Englishtown, New Jersey. Pension Raceway. Popular location for multiple OCR brands. Location touts a dirt bike track, running trails, a few natural ponds/lakes and some permanent obstacles. It is a flat course save the rolling hills on the track.
The Bonefrog Challenge is an OCR brand owned and operated Navy Seals. It feels as military as it sounds. No frills, no fluff. They are known for a high volume of obstacles over a course and tout functional fitness as key to successful completion.
Bonefrog has a very nice departure from the early morning waves. 8:30am wave is the 1st. This wave was a mix of the Elite, Tier 1 and Endurance racers. Elite is the full challenge (8-9 miles), Tier 1 is the Challenge course followed by the 3 mile sprint course and Endurance is basically Tier 1 with as many sprint laps as you can stand within a 5 hr time limit. I took on the Challenge.
The Challenge took us immediately to the dirt bike track where we navigated the rolling hills of the course. Mostly running up front to spread the wave out. 1st obstacle was one named “Rolling Thunder” it’s basically a bunch of tires threaded through with a pole so that the tread side was what you had to jump over. Unless you shorted your jump and hit the tires wrong which rolled your unsuccessful self back to the ground. Nice bottleneck there. Various basic obstacles again more rugged with a military feel than a brand OCR feel.
The race began, in my opinion, once we got off the dirt bike track and onto the trails. Pretty much muck. No rocks to hold it together so you better have double knotted your shoes. I went knee deep a few times in the race and I’m a 6+ footer. Someone probably is still stuck. We hit some water obstacles and that water had me wanting to pop a Vitamin-C pill.
From there we went to an area I was unfamiliar with which actually had a few permanent obstacles. To and from the permanent obstacle area we ran through what looked like a overflow dirt parking lot. Poorly marked. We ran back to the main festival area on the longest stretch of concrete, hit some more obstacles including a few Bonefrog signatures and we were done. Just short of 8 miles.
This was my 3rd Bonefrog in 3 years. This was also my second time running at Races at so I have a two way comparison. The true home of the Bonefrog Challenge is at the Berkshire Ski Resort in Massachusetts. The terrain, elevation and the permanent obstacle there were legit. It was a rough day up there my two previous Bonefrog experiences there. I also ran a Terrain Race last summer at Raceway which did nowhere near as good of a job in every regard except two which are my complaints:
First complaint was on course. It was poorly, poorly marked. Unacceptable at times when racers do not know where they are going or have a huge area which they can literally cut corners and time off their run. We as racers generally race with integrity but there’s always a few so they do not need any additional opportunities to cheat or “work the system”.
Second was completely unacceptable and inexcusable. No changing tents. This race got you muddy and sandy full submerged more than once. They had showers but no tents. I elected to change behind a trailer that offered some privacy. Unacceptable.
Personally I didn’t feel like racing that day and a flat course doesn’t do much to boost adrenaline. This was definitely a runners course,which is not my favorite. Minimal power events and virtually no technical running led to fast times. The course caused a lot of calf cramping from what I heard. The dirtbike sections were exceptionally hard and dry which were contrasted by the grassy muck that was the trails. The return back to the dry dirt parking lot and the “who knows what” water with seaweed and mush for a ground did provide a variety of surfaces but nothing exciting.
Overall it was not that bad but it wasn’t that good either. Definitely a challenge for newer people and experienced people a like, if you ran it hard. It was close to home and not that expensive so not a bad way to spend the morning, but if you elected to skip it and stay home and eat pancakes, your morning was well spent too. My recommendation is to go up to MA and get a real Bonefrog experience that will hopefully include changing tents.