Funcore or hardcore, 5K Foam Fest no obstacle to adventure
by Lynn Rees Lambert
A million and a half cubic feet of foam is a lot of white stuff. And all the better to zip through. At least that’s what thousands of Canadians—from fitness buffs to adventure-seeking families—have discovered when they’ve run headlong into a pit of foam and slid down a 55-foot inflatable slide. It’s called the 5K Foam Fest and after an initial six-city run last year in Canada, it’s going crosscountry in 2015 and landing in the Ottawa area July 25. Ready for it? This summer experience is billed as a “funcore” family-friendly event as opposed to a hardcore run, and the man behind the event is a former pro snowboarder.
“We wanted to do something awesome that includes families and people of all abilities,” says Jesse Fulton, who coached the Canadian snowboard team in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. There is a number of “crazy, demanding obstacle races” out there, he says, “but we wanted to focus on exercise that is fun. You can walk it, run it or charge it.”
And afterwards, there’s a beer garden.
It’s all part of a growing phenomenon that sees an uptick in demand for fun runs and adventure races. This year Foam Fest nearly doubles its scope, starting in June in the Okanagan, followed by stops in Red Deer, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Toronto, London, Ottawa and Halifax. Three 53-foot tractor trailers are required to truck the goods to the site, which in our region runs at Edelweiss in Gatineau this year. It takes five days, with 15 men working up to 18 hours at a stretch, to unload and set up the course. And what a course! The Chamber of Foam, mud pits, bungee crawl zones, cargo climbs and adultsized inflatables—including a giant slip-and-slide—are guaranteed to get a person foam-covered, muddy and wet. “We have three of the world’s largest inflatable water slides,” Fulton adds. They’re 55 feet high. The festival area includes complimentary change rooms for men and women, chill zones, hydration stations, washrooms and sanitation stations, showers and hose systems. (Remember, there will be mud.)
Add in refreshment and food stands and it’s a day-long outing with all the trimmings.
The family element is a big part of the course, says Fulton, who’s a father of two. Foam Fest aims to provide something for people “who are looking for something to do together as a family, and something that represents an achievement,” he explains. Children aged nine and up can tackle the course accompanied by an adult. For younger ones, a Kids Fun Zone offers a bouncy castle, slides, a challenge course and a foam chamber.
There’s a charitable element too. The company supports Habitat for Humanity and the Canadian Cancer Society. Registration is capped at 5,000, Fulton explains, which helps eliminate “traffic jams” that can happen at obstacle course events. “We wanted to make this something where people would want to come back the next year, not just ticking it off a bucket list.”
And you can do it rain or shine. The event is not weather dependent, save for one exception: lightning. But if it’s wet outside, it’s all good. After all, you’re going to get wet—and muddy and foam-covered anyway.
It’s about tailoring the experience to your goals, says Fulton. “If you want a great workout, this is it. If you want a fun run, this is it.” Last year, an 87-year-old man did the course, walking most of it, with his daughter.
For details and information about registration visit 5kfoamfest.ca.
Mud Hero Kids
This year Mud Hero is also welcoming kids to get dirty. The popular mud/obstacle event, slated for June 6 and 7 at Commando Paintball, 4565 Dunning Road, is offering Mud Hero Kids for youngsters aged four to 13. The kids’ 500-metre course features six obstacles including teeter-totters, balance beams, a cargo climb and a mud pit. Young participants can do between one and four laps of the course, depending on their ages. For details, see www.mudhero.com.