Now there’s a word I’ve been hearing for a while now and yesterday’s Pittsburgh location was a chance for me to finally experience what all the hype was all about. As a member of the BF Field Team, I had some insider knowledge. I read reviews, browsed pictures, and kept up with Ryan Atkinson winning every race he entered. But August 8th…it was my turn to run!
— The Course —
The course was slated to have 35 obstacles over the course of around 5 miles. 2 laps were to be done by the elites. So in essence, we did 70 obstacles in 10 miles! How’s that!? The downside… the Delta cargo net apparently collapsed during the Men’s elite at the beginning of the race (everyone is ok I hear), the Dirty Name obstacle (sternum checker) was shut down later in the day due to a head injury by a racer, and the Mine swim was also shut down due to lack of head lamps, so the lifeguards couldn’t see those who needed help during the cold swim. I know some open wave racers didn’t even get to experience the Mine, which was the main draw for many to attend this location in the first place, major bummer. Though there were these stumbles, I was able to on my first lap experience them all and get a taste for what level of obstacles Battlefrog can provide. I was impressed with the course. It was challenging, muddy, creative, and definitely beat me up! 2 laps took me just over 6 hours (1 1/2 hours were spent at the Platinum rig obstacle). I have bruises and scrapes for days, but they were all worth it. I learned a lot about my endurance as an athlete on this course. I tried my hardest at that rig, but just didn’t have it in me to successfully complete it. Elite band handed in. I was so impressed watching the top elites breeze through it. I only hope to get to that level one day. I enjoyed the Mine swim a lot – it was freezing! Something out of titanic you might say. We ran the whole thing in the dark (no headlamps). The ladders were challenging, the tip of the spear obstacle would have been more fun for me if I had anything left in my grip strength at that point. Oh well, next time! The hill climbs, wreck bag carry, creek runs…all made for a great course. So congrats to BF for keeping it new and interesting..and muddy.
What was done well:
- The course – was well designed, challenging obstacles, good use of terrain. Though, I would put the obstacles a little further past the Start Line to help thin out the group to avoid bottlenecking.
- The medals – heavy, colorful and proud to wear; and I liked the difference in the 1 lap vs 2 lap designs
- The DJ was turning out tunes all day! Well done!
- Elites going to the front of line – seems a little strange, but totally makes sense.
Some tips for a better race experience:
- Better Bag Check – get a system in place. Don’t just throw bags anywhere there is room! It makes the reclaim process that much more difficult. Color code, have a table for each set of bib numbers. Something with structure. All racers want to do is take a shower and get into clean clothes. Don’t deny them that at the end of a grueling course.
- Parking/Instructions – We were a vendor for this course, so we were sent a different email of parking instructions than racers. But even that proved to be challenging, as we were all sent to the wrong place. Good thing someone from our group had been there the day prior, so we got the RIGHT address and passed it along to the dozen cars who were also confused.
- Spectator Layout – Spectators love to see their racers hard at work. Give your festival area a few viewing places to watch the obstacles. Not just at the finish line and not just the Platinum Rig obstacle. Put the picnic tables and shade areas close to an obstacle. Same with the DJ – you have no idea how amazing it is as a racer to hear that music and know that you are close to the finish!
- Volunteers/Course Marshals – As the day went on, volunteers seemed to disappear at some of the obstacles. Though it was okay for some, a few of those obstacles required some supervision out of safety (like the 60 degree ladder).
- Organization – where some things were run very well, others it just seemed like it was an afterthought. In order for everyone to take a new race series seriously, it needs to come across like they have everything under control. Like, why was there no line for Open runners at the registration tent? Only Elite, Xtreme? Make sure volunteers know the rules of the obstacles – 2 jerry cans vs 1 if you are an open runner? You can use your feet or you can’t?
— Overall —
I am very happy with my first Battlefrog experience. It was fun, challenging, taught me some lessons in humility and endurance and grip strength for that matter, and introduced me to a ton of new faces. Our OCR family is a family unlike any other and standing in line waiting to do the Rig was a great opportunity to chat with the elite women. I was so impressed with the sheer determination of some of the women to never give up their elite bands. Some waiting hours upon hours to keep attempting the Rig. Amazing.
The pain and bruises I feel today will soon fade, but I will have lasting memories of this race. Will I do it again? Sure! I need Platinum Rig redemption!
For those that are interested in trying Battlefrog out, here is a link to their Events! & Don’t forget to use code BFJEN for a 40% discount! I hope to see you at the next starting line. http://battlefrogseries.com/events-page/