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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
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.
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.