 1 + as many laps of the Sprint as you can complete (Endless obstacles!!).

As I have the hardest test of endurance I have yet faced coming up the week after this race I decided to go with the Sprint distance. I didn’t want to be worn out or hurt going into a Spartan Trifecta weekend! But since my goal for next year looks like it is going to be going for the bigger endurance races, I think I might take on the endurance distance next year.

I will tell you though, don’t let the distance fool you, this Sprint was no ordinary 5k, this is a Navy SEAL 5k! I have done the Rugged Maniac and Warrior Dash this year, both are the same distance, and neither compared to this event. I was shockingly sore for the days following this race. It is fun, and it’s not so hard that ‘normal’ people can’t finish it, but it’s not to be taken lightly. I can only imagine how I would feel if I HAD done the longer distances. Some of the obstacles on the longer courses seemed really cool and I’m sad I missed them, but I’ll get ’em next year!

Interestingly, this race doesn’t have any sort of validation to your starting time. You are basically signed up for a wave at a specific time, but not a specific race. So Challenge racers were starting with Tier 1 racers and Sprint with Challenge, so that was interesting. Once you are on the course, you just follow the signs for your event. Also, there is no real starting corral to speak of, so you can just walk right up to the start line. And most interestingly of all: the starts are done on the honor system. There is no verification of identity or start time. You just walk up with your band and you can run. This has the potential to get messy, but it seems to be working so far. I think most people are going to follow the rules and it didn’t seem chaotic.

While the start line area didn’t get too messy things were a little different at some of the obstacles. Full disclosure, I’ve been racing earlier and earlier so obstacle backups might be a little more common than I think they are in all the races. I’ve been noticing at some of the events that things are really, really backed up. For an example look at the line for “The Chopper” above or the line for “Kiss of Mud 2.0” in the Tough Mudder post I did. The line for “The Chopper” might not look very long, but everyone was pretty much waiting until the person on the obstacle finished completely, which could take a little bit of time. It was like this at the “Walk the Plank” (a very unstable and challenging balance beam) and “Rolling Thunder” (hurdles with unsecured tires on them). It’s hard to know what to do with these because there isn’t ever a clear line and while you don’t want to be rude and cut in line you also are being timed. I went the polite route and I know I spent a lot of time at these obstacles that I didn’t want to. However, it is nice that you can try as many times as you like on any obstacle. It’s up to you if you think you can get it or not. Much like Spartan Race there are penalties if you fail the obstacle. Unlike Spartan each obstacle has a different penalty. It could be burpees (as it was at “Rolling Thunder”) Or pushups, or jumping jacks, or squats, whatever they want you to do. That is pretty cool too, since it mixes things up a bit. I’m glad we got to try the obstacles multiple times though. I didn’t make it over “Rolling Thunder” on my first try. In fact, I failed so miserably that I basically got close-lined by the hurdle and I hit it so hard that I knocked the air out of my right lung. I had to limp around for a minute to catch my breath. It’s always nice to have an audience for those moments!

I am sure if I had raced earlier that the backups wouldn’t have been an issue. I am also sure that if I had insisted that everyone would have probably let me go first with no problem. Ultimately, most people are there to have fun so they don’t even think about it. I do wish I had tried a little harder though or had pushed through the lines a little more. Turns out I was only 15 minutes away from a top 5 age group finish which would have qualified me for the OCR World Championship race. I really think if I had given it my all I would have made it. I did push myself, and I’m not ashamed of my finish. It was very warm that day and the humidity was suffocating. I was shocked at one point during the race when I realized the top of my shirt, which never went under water was as wet as the bottom, which did get submerged. The humidity did make it quite hard to breathe and I know that slowed me down some. I’m not going to complain though, I had a great time and it was a really good race. I am definitely interested in trying this one out again and seeing what challenges the longer distances have in store for me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9 thoughts on “BONEFROG (Sprint)- Maryland 8/19/17

  1. My physical therapist did this race. However, I’m done with physical therapy so I couldn’t get his review. He told my daughter that it was muddy. Haha. I’m having serious thoughts about doing the Spartan now. I ran/walked 2.3 last night and it was hard and I was on flat ground. My knee got sore and I couldn’t breathe (lungs with bad asthma are out of shape too). Ugh. Decisions, decisions. BONEFROG looks like a ton of upper-body strength is needed. My worst thing.

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    1. It WAS muddy! The portion that I did wasn’t too bad, it was more running through the mud than it was crawling, so I didn’t get quite as dirty as I have before. There was a little more upper body stuff than I’m used to. My shoulders actually still hurt a little bit! But the penalties aren’t nearly as brutal as they are for Spartan. As for your race, I’m always one to encourage people to get out and do something, even if you’re not pushing yourself , just to have fun! But you have to listen to your body and it’s not worth getting hurt over. You have to listen to your body and do what’s right for it. You’ve got some time to figure it out though!

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      1. My big thing is… what if I can’t do all the burpees? I will be doing a ton… I, honestly, have fudged them in the past. I mean I’m not racing elite or to place. It is an honor thing. So I’m kinda going in that direction. Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone.

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      2. Your secret is safe with me!! My first two years I couldn’t really do the push up part of the burpees, because of my weight and a shoulder issue, so I cheated a little on those too. You’re not alone!! But if you’re making an effort then that’s really what matters. Again, it’s good to “follow the rules” but you have to be smart with how you treat your body!

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      3. Exactly. I’ve seen people argue both ways. You’re a failure if you don’t do them all vs you aren’t running elite so what does it really matter? I obviously always attempt to do them all. But I remember at the end of my beast I was just like, “F&*$ it. There’s the finish line.”

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      4. Yeah, I think it’s best to do them. Like you said, it’s an honor thing. I would feel like I didn’t really earn the medal if I felt like I could have done more but just didn’t. It does upset me when people pass me in a race and they are just chatting or whatever and they don’t care about failing or skipping the burpees. If you have a legit reason to not do them, or to modify them, that’s one thing. But a lot of people just don’t do them. Why did you even sign up if you didn’t want a challenge? I wouldn’t ever hold it against someone if they really laid it all out on the course and they missed a few burpees.

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      5. I feel the same way. I do what I can. I hurt my knee in one race and doing a burpee is incredibly painful. I did as many as I could. If I do that, I feel like I earned it. I think they feel that if they can walk the whole thing they are good. *eyeroll*

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