Frozen Fox Invitational 001: EPIC EVENT….here is why:
If I were to write the ad copy for this event, it would go something like this: A 36 hour GeoCaching event…..designed by Satan himself. Bear with me, this is a compliment.
This was, hands down, the best event I have ever taken a part of. ***Please note, I paid for this race and am no way affiliated with any sponsor or organizer other than participating in this event. I am writing this review out of my own free will and with no compensation (well other than I hope I get invited to take part in more events 😉
So how did I find out about this event? It was not a corporate or highly publicized thing. In fact, I sort of stumbled on it by accident. I was sitting in some foreign airport about a month ago, looking at local facebook groups, drooling over all the stuff I wanted to do when I got home from deployment. Something caught my eye in a rucking group – Grant Shymske had a few spots left in some event called the Frozen Fox and it was taking place at a time I knew I’d be home by and it was in the Carolinas. Hmmmmm, I thought…..I have no idea what this is about, but let’s do it (I was under the influence of severe ruck/race/event withdrawal)! I messaged Grant on Facebook, who got back to me ASAP, and woo hoo, he had one spot left. I paypaled him the moola, was added to the private group page and we were off!
I knew I was going to like this event right out of the gate – I started to browse the site and look at the rules…..(probably should have done this WAY before I signed up….but that’s not really my style). This was a no BS, big boy rules, type event. No silly bring a pocket knife and barbie doll type packing list. It was this simple: You’re going to be outside for 36 hours. Bring whatever you think you’ll need. Oh, and no GPS. This is real land nav. (This is where I started saying crap, crap, crap…..I am an LT in the Navy….land nav….not my strong suit).
I was also introduced to my team via facebook. I had met one of the them at an event last year, but that was it. They took their new 6th member under their wing instantly. I chatted with my team quite often in the days leading up to the event. I started packing about two days before. My living room looked like a survivalist exploded. Weather forecast had us around 15 degrees the first night. Um, sweet? I packed, well, everything.
We mustered at the meeting location at 2200 (Ten PM for you non military types) on Friday night. There were five teams of six people a team. The teams had people ranging from Cross Fit gurus, RuckMainacs, Military Types, and a crazy OCR person scattered here and there. A cursory, make sure you have enough to not die, gear check was performed, team numbers were assigned, maps handed out, and we were off. We all started from the same point. Task one – find your teams real start point using your map and compass…..in the dark. It was about midnight at this point and it was freaking cold. Task one took us about four hours. Four hours of getting to know my team, making bad jokes, and trying to keep warm. When you hit your start point, you were able to look at your list of the 35 ‘checkpoints’. The goal was to find as many of these points before the all stop at 1000 on Sunday morning. Keep in mind, we were working with a land mass of about 25 miles and terrain that ranged from dirt roads to bamboo fields to swamps (swamps like to hide under bamboo fields, by the way). There were also three challenges. This is where all the teams had to meet a certain checkpoint and do physical challenges. You got bonus points for doing well in these challenges. This is all I am going to say about the actual goals of the event. I don’t want to ruin it for future events…..just say it was intense….AWESOME intense.
So why did I love this so much?
- No frills, no BS, no babysitting. You want bag check? Need a shower other than in a swamp? You’re hungry and you didn’t bring enough food? WRONG EVENT FOR YOU.
- This was real world, can you survive stuff. Yes, I know that we could have been bailed out at any moment, but if you were staying focused, it was a really good test of what you do and do not know about basics like keeping warm, eating to sustain, and navigating. There were no silly stunts. It was streamlined and challenging.
- It was a full body challenge – mind and muscles. You had to be able to carry a heavy ruck, walk a ton (I think we ended up at about 25 miles), find checkpoints hidden in some random places (think about some of the hardest to find GeoCaches), swallow your fear and tramp through a dark Blair Witch barn basement, and get along with people who were as wet, cold, and tired as you. You had to have strength, intelligence, endurance, and skill to do well in this event.
- Environmentally Friendly – The impact on the environment was minimal. We were ordered to not leave any crap outside or face the ultimate wrath and we actually got bonus points for collecting trash during our travels. We were told in advance that if we wanted to eat at the after party, we were to bring our own dishes. I’ve never seen so many variations on outdoor dish wear. 🙂
- TEAM WORK. We had so much fun. We are some very very different people and while we weren’t hugging it out the whole time, we worked really well.
- Grant and his team was awesome. They weren’t there to hold your hand, but they were there to offer any assistance if you really needed it. They were also hilarious. Moment of digression – I must apologize to the wonderful medic who saw me caring for my feet (I have the feet of an infant….my heels will fall off at a moments notice) Saturday. I was bleeding, cold, tired, and a little pissy at this point. He walked up and asked if he could help and I think I gave him the beatchist look I’ve ever given. SORRY! I didn’t mean it 🙂
- EVERYONE who was there was awesome. The other teams were a blast as well. We generally did not see them on the course (avoidance was a boost in this event) but when we came together for challenges, we all had fun. I fell on my face during the final challenge (Me = graceful as a drunk giraffe), pretty much losing the challenge for my team (GO LT!). My team and the other people could have ripped me a new one….instead they laughed, helped me up, and made me feel less stupid. We are all STILL posting in the Facebook page.
- The after party was a blast. There was a group rally, patches were handed out (EPIC, see below), and then we had food. And real food – amazing home made chili and Buffalo Trace Bourbon. Yes, Bourbon. You all know that made me very happy. It was laid back, fun, and delicious.
- Awesome Sponsors – There were sponsors, but they were low key and very applicable. Thank you to Buffalo Trace, Rouge Dynamics, and Med Training Group for keeping us alive out there and making great patches.
- Group Dynamic – This group knows what is important. We earned patches only if we found enough checkpoints. The rocker was dedicated to a fallen comrade. This was about work, dedication, and challenge. I love that.
In summary, this event was brutal in the best ways possible. It was a legitimate challenge in areas I feel no other event has challenged me before. I was very, very impressed, from start to finish, with everything and everyone that was a part of this event. If you ever want me to join in an event in the future, just say the magic words “Grant has something to do with this” and I am in.
For some more information, see the public page: https://www.facebook.com/frozenfoxinvitationalupdates
A big thank you to my favorite fuel, Island Boost – I got a huge energy boost between my meals. I was burning calories like it was going out of style and it was perfect fuel that didn’t mess with my stomach.