• When: 2022-03-12
  • QIC: Pothole
  • The PAX: F3LM and any other PAX willing to participate.

2022 Cottonmouth

It’s that time of the year that a lot of you have been waiting for: The Cottonmouth!

Each year gets tougher and tougher to beat the previous; but they all have a common denominator: you have fun. From the inaugural Cottonmouth where we crossed both Broad River and the Canal, to the year we played through the snow, to last year’s scavenger-esque venture at Dreher Island, the fun factor is paramount. And maybe some exercises too. Afterall, we are an exercise group, right?

It’s been a season of games. Squid Games. College Football Championship. Olympic Games. Super Bowl. This year we’re going to keep the “game” theme going.

F3 Lake Murray presents: Capture The Flag – Pathfinder Edition

The good news is that rucks are not required and the coupons will be card sized and light.

The bad news, there will be exercises and possibly running (how much running is up to you and your team). Oh, and there are rules. Which are outlined below and you absolutely must read in order to understand the game. It’s not complicated as long as you read it. Sorry, there is not a TL;DR section. It might look like a lot, but it’s all relevant and will help answer any questions you have before the game. If you don’t read the rules, then you better hope someone else on your team did or you will not enjoy yourself at all, plus you’ll be answered all day with, “well did you read the instructions??”. A brief recap of the rules will be given the day of The Cottonmouth, but please, do us all a favor and take ten minutes to read them and familiarize yourself.

If after you read the instructions below and you have a question, sound off in the comment section below so I can answer it and perhaps educate others with the same question.

In order to get an idea of the number of people interested (and so we can make sure teams are fair), please fill out the signup form!


Now for the rules.

A TEAM divided into CELLS attempts to capture 3 flags from an opposing TEAM. Simple, right?

Three blue/three red flags, three blue/three red rejection cards, one red/one blue GO card, six wooden stakes, boxes to retain rejection cards, map for each team, a list of different exercises.

Each team selects an open area at, preferably, opposite ends of a sizeable location. Each team then places three wooden stakes, spaced out to their preference within the open area. A corresponding flag (red and blue) for that team is placed on each wooden stake. An exercise card is placed on each wooden stake designating an exercise and the number of reps (not to exceed 100) needed to be completed to claim that flag.

To Start The Game:
Players are divided into two equal amount teams, RED and BLUE. A PATHFINDER with a GO card from each team is escorted to the opposing team so that the location of the home base can be relayed back to their respective team.

At a designated field starting time, the PATHFINDER is then allowed to return to their home base. The quicker the PATHFINDER returns the GO card to their home box, the quicker the TEAM can begin to strategize. While the TEAM is awaiting their PATHFINDER to return with location information, the TEAM divides themselves into CELLS of at least 3 players (for safety reasons, if there are injuries, 1 person runs for help, while the other stays behind to stay with the injured player).

Game Play:
CELLS strategize routes and make their way to the opponent’s home base to retrieve a flag. Once a flag is claimed, the CELL attempts to avoid opposing CELLS in an effort to return the flag to their home base.

Discovering and Challenging:
If, along the way, a CELL is discovered (must get to within 50 feet or so) by an opposing CELL, a challenge is performed. The CELL that made the challenge selects an exercise of their choosing. Both CELLS then perform that exercise for 2 minutes. Each CELL adds their cumulative number of reps. The CELL with the highest reps wins the challenge.

The only exception is if a challenged CELL already has lost a challenge and has a rejection card in their possession to which they are already returning home.

Winning or Losing a Challenge:
The losing CELL must release any flag(s) they have in their possession to the winning CELL (exception: see Rule #14). If the winning CELL has a rejection card, they may elect to give it to the losing CELL causing them to return to their home base before attempting another retrieval, or require them to remain in place for 1 minute. If the winning CELL does not have a rejection card to hand out, the losing CELL must remain in place for 1 minute.


  1. A TEAM cannot start until their PATHFINDER places the GO card in the home box.
  2. If after a challenge session, the flag owners have won the challenge but do not have a REJECTION card to give to the opponent, the opponent does not have to return to their own base. Instead, they remain in the challenge spot for 1 minute before going back to attempt another retrieval. The winning CELL does not have to give the losing CELL a rejection card, and instead can elect to have the losing CELL serve the 1 minute in-place penalty.
  3. The CELL that makes the discovery and challenge gets to select the exercise.
  4. No CELL is allowed to discover and challenge another CELL within the home base open area boundary. However, once a retrieving CELL leaves the boundary with a flag, an opposing CELL may discover and challenge the retrieving CELL as long as they are within the reasonable distance (50 feet).
  5. Each exercise required to claim a flag must be different. Example: all three flags cannot require 100 burpees.
  6. No CELLS are allowed to target an opponent for 2 consecutive challenges. Example: RED CELL #1 discovers BLUE CELL #3 and a challenge ensues. RED CELL #1 wins the challenge, but no rejection card is given. BLUE CELL #3 waits 1 minute before continuing. RED CELL #1 is not allowed to stay in the vicinity and make a consecutive challenge. RED CELL #1 must actively attempt to continue retrieving a blue flag.
  7. Any CELL can receive multiple challenges (but not consecutive from the same opposing CELL). Example: RED CELL #1 retrieves a blue flag. BLUE CELL #1 discovers RED CELL #1 and a challenge ensues. RED CELL #1 wins and they continue on. BLUE CELL #3 discovers RED CELL #1 and a challenge ensues. RED CELL #1 wins and continues on. BLUE CELL #2 discovers RED CELL #1. RED CELL #1 loses the challenge, is given a rejection card, and returns directly to their home base with no other challenges. Alternatively, RED CELL #1 could lose to BLUE CELL #1, not be given a rejection card and remain in place for 1 minute, continue on, then lose to BLUE CELL #2, again not be given a rejection card and remain in place for 1 minute, etc. The only time a challenge does not take place, is when a CELL is returning back to base after having received a rejection card, which they must display to the challenging CELL.
  8. Only one CELL may be allowed to stay near home base as a DEFENSIVE CELL. The rest of the TEAM must be actively attempting to retrieve the opposing flags or patrolling the play field. An entire TEAM is not allowed to stay at the home base and guard the flags. However, an entire TEAM may elect to be a CELL, but must actively be trying to retrieve the flag.
  9. No CELL is required to reveal if they are in possession of a flag.
  10. No tag-teaming allowed. Example: two BLUE CELLS are not allowed to consecutively target a RED CELL. One BLUE CELL must make the challenge, if they choose to, and the other must move on.
  11. No once CELL may challenge more than one opposing CELL at a time. Example: RED CELL #1 spots BLUE CELL #1 and BLUE CELL #3. If RED CELL #1 wishes to Challenge, it would have to choose between the two. If RED CELL #1 chooses BLUE CELL #1, BLUE CELL #3 must continue on. Choose wisely, as one of those BLUE CELLS might have your flag! Or nothing!
  12. Once a rejection card has been given to an opposing CELL, that rejection card cannot be used again. Instead, the opposing CELL receiving the rejection card must return to their home and place it in a box where it remains until the end of the game.
  13. Rejection cards are of opposing colors. RED TEAM gets red cards, BLUE TEAM gets blue cards, etc. A CELL cannot use a rejection card they received from an opposing CELL on any other CELL. Example: BLUE CELL #1 loses a challenge to RED CELL #1 and receives a red rejection card sending them back home. On their way back, BLUE CELL #1 cannot challenge RED CELL #2 by using the red card they received from RED CELL #1. Instead, BLUE CELL #1 must continue home, serving their rejection penalty. If another opposing CELL, RED CELL #3, discovers BLUE CELL #1 while they are on the way back, no challenge takes place. BLUE CELL #1 displays their red rejection card indicating they have already lost a challenge. Both CELLS continue on.
  14. A CELL is not allowed to carry more than one opposing flag, but may have more than one home flag they might have collected from challenges.
  15. If a CELL has retrieved an opposing flag and spots an opposing CELL on their way back, they can elect to discover and challenge the opposing CELL, or avoid them and continue on. If the retrieving CELL elects to challenge the opposing CELL, the rules of the challenge apply. If the retrieving CELL wins the challenge, they can claim only flags of their home color. If the retrieving CELL loses the challenge, the opposing CELL may reclaim only flags of their home color. If the opposing CELL wins the challenge and reclaims a flag, they may return the flag to their home base, or continue with their own retrieval mission. Again, remember that no CELL may be in possession of more than one opponent’s flag, but you can be in possession of an opponent’s flag and a flag of your own team.
  16. Opposing CELLS must be within a reasonable distance (roughly 50 feet – not across a valley – think: same room type situations) in order to officially discover an opposing CELL. The CELL discovering and challenging the opposing CELL must yell “Challenge!” The challenge spot is established equidistance between the two teams.
  17. If two CELLS Challenge at the same time, Hunter-Ninja-Bear rules apply*.
  18. Multiple CELLS of the same team may not party up. CELLS must be a reasonable distance from each other with different routes of attack.
  19. Player substitutions for CELLS can only take place at home base, not on the playing field.
  20. Once a flag has been fully retrieved, it cannot be rescued.
  21. All REJECTION cards must be used by the end of the game. Each team must have one GO card and three REJECTION cards in their home box by the end of the game. A TEAM without all of these receives a 20 burpee penalty per person.
  22. No camouflage allowed. No ghillie suits. No Predator cloaking devices. No Harry Potter cloaks of invisibility.
  23. Don’t be dumb! Do not hide the flags. Do not say you don’t have a flag in your possession when you do. Acknowledge fairly when you’ve been challenged. Do not cheat on the reps!
  24. Be smart! If a route looks dangerous, DON’T TAKE IT! You’re not required to stay on the trails, but you are required to be mindful of your surroundings and that long falls break bones and tear ligaments. You know, common sense type stuff.

Game Play Scenario:

RED CELL #1 with 4 players sets out to retrieve a flag from the BLUE TEAM. Along the way, BLUE CELL #2 with 6 players is also on their way to retrieve a flag. RED CELL #1 spots BLUE CELL #2 from a distance, but elects not to discover and challenge and they remain hidden. RED CELL #1 continues after they feel they’re clear of sight of BLUE CELL #2. RED CELL #1 makes it into the BLUE TEAM boundary and selects a flag to retrieve. Before claiming the flag, the card reads “100 burpees as a team”. The 4 players each do 25 burpees, amassing the required 100 reps, and then claim the flag. They leave the BLUE TEAM boundary and make their way back to the RED TEAM base. Shortly in, BLUE CELL #3, also with 4 players, spots RED CELL #1. BLUE CELL #3 runs to within 50 feet (or so) of RED CELL #1 and yells “Challenge!” BLUE CELL #3 selects Merkins for the challenge. All players from each side get into the starting position and someone gives the command to start. Both sides perform Merkins for 2 minutes. After the 2 minutes expires, the two teams add up their total reps. RED CELL #1 amasses 125 reps and BLUE CELL #3 amasses 110 reps. RED CELL #1 wins the challenge and gives BLUE CELL #3 a red rejection card. BLUE CELL #3 returns to home base with the rejection card and places it in a box. RED CELL #1 continues towards their home base. After some time, BLUE CELL #1, with 8 players, discovers and challenges RED CELL #1. BLUE CELL #1 selects squats. With 8 players, BLUE CELL #1 amasses 640 squats in 2 minutes compared to RED CELL #1’s 360. RED CELL #1 loses the challenge and releases the flag to BLUE CELL #1. BLUE CELL #1 does not have a rejection card to hand out. RED CELL #1 remains in place for 1 minute while BLUE CELL #1 elects to continue towards the RED TEAM side. At this point, RED CELL #1 may not challenge BLUE CELL #1 and elects to head back again to the BLUE TEAM side to attempt another retrieval.

CELLS of smaller sizes may allow a TEAM to have more chances, but will most likely lose Challenges by larger CELLS.

TEAMS electing to form as only a few large CELLS will most likely win all challenges; however, it will take them longer to retrieve all the flags and would allow smaller CELLS to spread out and retrieve all three flags at once and possibly avoid any challenges.

There are only a limited number of rejection cards. Handing them out quickly might temporarily set back the opposing team; however, saving one or more near the end might provide more time as the loser of a challenge would need to go all the way back to the home base. But remember there’s a penalty if you’re caught with a rejection card at the end of the game.

TEAMS make elect to place DEFENSIVE CELLS near the home base, PATROLLING CELLS in the play field, and send RETRIEVAL CELLS to claim flags. How many of each is up to the TEAM.

Be mindful of what your players are capable of. If half the players in your CELL are nursing shoulder injuries and your CELL challenges another, it’s probably not a good idea to choose merkins. Alternatively, if someone in your CELL is a beast at sit-ups, that might be the difference when challenging a CELL of a larger size. Know your strengths – and weaknesses.

*Hunter-Ninja-Bear. Similar to rock-paper-scissors. Bear eats Ninja. Ninja kills Hunter. Hunter shoots Bear.
Bear pose: both hands up to display your Grizzly sharp paws.
Ninja pose: Karate Kid crane kick pose or Judy-Chop knife hands.
Hunter pose: aim that imaginary rifle.

2 thoughts on “2022 Cottonmouth”

    1. Sorry, but indoor workouts/events are not in line with F3’s core principles. In order to allow only the most die-hard of workout counting PAX to officially count this towards their 150, it will be held outdoors.

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