Race Recap: 2017 Hesco Bonefrog in Englishtown, NJ
BONEFROG: FOUR DISTANCES IN ONE DAY
Bonefrog is an obstacle course racing company with 10 races scheduled in 2017. Always on the hunt for something new, especially in OCR, I decided to try this brand of racing. At a Bonefrog, there are four different distance to choose from: Sprint (3 miles), Challenge (8 miles), Tier 1 (11 miles) and Endurance (Tier 1 + as many laps of the Sprint course as possible in 8 hours). I chose to do the Challenge in the open category at Bonefrog in Englishtown, NJ on June 17 and for the first time since the Spartan Race Super in 2016, I failed an obstacle. Check out how this event went down at one of the most popular OCR venues in New Jersey: the Englishtown Raceway.
GET GRIP STRENGTH
Bonefrog’s obstacles were a combination of what you’d expect at an OCR and some unique obstacles. The two hardest obstacles for me were Get a Grip (see below) which required you to climb through a set of handles that appeared to be similar to the handles of a suspension trainer and the Cargo Wall—a horizontal cargo net traverse. I didn’t want to risk ripping my hands open or hurting my shoulder so I took the penalty of 20 pushups at Get a Grip. The Cargo Wall was tough because the cargo net was so incredibly loose that it was virtually impossible to stay high on it, meaning you climbing across a rope cargo net barely off the ground and you couldn’t touch the ground. The Chopper (see below), Swingers Club (a rig consisting only of small balls wrapped in tape), and various monkey bar obstacles also tested grip strength.
There were also several walls of different heights to climb over and a challenging black tube crawl. There was also a swim, the first I’d encountered since BattleFrog Tri-State last year. In total, there were 42 obstacles, more than the 24-29 that a Spartan Race Super offers in 8 miles. Terrain-wise, the Englishtown Raceway is a park that encircles a dirt bike track, so racers run up and down the dirt hills and through the wooded surrounding park. The outer park and parking lot was utilized more at Bonefrog than the 2016 Terrain Race which was 6 miles.
Bonefrog vs. Battlefrog
First, let’s define what a “Bonefrog” is. According to the OCR company’s website, Bonefrog is “the unofficial mascot for the current generation of Navy SEALs that carry out our nation’s most difficult and dangerous missions around the world.” The founders and directors of this race are former Navy Seals and you can tell that the race is not all about glitz and glam: it’s about a challenging course with a lot of obstacles. Battlefrog is a now defunct OCR company that burst onto the scene in 2015. In 2016, they scheduled 40+ races but cancelled all of their races during the summer. Battlefrog also sold their Facebook page and followers to Urban Trials. Battlefrog put on great races but ultimately it was the pursuit of going too big too soon that led to their downfall. Battlefrog sponsored the NCAA college football Fiesta Bowl, made TV commercials, and produced an ESPN competition show, all while registrations of their races were declining.
Bonefrog has 10 races scheduled in 2017 and from what I read on forums/blogs, they are never overcrowded. In fact, I arrived late and raced in one of the last Open heats (11:15am) which would spell bottlenecking doom at other OCRs. At BoneFrog, there were still people running at this time but not the highest volume of the day. This also speaks to the fact that Bonefrog is a competitive race—people showed up for the Tier 1 and earlier heats in an attempt to win. Bonefrog has one sponsor and don’t seem to go out of their way in terms of marketing. They simply focus on putting on the best 10 events possible.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Bonefrog as there seems to be an interesting dynamic in the OCR scene this year. Every race company is providing something new to the industry and while I used to called Spartan Race, Tough Mudder and Warrior Dash the “Big Three,” it seems that there’s really only a top two. Revenue-wise, Warrior Dash may be up there with the others due to their longevity, but Savage Race, Rugged Maniac and Bonefrog are staking their claim in a highly competitive business.
I'm excited to see Bonefrog swim above water in 2018. Now, check out the best part of this race recap: the videos! And if only watch one, watch the video of adaptive athlete Amy Winters conquering the Dirty Name obstacle. She would go on to win the Endurance category and donate her winnings. A true hero!