The last of the “new” Obstacle Course Races for me this year, was Bonefrog. I missed the PA race earlier in the race season, and I had heard nothing but good things. So I was pumped to run this race. Drove up Friday night, and then got up around 5 am Saturday. I was running the 8:45 Tier 1 Heat and I wanted to get there early to check it out. Plus I didn’t know how checking in for the race would go, so I figured the earlier the better.
Got to the race venue and there was surprisingly very few banners and signs. If you didn’t know the race was going on and just happened to drive by, you would probably totally miss it. Parking was easy, $10 and it was in the venue parking lot so it was a quick walk in. Registration was fast even though I didn’t have my bar code. They use ankle straps for time monitors, which is different. I’m used to putting the timing chip in my pocket, but they said it had to be worn with the strap around the ankle. Ended up working well since it never came off or bothered me. They also gave us bibs, ugh!! Since I was Open it didn’t really matter that anyone could see my number, and nothing annoys me more than putting holes in my OCR gear. Also bag check was right next to registration which was weird since the showers and changing tent were all the way on the other side of the venue. Doesn’t really make sense to do it that way imo, you’re forcing the racers to make multiple trips.
So there’s 4 types of Bonefrog races and each one has an Elite and Open category. First is Sprint, a 3+ mile 20 obstacle race. Then Challenge, a 6+ mile 30 obstacle race. Then Tier 1 which is the Sprint and Challenge combined to equal an 9+ mile race with 50 obstacles. Lastly is Endurance, which is Tier 1 but then multiple Sprint laps. The goal is to do as many Sprint laps as possible by the time the 2pm cut off hits. Your last Sprint lap has to start before 2pm.
However the course is only about 6+ miles total. Which means if you sign up for Tier 1, you do the first 2 or so miles of the Sprint loop, then follow the Challenge signs for the extra 3 miles, then come back to the Sprint loop for the last 2 or so miles. Then you go out and do the Sprint lap again by itself. Which means that yes you’re doing 50 obstacles, but 20 of them you’re doing twice to equal 40. So it’s not 50 unique obstacles, it’s only 30. Also what that means: since the Challenge lap is separate from the Sprint lap, and it has only 10 obstacles on it and is about 3 miles long, there is a ton of separation between obstacles.
Also there are no men’s or women’s obstacles or weights. There are no red blocks on walls for women and no different weights for carries. Everyone is doing the same obstacles no matter the gender.
Anyway, I get in and get ready for my heat. Tier 1 is called and we enter the corral. The announcer goes over the course briefly, advising us to follow the challenge sign on the first lap, then Sprint sign on the 2nd lap. No real rules to go over since we are in Open. Not really any starting fanfare, just a simple 123 and we’re off!
Since this is a race I’ve never covered before I’m going to go over most of the obstacles in detail. If you want to read my race Pros and Cons, feel free to skip to the bottom.
So up a hill we go. Pretty descent ascent. Again this was on a ski mountain so I knew they were going to be using that elevation. 1st obstacle is Rolling Thunder, basically a pole with tires wrapped around it horizontally that you have to jump and roll over. Not as easy as it sounds. The tires don’t bounce and they roll back towards you. So many people got stuck trying this a few times. Luckily I had been told to “starfish” the obstacle, and that helped me get myself over.
Siege wall was after that, an inverted wall with a rope to climb up it, then a ladder back down. No problem. Then was Frogman which was running through a creek. Not really an “obstacle” per say, more of them just using the creek to force us to get our feet wet. 1st phase Wall was about a 6 foot wall I’d say. Not much of a problem there. Then Rope Swing which was a Tarzan style rope swing across a decent sized gap. No water in the gap, just a guy standing there motivating to keep moving. Was a little intimidating having to jump out to the rope and Tarzan to the other side. But it was a thick military rope so grip wasn’t an issue.
Night Crawler followed that, a thick net you had to crawl under. Not too bad for us short guys but it definitely got stuffy in there. Plus it was uphil so not an easy time. Up the mountain some more to the Viking Tables. It was a small 2×4 in a T shape that you have to pull yourself up and over. I saw several tall guys struggle with this. But I had no issues getting up and over.
Down the mountain we went and into the festival area. Finally I got to do the first of several awesome multi rigs that this race had. This one was Strong Hold. First a U shaped rig with bars to climb across. Then you have to swing to 2 different straps and then back to a U shaped bar and climb along till you grab the grenade bell at the end. You can kick it but that seemed like a lot of work.
Following that was a Rope Climb. Very thick rope again, great for climbing. Had no issues with that but the bell was far. Had to get all the way to the top before I could hit it.
After that was 2nd Phase Wall, about a 7 foot wall. One thing to note is none of the walls had red blocks. So you had to get up and over from the bottom. At this point the race turns and you enter the Challenge course. Before this we had gone up 2 hills but they weren’t too bad. The Challenge course changed all that. The hills were punishing and long! Felt like they would never end. The downhills were also super steep so u had to run down them. They were very treacherous and I saw a few people fall and have issues. Luckily I got through fairly unscathed.
Climb up to the of the mountain for a trio of obstacles: Red Wings, Extortion 17, and Medal of Honor. They weren’t normal obstacles though. Instead you did tricep dips, burpees, and then pull ups while shouting the names of fallen Navy Seals listed on the board. It was an interesting thing to have in the middle of the race. I would prefer to have that sorta thing maybe before the race as a group obstacle we all do together. Or something like that. Just my opinion cause it kinda breaks the flow of the race and not sure how you police that in the Elite category.
Down another steep hill to CliffHanger. A set of about 5 or 6 pull up bars that you have to climb over and down. Not too tricky but can be hard if you’re not able to pull up your body weight with your hands. Back up another long hill and climb to Normandy, a wire crawl. Wasn’t too long but it was very rocky. After that we climbed up to the top of the mountain, only to turn right and run all the way back down it. Long gap of running here.
At the bottom the next obstacle was Get a Grip. Small handlebars with what can only be described as a toilet paper tube. They were horizontal but the ropes were very short so it made it hard to swing. I had to keep my arms up at a 90 degree angle and grab for the next one. It was a very awkward obstacle and I could feel my arms getting tired. But I fought through and I was able to hang on till the end.
Up another mountain, yes another one, and then to Walk the Plank. This was on a descent so it was really tricky. The middle wobbled like crazy and my legs were shaking from all the climbing. So it took 3 tries but I finally got across without falling.
Down the mountain to the bottom and there was an inverted wall. Not a big deal, done a few of these. Almost every OCR has them. Up and around and to the Swingers Club. A small thin rope with round balls on the end. The balls were too slick to hold so you had to grab above them. But the rope being thin made it difficult. I didn’t try to swing I just used the sideways method and 2 hands on each one. Felt like I was gonna slip a few times, but I completed it and got through it.
3rd phase Wall. An 8 foot wall. Pretty high, but still didn’t have an issue with it. Kraken followed, a cargo net up, across, and then down.
Brute Force Carry was after this. It’s a 50 lb wreckbag that you carry through several obstacles. First you throw it through a hole in a wall. Then drag it through a wire crawl. Then carry it up a hill and back through more crawls and holes. It was pretty tough and it definitely slowed me down. The weight wasn’t too much of the issue, just the throwing it around and dragging it with you. Things got backup up a little but no one was waiting on bags and they didn’t run out.
Mike and Murph followed that. A rope climb up, followed by a cargo net down. Then the opposite on the other side. Saw a racer at this point who had done the whole race with 1 leg. So impressive!
Ship Boarding was next. Very small handlebar climb to the top to ring a bell. The handles are so small you can only use one hand at a time. And the sides are held up by a sharp cable. So it’s not as easy as it looks, especially climbing down. I felt my shoes get caught a few times, so I took my time and made sure I got down without tripping.
Up a Cargo Net and then to Dead Weight, a Herc Hoist Obstacle. The only strength obstacle besides the wreckbag carry. I think the weight was only about 60-70 pounds. I actually fell on my back because I was bracing for more weight and was surprised it was so light.
After that was an obstacle I had been looking forwards to, The Chopper. It starts with a ring, then a rotating bar of 4 handlebars that look like blades of a helicopter. Then a ring, and another chopper. It’s 3 sets of each. I was told the trick was to keep moving and never stop so I did. Ring to bar to ring. Kept moving and always reaching forward for the next grip. Was told beforehand that this was the trickiest obstacle, but I had no problems either time I did it.
Dirty Name was after that, a really tricky obstacle. 3 logs at different heights horizontally, that you had to pull yourself into, then stand on and leap to the next. The first time I did it, I made it to the top but couldn’t pull myself over. The volunteer came over to give me a hand, but I told him not to. I dropped down and I thanked him but I wanted to do it myself. Tried again and this time I had enough momentum to get over and down the other side. Was kind of a fear based obstacle, more then a difficult one, but it definitely requires good technique.
Next up was the Guillotine. A log balance beam, followed my a climb over a short wall, then another log balance to the bottom. Nothing too tough.
Last up was the signature BoneFrog obstacle: Black Ops. A rope climb up to the platform, followed by monkey bars over a net and in front of a huge American flag. The bars do rotate slightly to add to the difficulty. Also everyone in the festival area is watching! And who wants to fail in front of a crowd and especially in front of the flag!! Took my time and waited for a lane to clear then went across quickly and securely. No swinging just 2 hands on each bar to avoid slipping. Made it across, high fived the volunteer and crossed the finish line to get my medal!
Another cool thing is your Medal gets handed to you by a Navy Seal. Very awesome and humbling experience.
So to say I had a blast would be an understatement. This was a very challenging course but I was very happy with my 100% completion of all the obstacles. I only actually failed 3 obstacles but I was able to complete them after my next attempts. Which means I would have kept my band if I ran Elite. That’s my goal next time for sure!
I loved all the grip strength obstacles, since that is my OCR strength. The lack of heavy carries didn’t bother me at all since I usually hate those. Also there was no mud or water obstacles, just a small creek we ran through. So it was kinda nice finishing a race without being completely dirty and covered in mud. Also there was a variety of free beers to choose from and they gave you the can, they didn’t pour it in a plastic cup!
Below are my pros and cons of Bonefrog.
- Variety of grip obstacles very different from the norm
- No dumb obstacles like slides or arctic baths.
- Lots of a variety of ways to run the course. Different levels for everyone.
- Finisher shirts were great quality and the medals were unique for each stage of race.
- Not a fan of the workout “obstacles” in the middle of the race.
- Only timing mats at the start and finish. Nothing during the race. This makes it prone to course cutting.
- Minimal policing at obstacles. There were long stretches I never saw anyone
- Path markers were very small 2 inch pink flags in the ground. Very easy to miss and it happened several times. They need better trail markers.
- Bibs. Get rid of them. Don’t force racers to put holes in their gear.
Again I had a blast at BoneFrog and I’m looking forward to doing agin. This race is high on my list of must do’s and I hope they are successful in growing their brand.
Thanks again as always for reading. I welcome comments and questions. Look forward to talking with you online or at your next OCR! 🤡👍🏽👍🏽