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5K Foam Fest Race Recap

on June 25, 2014

For some reason, I’m having a hard time writing this recap for the 5K Foam Fest I ran on Saturday. I remember how much I loved it in 2013, as only my second OCR race ever, and it’s disappointing to see how it turned out this year.

I feel the best way to do this might be a comparison to last year and then I’ll get into the obstacles themselves. I should mention, however, that this is the first OCR that I’ve completed every obstacle. Now some people might say it’s such a froo froo course that it’s not hard to do, but for me and my fear of heights, a couple were scary. Yes, some of the obstacles were silly and easy, but there were real ones in there and I’m proud of myself, regardless.

I don’t have a lot of pictures. Spectators could really only see/take pics of one obstacle and I don’t carry a camera with me during races. I’ve also been holding out writing this because I was hoping I’d have the pro photos by now, but no such luck.

 

2013: Parking on site – $10

2014: Parking in a lot in NH, shuttle bus ride was 15-20 minutes – $10. In addition to this, the street address given for parking got us lost while using the GPS on our phone. It took us to a dead end road with at least a dozen other people that were turning around in front of or behind us. I didn’t have any waits for the buses since I had an early heat (8:50), but others who ran later had waits of more than an hour each way for the buses.

 

On the bus ride there with our photobombing friend

We make good use of our bus time – on the ride back

 

2013: only 2 visible obstacles for spectators and one of them was deflated and unable to be used by the time I got there

2014: only 1 visible obstacle

 

2013: picnic tables scattered around for spectators to sit and chill

2014: no seats except for one small area with like 8 chairs

 

Julie chilling in the “spectator lounge”

 

2013: no food/drink allowed – bags were checked at entrance

2014: no food/drink allowed – no one was checking anything

 

2013: Registration line was seamless. I don’t remember waiting long at all.

2014: Registration was a nightmare. I waited in line no less than 30 minutes. The lines were arranged by alphabetical order, however there was nothing pointing you in the right direction. It wasn’t until I was in line for 10 minutes or so that I even realized this so I luckily got to move to a shorter line. You were supposed to have your ID ready to check your registration and also give you a band for your free after-race alcoholic beverage of choice. The girl never once looked at my ID, just highlighted my name in a big binder, gave me a bib, gave me a band and told us to only take 2 safety pins. Are you serious? You think a bib will stay on in a mud run with only TWO pins? And they were crappy pins at that.

 

Trying to figure out what to do with the 10 minutes I had left to warm-up before my heat started once I got through the awful registration line

 

2013: Finish line was spectacular. You finished on an obstacle (giant slip n slide), someone handed you your medal, you were funneled into a line to take a professional photo in front of a large banner then someone gave you your tshirt.

2014: This finish line was very anticlimactic. Instead of there being an obstacle right at the finish, the last obstacle was at least 100 yards from the finish line so you did the Death Drop and then just ran to the end. When you got there, nobody handed you anything except a protein bar. They had a tent with tables set up with medals and tshirts laid out, so everyone just took their own. There were no volunteers there when I went through, but at least I’m honest and only took 1 of each. From what I heard, later waves didn’t get medals. In addition, that “professional photo op” from the year prior? Well – that was in front of the changing tents. Not only do I find that disturbing because if you took it at the right angle you might see in the crack in the tent, but we also didn’t realize this and went to walk in to change and were scolded for trying to enter on the wrong side while they were taking pics.

 

Our sprint to the finish line

 

2013: They had lame ass hoses hooked through a PVC pipe with holes poked in it and called it a “shower” to rinse off. It wasn’t rinsing anything off, but luckily the Merrimack River was right behind the venue and came in handy when everyone just jumped in fully clothed to clean themselves off.

2014: Fully excited about using that river to clean off again, I was saddened to see that they blocked off the entrance we used last year to get to the river with portapotties. I thought maybe I could find another spot to get through, but I wouldn’t have been able to anywhere else. At least this year they had regular garden hoses that had at least some water pressure.

 

See that big beautiful river? Yeah…no access this year.

 

2013: Course map released on website inaccurate.

2014: This is the only thing the same as last year – inaccurate yet again.

 

2013: Only 1 obstacle technically not completed. I couldn’t do the walls by myself. The other that I didn’t do (Death Drop) was because it was deflated by someone wearing cleats or carrying keys. I was secretly happy because I didn’t want to do it. The nice thing was we got a $20 coupon code for 2014 registration due to this issue.

2014: The wall this year were more ladder-like, so I was easily able to scale it. Since I completed every obstacle, this meant I needed to do the Death Drop and it was just as horrifying as it sounds for me personally. It’s like 3 stories high and almost a vertical drop.

 

After the race, the same afternoon, I had sent them an email asking if they wouldn’t mind sending me the list of actual obstacles that they set up and the order they were in. I’m having trouble remembering everything since the foam ones are all so similar, but to date I’ve never received any sort of acknowledgement they received my email, so I’m just going to wing it.

Here is the list of obstacles, in the best order I can remember:

 

The start is always fun running through the cascading foam

 

Uphill run right at the start

 

Ladderish Wall Climb

“Chamber of Foam” – basically just a bouncy house filled with foam

Aqua Lily Pads – foam pads over a small pond that you had to run across without sinking in and falling into the water

Trip Wire – a bungee rope course to go over/under

Body Washer – another foam chamber with inflatable poles that move around as you walk across the bouncy platform

Electric mud – which wasn’t electrified. This was a good thing because the ropes were SO low to the ground you couldn’t help but hit every single one as you crawled under it in the mud.

Slip N Slide

E-lemon-ator – a Mike’s hard lemonade (race sponsor) obstacle. It was essentially just inflatable hanging lemons, but they didn’t swing or do anything on their own and there was no one there to swing them at you if that was their purpose.

A-frame cargo net climb

Over/Unders through a water-filled inflatable pool

Monkey Business – basically a sideways cargo net climb

Mud pit

Spider web forest – more bungees in between trees you had to climb through/over/under

Death Drop – probably about 3 stories high, giant inflatable slide that you end up in a pool of water at the bottom, if you make it to the end, which I didn’t. I had to walk the last 30 ft or so but that was OK. I didn’t really want to come shooting off the end anyway.

 

See that tiny person on that GIANT slide? That would be me.

 

SO happy that the Death Drop was over!

 

I may be missing an obstacle or two or five, and they’re most likely in the wrong order, but there you have it.

 

I’m 99.9% sure I will never do this race again.

 

 

 

 

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24 responses to “5K Foam Fest Race Recap

  1. Tara says:

    It was a total letdown all around this year, and we weren’t even doing the obstacles!

  2. Blerg. Sorry about that. That does look like a fun race to run but if it’s that disorganized, nah, doesn’t seem worth it. Did you at least get any bling for it?

    • Courtney says:

      Yeah…I’ve run a lot of races in the last two years and I have to say this is in the top 3 for disorganization. I was able to get a medal because I had an early heat. I guess the people that didn’t get one will be mailed one.

  3. Wow what a terrible experience! I’ve never been interested in the obstacle course races and this one certainly won’t convert me.

    I hope the rest of your races this year go better! :-)

    • Courtney says:

      Oh but they’re so much fun!! Well, if you pick a fun one to do. I have my first Spartan in two days and I imagine that won’t be so much fun as a sufferfest.

  4. DarlinRae says:

    What a bummer! I had heard of the foam fest and it sounded like an OCR that I might actually do. If it’s that poorly organized every year, it doesn’t seem worth it.

  5. dgobs says:

    I’m sorry you had such a disappointing experience! This race sounds like a bummer. :(

    Froo froo course or not, the fact that you did it still makes you seem pretty badass to me. I’m way too big a wuss to ever to an OCR, even an “easy” one!

  6. Aw man! I’m doing this in 3 weeks and I really hope they get it together before then because I was really excited. Especially for the death drop!

    • Courtney says:

      OMG I can’t believe you’re excited for that. It gives me anxiety just thinking about it again. LOL

      I hope your event is run better than ours was. I can’t wait to hear about it!

  7. […] weekend I was sure to sunscreen myself before Courtney’s Foam Fest in MA.  In the afternoon of that same day I was sitting on Julie & Dan’s patio for a […]

  8. Wow. I thought the just sprayed foam at you like a color run. No idea it had obstacles.

  9. piratebobcat says:

    Wow, looks crazy! I was obsessed with obstacle races for a couple years, but I have no desire lately. They were getting too dangerous!

    • Courtney says:

      I think if they’re executed properly, they’re not bad. I was talking to a friend at our class last night and she said she ran a race (that is now out of business) that obstacles were breaking. There was one traverse rope that the stakes came out and a woman fell and broke her back right in front of her.

  10. That’s a shame! I know organizing a race isn’t easy – especially an obstacle race – but when you’ve paid good money you should get what’s adverised.

    • Courtney says:

      It really was! I can imagine it’s very difficult organizing something like that, especially with the troubles caused by the town complaints only two weeks out from race day, but simply having a few more volunteers in certain areas would have helped immensely.

  11. Sorry it wasn’t run better! That is such a bummer, but it looks like you still had some fun right?

  12. d20girl says:

    The obstacles sound fun (and much less daunting than your Tough Mudder course which terrified me) but all of those logistical problems are ridiculous! Especially when you compare them to your experience the year before! Awesome job doing every single obstacle!

  13. dawn @ running the dawn says:

    it’s too bad that there were so many disappointments with this year’s race. sounds like it was amazing the first time…. boo!

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