Wipeout Run made its return to the Boston, Mass area for the second year after their first race last year had a few hiccups blamed on the weather. So this year was their chance to make a solid second impression on us and show that some of the shortcomings from last year were just due to a learning curve.
The event was held in one of the parking areas across the street from Gillette stadium, so the event had free parking next to the main area. It’s not often we get that at a race. The registration tent was well marked out and staffed with as many people if not more than we see at a large national race. But the registration process is where I and many others had their first issue they were less than happy with. During registration, they did spell out that there was a $5.00 fee if you choose to pick up your bib on race day. This is really unheard of in the OCR world, to be charged an extra fee for picking up your packet the day of an event. As we know, most OCRs rely heavily on volunteers to staff events, so being charged for this rubs me and everyone else I spoke to before the race, the wrong way. They did offer people the chance to pick up their bibs the day before at the site, but Foxboro is about 30 minutes south of Boston, on a good day, with no traffic; so, for most people who work in or north of the city, you really had no chance to get there to pick up on Friday. This was unlike last year, when they allowed someone else to pick up your bib, as long as they had a copy of your license; this year, they only allowed people to pick up their own.
They did not charge a fee for spectators and for good reason; their start area/village just flat out doesn’t exis; there is NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING going on or to check out. They had one small merchandise tent, and as we were leaving, a single food truck was pulling up. Not sure if the location played a part in the lack of food options or not, but since this race was at Gillette stadium @patriot place, there was plenty of options for post race food and drinks to be had. But its still not a reason to not have any kind of village at the race to help give people something to see and do pre/post-race. Also, since this was on an asphalt parking lot, there is ZERO shade for pre and or post race, so with temps in the 90s’, there was even more motivation to not stick around post-race. From the looks of the parking lot that was full at 8 am, and empty by 1030, we were not alone in doing so. Also, with this race having some very fun spectator friendly obstacles they do not do a great job at placement so spectators can see how fun the race is, there is no real path or guidance for spectators and they were just left on their own to wander.
Ok so onto the race itself. After making it through a very poorly run start gate that had a line a good 200 yards long, their MC did a good job at getting people ready and making them do some silly dance moves. Then, off we go for about .5 miles until you reach the first obstacle of a 4-5-6 foot wall. They all had 2 kicker plates on them to get over easy, and they also put a 2 foot high staging on the back side so you don’t drop the full way down, not a bad idea considering a big portion of the crowd may have been scaling their first wall ever. Next was Big Balls, the first bouncy house obstacle, and one that provides a lot of laughs and fun moves. About another half mile until you come up to one of their signature obstacles, a 40-50 foot tall water slide that you use an inner tube to go down, and the first chance you get wet and cooled off. Wrecking Ball is next, and I enjoy this obstacle, but not a fan of the life vest you have to wear for it. The water is no more than 4 feet deep, and for me, being a bigger guy, the vest was more an obstruction. Some more running then into an area with a few switchbacks feeding 3 obstacles all on top of each other: a small inflatable slide, a giant 50-ft long bouncy house, and another big event-Sweeper, where a giant mechanical arm just goes in a circle and you try to run down a narrow path and not get knocked off. Not many people are successful at this obstacle, so it’s very funny to watch. That brings us to the last two obstacles of Foam of Fury, you take a 50-ft run and leap onto a foam and water covered inflatable slip, and Happy Ending, their largest and fastest slide.
We got in early, so we did not hit any major backups, but by 10 am, Happy Ending had to have a line at least 200 deep and growing. This is something they had issues with last year, and with bad course design, did not really fix it. Backups at this race happen fast. With some more thought behind layout and planning, I think they can reduce backups at obstacles and help keep a better flow to the day.
I was not happy that they cut out a few obstacles and ended up with fewer than last year. I would like to see them get to about 20 obstacles to be a really good event. Even if they doubled up on some of the slides, it would be fine. If you signed up on day one, you are happy with things, but if you signed up closer to the event, you paid around the $80 mark. In my opinion, for what this race is, it’s really not worth much over a $65.00 price point; if they can add a few obstacles back, it might be worth a bit more.
After the race, we got a post-race survey that also included an offer to purchase an “ I conquered Wipeout Run “ kit that comes with a medal , tee shirt and headband, along with a few other assorted knick knacks, for $35.00. Yes, you read that right, they were selling your finisher shirt and medal to you post-race; that’s a first. This rubbed me the wrong way. So in the end, I almost felt like I was dealing with a cheap airline charging fees and upcharges for extras that are considered standard with other races.
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- Wipeout Run – Foxboro,Ma Review - September 1, 2015