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Hone dem bones

Good morning!

Something you might be wondering about next month’s Bone Frog Challenge: What’s a bone frog?

To answer that is recently retired Navy SEAL Brian Carney of South Deerfield. “It’s the skeleton of a frog. The majority of Navy SEALS have it tattooed somewhere on their bodies. Vietnam era SEALS were called Frogmen due to their ability to be amphibious warriors. Modern-day SEALS pay tribute to them with a tattoo called the Bone Frog.”

The challenge is to complete a 9.5-mile mud race at Berkshire East on a course strewn with cargo nets, tall walls, jumping platforms and water hazards. “A replica of what SEALS train over for combat,” said Carney. “They’re gonna pump water throughout the entire mountain, which is really nice.”

Carney fought for his country; his race is designed to make you fight for yourself. He signed up for the Navy on a delayed enlistment in November of 1999, his senior year at Frontier Regional School. That same year, schoolmate Steve Barrett became a SEAL by surviving the rugged training regimen that washes out 75 to 80 percent of its candidates.

“Hell Week was the hardest part,” Carney recalled. “Being up for seven days straight, losing so much skin from chafing, around the knees, thighs, armpits, wrists. ... After three days they let you get an hour’s sleep on the beach, and then they come in with sirens and bullhorns and within a minute we’re all in the ocean doing surf torture, throwing men up over our shoulders and carrying them over dunes. There’s blood oozing from scabs opening back up, and 20 minutes later we’re back in zombie mode.”

The training was essential to surviving deadly combat missions against the Taliban in Iraq, Africa, Bosnia and of course, Afghanistan, where Carney was stationed at an outpost in Zabul Province, east of Kandahar.

“We were in one of our many firefights, a big engagement with this large force, being overrun and by ourselves, and two copters came in shooting everything in sight. They got over us and the pilot got on the radio system and asked, ‘Is Carney down there?’

“Our radio guy said, ‘He’s assault force chief,’ and the kid shouted, ‘Tell him another kid from Western Mass. is out here with him!’

“His mother works with my father-in-law in Amherst. He was in a Little Bird — a two-seater with nothing but guns and ammo. We had run out of ammo and they escorted us back to base. After the guy (who must remain nameless) landed, he came over and we stayed in touch.”

Near the end of his tour Carney’s team was at an out station, isolated and with dwindling supplies. “Planes dropped bundles of food, but this kid did something better. He rigged boxes with little parachutes and sent down Copenhagen pinch and other little necessities that were a lot better than getting 2,000 pounds of smashed eggs.”

Carney’s partner in the Bone Frog Challenge remains active and also must remain nameless. They designed the course for civilians “to recognize they can do anything they set their minds to.”

Carney travelled to dozens of venues throughout the Northeast before realizing what he wanted was in his own backyard. “A friend said, ‘Why not Berkshire East?’ I just sort of kicked myself. I sat down with Roy Schaefer and his son Jon, and that very day we drew up a contract. They were as excited about it as us. No way could we have started this without their assistance.”

The races will be timed and there will be cash prizes for individual, team and relay winners. “I expect it’ll take on average about two hours. We’ve run it without obstacles and it takes about 105 minutes.”

The two-day event will begin on Sept. 14 and the race will start the following morning. Runners can register at bonefrogchallenge.com and buy T-shirts that’ll impress friends and scare little children.


Ten years ago on Aug. 27, 2003, Deerfield’s Greg Belanger was killed in Iraq. He had been called to duty after 9/11 and died of injuries after a roadside bomb struck his vehicle.

Two weeks from today, the Belanger family will honor his memory during its annual get-together at the South Deerfield Polish Club. Monies raised are used for scholarships and veteran outreach programs. Raffle prizes are needed and sponsors can contact Kathy Belanger at (413) 774-7300.


John Henry purchasing the Boston Globe is for Dan Shaughnessy what UMass athletic director John McCutcheon buying The Recorder would be for me. It won’t be fun having the Red Sox owner peering over everybody’s shoulder.

“Freedom of the press,” wrote journalist A.J. Liebling, “is guaranteed only to those who own one.”


Baltimore slugger Chris Davis got one steroids-aided hitting record off the books. Davis’s 31 home runs at the All-Star break broke Brady Anderson’s team record of 30.

Anderson was a Punch-and-Judy hitter with a .256 career average who never hit more than 24 home runs, except in 1996 when his 50 dingers accounted for nearly one quarter of his entire 15-year career output.


We waited for Jose Iglesias to get his chance and now he’s in Detroit, where he homered against the White Sox last Saturday. Now the waiting game begins for Xander Bogaerts, the 20-year-old infielder whom Baseball America ranks as Boston’s best minor league athlete and power hitter. In less than a year, Bogaerts has jumped from Salem to Portland to Pawtucket, where he’s batting .275 in 49 games. And he can read a menu in four languages — English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento, his native Aruban tongue.


Squibbers: Blue Jays’ analyst Jack Morris doesn’t like hitters calling time out after the pitcher begins his windup. “The bad thing is you’re not quick enough to think you could throw it right at the hitter. That way you can get even.” ... Bob Papa’s flight from Chicago to New York on Sunday was delayed an hour because there wasn’t a driver to push the plane away from the gate. “And the pilot was pissed,” said the NFL announcer. ... Anybody see the kid holding both a Yankees and a Red Sox cap during the nationally televised July 20 game at Fenway Park? It’s a common ruse that non-believers use to lure players from both teams to sign autographs. No loyalty, just a little conniver. ... While doing harness racing research, I came across the name of a retired trotter from now-defunct Liberty Bell Park named The Town Drunk, which reminded me of another horse that raced at Yonkers named No Sex Please.


Wednesday would be Earl Weaver’s 83rd birthday. The Orioles’ irascible manager was tossed out of 97 games in his career, 103 if you include the six that happened before the game even started. Weaver’s antics riled a devout Christian player of his named Pat Kelly, who told him he should walk with God.

Weaver replied, “I’d rather you walk with the bases loaded.”

Chip Ainsworth is an award-winning columnist who has penned his observations about sports for four decades in the Pioneer Valley.

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