We loved Battlefrog, back in 2014. They graciously brought several of our community to the New Jersey event (seemingly shocked that we didn’t consider it local) – and we managed to squeeze together the biggest team of the day. We ran the 15k, enjoyed the Seal demonstrations and some of us even got to go up in a helicopter!
The review was glowing – but in my own head, I was certainly concerned.
NJ 2014 was only their fourth race. The kind of money and expense that had gone into it was not in line with that young history. An extremely challenging, well done course. An active, well planned venue. Incredible entertainment and the unique helo rides.
Regardless of how well that event went – they had a huge, uphill battle ahead of them. They need more attendance, and they needed it bad. To support a race of that size, that scale – it wasn’t possible with the turn out we saw in NJ – and many of those seemed to be on comp, or heavily discounted entries.
My theory was simple – having a wealthy backer, and a three year plan is one thing (as staff frequently assured us) – but no one will simply hand money out, hand over fist for three years. There will be sales targets, there will be financial goals, there will be accountability.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen that they clearly have not been able to get up that hill.
It started when they let their chief course designer and co-Brit – Garfield go. He landed on his feet with Savage Race and OCR World Championship, proving there is life after Battlefrog.
The Seal demo’s didn’t pick up again in 2015, and the expensive Helo rides didn’t happen either.
Following that, reports of downsizing staff levels continued – before the biggest changes – Sundays were axed all together, then the 15k format was dropped and reduced to an 8k, with elites doing two laps to keep the difficultly happening earlier this year.
Just the other weekend at the 2015 New Jersey event, the signature “Tsunami” obstacle appeared to be a shadow of it’s former self – with reports from participants indicating it wasn’t the only change to the course. 40% discount codes became common place again.
Today though, after more cuts, including their Managing Director – Battlefrog have just let go their last remaining regional race managers – with speculation being that this means they no longer have a sales organization.
With a New England race coming up – and the New England race manager being “one of our own” – what does this mean?
Christine is now looking for work, and being the classy gal she is, she’s encouraging everyone to still go and have fun in the mud, and helping to answer questions about training events, codes, registrations – despite some comments and calls to boycott.
They need people – far more than they’re getting.
The company line is clear – they believe they are making the right choices for their longevity – shorter courses means more venue options. Fewer staff mean fewer expenses. Maybe easier courses mean more attendance?
Ultimately – the litmus test for me is simple.
Would I recommend you register for a 2016 New England event, if it’s significantly discounted Barre later this month?
No. I would not.
Lets wait, and see what happens next.
16 thoughts on “Battlefrog get smaller …”
It took a few decades for Ironman to be fined for their rigged lottery system. Our BF friends will be far shorter for someone to be pissed off that the US Navy SEAL race series, not run by SEALS, that pays its own athletes to compete in their own competitions, of which two are Canadians who are not military people or have been US citizens, to sue them for conflict of interest and misleading about the SEAL affiliation and alleged charity donations…that some of the ex employees question! BF DOA 2016.
Paul Jones Yeah, I just have to try to avoid the OCR drama that seems exceptionally high this year.
Frank – did you read the whole thing? Genuine question, I'm not trying to be sarcastic.
BF is changing – in more ways than the obstacles. Thats in this article, the follow up that Mud Run Guide put out, the podcast that Obstacle Racing Media put out – in all the BattleFrog Series Field Team forums and many of the communities that "host" Battlefrog in their region.
Thats horrible 🙁
Great article, Paul. July 19 with be one year I've been shooting BattleFrog. Just before BattleFrog NJ 2015 I was kept in the dark by the previous photography company that I had been "traded" to another photography company working the event. That company wanted me to sign a 1-year non-compete contract. I countered with 3 months and they refused so I went to Tri-State, paid my $10 spectator fee, shot Rope Traverse the entire day, and turned around photos within 24 hours to all my OCR Family gratis. I found out my "replacement" was shooting the finish line and then just decided to leave for whatever reason at 10AM. No one picked up the slack in photos until 1PM. Three hours of finish line photos gone. Interestingly, similar things had happened in Tri-State 2014. One of the sub photography companies, Moon Doggie, just up and left in the middle of the event too. One of the photographers was short-changed on pay until I intervened. And, most amazingly, one of the photographers didn't format his memory card and 300 HOCKEY photos ended up being on the official photos website for TWO DAYS after I reported it.
Anyway, BattleFrog the event is always amazing and fun. BattleFrog, the new company, is a disaster. The upper management has no clue how to run an OCR. It's the people building and selling the event who suffer for it.
I read a different article. I read that Paul mentioned the downsizing of the obstacles AND also about most of the Navy SEALs being laid off, ALL race managers being laid off, an amazing race director, Garfield, being let go, etc. I've worked with BattleFrog through three race photography companies and their demise is imminent and has been a long time coming.
One sure fire way to hurt a company is to start rumors about its possible demise with little to no evidence other than a re-design of the course. If you are an advocate of OCR you should withdraw this unnecessary article.
Oh boy… How long until they let Coach Pain go?
I’m sure my words we’ll be discounted as biased by some, but those who know me know I shoot from the hip.
When starting a new business, everything is a test. Some work, some don’t. There are human beings attached in this case, several that I care a great deal about personally, so emotions get high when tests that do not work need to be replaced with new solutions. People see this happen and cry foul. Hell, some of the cuts have punched me right in the gut, but…
The only job security is proving success.
BattleFrog has had quite a few successes, but must evolve to find an identity that works. That evolution is happening, quietly, and carefully, and work on their future is going full steam ahead. Remember…All you see on social media is just a part of the reality. Exciting things are coming…
I ran Tristate and I believe they have made some mistakes with Safety already.
they had a cargo net strung between 2 trees on the elevated road towards the back so when you climb down the back side 3 feet of the net were suspended over a 15 foot drop, my right foot came down on air.
also they had a mud bog in the course that was 7 feet deep, which I stepped into and went in over my head in the mud. They had a volunteer there but no warnings were being given . Luckily, she had a large bottle of water to wash out my eyes or my race was over. I run 15 races a year so I expect some design errors, but I just felt the course was rushed together. Garfield is doing an awesome job with Savage btw. Ran MD and PA. Great changes from last year.
Hey Paul, Obviously i can’t comment, but hey..thanks for the shout out.
I hope the NES still have a great time out there at Carter Stevens.
Hmmmmm..I know this company with 700 acres in Florida that wished they had that type of financial backing…. 😉 It would be the 2nd DisneyLand! Rock On!
If they make cuts to safety, there will be hell to pay.
Amphibious Medics terminated service to them after NJ. So…..
Pam, we have the biggest team of the day. I hear you. Everything I've heard to date indicates the event will happen.
I'm scheduled to run later this month with a small team. I've contacted battlefrog with a question and got something just shy of rude with my response. Now I wonder will the event eVen happen reading about this so-called downsizing.