|Posted on June 30, 2014 at 1:45 AM|
A few weeks ago I traveled two hours to the FAR south end of greater Chicago - so far I don't think it's really Chicago anymore, honestly - to participate in my second mud run, the Foam Fest 5k. This time, I got muddy. Really, really muddy.
I had loved the Zombie Run as a lower-intensity intro into the world of obstacle course racing, but I loved the Foam Fest for amping up my experience just enough that I no longer felt like a beginner but still felt like a major winner. Though many of the Foam Fest obstacles were a little on the silly side, such as the bouncy house full of foam or the Mike's Hard e-Lemonator, but many of them were fairly challenging and a lot of fun! The huge cargo net, for example, was a good challenge thanks to all the slick mud that had gotten ingrained into the ropes before my late start wave got to climb, and any rough terrain was extra slippery and chewed up, making the straight running parts far more technical than I'd expected. Also, gotta give some props to the event management team, especially for the brilliant idea of having professional photographers at many of the obstacles on the course. As you can see in my Photo Gallery, they got quite a few really nice shots of me, and they provide them online for FREE! Not many races do free photos, and I doubt the others that do put as much time into making sure there are plenty of good quality photos of just about every person on the course.
While the course itself was a blast, I have to admit it was the group of volunteers I interacted with while on site that truly made my day. I was in a particularly bad mood that morning, thanks to some "life happens" issues, but thanks to a handful of truly wonderful people with amazing smiles, I was able to really get into the festivities and let myself have a great time! The experience was so touching that I decided to start taking my own turns as a volunteer at races, and actually participated in my first race volunteer day yesterday morning at Highland Park's Firecracker 5k! Though a MUCH smaller event, the other women with whom I was working were the same bright eyed, energetic, kind hearted type of people as the women who had touched my life so positively at the Foam Fest. I only hope my efforts will touch or inspire someone in the future!
At the end of the day, I think mud runs are really cool experiences, but I think I will be very picky about future entries - and will wait for some friends to man up and run with me. I got through all the obstacles by myself, but struggled sometimes, so a team would have been nice, but mostly I want to share these experiences with other energetic people. These events attract a lot of group participation; I see teams working together on the course or just laughing and having a good time with close friends, and I get a little envious. I've never really had a group of friends who would give something like adventure racing a try... Maybe one of these days I'll meet the right people for that!
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