BATTLEFROG CAROLINAS

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Once again, I am grateful for the opportunity to be working with such a wonderful company. This group of Navy SEALs are no ordinary people, and true to their nature they are not willing to settle for second best. Already, with only two events under their belts, they are on par with companies such as Reebok Spartan Race and Tough Mudder. Actually, with the SEAL demonstration, helicopter rides, and the way they handled the mixup in the elite race, I’d say they went a step above.
I’ll explain: As is often the case with 9 mile courses such as this where you have to mark nearly every foot to keep people on the trail, somehow, someway, somebody went through a section of the course, moved the markers out of their way, and failed to put them back. The error was caught too late to get everyone back on track, and the top 7 runners ended out skipping part of the course. For the first time in OCR history as far as I know, BattleFrog owned up to this completely and ended out paying full prize money to the top 3 finishers of the shortened course, and to the top 3 competitors who made it through the entire course.
COURSE:
Once again, BattleFrog had a great course. Big obstacles, fun obstacles, challenging obstacles, they brought us up the largest hills, and through a beautiful river section. Even though it was 9 miles, the constant variety kept it exciting throughout.
It was a challenging course, and we were flirting with 100 degree weather. It was a recipe for disaster, but water stations were plentiful and they utilized nearly every water pit there was on the property, enabling everyone to survive the day.
FESTIVAL:
Have I mentioned the Navy SEAL demonstration? It’s a show you don’t want to miss. Along with what you typically get at an OCR event, there were also plenty of tables and chairs set up under large tents so you could relax out of the sun, and two bounce houses to keep the kids entertained.

Like I said though, BattleFrog is not going to settle for second best. There were a lot of little issues that they are determined to solve. They don’t take them lightly, and want to make BattleFrog the greatest OCR experience you have ever had. I am confident that we will find a way to make the next event in West Virginia the best one yet. I hope to see you all there.

On a personal note, I decided to run with a camera and take pictures along the way instead of “racing” through the course like I usually do. It was fun taking the time to watch so many of you work your way through the course.
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Reebok Spartan World Championships

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Reebok Spartan Race World Championships

I don’t know what to say, I still can’t believe I won!!
My legs want to say thank you to Norm Koch, my bank account wants to say thank you to Reebok Spartan Race, my heart wants to say thank you to everyone, and my brain is still in denial that I actually won.
I’ve always had a preference for the shorter more obstacle intense races, and as the the calendar inched closer and closer to September, I had to make a decision; was I going to train for Vermont, or keep doing what I was doing? I decided to stick with what I enjoyed the most.
After Virginia, to be honest, I was a little burnt out, and trying to fight off an injury. But an even bigger issue was that the challenge was given to Norm Koch to not let anyone finish the Vermont Beast under 4 hours. I had failed to win the two previous years in Vermont primarily due to my lack of endurance training, and now they were promising that it would take an entire hour longer to finish this year. I completely lost any glimmer of hope that I had had of winning. The 4 weeks between Virginia and Vermont were not pleasant. Not only did I lack the motivation to train, but I also couldn’t train properly because of my injury. I was contemplating not even bothering to show up, but then Spartan announced that in order to qualify for the season points system winnings, attendance in Vermont was mandatory.
In the end I decided that I needed to conserve every ounce of energy I could for the race just to keep from crashing. So, I slept in as long as I possibly could, and after picking up my packet, I lied down with my legs elevated until I had to go to the starting line. At the starting line, David Magida was gracious enough to let me use his shoulder as a headrest since the ground was wet, and I didn’t want to lay down in it. My warmup would just have to be the beginning of the race.
Once the race started, my mindset was “how fast would I be going right now if I were 3 hours into the race?”, and then I wouldn’t let myself go any faster than that. So, for those first few steep climbs, I made myself walk. It was difficult to watch those in front of me slowly pull away, knowing that I could keep up with them if I wanted to, but I had to do what I had to do.
……. Now, although I had contemplated not coming, and certainly wasn’t looking forward to the “race”, there is one thing that I like even more than winning, and that’s the atmosphere of the events. People are so passionate and excited to be part of obstacle racing and nowhere is that more evident than at the Vermont Beast. We really are one big happy family…. Crazy no doubt, but happy. So, I decided I was going to have FUN regardless of how the race unfolded……..
At the sandbag carry, as I was heading up the hill, Cody Moat came flying down it in the lead, shortly followed by Matt Novakovich. I was genuinely happy for them, and completely confident that they would finish first and second. They are both very committed and talented athletes that excel at long distance mountain running. They deserved to win more than I did.
My watch beeped and without hesitating, I set down my sandbag, and took the time to refuel myself. I wasn’t about to risk getting dehydrated or running out of calories before the race ended.
Shortly after the sandbag carry, I heard that I was nearly 8 minutes behind the leaders. By this point, I had become completely content with the fact that by the end of the race that 8 minutes would probably be 15, and I’d be lucky to finish in the top 10. It didn’t matter, I was having a genuinely good time running my pace and enjoying the moment. Then, in what seemed to be just a short moment, everything changed. People started to struggle with obstacles. Hercules hoist, barbed wire crawls, spear throw, rope climbs, swims, Tarzan swing…. The next thing I knew, I went from a distant 10th place to Hunter McIntyre and I in first and second. For the first time in the race, the thought popped into my head that I actually had a fighting chance.
Then what was probably the most memorable and definitely the most enjoyable part of the race happened. Just Hunter and I in the woods, no crowds, no cameras. We’re running along, Hunter about 15 seconds ahead of me,when all of the sudden I hear him cry out, “CRAMP!!” I quickly catch up to him. He’s holding his leg and screaming, wanting to know how to make it go away. I told him I was sorry, but there was nothing I could do to help, and continued to keep running. Then about 15 seconds later, “CRAMP!!” “NOOOO!” So here I am grabbing my leg as Hunter hobbles towards me. We’re both crying and rubbing our legs and hobbling along the best we can for a quarter of a mile before we really start moving again. I couldn’t help but to continually laugh at our situation and how ridiculous we must look as we fought to hold onto our lead. Soon after, my conservative start began to pay off, and as we hit the hills once again, I was able to run up them while Hunter and Matt Murphy who was chasing close behind, had to walk. So, I was able to pull a considerable lead by the last sandbag carry. It wasn’t until that point that the reality of the moment hit me. I was probably going to win. All I had to do was avoid a debilitating cramp, and this race was mine. But a cramp wasn’t out of the question, so I still had to be cautious, and I wasn’t sure how far we had left till the finish. After the sandbag, the course crossed through a row of trees, and the finish line was 100 yards away. It was over!! It was over?? I couldn’t believe it!?!? I was stunned. I had done it! I was too excited to race. I began to scream, waving my arms in the air. I slowed to give everyone high fives. I still don’t know what to think of the moment, it feels like a dream.
I have to give Norm credit. 3 rope climbs, one with a Tarzan swing, and two swims all in a 1/3 mile distance of each other made all the difference. That section of the race changed everything, and put the glory of “obstacles” back into obstacle racing.
3 hours and 35 minutes. I still can’t believe I survived it without hitting a wall. Thank you everyone for your support, encouragement and kind words. These races are becoming a family reunion for so many of us, and it’s wonderful to be a part of the experience.
A huge congratulations to everyone who showed up and gave it your best. As Jason Jaksetic said, “this wasn’t some extreme sounding weekend activity engineered to make you feel good about your finish”…. this race was built to destroy.
-Hobie Call

Is Obstacle Racing Heading In The Right Direction?

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I do not believe so. There are 3 things that I believe need to change in order for the “sport” to really take off and be truly successful.

(1) RACE DISTANCE
Right now, the motto is “longer is better”. Spartans points system favors the longer races, and their championship race is the longest race in the series. Tough Mudders only real race is a 24 hour event. Warrior Dash’s 5-k races are a party, if you want to get serious, sign up for the “Iron” Warrior Dash that is 15+ miles long.
The problem with this is that people want this sport to require well-rounded fitness in order to excel at it. But the longer races are for elite runners. Case in point:
If you take the top 5 guys from the Crossfit games, and I take the top 5 guys from the Boston marathon, and put them into any obstacle race over 8 miles long, even if my marathoners fail miserably at the 5 hardest obstacles and have to do 30 burpees at each one of them, my 5th place marathon runner will still beat your 1st place Crossfitter by at least 5 minutes. That’s hardly a well-rounded athletes sport. Now, amongst the top runners, their abilities with the obstacles will matter, but if you’re not an elite runner, nothing else matters.
Until we get the distance short enough that there is some crossover between “strict” runners and other athletes, I believe the “sport” will have limited appeal to the masses.
I also firmly believe that the masses would prefer to watch the shorter more obstacle intense races. Longer races are less intense, physically and obstacle wise, and the athletes are more spread out making them much less appealing to watch.
Now, I’m not suggesting that we get rid of the longer races. Having a variety of lengths to choose from is a great thing, but the events that we “feature to the world” should be the shorter events.
(2) INDIVIDUAL RACING vs TEAM RACING
As long as the races are individual races, there will only be 3 or 4 professional athletes at most. They will win all of the prize money at the larger races leaving nothing for anyone else. You can be the 5th best obstacle racer in the world, and nobody will know or care, and you won’t be able to pay your bills off of racing either. The sport will have very limited long term success if there can only be a few professional athletes.
How to fix this? Team racing:
With team racing, there can be 20-30+ professional athletes which will create a lot more incentive for people to try and excel at the sport. Team racing also creates far better rivalries, which makes the races more fun to follow and watch.
(3) RIVAL ORGANIZATIONS NEED TO WORK TOGETHER
Now, this is the most exciting one of all, but also the most important. It’s the most exciting because the organizations don’t want to work together, but the athletes do. Whoever forces this to happen will have the collective marketing and publicity powers of the entire obstacle racing industry.
And how do the different organizations work together??….. With team racing. Each organization puts together a team to race against each other. Since most organizations resist this idea, it’s a “build it and they will come” idea. If you create a race and put out enough prize money, teams will show up. Now, Superhero Scramble has attempted this, but they lacked the money and marketing power to really get peoples attention. With Reebok partnering up with Spartan Race, it has created the perfect opportunity for this to happen. They have the money, and they have the marketing power.
Take one of your “Sprint” races (no more than 3 miles), load it with 30 solid obstacles, make the elite heat a team race, with enough money that even the 4th place team walks away happy, and the excitement, drama, rivalries, and viewership that this will create will have ESPN and major sponsors knocking on your door.

Sandbags for the 5k Obstacle Racing Fitness Challenge

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The second and final thing you will need for the 5k Obstacle Racing Fitness Challenge is a sandbag/slam ball, etc., basically something that you can throw on a track or infield without damaging the ground.
Men 30 lbs.
Women 20 lbs.
Here are just some of your options:

If you really want to go all out with the most durable bag I’ve seen, then the Ultimate Sandbag is for you. I took this out with the intent of destroying it in one workout. I brought a couple of friends with me and we went out to a rough jeep trail. Slamming it over the roughest of rocks, throwing it horizontally to test its abrasion resistance, the 3 of us beat that thing the best we could for an hour, and it took it with ease. Finally, I went out to the paved road and dragged it for about 100 yards to wear a small hole into it. And it’s not the kind of fabric that will tear easily, so I don’t imagine that hole causing any problems for many years under normal circumstances.

Another option is a slam ball. If you want something that’s simple and easy to get a grip on, then this is a great option. No bells and whistles, just a good ball for throwing. I do not recommend regular medicine balls. You don’t want something that bounces or rolls.

A third option and my new favorite (also what I’ll be using in the challenge) is a steelbell from hyperwear.com. This is the same company that makes the sand bags (pancakes) for Spartan Race. After seeing them in action at the races, they have proven to be more durable than I initially thought they would be. I prefer the steelbell over the sandbell because I like the smaller size and they are harder to keep a hold of, thus working your grip strength more. The main reasons why I prefer this is (1) you don’t have to finagle to get a grip of any handles like you do on the ultimate sandbag, and (2) it really is harder to keep a hold of than a slam ball which as I said, works your grip strength more (which is very helpful in obstacle racing).

If you’re on a very strict budget, this is for you. $3 for 4 sand bags (and I was ripped off) and $1 for duct tape. Tape each bag loosely (this allows the sand to move around which helps with durability). I just layered 4 bags over each other. I didn’t put it through a rigorous testing, but I did throw it around a bit including standing on top of a table and throwing it as hard as I could at the ground. It appeared to take it with ease. Durability is questionable, but I’m 92% sure that it will survive the 5k challenge.
Another unique option for you DIY’ers is to make a sandbag out of an old tractor tire tube. I’ll let THE man himself, Jason Moss demonstrate how to make one of these in a youtube video he made.

Energy Drink

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All right, I’ve come across a lot of energy drinks in my life, and I must say most of them are complete garbage. There have been a few decent ones, but I’ve never seen one that has really impressed me. So, what did I do? Make my own of course. This is a perfect drink for those workouts that are just a little too long that water alone just doesn’t quite cut it. It’s also a great replacement for soda drinks.

Here’s what it has:
–10-16 oz. Water
–2 Tbsp. Raw Honey
–2 tsp. Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
–1 tsp. Pines Beet Juice Powder
–1 emergen-c packet
Ice cubes. Drink tastes best when cold.
If you want to make it in the morning but drink it later in the day, just put it in a thermos with 4 or 5 ice cubes and it will stay fresh all day.
The honey, apple cider vinegar, and beet juice powder individually have great health benefits. Emergen-c is also pretty good. But combined, it makes for one remarkable drink that your body will love.

Meal Replacement Drink

—I am a huge fan of eating 5 or 6 meals a day, where no single meal is more than twice the calories of the smallest meal (not counting my pre or post-workout drinks, they’re not real high in calories). This helps give your body a constant supply of nutrients throughout the day, helps keep energy levels constant, and helps to keep you from overeating, which is one of the worst things that you can do for your health (at least from a dietary standpoint). Probably the best benefit I have received from eating 6 properly sized meals throughout the day though is that it keeps me from developing cravings. Cravings are one of the worst enemies of eating healthy, and they are far stronger when you are hungry. Eating every 2-3 hours keeps you from ever getting very hungry, and thus helps to keep your cravings at bay. A meal replacement drink can be a very convenient way to get a couple of those meals. Here’s how I make mine.

Meal Replacement Drink:
–20 oz. water
–30 to 50 grams carbohydrates. I prefer raw honey. Agave, maple syrup, or any other natural sweetener will work fine also.
–20 grams of your favorite protein powder. I recommend using a protein blend where you have fast acting proteins mixed with slower digesting proteins. This will help provide a steady stream of amino acids to your muscles. I personally use a custom blend from proteinfactory.com
-40% Native whey protein isolate
-40% Micellar casein
-20% Egg white
-Vanilla
-Stevia
–1 Tbsp. Wheat Grass powder. This will boost the vitamins/minerals/phytonutrients/fiber of your drink. I highly recommend getting your wheat grass from Pines International (wheatgrass.com). They’re the best. Or if you are inclined to, you can grow your own outdoors in natural sunlight.
–1 to 2 tsp. Organic extra virgin olive oil. Flax and hempseed oil are also great.
–1 to 2 Tbsp. Chia seeds. These are great for almost everything. They have lots of fiber, protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
–This drink is remarkably nutritious, designed to give you energy quickly, yet sustain it for hours, and costs less than $2.50 to make.
–This is how I usually make my meal replacement drink, but you can mix it up and add even more stuff to it. My brother likes to use coconut water instead of regular water, honey and agave, Nytroplex (prosource.net) and hempseed protein, flax and hempseed oil, then he’ll add a couple of raw eggs into it also. This makes for one very potent drink, but that’s how he likes it. Once you have the basics down, play around with it, and come up with what works for you.
–The best way to keep this drink fresh if you’re not going to be drinking it right away is with a thermos. My favorite is this one from Thermos. I put 4 ice cubes in it, pour my drink in it, and it will stay fresh and cold all day, so you can drink it whenever you want.
http://shopthermos.com/detail/TMS+E40600

How To Structure A Weekly Workout Schedule

Over the years, I have found that there are 3 workouts that I need to do every week to really excel.
–Speed/high intensity: You want this workout to be faster paced and more intense than your race.
–Mid-distance: This workout will mimic the intensities and endurance levels of your race.
–Endurance: With the exception of multi-hour long races, this workout will be longer than your race distance.
The upper body requirements of obstacle racing aren’t nearly as demanding as the lower body one’s are, so I find that I can get everything I need out of just one upper body workout.
–This is how I structure my week.
Monday: Upper body
Tuesday: Mid-distance lower body
Wednesday: Upper body
Thursday: Speed/high intensity lower body
Friday: Tapered upper body (approximately 2/3 of my normal workout)
Saturday: Endurance lower body
Sunday: OFF
This is how I would suggest you set up your workouts if you can commit to working out 6 days a week. If you’re really committed, have the energy, and really want to put in more miles, you could add some easy running to Mon, Wed, and Fri, either in a second workout or added to the upper body workout.
If you can only commit to working out a few times a week, I would suggest doing full body workouts every other day.
Tuesday: Mid-distance full body
Thursday: Speed/high intensity full body
Saturday: Endurance full body
I’m not a fan of working the same muscles hard two days in a row. This greatly increases your chances of injuring yourself, and you’re not likely to recover properly between workouts, thus you won’t get positive results from them.

Difference between beginner and advanced athletes: By Hobie Call

Your level of fitness does not determine whether you are a beginner or advanced athlete, your knowledge does. Your understanding of how your body works. How hard you can push yourself before the workout becomes counterproductive. Understanding that if you’re trying a new exercise, you better not push yourself too hard until you’ve done the exercise enough times to know how your body is going to react to it. Knowing what exercises are good for what sports. Understanding that as your workouts increase, so does the importance of nutrition. Understanding the role of water, carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and that the timing of what you eat is just as important as what you eat.

Workout:
Wearing a 20 lb. weight vest, run 6 minutes hard followed by 100 meters lunges. Repeat 6 times.

A beginner athlete would put on a 20 lb. weight vest, run hard for 6 minutes, lunge 100 meters, repeat that 3 or 4 times, then quit because they were to sore to go any farther. They would then go home and eat whatever was for dinner that night. They wouldn’t be able to workout again for a week, because their joints are achy from wearing a weight vest that their body isn’t acclimatized to, and their muscles are extraordinarily sore from all of the lunges that they aren’t used to doing. They risked injuring themselves from doing too much too quick, and not being able to workout for the next week is doing nothing for their fitness level.

An advanced athlete, would look at the workout and knowing that they’ve never worn a weight vest, 20 lbs. was too much to begin with. So they wear 8-10 lbs. They also know that lunges will make you very sore if you are not used to doing them, so they only lunge 20 meters between the running intervals. After their workout, they have a high quality post-workout drink designed to digest quickly and easily, knowing that the quicker they get nutrients to their muscles, the quicker they will begin recovering.

3 months go by. The beginner athlete has developed knee problems, and has decided that running is bad for you. The advanced athlete slowly progressed the workout each week, and is now doing the full workout with the 20 lb. weight vest.

How Obstacle Racing Should Become A Professional Sport

By Hobie Call
- If you can’t envision a sports ultimate success, then you won’t know how to get it there. I personally will consider the sport of obstacle racing to be a success when stations such as ESPN cover it live, 30+ million people watch it on television, and there are enough elite athletes to give the upcoming generation incentive to excel at the sport, all without ruining the experience for the thousands of people that will attend each event. To get to that point, there are a few things that I believe need to happen.
(1) The “Superbowl” or “championship” races would be short (no more than a few miles). The plain and simple fact is that 30 million people aren’t interested in watching a race where the competitors are minutes apart from each other, the intensity is ho-hum, and there are long jaunts between obstacles. People want to see high intensity, obstacle intense courses where the competitors are racing head to head. Shorter courses are best suited to what the masses want to see and participate in. Also, shorter courses cater to well-rounded athletes better than long courses do. Longer courses will always be dominated by long distance runners regardless of how difficult you make the obstacles.
Now just to be clear, I’m a fan of different obstacle racing organizations having a variety of distances for people to choose from. But there is an ideal distance that will appeal to the masses the most and should be the distance of the “Championship” races.
(2) The obstacles should not become so difficult that the masses can’t get through them. For the masses to be able to compete on the same course as the elites is very attractive to most people. To create courses that only the elites can go through would “disconnect” the elite racers from everyone else. These races are not about remarkable “endurance” your “1 rep max” or having superior “gymnast” skills. Obstacle racing is all about creating a balance between full body strength, endurance, speed, and coordination. Any course that is too long, short, easy, or hard will take away from that balance and is not the kind of race that you want to use as a “featured” “Superbowl” race.
(3) It would be team racing much like how Cross Country racing is done. Just for example: 7 person teams, top 5 score points. 1st place 1 point, 2nd place 2 points, etc. Team with the lowest points wins. Team racing has a few advantages:
1- For ultimate success, you need to get many of the main obstacle racing organizations involved. Each team consists of an obstacle race organization. You can’t be a professional sport with one team, and this is an easy, logical way to get different organizations to work together.
2- It also has to be team racing because that would enable there to be a few dozen professional athletes instead of just 3 or 4. Instead of the “race” being over once the first few people cross the finish line, now all of the sudden 20th and 21st place really matter also. If you’ve ever watched XC racing, you’ll understand what I mean.
3-Team racing creates a much larger fan base. Not only are there more athletes to follow, but the race becomes much more exciting to watch, greater rivalries are created, and the logistics of building teams and racing become more complex, all of which add up to more viewer and racer interest.

Hobie Call’s Upper Body Challenge