Hannah Hawley hit up the Bonefrog Challenge this past weekend, and wote up our featured review – thanks Hannah!
On Saturday I made the drive down to East Berkshire Ski Area in Charlemont, MA for Bone Frog Challenge. An OCR billed as 9+ miles with 36+ obstacles inspired and designed by Navy Seals.
I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting into and was a 50/50 combination of excited and terrified. Parking was free and easy and it wasn’t long before I was signing my waiver and in line to register. They had split the registration into two lines, which meant the line was the longest I have ever had for packet pickup. Simply breaking it into 4 lines instead of two would have only required another volunteer or two and would have sped up the lines. The person who was checking me me in gave my bib number to another volunteer who went to get my packet which was in a handled bag and included a flyer for the photographer, a flyer for the fall Bone Frog, t-shirt, a water bottle, and bib and timing device for my shoe. I really liked getting my shirt before getting muddy.
There were plenty of picnic tables outside on the porch for people to gather around and wait for their wave to start and more table inside. The small contingency of Spahtens had made their home at one of the outside tables. I met some new to me Spahtens and enjoyed catching up with those I already had met. The bathrooms were located inside the lodge, far nicer than port-o-lets!
With a wave going every 15 minutes and the first quarter of a mile going right up the mountain, we were spaced well enough to not have any long waits at any of the obstacles and like every course that is held on a ski mountain, we spent a lot of time going uphill and down. There were some of your more traditional obstacles: walls, barb wire crawls, rope climb, etc. Then there were some more unique obstacles, at least in my experience: balance beam over water out to rafts to hop across and then a dunk in the water all while being blasted with wind and water from a snowmaker, a wall with rope climb up to monkey bars with a rope to climb down, barbwire crawl on your back, super high ladder walls, crawl across inner tubes floating on the water, and more.
The most unique was a touching tribute to the 31 Seals who lost their life when their helicopter went down, we had to read each name out loud followed by a burpee. There was a volunteer, it wasn’t clear if he was a Seal or not, who was encouraging us to say their names loudly, to not give up, to push through.
I lost count of just how many obstacles I encountered. The course was crazy muddy after the rain of the night before which made the course all the harder on the legs. We were in the sun, in the woods, up and down the hill, over and over. We ran under the solar panels at the top of the mountain, past the windmill, watched zipliners cruise overhead. The course was beautiful but a bit buggy, I wished I remembered to wear bug spray.
There were volunteers at every obstacle and all had a smile. They knew what the penalty was and were happy to provide us with the details should we fail the obstacle or simply want to skip it. If it weren’t for the volunteers, Kevin and I would have gotten lost. The Sprint course and Challenge course overlapped and the orange tape made it hard at times to follow. If it weren’t for a volunteer at the obstacle we just left, we would have ended up off course and onto a trail that was not part of the course. She knew it and was able to direct us very clearly to stay on course. While I was very happy to not have gotten lost, I was very bummed to hear that others did get lost on course. They even had two volunteers stationed at one of the monkey bars as it had to be closed down as they didn’t have enough water under it to be safe and didn’t want to trust just a sign to keep people off the obstacle and safe.
We were told that there would be 6 water stations on the course, two of them with food. While there were 6 stations, only 4 of them had water by the time we got to them. The food was various protein bars, granola bars, candy, and Frog Fuel, an aptly named energy gel. I had my camelbak and while I didn’t need to have it, I was glad I did.
Coming in to the finish, there was another wall/rope climb combo with incline monkey bars that were so high up, they had a net to fall into should you slip. If you couldn’t do the obstacle, you walked around, rang the bell, and did 10 burpees before crossing the finish line. After finishing my burpees, I crossed the finish line, getting my medal and thanking the Seals. I stood visiting with some familiar NE Spahten faces and meeting some new ones, watching as racers attempted the final obstacle. It was incredible to watch, that after 9 miles and 40+ obstacles, some people still had the strength to complete it.
The band was just getting started as I went to find the cold water hoses to rinse off before hoping in the car and heading out.
I can’t wait to tackle this race again!
2 thoughts on “Featured Review: Bonefrog Challenge, May 2014”
I'm on board with your review Hannah.I thought that this event was much harder than the Tough Mudder Meltdown at Gunstock last year. I have to give the edge to the Killington Beast though. This is due in part to the extra distance, and the unrelenting punishment that the mountain at Killington doled out. Thank You Hannah for your help in keeping my pace quicker than it would have been. There are certainly a lot of participants that owe you thanks for all the mustard packets you handed out! A GREAT event, I've been talking it up since I left the grounds. SPAHTENS!
As you mention, the only two flaws I saw were the lack of water (I personally don't care for carrying a hydration system as we pay enough for these things that it should be provided). Then the monkey bars lack of water was the only safety issue (I was behind the guy when he broke his ankle from hitting bottom). Otherwise, great race.