Vancouver’s 5K Foam Fest is an obstacle course-style race with bubbles and mud that takes place at the Cloverdale Rodeo Fairgrounds in May or June.
With a focus on fun and fitness, the event helps raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation which is a charitable cause that helps fulfill critically-ill children’s wishes.
The next 5K Foam Fest event is scheduled for Saturday, June 17th, 2023.
5K Foam Fest in Vancouver
The 5K Foam Fest event is a 5-km race that features over 20 obstacles including pits of mud, a massive inflatable slide and 2.5 million cubic feet of foam.
The event is a “fun run” which means it isn’t timed and the organizers want you to have as much fun as possible. You can choose whether to go over or around the obstacles and whether you run, walk, skip or go whatever other way you want to get through the course. It’s a very positive and energetic environment with lots of foam and upbeat music!
Where and When
In 2020 the run was going to take place on Saturday May 30th at the Cloverdale Rodeo Fairgrounds at 6050-176th Street in Surrey (which is about a 45-minute drive from downtown Vancouver). Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to the pandemic and the event hasn’t taken place since.
The 5K Foam Fest is set to return, however, on Saturday, June 17th, in 2023. The event usually runs from around 8:00 am until about 5:00 pm. People do the course in waves and register for specific start times which begin at 8 o’clock in the morning and continue about every 15 minutes up until 1:00 pm.
The event took place in Abbotsford twice a few years ago, but since 2019 it has been happening at the Cloverdale location.
Registration opens months in advance with early-bird pricing, and rates go up as the race date approaches. As of early January, 2022, the price for the 2023 Vancouver event is about $50. Over time the rate goes up to the full price of $110. So if you know you want to go, buy your ticket early!
Children ages 8 and older who run the race are charged the same amount as adults. Some years, however, there has been a family pass which costs about $45 per person and is for a minimum of four members of the same family. 2023 details are to be confirmed. Members of the military and first responders also get a discount (with valid ID) and this is indeed the case again in 2023.
Included with the cost of admission is a souvenir beach towel, racing bib, free photos, finisher’s medal and access to the race course, obstacles, water stations, Kids’ Fun Zone (for children), festival village, 2.5 million cubic feet of bubbles and a fun time.
Parking at the venue usually costs about $10 and to leave your stuff at the Gear Check Tent costs a minimum $5 donation (with proceeds benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation).
For tickets and full details see the official 5K Foam Fest website.
Other Registration Details
In normal years, there is only room for 5,000 or so participants per 5K Foam Fest, so if you want to participate, and save money, register early and before they sell out.
Make sure you sign the waiver ahead of time and print off your ticket to bring to the event. You also need to bring your ID in case you lose your ticket. The organizers will be able to look you up in their system but will need to verify it’s actually you.
This event is for participants ages 8 and up. Children ages 7 and under are welcome to attend, watch the runners and enjoy the Kids’ Fun Zone for free, but not actually run the main obstacle course race. Youth ages 8-12, meanwhile, can do the full run, but are required to have a registered adult participant with them at all times.
Note: This event takes place no matter the weather so even if it’s raining it will still occur. Cancellation of the event will only happen in very rare and extreme circumstances.
What to Expect
At 5K Foam Fest you can expect to see thousands of people having fun. Some participants are hard-core athletes and run like mad, while others aren’t so serious and take their time. Many people run with teams or groups of friends, but some run on their own or with just a friend or family member.
At the event there is lots of bubbly foam and areas with mud. There is also music in different places and food trucks, merchandise vendors and information booths in the Festival Village near the main starting area.
Obstacle elements you can expect on the course include a starting line with tons of foam, walls to climb over, a mud crawl, mud pits, a rope climb, tire hopping, a giant inflatable water slide and lots more.
5K Foam Fest is like an army boot camp obstacle course, but with bubbles, people laughing and everyone having fun. There is also no pressure, nobody yelling at you to go faster, nobody barking orders, and nobody stopping you from skipping any elements you don’t want to do (except possibly for your friends and cheering family members, but they’re just doing that in fun).
The event is “funcore” as opposed to “hardcore,” so you are allowed to walk instead of run if you want. Almost everyone runs at least a part of the course, and many run most if not all of the way. Lots of participants, however, also take their time, especially in the second half of the course. On average, participants take between about 60 and 90 minutes to go from the starting line to the finish.
5K Foam Fest Video
To get an idea of what to expect at the event, check out the following video. We filmed these scenes from the starting area at 5K Foam Fest when it took place at Abbotsford Exhibition Park a couple of years ago. As you’ll see, there is tons of foam to run through and lots of people having a great time.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation
In addition to being an exceptionally fun thing to do, 5K Foam Fest is also a fundraising event. Both participants and teams are encouraged to raise money, and those that raise the most can earn prizes. Funds collected through pledges, sponsorships and general donations are then given to the Make-A-Wish Foundation which is the official charity of the event.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation raises money in order to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening diseases. The idea is that beneficiaries will be able to undergo their treatments more easily after their wishes have been granted as they will have fond memories to look back on. Common types of granted wishes involve travel, trips to theme parks, computer-related purchases and visits with celebrities.
How can you help? After registering for 5K Foam Fest, create a team with your friends and try to be the top fundraisers. In addition to feeling good about helping a good cause, as a bonus, there are prizes for those who raise the most for the foundation. There’s also an opportunity to buy Make-A-Wish merchandise and running items in-person at the event. Donations collected from people using the gear-check services at the run also benefit this most worthwhile cause.
To fundraise for the Make-A-Wish Foundation all you need to do is register for a 5K Foam Fest event, create a personal fundraising page on the event’s website and then start fundraising (which simply involves asking friends, family, neighbours and coworkers to pitch in, support you in your run and make a donation).
For tickets and full details see the official 5K Foam Fest website.
Tips and Tricks
Below are some tips and useful extra information to help you make the most out of your Vancouver 5K Foam Fest experience.
Before the Run and What to Take
TIP #1: Things to take with you on the day include sunscreen, a change of clothes, a towel and some cash for things like parking, food and souvenirs. A waterproof camera is also a good idea, if you have one, as is a plastic bag to put your wet clothes in afterwards in case they are still muddy.
TIP #2: Bring cash! The entire event is cash only (except for perhaps the food vendors). Parking costs $10 and if you want to check your gear it’s a $5 donation (or more if you want to be generous).
TIP #3: Plan to get there an hour early. This will allow you to have enough time to register and check out all the things going on at the event before your wave of the race begins.
TIP #4: Read the e-mails sent to you as they often have tickets for the following year’s 5K Foam Fest event on sale at a reduced rate after you run.
TIP #5: Invite your friends and/or family to join you on the run and make a day out of the adventure! And the more the merrier!
Other Good Things to Know
TIP #6: There are showers on-site for participants to wash all the mud and foam off after the race. Try not to take too long though as there will be 4,999 other participants waiting to shower too.
TIP #7: It is recommended that you take your time going over the obstacles as lines can form further down the route if people go too quickly.
TIP #8: If you are a serious runner and want to complete the course in record time, and so going fast is important, register as early as possible so you can run in the first wave of the day (because only that wave will have no other groups in front that might slow you down). Also, arrive extra early on the day so you can get a spot near the front of your wave (and so again minimize the number of other participants in front who might slow you down).
TIP #9: Hang out after the race to enjoy the DJ music, beer garden, Kids’ Fun Zone (if you have children) and food vendors.
For more information about the event see the official 5K Foam Fest website.
To learn more about the charitable beneficiary of the run see the Make-A-Wish Foundation website.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver’s May Calendar
- Vancouver’s June Calendar
- Lower Mainland Festivals & Events
- Vancouver Marathons & Running Races