As many of you know I love everything outdoors, granted I haven’t been able to get out as much as I’d like so far this year (thanks school), but I am committed to changing that this summer. To kick things off I decided to do the BattleFrog obstacle race out at the Miller Sports Park in Tooele (I know, not really Salt Lake City).
As we pulled in to the venue I saw all kinds of big rig trailers wrapped in logos, photos of the pro team and all the extras you would expect from a big budget company. I mean these guys sponsored a bowl game this last year, so I expected a lot. However as I pulled into the parking lot, it was a ghost town. I have never seen anything like it at an event like this. Maybe it’s just Utah, or maybe it’s the location or the timing, but every obstacle event I have ever been to was always crowded even as I pulled in to the elite heat.
Walking up to the registration tent I could clearly see they were under staffed. Some of the volunteers were pulling double duty at the tables, and ours just happened to be unmanned when I first got there. In addition the race numbers and bibs were all under my girlfriend’s name even though we had entered both our names separately when we registered. They had to hand write it in, which may be one reason why results are taking forever (it’s been 36 hours as of this review, and still no results).
The festival area where all the booths, bag check, etc. were seemed a little crowded and thrown together. There just seemed to be very little coordination involved with this area. It was weird, but I never got the feeling that someone was actually in charge. The announcements, music, everything just seemed a little fly by the seat of their pants.
The race itself was good. I had never done an event at the Miller Sports Park, but I have been to other motor parks before and I knew it would be pancake flat. The obstacles were largely similar to what you would expect, with some notable differences. The multi rig for example was a bit longer, and had more variety. You could actually use your feet for parts of it. There was an inverted V traverse (a BattleFrog exclusive) that I actually failed. This one was more grip and reach than I had anticipated. The Jerry can carry was a nice throwback to the military roots, and I will gladly do a farmer’s carry over a bucket any day. The penalty here was either a lap carrying something heavy, or 10 8-count body builders, and for many this is pretty rough, however for us military types I prefer these to burpees.
Something that I want to point out that is different and a nice change with the BattleFrog is that they have different difficulties to the obstacles. At almost all of the more technical or challenging obstacles there were three different difficulties (novice, intermediate and elite). This was a great touch, and one that I think serves the community well. I realize it’s supposed to be a challenge, but sometimes people just cannot get over that wall no matter how much they struggle. So making it a little more attainable for the average newbie is a big plus to expand the sport. Bravo BattleFrog for realizing not everyone can do things perfectly and allowing them a way to feel accomplished. Teams especially will benefit from this because most have mixed abilities so this allows the more advanced to challenge themselves on the elite levels, and the more novice to attempt another option.
Final verdict: I would suggest this race to anyone, especially someone new to the sport. The varying levels of difficulty make this event one that almost anyone can do with a little training. There are some kinks in the system, as noted above, but I’m sure those will get fixed over the next couple of seasons. We need to remember that BattleFrog is the new kid here, Spartan and Tough Mudder have been doing this for a lot longer, and they still have a host of issues as well. Time will tell if BattleFrog has what it takes to keep things going, but I have a feeling we will be seeing them for awhile. If you missed this one this year, better mark your calendars for next year because they’ll be back.
* As if this writing I had just gotten word that one of the obstacles had an issue due to the sudden high winds. The cargo A-frame was blown over due to a poorly secured base. Luckily no one was hurt by this, and hopefully next year everything is secured better.