Glittery purple runner’s headband in place – check. Waterproof mascara – check. This weekend I endured my first official mud/foam/obstacle run — the 5K Foam Fest in Richmond, VA. It’s one of those traveling races, similar to the Color Run, or Color Me Rad — loads of people and wave times throughout the day, lots of fun swag, lots of mess. A good reason to design a shirt using Sharpies and fabric pens:
In spite of my efforts to feel fancy, I was determined to make the most of every obstacle of this race. Here’s my recap of each! I can’t remember the exact order, but I blame the bubble-gum flavored foam in my face for my foggy memory:
1) Foam at the starting line: there was a wall of foam to get through just to cross the starting line. And with that, a mud pit — we laughed at ourselves, skipping to dodge the teeny bit of mud on the course toward the *real* first obstacle, the Bottomless Trench. Just like we laughed at ourselves after SMILING for our team picture:
2) Bottomless Trench: Like ripping off a bandaid, I cringed, then embraced the mud full-on. What I didn’t anticipate were the resulting rocks in my shoes (hundreds of tiny rocks!) and the sheer weight of lifting my muddy shoes to continue running once I emerged out of the mess. It was like running with weights! But I now appreciate the concept of mud baths at spas – once the mud dried, my hands were so soft! But my poor toes were a bloody mess when I got home!
3) Our next obstacle was a short, 5-foot wall with wooden slats. Easy enough. Up, over, and jumped the five feet back to the ground. Repeated later on an 8-foot wall.
4) One of two slip n slides was next – the 50-foot slip n slide. The trick to this seemed to be getting a good running start. Then dive and glide (or belly flop). Inevitably, I didn’t slide all the way to the end, so I tried to stand up midway through, but I was blinded by thick, stinging white foam that reeked of BUBBLE GUM and tasted the same. (My husband later told me it was probably the same vat of pink bubble gum fluid that they use at professional car washes.) Still blinded, I maneuvered through another muddy water pit at the end of the slide to find my team.
Foam and mud are an odd combination, but at least the foam seemed to cool me off. Did I mention we ran to each obstacle?
5) The Spider Web Forest followed. There was such a bottle-neck of runners at this point, that in my short, 5’1″ frame, it was easy to disappear behind someone and follow her path through the forest. The only caveat was trying not to snap a bungee cord on the person behind me (so sorry!).
6) At some point, there was a shorter Spider Web Mess, and I felt like a football player running through tires. The highlight of this was watching a bratty teenager have an all-out temper tantrum, screaming at her team as she fell into the web repeatedly. “I AM walking!” she roared, snapping her shirt on the ground. (I also almost bit it on this obstacle and still have the rope burns to prove it).
7) The Bouncy Ball Bash, in my opinion, was so overrated. Again, the combination of the crowd and my stature enabled me to go through the whole obstacle, never once touching a ball.
(“Don’t swallow the white stuff,” they told us.)
8) I was most nervous about the Electric Mud Crawl. It required slithering on our bellies under a path of electrical wires for several body lengths. I ended up crawling on my forearms, and I blame this obstacle for why I’m still sore two days later. I’m pretty sure I bruised a rib, and it still hurts to cough. Or move.
And we realized at the end that only the last wire was truly live.
9) Cargo Climb. Favorite, favorite obstacle. I could do this one all day. I was the last one from my team onto the cargo nets, but the first one finished. At about 25 vertical feet off the ground, it was a steep climb up and a steep descent down the back. Loved, loved this one. It was all upper-body, and that’s where my muscle is.
I should have been a gymnast, not a ballerina.
10) Somewhere before the spider webs there was a weird, Stumpy Jumper obstacle. I’m pretty sure some of the inflatables had gotten knocked out of place, so we lost several teammates in the holes.
A small child, wearing a white t-shirt and glasses, was also rumored to be missing somewhere along this part of the course. Just sayin.
11) Aqua Lily Pad. A no-show. Pocahontas State Park didn’t have the water element that this obstacle required, so it remained tied up on the truck. Looking pitiful.
12) Another mud pit – I fell in an invisible hole this time. Ugh! Mud everywhere. Thank you, God, that I bought compression shorts the night before at Target. So worth it. (Even though my hubby watched someone hit my car door in the parking lot.)
He got the license plate off her Camero and has already made a report.
13) The Death Drop was a 45-foot vertical drop on an inflated slide, leading to a long slip n’ slide and a muddy water pool. The climb up looked menacing, but I ran up it so fast that I nearly passed my teammate in front of me, even though I didn’t start til she was at the top. It was so windy on the inflatable platform that I had to grab onto the race official lest I drop… 45 feet back down. Which I did anyway to go down the slide, of my own volition.
14) Another, shorter (30-foot) slip n’ slide finished out the race, and the race photogs were waiting to take pictures and hand out medals.
Yes, medals for a 5k. That rarely happens! So exciting. The swag wasn’t bad, either – a sports drink (okay, so that was bad – no, disgusting), CLIF bar, Chewy bar, banana, beer, cute fitted t-shirt, and a $10 race merchant gift card.
And? Upon completion, my glittery headband remained in place, as did my waterproof mascara. 🙂