Foam Glow 5K
♪♫♪ Long live all the mountains we moved, I had the time of my life fighting dragons with you…
Last Saturday, I logged my third race of my running season with the Foam Glow 5K! This was an extra special race for me because I ran it with my best friends at UIC, a group of people who I met and stayed close to since freshmen year. Also, for the first time, I ran a race not only in the evening, but also in almost complete darkness! The race was quite similar to a color run in that it’s a fun 5K where color is being sprayed all over your face and body because the intention is to get as messy as possible — only this time, they were spraying colored foam instead of dyed color powder.
Although the race was just this past weekend, my friends and I signed up for it way back in April when there was a good online discount for it. I found the deal online through one of the running email newsletters I regularly receive (perks of running races so often I suppose) and I knew it would be a great time with my friends — Chevelle, Ray, Adithyan, Armand, Sam, and Demola. As race day approached, we were still figuring out all of the details —transportation, packet pickup and so on. With my ever-neurotic personality, I was pretty nervous the week before because we still couldn’t figure out how to get to the location in Bridgeview. After a couple options fell through, it looked like we were going to have to take three busses to even get there, which would make it a two-hour commute just to get there…but then Chevelle’s dad saved the day by offering us all a ride in his van! We were extremely lucky because it cut down our commute to only about 40 minutes! The next big worry I had was over packet pickup. Because pickup was announced so late and took place in Cicero, it seemed that very few people were able to pick up their packets prior to race day. In fact, we all even received an email saying that over 9000 people still needed to pick up their packet on race day! The organizers requested us arrive by 4 PM for the 7 PM race, which in my mind just wasn’t reasonable…so we left at 5 PM and just hoped for the best.
Luckily everything went smoothly! We got our packets without a hitch, and they included our white T-shirts and bib numbers. Just changing into the white shirt got me super excited because we were already surrounded by people who were foamed and had color sprayed everywhere! The pre-race party was filled with loud music and a thick crowd of people all reaching for the free glow sticks and glow glasses that were being thrown from a stage. Every ten minutes, several giant foam blasters that surrounded the perimeter were turned on and colored, wet foam was fired straight into the crowd! Before the race even started, we were all already drenched in soapy colored foam from head to toe…not a single part of my body was spared from the bubbly mess! And of course we had a fantastic time just tossing foam on each other and rubbing it into each other’s hair. As someone who doesn’t really go out on Friday nights or ever go partying, it was probably the wildest Friday I’ve had in a while. In the midst of the madness of foam and EDM blasting in the background, my friends and I joked with each other, “So this is what cool people do, right?”
But of course that was all only before the race. We had come to run together! It was our first group race together (and I hope it’s not our last) because the run was a fantastic time. Even though the race was meant to begin at 7 PM, it took us significant time to even get to the start line because of how late people began lining up. As people began the race in separate waves, it was clear that it would take us some time to make our way to the front and begin—but we had a grand time waiting just by getting pumped and hanging out. Since freshmen year, nearly everyone in my friend group has moved to new places across campus, so it’s been a while since we were all together like this. Looking around, I realized just how much I had missed our group being all together since freshmen year. Of course we were still missing a couple of people because not everyone could make it, but it was wonderful just to be able to share a night with some of the first friends I ever met at UIC.
At last, we made it to the front and we finally took off running. At first I was a little terrified because it felt like we were running completely blind! By that time it was already past 7:30 PM, and it was pitch black outside. Even though there were parts of the race course lit up with neon lights, much of it was completely dark and marked by camouflaged cones. I was scared that I was going to trip and completely wipe out on the gravel we were running on. My friends found a “solution” to this though, and whenever there was an “obstacle” coming up, I heard one of them yell “CONE!” or “FENCE!” or even “SMALL CHILDREN!” It was pretty comical for me (albeit maybe annoying for some of the other runners) but it did keep me from tripping a couple times! It was a challenge the whole way through solely because I felt so blind, and I did stumble a couple times, but luckily I didn’t roll my ankle. Throughout the course, there were zones of foam blasting to run through in which giant waves of foam were shot out from both sides to drown the runners in different colors! It was exciting to sprint through them and have mini foam fights with each other (and with complete strangers)!
The race was probably the most relaxed 5K I’ve ever run. When someone in our group became tired, we would slow to a walk together until we were ready to run again. When we got tired, we motivated each other. When some of us got ahead, eventually we would find our way to each other again (took some loud yelling to find each other sometimes though!) and we all finished the race together in one final dash in the end. Since we couldn’t resist taking countless selfies and group pictures, we actually kept our phones on us! We put them in tightly sealed plastic bags, which did a great job of protecting them from all of the foam. While those stayed nice and dry, we certainly didn’t! I felt covered in a delightful colored, soapy mess by the end. Luckily we had remembered to bring towels so we didn’t make a complete mess out of the van on our trip home!
The Foam Glow 5K wasn’t the most well organized race, but I’ll without a doubt remember it as one of my favorites. I really hope that I can do something like this again with my group of friends soon. As everyone is getting to be juniors or seniors, soon we’ll all be heading off in different directions, which is still a hard truth for me to accept. But I do know that no matter where we’re headed or how long we’re all apart, we’ll still be as close as ever whenever we meet up again. Who knows where any of us will be in a year or two or even ten…but we’ll always have the happy memory of being soaked in foam and running in the dark with only neon glows overhead lighting our way.
And I was screaming long live that look on your face, bring on all the pretenders, I’m not afraid – we will be remembered ♪♫♪
(Long Live – Taylor Swift)
Sarah Lee is a junior studying neuroscience and Russian in the GPPA Medicine program at UIC. She’s still trying to figure out exactly what she wants to do, but some of life goals include running a marathon, exploring Eastern Europe and becoming fluent in Russian. In her free time, she loves running, playing piano and guitar, and reading. A Naperville native, Sarah is a peer mentor in the Courtyard residence hall.