The 2015 Bonefrog held in Englishtown, NJ on this past Saturday the 24th marked my 30th obstacle course race since I began doing them in 2012. I have done several of those 30 races on the same grounds, Raceway Park, and did like the way that the Bonefrog utilized it. This race series is owned and operated by Navy Seals and promised to be “harder than hell” and while it was challenging, it was not my toughest race to date although some obstacles were quite tough.
The crowds and race waves were much smaller than I am used to, which I loved but I am sure that will change once this race series grows. The temperature was in the low to mid 40’s at the starting line, but it was windy which really made it feel even colder. As we stood in the starting area, not really a corral, we were briefed on how the penalties worked and how the team challenge worked, but I have to admit I was a little disappointed with the lack of hype to get us pumped up before they let us off to cross the starting line. I guess I was expecting something more similar to how Spartan and Battlefrog races start, especially since this was a military based race.
The first couple of miles were running on the dirt bike course and it was so chilly I didn’t get the feeling in my hands and feet back until about mile 2 (I have Reynauds so I lose the feeling in my fingers and toes below 50 degrees often). When we headed in the woods, some of the obstacles were pretty high, like the 3 tier logs that were way up and the cargo net that went straight up and down which totally had you talking yourself into not freaking out about falling from so high up. In fact, many of the obstacles throughout the course were pretty high and after you came out of the wood, were VERY muddy which added to the challenge. At the sand bag obstacle, you had to fill up an empty one with dirt and this was pretty much subjective. While I filled mine, there were many that put a little dirt in & then ran to the flag and back. When you returned, you were supposed to dump your dirt, which I did, but some just threw the bag down to “help the others behind them” and took off running. The ammo carry was good, not too heavy but a little awkward making it more challenging and then you had to drag it in the mud under wire (no real barbed wire anywhere in the course, so it was easy to get through this one). After the ammo carry was the first water station (unmanned as were many of them) and I grew quite irritated how participants just threw the cups on the ground even though they were standing next to the garbage can!
As we headed back in the woods there was the 31 Heros salute where you had to do 1 burpee after you recited the name of a fallen hero. This was a great tribute and somewhat an emotional obstacle. After all names were read and burpees completed many, including myself, touched the wall and paid respect to them. Next up we would encounter the first of three times we had to go into the water. The first water obstacle was to swim across the lake and the water was freezing. I was happy that they provided a rope along the water to grab onto in case you needed it because the middle got pretty deep. After emerging from the water, it was into the woods which was shaded so it seemed so cold. The wind picked up and lost all feeling in my hands and feet again. There were some really muddy pits, the same ones I had become familiar with from previous races like Battlefrog and Tough Mudder, which were a real challenge to get through, especially since it was so cold I was hoping not to get a cramp.
After emerging from the woods, it was on to the concrete where there were a series of obstacles that were covered in mud. A very high cargo net, another high wall which I am not sure the height but it had to be at least 7’. There were also incline tubes that you had to make your way through slippery and with no rope, a long muddy horizontal cargo net climb, a log hurdle at the top of a pretty steep dirt mound that if you over shot hopping over you could easily roll down the other side. Shortly after that, there was the card draw where you picked a card that told you how far you had to run (there were barrels with corresponding numbers on them) and I had to run to barrel 10 and do 10 burpees (I pulled a Jack of Hearts) and then run back. My only problem with this obstacle is that Raceway Park is dirty in some areas and there was broken glass around where I was doing my burpees so I had to be careful not to get cut.
Then was the second water obstacle called Tinian Team 5 Crossing where you had to do another swim across the lake. While in the water, my body started really shaking and I felt really cold and lost feeling in my hands and feet. If that wasn’t bad enough, just a few short feet away was swim number 3 and this one you had to go under 2 barricades in the water getting completely submerged. Once exiting this obstacle, you got to do the sandy under wire crawl and while it was not very long not being able to feel your hands or feet made it a little challenging so I rolled most of the way. After standing up, my whole body was shivering so bad and the wind was blowing, so it was time to try and run only I was so cold I couldn’t stand up and the pounding of my feet on the pavement actually hurt.
Some of the course markings snapped so there was a little confusion where to go next, but once it was figured out where to go, you had to climb a very high wooden slatted wall, which made for some cramping in the calves, and then read a sign which you had no idea what question they were going to ask you so you almost had to memorize the whole thing. I was so cold I just remember it was about a rifle and the last thing on the sign said it made a “pew and pew pew pew” sound. Good thing that is what they asked me so I didn’t have to do the penalty and could move on. At this station was also water and the guy asked if I wanted one of the heat sheets because I was shaking so bad, but I refused and went on my way to the next set of obstacles.
With sandy numb and cold hands, I got to an obstacle that were similar to rings, only they were tubes suspended from a very high structure that I could barely reach. While you could attempt the obstacles over and over, after falling once on frozen feet I opted to do my penalty, this one was 50 pushups (the penalties varied by obstacle). Next was another wall and then a rope climb that was over the ground but the rope was very muddy. Next up was tire hurdles (tires around a hurdle and they would spin as soon as you jumped on them) at first I didn’t realize there were 2 so after a few unsuccessful attempts at the first one I decided to do the penalty (also 50 pushups) and then as I am doing them realized there was another one to get over. I didn’t want to do another 50 pushups, so I kept trying until I got over this one!
A few obstacles later was what I call the rib cracker! This was similar to the one I cracked my ribs on at Battlefrog, but this one was 3 tiers. I made it to the second and the height on the third was enough to make me think about how painful my ribs felt and so I got down and did 50 more pushups. Immediately following that was yet another set of monkey bars that were just poles, but I literally couldn’t reach them they were so high up. I even tried jumping and my fingers would barely touch them and even got a boost and still I was too short so I did the penalty, this time 50 air squats. Right after that was Black Ops, and obstacle where you had to climb a rope to get to, then cross incline monkey bars and climb down the other side. Again, these were so high and I needed a boost just to reach them. I made it about 2/3 of the way and slipped off the bar into the net below, which was kinda scary since there was someone right next to me and if she fell, she would have landed right on me. As I navigate on the next and climb my way out of the obstacle, I see the finish line!
While not my best time by far, overall this was a good race but I have to gripe about the place rankings and how there were people I knew that did the sprint distance but were listed in the “full” results, making it seem like they did much better than they did. I mean a time for 3 miles is VERY different than a time for 9. I emailed them and they said there was an issue but they believe they caught all of the discrepancies, yet I still found a few. Your time is your time, but the only reason that I even care about the place ranking is because this was supposed to be an OCR World Championship Qualifying race and at this point, I am not confident they did catch all of them. Another thing that kind of bothered me is they asked you what medal you were getting because you were not marked which race you were doing. I think they should perhaps have a different color wristband to show what course you are doing. I did see someone that just did the Sprint only take a full challenge medal in addition to their Sprint medal and they did not do the Tier-1 challenge (complete both the 9 mile and sprint course consecutively). My last gripe would be there were no changing tents so I had to change in a porta-potty, which was gross!
In the end, I would totally do this race series again and really hope that they fix some of these growing pains. I was kind of disappointed with the lack of military presence overall considering this was “owned and operated by Navy Seals” but I did love the various tributes throughout the course and in the festival area. I like the finisher shirts, but I was a little bummed they didn’t sell any tank tops with the Bonefrog logo and sizes of inventory were very limited and I finished before noon. I was also bummed about no finish line pictures, but overall it was a good race and loved that spectators and pictures were free!