This challenge came about a month after the Boston Marathon. While my body was still somewhat used to going long, there was still lingering fatigue, since I had approached the limits of my legs during that race.
The mission: Complete as many laps as you can, of an 8K obstacle course with 22 obstacles/lap, as long as you start your first lap at 8:30am and start your last lap by 3pm, giving us 6.5 hours, at least, if we wanted. The number of obstacles doesn't matter so much, since some are always easier than others.
This was a cool new twist on the traditional race, where you go as fast as you can, for a set distance. It would be a great way to practice obstacles, and it was well-suited for those who like longer distances. This was the second time they were offering this Battlefrog Extreme option.
The medals for this race are cool, too. They look very different, and you earn a start for each lap that you cover. You could pin those starts to the medal at the end. The winner gets a cool paddle, too, but they only had one.
Each participant was allowed a drop box for food and gear, and we could leave it at a special tent on the side of the course. It was fun meeting fellow crazies there before the race, between laps, and after race. Some were big-time OCR fanatics. Others, like me, were relatively new to this. The tent was stocked with finish line food and drinks, and it had its own porta potty in the back, which was awesome.
We got BFX armbands that let us repeat the course each lap, and the volunteers were able to ID us and cheer us on. We get special access to bypass traffic in some cases, too, which was nice, even though I didn't take advantage of that every time.
After the usual awesome pump-up speech, with a drone flying overhead, we were off. We were going to be at this all day, so I was in no rush to sprint out. I went at a conservative 20-mile-long-run pace, and even that was probably pushing it too much. Others were going much faster. If I had something on my side, it was pacing experience, but not on the scale of a 7-hr run... 3, at most.
I ended up finishing 4 laps... 3 in reasonable shape, the last with a death march in the 2nd half.
Obstacles that I can remember:
- Small wall (completed 3/4)
- Wooden ladder-wall climb (4/4)
- Through the hole in the wall (4/4)
- Trenches (4/4... you just have to walk over them)
- Roll under wall (4/4)
- Giant a-frame (4/4)
- Wedge (4/4) - One of my favorites, since it looks cool and American Ninja Warrior-esque, but it's very doable. I used a different approach, facing down.
- Tall wall with rope (3/4) - No arms left during the last lap
- Cargo net (4/4) - Leg cramped at the very top of it on my 3rd lap, I think... had to gingerly sit at the apex as I writhed in pain, but it got back to normal within a minute... just a tricky spot to be in, when you lose your legs.
- Lateral ropes to Cliffhanger to Lateral ropes (1/4) - It was sooooo much fun when I did it the first time, without too much difficulty. This was another American Ninja Warrior-style obstacle, albeit an easier version of it since the wall had incline, rather than being a strictly vertical wall. Unfortunately, I never made it far into the Cliffhanger portion on the other three attempts... the ropes I could do, but not the Cliffhanger.
- Rope Climb (2/4) - Not too hard the first two times... got harder each time after that. I appreciate that these ropes are shorter than the Spartan ones, and not over water... the Spartan ones are nearly impossible for me. A good many people are able to conquer the Spartan ones, though, so maybe it's technique or strength that I lack.
- Jerry Cans (4/4) - A mandatory obstacle for BFX... no 8-counts to get out of it. I didn't think it was bad at all, though. The girls had smaller ones to carry than the boys did. I think I took 1-2 breaks on the first lap, but many more in the subsequent laps.
- Wreck Bag (4/4) - The other mandatory one. Carry a 50-lb sandbag on your back (more like my neck) for 0.4 miles of steep up and down. This one nearly killed me each time. It was so heavy, and all of the weight was concentrated on the top of my back. Fortunately, we "had" to get the bag over a wall without having it touch the ground at the mid-point, and jump over the wall. At first, I thought it would be an ugly challenge, but it turned out to be a saving grace, since you could rest the bag on the wall. I certainly needed the time to let my back recover. During the first lap, tears were streaming down my eyes as a result of allergies. I nearly broke into tears the other three laps because of the struggle, though.
After my third lap, a rep from Obstacle Race Media interviewed me while I was at the drop box tent.
I appear somewhere in there:
During the 3rd lap, a fellow BFXer was very encouraging we were at the midpoint wall. I think every lap, people helped to get the bag back onto my shoulders at the wall. During that 3rd lap, I was neck-and-neck with a girl who I thought would be my competition... turns out that there were still 2 people farther ahead than us, but at least I didn't know. Despite being competitors, as we struggled through the Jerry Can and Wreck Bags together, there was a deep sense of camaraderie. She ended up dropping me 1/4 of the way into the Wreck Bags, though, haha, and went on to finish a 5th lap, it seems, based on her finish time. Pretty much each time I finished the wreck bag, I'd collapse onto the heap of wreck bags... it was brutal. That was the hump to get over, though... once you passed that, you were home-free, except for the 4th lap, where the final wreck bag totally did me in, and forced me into a death march for the remainder of the course. I had already lost my arm strength, but I pretty much lost all strength after that, and could only manage 8-counts, in all but the easiest obstacles.
- Cargo net over water (4/4) - There was a traffic backup here in the later laps, as more open waves joined the course. The first time I encountered the traffic, during the 2nd lap, I waited in line for maybe 5 minutes. The second time (3rd lap), some open wavers invited me to go up to the front, which I appreciated. During the 4th lap, I was so beat up that I didn't mind just standing there for a while. After a stressful week of work, I had been looking forward to the race as an opportunity to give everything I could physically, and I certainly got that.
- Incline wall climb (3/4) - 1-3 were easy. During the 4th, I couldn't manage much of a run anymore.
- Inverted wall (3/4) - Same as above.
- Monkey Bars (0.9/4) - During the first lap, when I was still fresh, I very nearly completed the uphill then downhill monkey bars with a transition section in the middle. I would've never thought that I could do a monkey bars so long, especially with the slope and the transition, but I nearly made it, and I was proud. No way for the last 3 laps, though.
- Bridge over River Cry (0/4) - I got maybe 70% of the way up the inverted wire ladder leading up to a telephone pole. It hurt my hands a lot. I didn't make it, though. I had even less of a chance during the remaining 3 laps.
- Tsunami (0/1) - We didn't get to do this until we decided that this was our last lap. I had tried it during the Battlefrog Elite race in 2014 and struggled greatly. For having little running ability left at this point, and having no arms, I feel like I gave it a decent attempt, but I gave it up and did my 8-counts afterwards. The slide down was very steep, steeper than 2014's in the Carolinas. I didn't have anything to lose, though, so drop down a nearly vertical slide, then crash into the water.
- Normandy Jacks (1/1) - Tough, with legs cramping. This was the end, though.
Got my medal, picked up my 4 stars, proudly put them on, and went to the photo op place.
Sand in my socks had rubbed the skin off of my ankles, but it was so nice to shower and get clean.
Got to meet Mike afterwards, too!
Can't wait to do it again next year! I would do this again this year, but it's right before my next marathon BQ attempt.
I ended up finishing in 6:44:59, 5th out of 10 female BFXers.