When a race has multiple distances, most people would sign up for the shortest first and then do a longer version later. It’s a good thing I’m not like most people.
I signed up do to Battlefrog Xtreme (BFX) in San Antonio as my first ever Battlefrog event. After doing numerous Spartan Races, Tough Mudders and other OCRs I was keen to see how this would stack up against them.
A Spartan Sprint is roughly the same distance as a Battlefrog, but with less obstacles. Whilst a Sprint normally has between 15-20 obstacles, Battlefrog has 25+ obstacles. The San Antonio course had 27. The course was held on a BMX track so while there were some flat areas, there was also a section that was constantly up and down which made it a bit of a lung burner. I am glad there were no giant hills to climb as they are always my nemesis.
The day before the race I got to have a quick look at the terrain as we drove by. I was nervous but feeling very pumped. Kendal took me to the pre-race dinner on the Friday night where I got to meet some of the Lone Star Spartans. A lot of people said I must be crazy when I mentioned that I had never done a Battlefrog before and was starting with a BFX. Everyone told me to expect an upper-body stye course, which was going to be a change from Spartans which are generally tough on my legs.
By now you’re probably wondering what is BFX? It’s a personal challenge that allows a person do as many laps as possible of the Battlefrog course within a certain time limit. We started at 8:15am and had to start our final lap before 2:45pm. I figured it would be easy enough to get several laps in, and I had a goal of 4, with a minimum of 3 laps (the requirement to get a BFX medal).
As far as the obstacles go, they were very much about upper body and grip strength. The thing I loved about the course was that there were no long periods of running as there were so many obstacles crammed into a short distance! The course also wound around in loops so we never ventured far from the festival area.
The day started with a 4:30am wake up before arriving at the site just after 6am. I saw a lady that I follow on Instagram (Alicia, aka spartan_grit) and then saw Coach Pain shortly thereafter. After getting my race pack I was told that Laura Messner had arrived so I went drop bear on her ass and ran down to say hello.
After the Elite heat started it was time for our race briefing and to learn how to correctly do 8-count body builders. That’s Battlefrog’s penalty when an obstacle cannot be completed. There’s only 10 of them, but after several laps of failed obstacles they start to really hurt. Shortly thereafter we were huddled at the start line listening to Coach Pain’s inspiring words and before long it was time to go.
Everyone ran off and I found a comfortable pace as I tried to get warm. It was a cold start to the day and I was hoping to have some time before facing water, but the first obstacle turned out to be a muddy crawl under wire. There was a slight mishap with the wire which meant it was lying in the mud, so the crawl involved each person having to pick up the wire to go under it.
I got to the first of many walls – the 6′ wall, and learned that Battlefrog have lanes to make an obstacle easier or harder. There was a novice wall with two steps, intermediate wall with one step, and elite wall with no steps. I went over the intermediate wall and then ran up and down the small BMX mounds before hitting the inverted wall and then the wreck bag carry. T
The bags were 50lb (22kg) and both men and women carry the same weight. This was one of two mandatory obstacles for BFX, the other being the jerry can carry. I love a good sandbag carry so I powered on before dropping the bag and heading to the delta frame. I had just got off the frame when Laura came running by for her second lap of the day. The Elite runners have to do two laps of the course and must complete every obstacle to keep their band. Battlefrog allows people to attempt obstacles as many times as possible and only those in the Open or BFX can choose to do body-builders instead of completing an obstacle.
I clambered over more walls before getting to the 8-foot walls. I have never managed to complete this obstacle on my own in a race so I was determined to get it this time. I set down my camera, took a run up and got up and over the wall! I was so excited to have finally completed the obstacle. I shuffled on and hit the 5k mark in just under an hour. I was taking my time as I was still cold and didn’t know how long it would take me to complete so I wanted to conserve energy.
I met up with Laura, Kendal and Alicia at Platinum Rig 1 and they were all freezing cold. After yelling some encouragement at Kendal she finally got through the rig and it was then my turn to attempt it. I got up the first rope, through the first two rings, but couldn’t figure out how to get onto the second rope. After two attempts I decided to save my grip so I did my body-builders and pushed on.
I don’t know what happened after the rig but it took me an hour to do the last 3km of the course. I was feeling very cold and my shin splints had started so I was moving at a glacial pace.The obstacle after Platinum Rig 1 was a slide into freezing water, followed by Tip of the Spear. I didn’t get to attempt it at the OCRWC so I just did the beginners version and got through easily. By the time I got to the second Platinum Rig my hands were already sore from all the climbing I’d been doing and were still freezing cold. I couldn’t get up the rope at the start so I just did my body-builders and moved on. By the time I finished my first lap I was two hours in and hungry.
I took my time in the transition area and ate some food, went to the toilet, and had some water before heading out for a second lap. I was going at a reasonable pace and so just needed to stay consistent to get four laps done. The mud was definitely thicker the second time around which made running hard as my shoes were so heavy. Halfway through the second lap I gave up on running as my shins were hurting too much and I was moving faster by just walking. I found myself doing more of the obstacles at a beginners level, and failed the monkey bars and weaver again. I wanted to conserve energy and was still cold, but wasn’t giving myself enough positive feedback to get me through and was giving up too easily.
I only spent a few minutes in the transition area before heading out for my third lap. I was still cold despite the sun being out, and so I took my time in the mud and posed a few times for the photographers. The third time though the wreck bag carry was actually my fastest as I knew what to expect and was excited to be doing something that didn’t involve climbing over a wall.
The third lap took me the same amount of time as the other two, but I was alone for most of it and didn’t think I could get back in time to do another lap. When I reached the rope climb at the end of my third lap I checked my time and saw that I had one minute spare if I wanted to head out for a fourth. I decided to cross the finish line instead as I was tired and my arms were feeling fatigued. I was surrounded by friends when I finished which made it that much more special.
Looking back on the race I realised how much I underestimated my abilities and how I wasn’t mentally prepared for the event. I didn’t push myself like I should have and I took it easy. I didn’t know what to expect which is partly why I took time on my first lap, but by the third I just wanted to finish. I am going to change my registration for Dallas to do BFX again as now I know what to expect, I can actually push myself to get more than just the three laps.
The things I need to keep in mind for next time include:
- WARM UP! I need to spend at least 15 minutes pre-race doing jogging, arm swings etc to get myself warm before starting.
- Don’t take too long in the transition area. Just eat quickly and head out again.
- Alternate between running and walking between obstacles. This will give me time to rest but I can also push myself as the obstacles are close together.
- Try, try, and try again! Don’t give up after one attempt at an obstacle.
- Think positive thoughts! Let go of all the negative thoughts and focus on getting through as many laps as I can.
- Focus on actual pain versus perceived pain. Just because my brain says I can’t do it doesn’t meant my muscles can’t. I have to learn to trust in my abilities.
Event: Battlefrog Xtreme
Type: Obstacle Course Race
Distance: Multiple laps of an 8km course
Location: San Antonio, Texas (USA)
Date: 2 April 2016