By Shawn Regan firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — HAVERHILL — Call it Haverhill’s Woodstock, with a physical fitness twist.
A few thousand people are expected to converge on a sprawling East Broadway farm starting Friday night, Nov. 9, for a “weekend-long party” culminating in a series of cross-country “military-style” obstacle course races across the property Saturday and Sunday.
Contestants and spectators have been invited to rent camp sites for the weekend and enjoy a live band, barbecue and beer and wine bar set up by the river on the 8-acre Kimball Farm property.
“Rebel Race is a weekend getaway for athletes that want to run a military-style 5k or 15k and then party like there’s no tomorrow,” according to the event’s Website, which says recent events have been held in Maryland, Indiana, Dallas and New York.
“From start to finish, Rebel Race’s military obstacles will have you barricade-climbing, mud-crawling, rope-swinging and fire-jumping,” according to the promotional material. “Cross the finish line and bask in the glory of tons of beer, food, live entertainment and many new friends covered in mud.”
An event organizer and Tyler Kimball, a veteran Haverhill firefighter and local farmer who is hosting the event, told the city’s License Commission last week they are expecting about 2,500 contestants and up to 1,000 cars.
The commission approved a one-day liquor license for the event from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
Police Sgt. Dana Burrill said police Chief Alan DeNaro OK’d the event after meeting with Kimball. The department does have some concerns about overnight camping, parking, noise and other potential impacts to neighbors, Burrill said. In light of those concerns, the commission set several conditions on the event, including that parking is prohibited on East Broadway, that all music stop by 6 p.m. Saturday and that organizers hire at least three private security guards to watch campers and partying at night.
Officials also warned organizers that providing free alcohol drinks to runners — as is advertised in the event’s promotional material — is against the law. They also asked organizers to make sure contestants don’t leave muddy and torn clothes and other discarded items behind on public property near race sites, which has reportedly happened at other venues.
“We’ll be keeping a close eye on it,” Burrill said of the weekend-long activities. “If there are any problems, the police department won’t support future events there.”
Licensing officials said they relied on Kimball’s “excellent reputation” in approving the event and alcohol license. Kimball told them he intends to keep his reputation intact.
“I’ll be responsible,” Kimball said, adding he will personally make sure no one parks on East Broadway and that the area is cleaned after the event. Kimball appeared at the License Commission meeting with the event’s organizer, Amit Nar of Pennsylvania.
Kimball said there is room on his farm for 1,000 cars and that the nearest homes are about a half-mile from the camping and entertainment areas. He said he anticipates at least 150 people camping in tents in a field on his property. Drinking, he said, will be limited to a one-acre area in the southwest corner of his property.
Racing will be in waves of 500 runners throughout the day starting at 9:30 Saturday morning. Just like the original Woodstock, organizers are promising lots of mud.
Twenty-two obstacles along the 3.1- and 9.3-mile trek feature names such as Slimy Slope Slide, Ninja Turtle Sewer (scramble through tunnels like Donatello), Lunatic Lagoon Military Mud pit, Flaming Fury (leap over fire) and Hell in the Himalayas (climb over a mountain of mud). Walls, nets, ropes, water, fire, mounds of hay and lots of mud are among the obstacles participants must go around, over or through, according to promotional information on the event. Trophies and prizes are up for grabs in a variety of male, female and youth categories. Anyone 11 and older is welcome to run, according to the rules. Participants and spectators are invited to pitch tents at camping sites for up to six people for $90 to $125. The cost to race is $50 to $105 depending on when participants sign up. Parking is another $10.
Kimball promised all runners will be off his property an hour after the last race at 5 p.m. Sunday.
“Sunday is a big cleaning day if any of you want to drop by and inspect the area,” Nar, the event organizer, told the License Commission.