Monday, 31 July 2017

The Obstacle Course Obsession; I'm Impressed

Call it what you will;  a fad, an obsession, a "sport in it's own right".... Obstacle races are a multi-million dollar industry and are still very young in the fitness world.

You know what I'm talking about?  

Spartan Races, Tough Mudders, Foam Runs, etc... 

This past weekend, I had my first experience with them (in terms of being at the event).  No I didn't participate.  I'm sure you're reading this saying the same thing several others say;  "Why?".  The answer - It's not my thing.  One thing I always preach to my clients, time and time again - do what you love!  If you don't enjoy it or really WANT to do it, don't do it.  I've never been an "extreme" kind of guy. Even, the more family friendly events like the Foam Run, just don't entice me. I get my adrenaline rush and excitement from playing soccer, hockey, golf, ultimate, tennis etc... That's my rush.  :)

Back to the topic at hand;  Belleville, ON hosted their first Foam Run. For those who are unfamiliar with them, Foam Runs are a 5km obstacle course that has anything from 4-5ft foam piles to run through, mud, wooden walls to climb over (maybe 8ft high), giant inflatable slides to come down, water mats to run across, cargo nets to climb across etc...  My wife, kids, sister-in-law and friends entered a team and took part, as the "Zen Tribe".  Naturally, I was there to support.  And what a success it was.  

I was curious leading into the morning as to the business side and logistics of the event. How well organized is it? What's offered? What's the atmosphere like? What's the set up and control like? Etc... After witnessing it myself,  I have to toss out a HUGE kudos to the organizers of the Foam Runs. Here's what impressed me thoroughly;

  • There were tons of workers/volunteers everywhere you looked.  If you needed anything, you could find someone easily for help.  There were plenty of people throughout the course guiding people the right way, cheering on participants etc.  
  • The energy was high! From the DJ playing music, the MC of the event, the smiles, excitement and laughter of the participants to the foam flying all over the place as a heavy breeze came through, it was a high energy positive atmosphere. 
  • No pressure. There were participants of all ages (8yrs +), all shapes and sizes, and all fitness levels. Everyone I saw was having a blast.  No pressure. No one being a jerk. Everyone cheering on the next person or those in front of them. Laughing, smiling... Very cool. 
  • Organized perfectly. In my opinion, it could not have been more well run.  Everyone knew where to go, you got a fair amount for the price (especially if you sign up early) and to the untrained eye, there were no glitches.  
  • Well laid out course.  The course was laid out well, marked well and there was still plenty of space for spectators, families and friends to watch and cheer on the participants. It was great. 
  • The amount of participants was something I have never witnessed. Waves of 40-50 people at least would be sent out every 15-20min or so.  The day started I believe around 8-8:30am and went until 5pm.  As we were waiting for our team to come by, we would turn to watch the next wave take off and see who we knew in the bunch.  Each time, you were dumbfounded by the number of participants, the funny and creative team outfits and the many smiling faces.  Wow. 
I knew several people who took part. It was a lot of fun watching participants, chatting with people and taking in the atmosphere.  

Again, it's not my thing, but I respect what the organizers/creators of these events do.  I would highly recommend if you want something different to work towards, something to challenge yourself in a new way, or just something fun to do with the family, consider taking part in one of these Foam Runs.  :)

Team "Zen Tribe" 2017 - Belleville, Foam Run