* From: Rob Fournier
* Event Details
Foam Fest brought its fun run to the New England area last weekend. Being an untimed event, it appealed to large cross-section of runners, from the seasoned obstacle racer to those newer to the obstacle racing scene. They are the first event series in the industry to incorporate foam in many of their obstacles. With the main focus being just having fun, we were excited to see what Foam Fest had to offer.
The event was held at Kimball Farms in Haverhill, the sister location of Amesbury Sports Park. While I enjoy races at the Sports Park (I think I’m currently scheduled for 4 race there this year!), it was nice to experience a different location. We attended an event last year at Kimball Farms that wasn’t exactly a positive experience. However, the issue was not with the location but the actual race series. The farm area included some hill inclines/declines, water spots and expansive open fields; the perfect combination for an obstacle course race! For a $10 fee, parking was actually right on the dirt and grass near the venue. There was no need to board a bus and get shuttled to the starting line. We arrived around 10:00 and were able to score a spot right in front. After a short walk and bag check, we arrived at registration.
Registration was a breeze. The registration tents were set up alphabetically by last name. There were absolutely no lines when we arrived. We received an email prior to the event explaining that all wave times would be strictly enforced and that each participant must bring a signed waiver to registration or be charged $1 for a replacement waiver. I always prepare ahead of time and print/sign my waiver, but I was kind of put off with the $1 charge for a replacement waiver form. However, I did notice the extra waiver table and they were NOT charging anything for a replacement one. I was also skeptical about them actually following through with the wave time enforcement. Once I supplied my name and waiver at the registration tent, I was handed my bib on which the attendant scribbled my wave time on. When we entered the holding pen for our wave, no one was actually checking times. I knew they were bluffing!
* Race Details
While waiting in the holding pen for our wave, we could the see one of the signature Foam Fest obstacles: The Death Drop. They had set up three inflatable Death Drop slides in an attempt to make sure they lasted throughout the day. Unfortunately, the large one was already deflated and one of the remaining two was also losing air. We were hoping the final one survived until we reached it. We were instructed of the course rules which included not running in cleats or having any sharp objects (keys, etc) in your pockets that could damage the inflatable obstacles. This was also mentioned numerous times in emails leading up to the event. Apparently, a couple people must have thought the rules didn’t apply to them as evidence by the two Death Drops that were already out of commission. The race began with a quick foam shower at the starting line followed by a short run up a hill that snaked through the woods following a dirt path and up to the giant open field. The trail was wide
enough to accommodate most of the runners and allow the stronger ones to easily pass by without creating a bottleneck. After some running through the open field, we encountered our first obstacles. While most of the obstacles were not difficult, they were all fun! Here they are in chronological order:
5′ and 8′ walls: Your standard wooden walls that we needed to climb over. They had narrow slats to assist you over.
Trip Wire: A stretch of criss-crossed rope that we skipped over.
Slip ‘n’ Slide: Long inflatable foam filled slip ‘n’ slide. This was the first obstacle involving foam and I immediately forgot about the first rule: do not eat the foam! Yeeech!
Moon Walk: Giant adult bounce house filled with foam. Now I know why my daughter loves these things!
Lemon Drop: A knee-deep pool of water and foam with giant inflated lemons you needed to dodge.
Cargo Climb: 12’ high cargo net mounted on an A-frame that you needed to climb up and down.
Aqua Lilly Pad: An unstable foam runway that ran across a pond. We were instructed that the faster you went, the easier it was. I followed that advise and had no problems. Unfortunately, I saw others try to go slowly and splash they went.
Stumpy Jumper: Another foam filled bounce house.
Bouncy Ball Attack: Maneuver through some multi-colored balls hanging low.
Electric Mud Crawl: Military mud crawl under electrified wires. I questioned whether or not the wires were actually electrified but it was confirmed by a couple other runners.
Spider Web Forest: Consisted of a bunch of intertwined ropes that you need to climb over, under and through.
Death Drop: Giant inflatable slide that ends in a muddy pool. As mentioned earlier, two of the three slides were already down when we started the race. By the times we made it over there, the third one was also deflated. Usually, Foam Fest brings two inflatable Death Drop slides to each race in the event that one of them is punctured. For New England, they decided to bring three. However, due to the ignorance of a certain few, even three couldn’t survive. They even had a repairman onsite feverishly trying to the repair them with a heavy duty sewing machine. They were actually able to get the larger of the slides back up for the afternoon waves and offered earlier runners the opportunity to slide down if they wanted to. If we hadn’t already washed off and changed, we would have definitely taken them up on the offer.
Slip ‘n’ Slide: The final obstacle right before the finish line that was similar to the earlier one.
Once you crossed the finish, you were greeted by a volunteer that presented you with your Foam Fest medal. You also had the ability to stand in front of the Foam Fest banner for photos in all of your foamy, muddy glory. The T-shirts were separated into men’s and woman’s with different styles. They were also wrapped in plastic so that they wouldn’t get dirty which was a nice touch. We made our way to the wash off area that consisted of a few pipes spraying a narrow stream of water. The water pressure was not really strong enough to wash off all of the mud so we followed other racers that decided to just jump in the nearby lake. I decided to change under a towel down by the lake but they did have two changing tents to use. The festival area was really great. Everyone was enjoying themselves and they even had a bouncy house for the kids to play in. The DJ was playing high energy music throughout the day and they offered your typical food choices. There were vendor tents, m
erchandise tents and a scooter raffle to benefit the Special Olympics. As a refreshing change, they offered each racer a free Mike’s Hard Lemonade instead of your standard beer.
I have come to realize that in order for a race to be successful, both the company holding the event and the participants each share a responsibility. Foam Fest more than held up their end of the bargain. They did everything possible to ensure a safe and fun event. They bear no responsibility for the few knuckleheads that didn’t feel the rules applied to them. Foam Fest was a refreshing departure from some of the other hard core race series. It was great to not have to worry about who finished first or how my time compared with everyone else. While some of the other races can be intimidating to the novice runner, Foam Fest was great for its “all-inclusive” nature. I saw parents, kids, grandparents, super-fit people, “not-so-fit” people all have a great time together. It was a fun event at a great location. Foam Fest will definitely be on next year’s schedule. It was nice to be able to act like a kid again at least for a couple hours! Please visit muddywarthog.com for pho
tos and videos! Thanks!!
* From: Shannon Lynn
* Event Details
5k Foam Fest was held at Kimball Farm in Haverhill, MA. The location was easy to find, as along the way there were several “Event” signs pointing you in the right direction. At the entrance to the farm, there were police officers directing traffic into the venue. When you entered the farm, you had to drive along dirt roads through the farm itself, until you reached a vast “parking” area in the back. Pretty much a hilly field that held a massive amount of cars. There wasn’t clear direction on what aisles to park in or how to park, so some aisles were tight fits and kind of a hike to the event entrance. Overall, it was great for parking and traveling.
Vendors were good – Mike’s Hard Lemonade was a sponsor, giving a free Mike’s after you finished the race. I did not eat any of the food, but it smelled great. You had to purchase tickets, and each item was X amount of tickets. They also were volunteers walking around distributing jello shots, which I admit were pretty tasty. Instead of just beer, there was also the option of Sangrias which I tried as well, and loved.
The schwag was pretty good. The medals were a little plain, but original and of good size. The t-shirts given to finishers were pretty good too – cotton, light blue, with the 5k Foam Fest name on the front and FOAM FEST in big letters across the back. I wish it would have said the date and location of the run, but I like the tshirt nonetheless. We all received $10 gift certificates for the merchandise tent. Also, being the biggest team, we received an additional $20 credit. The merchandise available was great. Lots of cool shirts, some with really funny sayings on them. I chose a grey tank top that just said Foam Fest, and didn’t have to pay a dime for it at check out. Very, very cool.
* Race Details
The race itself was not too difficult. The starting line began on a steep incline. The starting pen was decent sized, with foam being sprayed at the start line. The MC was good, explained the rules, played great music and was pretty amusing.
The first portion of the race was a lot of hill climbing and trail running until you reached the top of the property. From there, the obstacles were (in no particular order!) two wall climbs which were easy because the wood was spaced far enough apart to get your toes in between, a foamy slip and slide, a foam filled bounce house, bungee cords stretched across the path to jump over, another foam filled bouncy house, cargo net at the top of a long hill, another bouncy house that had hidden holes in the floor so as I ran through I fell into one. There was an obstacle where you ran over pads that went through the wide section of a stream. I found this to be a struggle… it is hard to run across waist deep water! There was an electric army crawl — just like a barbed wire crawl but the wires above us were electrified, and several people zapped their rear ends during the crawl. The trench was full of thick mud and rocks, so it was tough to navigate for some. After the army crawl
, I waited in a very long line for some bungee cords that were strung very tightly through some trees. It was approximately a 15 minute wait, I’d say. After that, there were some deep trenches filled with muddy water up past my knees. A man so generously cannon-balled right behind me on this obstacle so I was covered from head to toe, on both sides, with thick mud. Next, we climbed down an extremely muddy hill by holding on to a rope along the ground. At the bottom of the hill, you rounded the corner and the giant slides were there. When I arrived, all three were deflated and it was a 30 minute wait for them to reinflate. I chose to skip this obstacle, and the volunteers gave me an orange bracelet. The bracelet was a “Run Again, On Us” thing as an apology for the slides being down. The final obstacle was a long foam filled slip and slide. The finish line had a lot of cheering volunteers and I received my medal.
After the slides were inflated again, I chose to walk back and get in line to experience it. The line was massive, and we waited close to an hour I think? The slide was pretty scary, but I am glad I did it. Conquering one fear at a time. Overall, I give the course a rating of 4/10 for difficulty. The obstacles were fun, and messy, and I smiled a lot. The views from on top of the property were beautiful! I think the race directors made good use of the farm, and I would absolutely run this again and recommend it to first timers, and those who just like to have fun.
* From: Dennis Michaud
* Event Details
I look at the parking and the venue differently than most: Are they handicapped accessible? For the most part the answer is usually a resounding no. Ok, next step, what accommodations can be made?
In most cases the parking issue is solved by simply showing up early to grab the close in parking. This is not so simple if it’s a 4 hour drive. Parking here was fine. I won’t comment on the parking fee except to say at least that didn’t charge for spectators, as many are doing.
The venue site is what it is, haven’t needed to ask yet, but most venues have 4 wheelers that could be used for transport if needed. It was close here at Kimball Farm, the hill to and from the parking area was a challenge, but the festival site itself was level and well laid out. Being early we were able to grab a table, which were in short supply for such a large event. Shade was hard to come by, except for the NE Spahtens, Yo Adrianne, thanks. Never had a line for the porta-potties and the shower was nice and refreshing. I personally didn’t take a dip in the river but many people did take advantage of its proximity. I wouldn’t recommend swimming in the Merrimack for the most part, but…
Vendors were nothing special, except for one very special vendor. The charity represented was the Special Olympics. This is a charity close to my heart. My brother was one of the earliest competitor’s back before most of you were born, and probably before a few of your parents were born.
For you bling whores, they had medals, and their merchandise was a better quality than most other events. Had some cool t-shirts, I’m sure you’ll see a few of them around.
* Race Details
The course was not 5K. I heard anywhere from 2.1 miles-2.6 miles. Even I was a little disappointed at this. It really wasn’t a challenging course, but if you were expecting a challenge you didn’t read race description at all. It was meant to be fun, and it was. The obstacles were a mix of your run of the mill walls, cargo net carry and low the mud crawl with a twist, or a shock for those who aren’t familiar with “eating dirt”, otherwise known as low-crawling. There were more than a few people who learned what an electric fence might feel like at that obstacle. There was a log jam at the “spiderweb”. I’m not sure how it could have been improved, but there must be a way. Now to the more fun obstacles, big kid bouncy houses with slick foam and balls that swing or can be thrown at one another or take a running slide and see if you can make it all the way to the end. What wasn’t to love? Do NOT inhale the foam. We were warned, and for good reason. I’m going t
o leave it at that. There was a “lily-pad” like obstacle over water, getting across was part balance and part speed, luckily for me, a good sense of balance made up for a lack of speed. Now for the signature obstacle, the “Death Drop”, I was one of the fortunate ones who got to “drop”. AS someone who has actually experienced “freefall”, this was close. The obstacle did have its issues with deflating, but these could very well have been caused by the participants themselves with any sharp objects. We can’t fault the event itself for what idiots do. There are always those who think the rules don’t apply to them.
* From: Kandice Fogarty
* Event Details
Let me start out by saying I went in to today fully expecting to be disappointed. I read some negative reviews from other cities. I registered late and got a crappy heat (5pm….I know my fault)…I emailed the organizers to see if they could move us to the team heat and got a nice friendly “sure for $10 we can move you any heat, but we don’t put teams together so let us know when you want to run, etc”. I was pretty upset this $80 to register, $10 to change heats (I did not pay to switch)’ $1 for a waiver if you didn’t sign ahead of time. So, I sent a pretty snarky email back (i was having a moody week and didn’t feel like dealing with this crap) and never heard a thing back.
So, we get to the venue–Kimball Farm in Haverhill, MA, there was ample parking $10/car…ok, that seems to be the average at these races. Head up to the race/festival area…there was a bag check (they didn’t really search bags but only let you bring in one bottle of water, and yes, they did make you dump any extra, I think food too. I get the safety aspect…so only 1/2 strike for this.
Registration was easy…alphabetical, no lines. Bib numbers were organized by start time (on the hour-black, on the 20 min-blue, on the 40 min-red). They did hand write start time or heat on the bib itself.
We made sure to start on the hour, since our bibs had black numbers and had no problem getting through in an earlier heat. It may have helped that Mario happened to run through in his red speedo for his 5th round on the course at the time we were going to start.
The Schwag was great. They had gender specific (cotton blend) tees for all finishers. The ladies t-shirts were fitted and v-neck, something I might actually wear (if the race doesn’t completely suck and I don’t mind advising it). All finishers also got medals.
As the largest team, we got $10 off coupons for merchandise AND $20 toward anything. I got a t-shirt and a beer mug for $5! (There was talk about biggest team getting free entry into next years race, but I don’t think they are sticking to that.). They had some cool shirts, two of my favorites being “I run to look good naked (front) “and for the free booze” (back),” and “My mind tells me I’m Kenyan, my legs tell me I’m a fat white guy.”
On the topic of free booze, they had Mike’s Hard Lemonade (traditional lemonade, margarita and black cherry options) as the free drink. I am not a beer drinker, so I usually don’t end up getting my free drink, this time I took advantage. 🙂
They hired Amesbury Sports Park to come in. All the food was through them. I did not purchase any food so can’t comment on selection or quality.
There were lots of port a potties. There were changing tents. There was a shower station (water was being pumped from the Merrimack River. The pump was down for a bit when we first arrive around 10:30, but they quickly fixed it). Oh, the Merrimack River was just through the trees down a short pathway…who needs showers when you can go right into the river!? That’s exactly what we did…and I have never gotten so clean on site after a race. This was awesome, and super refreshing!
* Race Details
The start line had a bunch of foam. They made us promise not to eat or inhale the foam before starting. It started out uphill and we ran along grass and trails for a bit. It seemed close to a mile before we got to any obstacles. Most of the obstacles were really fun…foam filled slip and slice, foam filled bounce house, foam filled pit with large inflatable lemons hanging, swinging big balls that you had to dodge, mud crawl under electric barbed wire, and a few others.
The end of the race was supposed be the large, steep inflatable slide. Unfortunately, someone (or some 3 people) wore cleat or brought keys which put a hole in the slides. By the time we got there at 11:30 they were all out of commission. Bummer!
They did give out silicone wrist bands and told us we could go back to the slide (when it was back in service) or run the entire course again, for free, tomorrow. Later in the day they sent an email apology about the mishap with the slides. They explained that they had brought in an extra slide (usually only have 2), they had a service man on site, and they were going to look into a product with better durability for the future. Also, they offered $20 off next years entry.
The course was not challenging, and I think a bit shorter than a 5k, but it was fun. They seemed to nickel and dime anywhere they could, seriously $1 for a waiver, $10 to change start times? I didn’t like that they wouldn’t move the team to the same start time. It also wasn’t a timed race. There were some photographers along the course, not sure if images will be free or not (I doubt it). But, all in all it turned out to be a good race. The shirts were nice, they had medals, the hard lemonade was a good option. They seemed to take in to account the problems they had and came to a quick solution to make it up to the runners. I will definitely run it again next year, if it does not conflict with one of the bigger races.
Thankfully, the day ended on a happy note. My mind has been changed about Foam Fest and I will surely wear the t-shirts after all.
* From: Aaron Farb
* Event Details
Going into this event, I, like many others was a bit worried as to how it would come off, thankfully, I think I can say that most of us left Foam Fest with a smile and having enjoyed a good run.
From the first emails received in the weeks leading up to the run, it seemed the Foam Fest was taking themselves a bit too seriously for an event that they specifically state is untimed and NOT a race. Each email had new restrictions and things we were going to have to pay extra for (waivers at the sign in?? REALLY??) along with repetitive warnings about wave times and how you can’t possibly move to a different one, and multiple warnings about bringing outside food & drink ‘we will have water’ was the statement. There was also a big disclaimer on wearing cleats, carrying keys, etc on the course, but more on that to come. As per usual with these events, email contact before the event is pretty scarce, taking over a week to reply back to me on a wave change request, only to offer to change it at the sign in desk for a $10 fee….thanks! All was apparently for naught, as once we got there, every staff member I talked to was very pleasant, easy going, and had no problem with
people running multiple times, whatever waves, and didn’t see anyone paying for forgotten waivers, so good job Foam Fest, but try not to come off so draconian on the emails.
Easy to get to, only a few minutes off 495, and actually quite nice for many that it was close to Amesbury & the Dirty Girl that allowed people to do both. Parking was easy, although a first for me – had to wait to get into the lot/farm because all the roosters decided to stop in the roadway & play ‘chicken’:) Standard $10 fee for parking and a good amount of volunteers/staffers directing. Personally, I was on the end of a row along the exit road….my car is now brown instead of silver thanks to all the dust kicked up by the cars leaving, but not biggie, just an amusement. Parking was quite close, no big walk unless you were a very late wave. Entrance was easy, and apparently most people were let in with a water bottle or energy bar with no problems, unlike the email stated, always nice!
A few vendors on hand – from Special Olympics raffling off a scooter to a sexy blonde spouting the benefits of laser spa treatments, to a chance to win a Scion and a bondi band seller.. No real freebies inside the gates, although there was a protein shake sample as you walked out of the parking lot.
Best part of the venue was being located right on a river – made the very useless shower facilty unnecessary – a nice swim & you were much cleaner – riverside should be a new requirement for ocr facilities!
Schwag was pretty standard for the average race – T shirt that’s pseudo tech – 60/40 cotton/poly, but it is kind fun – almost puffed writing on it for the ‘FOAM’ part. Being part of the largest team of the weekend earned us some extra schwag though – we all got $20 in merch credit – so all of us got an extra T or mug, and they had some fun T shirts, including what we now nominate as the unofficial Spahtens T shirt – one must see it to appreciate it!
* Race Details
The race was honestly pretty short – only 2.2 miles by GPS watches, but it was alot of fun. I’ll be uploading a video recap for the specific obstacles, but totally fun. Not too many races do you get to actually flip into them just cuz you want to and not have to worry about hurting yourself in the process, but when you’re jumping into a bounce house full of foam, don’t have to be too concerned!
The course was well laid out for the most part, if you weren’t in the back third of the wave, there weren’t too many lines to deal with. Started up the only large hill, around a bend and continued up to the top of the venue, then over 2 walls, one ~4′, the other 8′. The taller wall was difficult for some with larger shoes as they provided small gaps in the boards to dig your toes in. Over some elastic high step wires & hen a giant slip n slide – very fun, get enough speed and you about shot out the other end, and then onto a foaming moon walk that was great to front flip into! Continuing onto a foaming pool, then up a hill to another big bounce house with ‘holes’ to fall in buried under foam – definitely provides some entertainment when running with a group. Up the hill to a big cargo net, one of the few places waiting was necessary, but the net was well strung for beginners w/ very little slack. Down a hill & onto the lily pad run – a newer one to me, but alot of fun a
nd back up a hill to the ball washer. From there, onto the electric crawl -not as menacing as Mudder electricity, but shocking to some! Then came the one obstacle that was disappointing, the spider web. Only one way thru it which led to major backups – if you’re going to do spider webs, great – they can be fun, but you need multiple lanes thru to avoid the bottleneck. We ended up skipping this our first run thru & burpee’ing it out. Down a nice muddy hill & thru some nice mud/water pits & back around to the front down another mud descent. Kudos to Foam Fest for providing big ropes to the beginners on the slicker descents. Once back to the front area, pick one of the 3 Death Drop slides, wait a few people to climb up (a bit trickier than it looks), then fling yourself over the edge & see how much water you can force up your nose on the way down, but totally fun! Get out, run to one last slip & slide & thru the finish.
Tons of fun on the course & obstacles that are fun whether an experienced ocr racer or beginner.
Apparently, some people didn’t get the memo on not wearing cleats & managed to put holes in all 3 death drop slides within 30 minutes of each other, so they had to close them. Foam Fest did a good job – they had a repair tech on-site who did their best & got 1 back up in about an hour. Unfortunately, the line was huge, but at least you could get up it! They had a 2nd one up & starting as I was leaving, so good job!
They were very embarassed about the loss of their signature obstacle, so staff walked around giving out wrist bands to let people back in later in the day or the next day for free – very classy!
All in all a good day – some hiccups & unnecessary puffing of Foam Fest’s chest up till the event, but very casual fun happenings once there. 4/5 stars for opening many more people to the ocr fun!
* From: Alison Hersom
* Event Details
Parking was good,plenty of port o potties (no lines no waiting). The staff was friendly and helpful. Gear check was free and painless.
Had to buy tickets for food and drink which was faster than dealing with change from the vendors.
They gave Coupons so you got $10 off merchandise which was great.
Plenty of space to spread out and a beautiful location.
* Race Details
Course was beautiful. Nice hills to climb.
Obstacles were fun but not particularly difficult.
They had water and port o potties at most of the obstacles which was nice.
Quite a bit of waiting at obstacles in the mid day heats.
Not chipped so no official tracking of your time which was kind of a bummer.
Some malfunctions with obstacles but they made up for it by offering free admittance to the second day for those who were inconvenienced plus they sent out an apology with a $20 off for next years race.
All and all a fun first race to get your feet wet for OCR 🙂
* From: amy murphy
* Event Details
Perfect parking, very well put together… One of the best I’ve done. Did Rebel here last year and the experience left much to be desired. This blew it out of the water…or foam as the case may be.
* Race Details
The course was great, fun and there were volunteers overseeing everything! I was in one of the earlier waves so I got to go down that great slide before someone popped them! Good job trying to get them back up and running as quickly as possible for the later waves.
* From: Anna K. Purvis
* Event Details
* Race Details
I loved the obstacles and the location of Kimball Farm could not have been any more beautiful! I was disappointed that we often had to wait in line to do obstacles which took away from the cardio/endurance aspect of the race. All three of the slides went down during the race in Mass. I wish that the people that coordinate the race would start a metal detector station that people have to pass through before they are allowed to race. I did the Foam Fest in NY and the same problem occurred with people popping slides. I will always do this race though, I absolutely love it!!!