The Bonefrog Challenge is an obstacle course race that is created and managed by actual Navy SEALs. That means that this race is as authentic as you can get. Bonefrog has no gimmicks; just ass kicking challenges. If that is what you are looking for then you will love this event as much as I do!
The 2016 HESCO Bonefrog Challenge took place at Berkshire East Mountain Resort on 10/29/2016. It is a 9-mile course with over 36 obstacles that includes monkey bars, rope climbs, cargo nets and even water obstacles. I should note that it snowed the day before so that water was quite chilly! These numbers are pretty daunting and they don’t even include the biggest obstacle, which is the ski mountain that runners ascend and descend several times throughout the course.
My team and I pulled into the parking lot; we turned off the seat heaters, got out of our warm winter clothes and prepared to get muddy. Everyone at the registration table was friendly and the process couldn’t have been easier. The event founder, Brian Carney, was even hanging out at the registration table; you won’t see that at those other OCR races! Brian is an amazing American and New Englander; I had the chance to speak with him last year and have wanted to run the Bonefrog since then.
The starting/ finishing area of Bonefrog has a laidback but serious feel to it; Bonefrog doesn’t brag because it doesn’t need to. I could see a few muddy people strolling around and we heard rumors of how deep the water obstacles were or how muddy the course was. This only added to the excitement!.
At most OCR events I am herded like cattle to the start line with thousands of other people. At Bonefrog I started the race with just my team, which made the experience feel exclusive. After a quick safety briefing we were let loose on the course.
It instantly became clear that Berkshire East itself would be one of the most challenging obstacles of the day. The single-track trails on the course were beautiful but they were also full of mud and unforgiving ascents that kept our hearts racing between obstacles. The course even teases runners by bringing them within sight of the finish line before detouring them halfway back up the mountain. However the obstacles were pretty epic as well. Bonefrog ensured that we encountered an obstacle every ¼ mile. These included water traverses, high walls, rope climbs, cargo nets, low crawls, monkey bars and many others. This is a race that throws almost every kind of challenge at participants, which means that success demands functional fitness.
Teamwork and camaraderie were the absolute best parts of this event. No one can be good at everything, monkey bars and walls were my downfall, but as a team you can get through anything. Bonefrog threw challenges at us and we worked together to get over them. This included lifting teammates over walls, motivating each other during punishing climbs and crossing the finish line as one. This is a feeling that I never get from traditional running races and it is what will keep brining me back to Bonefrog.
Crossing the Bonefrog finish line is one of the most inspiring experiences that you can get in racing. That is where you will find actual Navy SEALS who hand you your finisher medal and t-shirt. In my view a lot of OCR events are designed to create social media events so you can brag to your friends; Bonefrog is designed so you can show yourself what you are capable of. What could be better than that?