If you remember, I owe you all a review of my most recent race – the 5k Foam Fest! For those of you who do not know or do not recall, my Sweat Pink ambassador position with Fit Approach allowed me to join Foam Fanatics – a group that allowed me to participate in the race free of charge in exchange for help with publicity and ultimately a review of the race.
I signed up for Foam Fanatics thinking, “Hey! Free entry to a race that seems pretty cool, I’ll take it.” I also figured that it would be good prep for my Tough Mudder training – like a much less intense, cuter little cousin to the now infamous race.
As a New Englander, I attended the Boston-area event. Unfortunately it was far away from where I live, but I understand that only so many spaces can hold such a large and elaborate event, and that it was meant to serve the greater New England area. The race was held at Kimball Farm in Haverhill, MA – something that I actually thought was a plus despite the distance for me personally. During the race I heard some people complain that the mud smelled and whatnot, which I thought was kind of silly. It is in part a mud run, after all, and that’s how mud smells! Then again this is coming from the girl who loves barns and cleans up after horses, so I’m not sure.
The poor people organizing the New England Foam Fest, however, ran into problems with the town of Haverhill last minute and were told that they could not provide on-site parking for participants in the race. Ultimately, that meant that participants and spectators had to park at an abandoned greyhound racing track in Seabrook New Hampshire and take a “15 minute” (it was really 20-25 minutes) drive to the race site on a school bus. As you may imagine, this proved problematic during an event with thousands of participants. The lines for the shuttle were extraordinarily long, and I estimate that the shuttle ride plus the wait for the shuttles to and from the race site added an unexpected two hours to the total time I spent on this adventure. Unfortunately, the people at 5k Foam Fest really didn’t have too much of a choice – it is just unfortunate that this controversy with the town had to happen a mere 2 weeks before the event. 5k Foam Fest also issued a public apology via their Facebook page for the confusion. That said, this was honestly the only thing that I was bummed about. The race itself, once all was sorted out, was awesome. The helpfulness and flexibility of the staff on this undoubtedly stressful day for them also did not go unnoticed – they let me join a later wave with a smile when I (along with at least half of the other participants) arrived too late for my original assigned “wave” due to the transportation issues.
The 5k Foam Fest surprised me, but in the best of ways. Though free entry was awesome for me as a broke student, none of my other broke student friends could afford to drop $75-90 on the entry fee, so I was forced to do the race alone. Most people, understandably, did the race with a team or at least a buddy or two, so I was not looking forward to going it alone. To my delight, the race was so much fun that I didn’t even mind that I wasn’t part of a tutu-wearing team! Going stag was not an issue in a race devoted to fun, community, and healthy challenges. I smiled and laughed my way through the course.
The event is publicized largely as an athletic, but mostly just fun experience. I would agree that the race is more about fun, community, and laughter than simply athleticism. That said, it was still a physical challenge – I have the scratches and bruises to prove it! The course itself was quite hilly in parts, and like all other types of trail running, was much more strenuous than a road race (though easier on the joints, I suppose). Virtually everyone, including myself, ran-walked the course – the steep hills and injection of various obstacles at different points throughout the course really made it necessary. I did end up running most of it, however – those hill workouts paid off!
The obstacles varied widely, but each one was totally fun. Honestly there was not a single obstacle that I did not enjoy. In fact, I might have actually enjoyed what appeared to be one of the least popular obstacles – the ascending cargo net climb. I was really into the ropes-heavy obstacles, as I love climbing things and have done some rock climbing in my day. For a number of others, this appeared to be a big source of anxiety! I myself am ever so slightly afraid of heights, but I promise that this obstacle is nothing to be afraid of. I highly doubt it would even be possible to truly fall – it seems to me you would just get tangled in the net if you lost your footing.
Best of all was the fact that these muddy, dirty obstacles (I’m looking at you, army crawl under ropes!) were followed up by bursts of foam. At one point I was caked with mud and then with foam – I likely looked like I had been tarred and feathered. 5k Foam Fest also set up professional photographers at nearly each obstacle on the course – another awesome perk! They will be sending out high quality photos to runners soon. I imagine with the huge number of participants that such a task will take some time!
In the meantime, I have a few photos of my own to share from the event, courtesy of my adorable parents who accompanied me and excitedly cheered me on. They were only able to get photos from the last leg of the race, which ended with this epic inflatable “Death Drop”. Again, I’m slightly afraid of heights, so this obstacle was the only one that really made me nervous. But I closed my eyes and just went for it, and it was of course fine and fun. It was pretty unexpectedly exfoliating, though… All that dirt kind of acted as a high-speed scrub O.o
My parents were so excited that they didn’t really seem to understand that it was a race and that I actually still had to run the rest of it, and that it wasn’t actually a photo shoot. Whoops!
Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for too long after the race because, as I mentioned earlier, everything took WAYYY longer than expected and I had to get to work in the early evening! The event was fun and cute, though, and immediately after crossing the finish line the staff gave us protein bars, water, our finisher medals, and directed us in line to our t-shirts. That was really well-organized and convenient – the transition was seamless and really appreciated, as I was hungry and thirsty and didn’t know where to go! They also handed out giant sponges courtesy of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, one of their primary corporate sponsors. Admittedly this form of advertising was highly useful considering how muddy I was. I also got my choice of Mike’s Hard – appreciated after all that!
The race swag was also pretty great. The medal was really cute (plus I love when races give out finisher’s medals!), emblazoned with their “Get Filthy Clean” slogan. The t-shirts were nice, too – not your standard unisex t-shirt. They had specific men and women’s cuts, and even though the t-shirt was cotton/poly and not a technical fabric which would be preferable for working out for sweatballs like me, it was super cute and I will definitely be wearing it when I’m out and about or doing one of my less sweaty workouts 🙂
All in all, a really great time. I would definitely recommend this race to anyone that was interested! It is suitable for a variety of fitness levels, but anyone who wishes to compete should definitely work on some strength training even if they plan on walking the course in its entirety. And for the broke students and such out there – don’t be too scared off by the price tag! There are always coupons. In fact, I have a coupon code for you right here! Use my personal code “FF3316” to get $5 entry at any race location across the U.S.
In the meantime, from the folks over at Foam Fest, I leave you with this fitness tip.
Peace, sweat and love,