Battlefrog Pittsburgh 8K
I’ve done a lot of 5K mud runs the past couple of years. But out of all of them, the BattleFrog is my favorite. Never heard of it? BattleFrog is an 8K obstacle course inspired by Navy Seals training. In other words, it’s pretty intense.
I first did BattleFrog last year in Pittsburgh, when it was a “5K”. This year, it was moved up to an 8K, which made me a bit nervous considering I have the endurance of a sloth. However, I was still eager to participate, telling myself I would train all year to get in shape. Several months of lounging on the couch later, it was time for the BattleFrog race! I was ready.
The course consisted of about 35 obstacles, give or take. The terrain in itself was an unofficial obstacle, as the numerous hill climbs and mud puddles were sometimes more tiring than the other challenges. The course started with a bang, and thankfully got a little easier towards the end. I’m going to try and give a summary of each obstacle, but to be honest, I don’t remember all of them. My brain wasn’t exactly 100 percent focused as I was basically trying not to die most of the time.
1. Under/Mounds of Grounds – ARGH! Ok, here’s the problem. I hate coffee. For some reason, the new mud run 5K fad is to have a giant pit of coffee-bean flavored mud for runners to crawl through. I don’t know how this came about, but I don’t like it. Anyway, that aside, this was a fun start, as it immediately got me muddy and ready to run. After jumping in the coffee pit, you had to climb up and down several mounds of dirt, falling into muddy sludge after each pit. Unfortunately, since everyone started this obstacle at once, there was a lot of waiting around for people to climb up the muddy mounds and slide down into the muddy pits.
2. Delta Cargo – Well… I’m pretty sure this was just a cargo net climb. But I can’t really remember. Either way, I have just one question to pose – why are people so slooooow on cargo nets? Just climb up and climb down! Whatever.
3. Hill Scramble – This was kind of fun. At first look it was really daunting. Basically, you had to climb up the side of a cliff using a rope to pull yourself up. It looked really steep waiting in the line to climb, but once you got up to it, it wasn’t too terrible.
4. Wreck Bag Carry – Ugghhhhh noooooooo. That’s basically all I have to say. Carrying a 50 pound bag on my shoulders is not really my idea of fun. Carrying a 50 pound bag up and down three or four super steep hills on rocky and muddy terrain? Even less fun. This obstacle really made me tired, and unfortunately the race was just beginning.
5. 4′ Wall – Right, we also had to climb a wall while carrying that 50 pound bag. How great is that?
6. Mud Trudge – Hm… I mean… there was a lot of mud trudging. I don’t really know what this was.
7. Dirty Name – Again… there was a lot of getting dirty… wish they could specify more?
8. Snake Eater – Yeah, I give up. No idea what this was.
9. Ramp Wall – This was just a wall climb that was at a kind of sharp angle away from you. It was a little hard to reach the top because of the slant, but once you grabbed the ledge, it was easy to pull yourself up because you could use your legs on the wall.
10. Platinum Rig – This was pretty crazy. If you’ve ever watched “American Ninja Warrior”… this was basically like the part of the course where they have to do all the crazy upper body stuff. It started out on hanging from rings, then you had to swing to a bar, then a vertical stick, then another bar, then stand on a ring while trying to grab some more vertical bars… ugh. I tried it but I couldn’t make it the whole way across.
11. Inverted Wall – This is the opposite of the ramp wall. The angle was facing towards you, which meant you had to grab on and pull yourself backwards in the air. It was a bit challenging because it’s kind of unnatural to climb that way, but I got it!
12. 8′ wall – This was an 8 foot wall, but it wasn’t bad because it had a little booster ledge for your feet!
FINALLY! Water break! I know we hadn’t run very far geographically in the course yet, but so many of these beginning obstacles were so tough… I was really in need of water! This was a welcome refreshment pause.
13. Swamp Rat – I’m pretty sure this was a giant sludge pit filled with murky bog goo. There was a big line to get into the pit, and at first, I was really angry at people for going so slow! It looked like it was just mud, so there was no reason to slowly crawl across. However, once I got in… I realized the problem. It was like quicksand mud. Each step caused you to sink further and further into the thick glop. It wouldn’t be so bad if it just covered your feet, but it went all the way up to you waist! Many people lost their shoes forever here as they were sucked off their feet by the hungry mud. I saw one dedicated guy who kept on running anyway. RIP, shoes.
14. In the Trenches – Hmm… can’t think of what this was.
15. SECRET – Well, it’s a secret to me too 🙁 IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE MONKEY BARS!
16. Creek Attack – I’m not sure I would call this an obstacle, but it’s one of my favorite parts of this course. It’s just running downstream through a shallow creek. Quite refreshing after all the mud trudging.
17. Tunnel Rat 1 – There were several series of tunnels you had to run through. It wasn’t so bad, but it kind of made me feel like a troll.
18./19. Tunnel Rat 2 – This might have been the tunnel that was a corrugated sewer pipe. Not sure how I felt crawling through it.
20. Tunnel Rat 3 – Simply another tunnel!
21. Tree Cargo – This was a big cargo net draped next to two trees. It was saggy in the middle, but if you went up the rope near the tree, it was quite taut and easy to climb.
22. Frog Falls – Hmmm… again, drawing a blank. Sorry.
WATER AGAIN and a chance to get our headlamps for the mine!
23. Mine Swim – ARGHRHARGRHGHGHH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO… sorry. This was the saddest part of the day for me. The mine swim is supposed to be a fun little lap around an underground mine lake. They give you an inner tube to float on in case you start freezing up, which is good because the water gets pretty deep (too deep to touch the bottom). The obstacle to which I had been looking forward since the last race… was shut down. Seriously. Apparently, people were getting hypothermia and couldn’t swim. Waaahhhh. So they stopped letting people go through. The water was only 51 degrees I believe. That’s not THAT cold. People should have been more prepared, as this was one of the main selling points of the Pittsburgh race. Oh well. Maybe next year?
24. Over/Through – This was also in the mines. Basically, you swung through a wall with a hole in it (kind of like those doors with the top part that opens. Then you climbed a small wall. This would have been really tough after swimming, but since we skipped that, it wasn’t bad at all.
25. 6′ Wall – I think at this point I was starting to get tired and lazy. My arms just weren’t working anymore. This was also the wall where I gave myself a huge bruise. So, Drew gave me a boost over. Thanks, Drew!
26. 60 Degrees – I really have no idea.
27. 12′ Ladder Wall – This was just a large wall built out of wood. It had horizontal posts every so often that you used to climb up. Not bad, but the top is always a little scary when you have to transition to the other side.
28. 12′ Rope Wall – Another 12 foot wall, but this time there was no foothold, just a rope. You had to use it to climb up, but as long as you used your feet to help push on the wall, it was ok.
29. Jerry Can Carry – This was another obstacle I was kind of not looking forward to, but it was surprisingly easy. At least compared with everything else. There were girl-sized jerry cans, which I gratefully chose to use. If you don’t know what a jerry can is, it’s basically a jug with a handle that is filled with water. We just had to carry them a short distance, and there weren’t even any hills, just a gradual incline/decline!
Water was sometime around here, but I can’t quite remember when – I’m not sure if I was actually conscious here.
30. Normandy Jacks – This was fun. Last year we had to crawl through these in the mud, but I kind of like crawling through the water better. It was quite refreshing! All was well until I stood up at the end and kicked water in my eye. Oops.
31. Mount Battlefrog – This was basically a mountain climb. We had to scale a muddy, rock-filled cliff. Luckily, there were tree roots and branches to help, but it was still quite steep. Every time you thought you made it to the top, there was another level to go. To top it off, everyone was going really slow, which meant you couldn’t get any momentum!
32. Tripwire Spiderweb – I’m thinking this is a bit out of order here, as this was definitely after the rope climb. Anyway, it involved climbing down out a a barn using a cargo net. This obstacle really annoyed me because we were clearly almost done (we could see the finish line) yet people were taking FOREVER to climb down. We must have stood around for 10 minutes waiting to climb down. It was probably a distance of maybe 10 feet, so you didn’t even really need to climb far before you could just jump off. Again… people need to learn how to climb cargo nets!
33. Rope Climb – Going backwards a step… we entered the barn and simply had to climb a rope to the top and ring a bell. I just gave up because the rope was too muddy and I couldn’t get a grip on it.
34. Tip of the Spear – This was a series of slanted walls that you had to climb across horizontally without falling off. On the first wall, there were several ropes you had to reach across and grab to pull yourself over. On the second wall, there was just a small ledge you could grab with your fingertips to climb across – I skipped that part. Then the third wall was more ropes, and at the end you rang another bell.
35. Delta Ladder – I hate this obstacle, it gets me every time. It’s basically a big A-frame made of wood with horizontal bars to climb on. However, once you get near the top, everyone goes so slow, and the bars are so far apart, and you are so high up, and it freaks me out. So I climbed back down and just walked around it. I don’t like heights and I am not ashamed!
FINISH – Final time 2:41:56
As you can see, BattleFrog Pittsburgh is not something to mess around with! I love it! This year the medals were bigger than last year – which I guess is appropriate since we technically ran farther. The t-shirts were also nicer, as they were in full color instead of just black. Overall, other than the extremeness and intensity of the race itself, I also think BattleFrog is one of the best races out there because of its organization. When checking in, we walked right up and received our packets with trouble. Everything we need was contained in an envelope; there was no need to go to separate stations or look around desperately for extra pins to attach our bibs. After the race, we were easily able to navigate the festival as it was spaced out well to avoid congestion. There was no confusion or mistakes any time during the day that I noticed. So many other races lack that sort of “put-together” vibe that seems to come so easily to BattleFrog, which really makes it stand out even more.
Anyway, have I convinced you to do the race yet? If you read all of this and think it sounds awesome, you really should try it. Click here to register for next year’s BattleFrog race. When you do, be sure to use coupon code BFSnyder to get a discount!