You start up one giant inflatable, run through it. You come to another one, tackle that obstacle and head on to the next one, and at the end snag your finisher’s medal.
That’s how Phil Wright, one of the inventors of the Great Inflatable Race, coming to Grayslake Sept. 15, describes the event. It’s not really a race, per se, because there are no first or last place finishers, although families can race against each other.
It’s mostly about having a bouncing good time.
The Great Inflatable Race is suitable for all ages and fitness levels, Wright said. He has seen 80-year-olds participating, he said.
About 10 custom-made inflatables are spread throughout a two-mile course.
“Coming from an adult’s perspective — it’s pure joy, honestly,” Wright said. “You get inside. You’re bouncing up and down. It’s a work out. It’s tough, but it’s just fun. You can’t help but smile — you’re climbing up these giant crazy things filled with air and sliding down them and running with friends.”
One of the inflatables looks like a giant volcano. Participants climb the three story-tall volcano, then slide down the other side. The castle of doom has participants running through a few ground obstacles, climbing a ladders, sliding down and running through a few more obstacles.
A few might be scary, Wright said. “We don’t force anyone to go on any particular obstacle.”
More than half of the tickets available in Grayslake are sold, but Wright said he still expects some tickets to be available at the door. He recommends purchasing online for reduced prices.
With the ticket, participants receive a T-shirt, temporary tattoo, fanny pack or drawstring bag and headband. A VIP pass also gets participants into the inflatable village, a smaller, separate area, with more game-oriented inflatables, he said.
“There’s a bungee run and a boxing ring and a simple bounce house for smaller kids,” he said. “You don’t have to be racing, you can just play and hang out.” Those who only want to hang out at the inflatable village pay $15 per person or $20 for two people.
Wright and some college friends started Great Inflatable Race in 2012, at Utah State University. “We said we didn’t want real jobs. We had an inflatable of one of our parties in college and it was a big hit,” he said. “We’d been looking at races, and did research, found there wasn’t anything out there that was inflatable and suitable for all ages.
“We’ve had really good numbers and we’ve expanded from one local race to over 65 cities across the country. I see us growing and continuing to pull some big numbers. It’s a good journey.”
He added the race also donates a portion of proceeds to local charities.
Great Inflatable Race
When: 9-11 a.m. Sept. 15
Last wave leaves at 11 a.m., be there by 10:45 a.m. to run
Where: Lake County Fairgrounds, 1060 Peterson Rd., Grayslake
Information: 781-786-8447; www.thegreatinflatablerace.com/chicago