* From: Josh Chace
* Event: Bonefrog Challenge
* Date: 2014-05-17
* Event Details
Western Mass, a generally untouched location for Obstacle Course Races, was the site of the Bonefrog Challenge this past weekend. A course and obstacle set designed by current and former US Navy SEALs. Berkshire East Ski Resort was the perfect location for their two events; The Challenge – 9+ Miles / 40+ Obstacles & The Sprint – 3+ Miles / 15+ obstacles. The mountain each course was mapped out upon was both unrelenting and beautiful at the same time. A massive rain storm the night before ensured that your 9+ or 3+ miles were spent slipping and sliding all over the mountain as you scaled, climbed, and descended the assortment of ski trails.
The day began pulling into the parking lot (free parking, mind you) and a short walk to registration. Like most, typical ID & death waiver check, at which point you were given a nice little tote bag that included some great gear. You were given your finisher shirt up front – Great idea IMO, as there’s no fear of missing out of you like to take your time on the mountain – and a Bonefrog Challenge water bottle along with the usual assortment of adverts.
From the registration table it’s a short walk to the “Bone Yard” or as most know it, the festival area. The ski resort offered plenty of indoor and outdoor seating and accommodations to get ready and stretch out the race day jitters. The Bone Yard had a good assortment of vendors including some clean eats companies, beer/hot dog vendors, and OCR Gear who had not only gear to buy, but rewards for top age bracket finishers in the form of the OCR World Championships shirts, and qualifying information.
Now to the good part – the race. Shortly after 9 started the Elite Waves with an all-star cast of racers including the iconic Junyong Park and lawyer/iron-willed OCR Queen, Amilia Boone. Each wave thereafter followed in 15 minute increments, of what I would guess would be 50-75 people per wave.
Bonefrog does one thing better than any other OCR out there – their obstacles. Out of the minds of the battle hardened (and somewhat twisted) Navy SEALs came some of the most creative obstacles I have seen to date. Rope climbs here had no knots to help ease the pain. It was climb, or be penalized. Three different renditions of monkey bars including incline/decline over water, pull up handle swinging, and a final huge set over a cargo net which if failed, meant you’d be doing burpees within spitting distance of the finish line. That, and they’ll make you ring the “wash out” bell for failing – a task I handled with grace and dignity, I thought. Each obstacles had its own penalty, carried out by on-site “drill instructors”.
On top of that were multiple wall climbs, traverse walls, water obstacles including balance beams onto pontoons and into the drink (no avoiding this one with good balance) and a deceptively difficult tube-bridge that you had to pull yourself across whilst trying not to go face first into the pond you were navigating over.
After 40+ obstacles and a few most mud crawls / water plunges you were given the pleasure of crossing the finish line and handed a Bonefrog medal by none other than the current and former Navy SEALs that were helping out that day. The gentleman I received mine from was a SEAL for 25+ years and to shake his hand was an honor.
Bonefrog put on a great event. The attendance was smaller than your average Spartan Race or Tough Mudder but honestly that made for clear obstacles, easy running paths, and a festival area that had an excited, yet intimate atmosphere. Overall, a phenomenal event and a must-attend for any OCR enthusiast.
COURSE – A+
Berkshire East had amazing terrain and sightlines. From the muddy paths to river-lined trails all the way up to the peak that sported an amazing solar farm, there wasn’t a spot on the mountain that didn’t impress.
ORGANIZATION – A
Registration was easy but short delays in people going to get your welcome pack upon signing in. Small delays, if at all. The festival area was laid out quite sensibly. A lack of showers made for a crusty ride home, but not a big loss as I am going to shower no matter what!
Atmosphere – A
The Emcee did a great job of not only announcing the race details and wave information but also made note of the major OCR players that were on site. The festival area was right out in the sun that made for a great place to recover afterwards and share war stories over your free beer.
Logistics – A+
By the Wednesday before we had our Bonefrog Racer Packet in email with every fine detail laid out. Free parking. $5 bag check (half of most races). And free beer you could actually get to after the event. They also had the lodge making food that was off at a separate location so it didn’t jam up the festival area.
Overall – A+
The combination of location and AMAZING obstacles make Bonefrog a must-run for any seasoned veteran and new racer alike. Now with two different distances being offered, there’s no reason not to jump in and experience what Bonefrog has to offer. I guarantee you’ll be impressed with their event.
* Race Details
* From: Tom Kelly
* Event: Bonefrog Challenge
* Date: 2014-05-17
Facilities: The race is at the Berkshire East ski mountain and has full use of the lodge, restrooms, and restaurant and they are better that I have seen at any other race. No porta-potties at the base that are nasty like many spartan races(I mainly run Spartan). Registraition was smooth and took less then 5 minutes! Could be quicker but I have waited 30 minutes at other local races. I never seen my swag bag because my kids stole it and were wearing my shirt before we left registration.
Vendors? I was so tired after the race i did not bother, would have liked to see our friends from the nutrition store(sorry guys, brain cramp). This year they did move the vendors to the main area which was a plus. Shows they are learning.
During my race I ran(walked) with some rookies. It took me 6 hours, last year it took 3. A lot of rain fell the night before, making everything muddy. I was in contact with the race director periodically through the winter and spring, helping promote(i believe in it). He had told me there was more and challenging obstacles. he was not lying. Last year there was several obstacles that left you wondering, did I miss something. This year there was at least 5 that involved monkey bar movements(0-5 shoulder injury last year not completely healed) 4 wire crawls, 3 carries, lots of ropes, many combos. Difficulty ranged from easy to b@tches but were fun. Penalties were moderate, 10-20 pushups or burpies that were not strictly enforced. I did skip one penalty and chalked that up to community service for helping teammates. Part of the Seal ethos is helping teammates, mea cupa for skipping, I did double a penalty, more later. I did not have to wait more than 2-3 minutes for only a couple of obstacles even though they more than doubled racers. There was one that they closed for safety, the monkey bars over the water pit. The water was not deep enough. There was a volunteer there to make sure everyone knew it was closed. At the tube crossing I experienced leg cramps. A life guard was quickly by my side, towed me back to the shore, emts and I believe a massage therapist or trainer were quick to get me back into the game. The log carry had potential danger which I will be passing to the RD. Carring a round log up a muddy hill, if you drop it it will roll down into incoming racers. We used to call this Good motivation, Bad judgement. I did see EMS all over the course, and heard about a broken arm, but medical teams were common.The last obstacle I have mixed opinion on. After 9 miles all you want to do is jump fire, get medal, drink beer. But being Seals they made a rope climb to monkey bars over a cargo net. I helped my rookie up the rope then said, bleep. I went to the end of the obstacle were the Seal giving medals was. I think he was taken aback, but I explained I did not know what the penalty was. When they told me, I doubled it to make up for the previous skip earlier. Oh, forgot, at the water stops there was protein bars!, and frog fuel(if you don’t know, don’t ask, one racer called it the worst obstacle on the course, i had 3 of them)
There was one obstacle that needs special attention. Behind a cammo net there was a board with the names of 31 fallen Americans. you had to burpee once and read the name for each of the fallen. Just prior to that, I had leg cramps, found my phone underwater, with water dripping out the life proof case. I was not a happy camper, I had a case of what the military calls but hurt. When I rounded the cammo and saw the names, I new it was an easy day, because 31 Americans had already had a hard day.
Problems: I am biased but I will point out problems to ensure an accurate reflexion of the race.
1. Main problem that I addressed to Adam, one of the management, lack of water(a lot of water stops were empty). This was a problem last year. They identified it as a problem. It occurred again. In the military, we do not like repeat problems! Adam knows this. I am sure enough that this will not happen again. If it happens again to this level I will have to downgrade the race. People wonder why bring a water source? This is why. It has happened at just about every race I have run in the summer, Spartan, Hero Rush, Super Hero, and locals in my area.
2. The other problem was the log carry, they need to square off the logs before someone gets hit by one, or carry something else.
Overall, I will do again. If your not sure due to cost, look at the cost of everything involved with a national brand race from parking to beers, spectators, trinkets ect then figure out if you want to pay to park, watch, and leave with foam sword and wrist band(my kids). I will promote it to everyone who will listen. I heard no bad comments post race. It is hard, it is fun, it is THE BONEFROG
* From: Brian Breen
* Event: Navy Seals BoneFrog Challenge
* Date: 2014-05-17
* Event Details
So here’s my first attempt at a race review! Lets get started. The 2014 Navy Seal BoneFrog Challenge at the Berkshire East ski resort. Location, lets just say it was out there but fairly easy to find, especially if using GPS. Parking was a breeze, and free which made it even better. Arrival on thr grounds was again a breeze and easy to navigate. A short walk from the parking area to the event check in. Check in was fairly smooth and organized, however should the event continue to grow they will need to look at streamlining it a bit. After a quick flash of the id and hand off of the death waiver, I was handed my swag bag with everything I needed, including my finishers shirt. A bag check was available right next to check in, however I didn’t use it so I cannot comment.
The festival area was small but had all the essentials, a few vendors and such. Food was available but this one the single low point for me. I tend to eat very health, as many of us due in this sport and all that was offered was hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, etc. Despite not wanting to, I opted for a hamburger post race, but wish I didn’t. Again the food was the one low point for me. There were hoses to clean off, but I was unable to find a changing tent and ended up doing so wrapped in a towel in the parking lot!
* Race Details
On to the race, 9.2 miles, 44 obstacles, 1000 feet of elevation change! I have to say I was very impressed with the course, the layout, and the obstacles. The obstacles ranged in difficulty from failry easy, like the tire field, to pretty hard, like the multiple types of monkey bars. There were a few obstacles which were memorable for me such as the 31 hero’s memorial burpees. Basically a wall of honor with 31 Navy seals names listed, you would call out a name and perform a burpee until all 31 were completed! I also thought the “leap frog pond” was another good one. A series of inflatable tubes tied together which you had to navigate across. And I can’t leave off the “Kraken”. Hows snow being blown in your face at 60 mph while trying to navigate over a log to a series of floating docks and then in to the ice cold river! I had no issues with any of the 44 obstacles, however, if your on the shorter side, there may have been some struggles. A lot of uppper body strength was nee
ded for this race.
The course was layed out well, very challenging, especially with the hills and the heavy rain the night before making everything slick. One thing I should point out is it was also easy to stay on course, everything was marked well.
Overall I would rank this race very high, right up there with the Spartan series in terms of challenging.
Imporvements could be made for the food and as the event grows each year, check in will need to be a bit smoother. If you didn’t run this year, I would highly recommend adding it to next years bucket list, you won’t be disappointed!
* From: Gary Miller
* Event Details
• The race staff arranged a discount at a campground 200 yards from the race venue, for anyone arriving the night before. $10 per person. Great deal! Sadly, it poured all night.
• They also set up a charter bus service from Boston for those wanting to day-trip. I didn’t use it, but I thought it was a terrific idea.
• For the national anthem, they played the crowd taking over for Rene Rancourt at the Bruins game immediately after the Marathon bombing. Awesomeness.
• After the first free beer, additional beers (for finishers) were only $1 each. Long Trail and Founder’s. Quality ale.
• The hoses for cleaning up were around a corner and sort of hidden away from the main festival area. A sign pointing them out may have helped tired, muddy racers find them more easily.
* Race Details
• Killington, with 6,000 feet of vertical change over the course of the Beast, will probably always be the hardest. And I haven’t been to Shale Hill. But BoneFrog just might be the best. Believe the hype. This is a race worth clearing your calendar for.
• At least 40(!) confirmed obstacles, including multi-stage creations that directly tied multiple different skills together. I.e. transitioning to a rope descent while still hanging from the last monkey bar. As advertised, just being a good runner was not enough for this course. Backups were minimal.
• Worth praising again: The 31 Heroes Memorial. Excuses are invalid.
• The extra-long and extra-high monkey bars (immediately after a rope/wall climb) were a great final obstacle, with the crowd of spectators providing extra motivation. There are some pretty cool photos of Challengers flying high through the air, powering their way past a huge American flag.
• The Frog Gels, given away at one water station at least, were apparently a Survivor-type obstacle in and of themselves – those running near us that tried them all said they tasted awful.
• An enterprising individual or organization that wants to make a significant contribution to the sport of obstacle racing will figure out the minimum depth of water required to provide enough cushion to racers falling from heights.
2 thoughts on “BoneFrog Challenge – 2014”
This was my 2nd time doing the Bone Frog Challenge. While I had a great experience last year, I felt that there were some safety issues this year. There were several obstacles that were unstaffed. My friend fell off of the handle swinging obstacle and broke his arm. It took almost 15 minutes for help to come. Fortunately there were other racers there to help. That obstacle was too high in my opinion to not have anything underneath. Also with the extra slippery conditions because of the rain the night before all of the obstacles should have been more closely monitored. I will do this race again next year, I just hope they will address and fix these issues.
Totally agree. I will do it again and hope they last.