For awhile there, it seemed that the Inland Northwest had become a hotbed of color runs, mud races and other oddly themed fun runs that sought to encourage all ages and abilities to come out and hit the course. Back in 2014, when we ran this story for InHealth magazine on the trend, there were many alternative races like this on the calendar, only to die down the following year.
But this May, a new race that incorporates the same "running is fun and accessible to all" theme, called the Insane Inflatable 5K, is coming to town.
Rather than coat participants in powdered dye or mud, this race, as its name implies, incorporates inflatable obstacles along the 3.1 mile course — each a bouncy castle spin-off with cheeky names: "big balls," "the humps," "the mad house," "mattress run" and "slingshot."
Set up along the 5K course, participants can take as long as they'd like in the un-timed event to jog from bouncy obstacle to obstacle. The race's start is divided into waves to avoid what could be a major bounce house traffic jam.
Race entry isn't cheap — $49 in advance, and $75 the day of — but a portion of proceeds are going to the Spokane team for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Runners also get a T-shirt and a medal for completing the event. Beyond the race itself, the event offers a beer garden and a festival area called the "Midway" with games, food, merch and more.
The Spokane event is set for May 14, at the Dwight Merkel Sports Complex.
A few weekends ago while in Seattle for business, Ryan Oelrich spent the afternoon playing giant board games downtown with complete strangers. Now, that inspiring experience has become the spark of a community project already well on its way to becoming a reality: Spokane Sidewalk Games.
“It was a very inspiring moment for me," Oelrich says. "I watched business professionals sit down with the homeless and smile, talk and enjoy each other’s company. I’m frequently complaining to my friends that people don’t talk to one another and connect as much as we should.”
So far, in about a week's time (he first saw the games on Feb. 20) Oelrich has secured sponsors (Global Credit Union) and ordered Spokane some of its own super-sized games — chess and Connect Four, so far. He hopes to purchase giant-sized versions of checkers, Chutes and Ladders and Tic-Tac-Toe.
Oelrich's large network of local connections has helped the project quickly move from a moment of inspiration to something he hopes to publicly debut by May. He currently serves on the board of directors for the nonprofit arts venture Terrain, and is the executive director of Priority Spokane, which supports local students who are homeless.
Because of those connections, local artists have offered to put their artwork onto game pieces. Oelrich has also found a way for the project to offer employment opportunities for local homeless youth. Teens supported by the Volunteers of America's Crosswalk Youth Shelter downtown will staff the games during weekends and other major events to encourage the public to come participate, and also to help prevent any random acts of vandalism to the game pieces (a concern that's been frequently mentioned to him). Several groups have already reached out with interest in hosting the games, including local farmers markets. The plan is to set up the games at big annual events — Bloomsday, Hoopfest, Pig Out in the Park and others — and during arts events like Terrain's October arts showcase and the Bazaar arts market in June.
"It's been such a fun project to watch come together so quickly," Oelrich says. "I love that this ties into my work of putting Crosswalk youth to work, and since I'm on the Terrain board, this brings my whole world together."
Those interested in donating to the project can contact Oelrich directly at [email protected] Several sponsorships, which includes funds to pay youth employees, are still available.
After logging in this morning to check your Facebook news feed, you may have noticed something different about all the posts. Today, the social media giant rolled out some major changes to the "like" button system, allowing all users the option to choose from five other responses — branded as Facebook Reactions — that go beyond the site's ubiquitous "thumbs up" icon.
In a post about the rollout, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg explains that these options are the company's response to the long-requested "dislike" button that would allow users to appropriately react to the not-so-positive news inundating their feeds.
"Liking" a post is still the default option. To choose one of the new "Reaction" icons — a heart and smiley emojis shown laughing, surprised, sad and angry — simply hover over (on desktop; for mobile do a long press) the "like" button to select from a pop-up menu.
Now that users can do more than simply hit that "like" button to mindlessly react to a post, will people actually take the time to click and select the appropriate emoji? Moreover, will media outlets (especially considering it's election season...) be victims of angry-face spamming? We shall see.
In the meantime, The Verge published this snarky "how to" guide on using the new Facebook Reactions. Also, Mashable has a helpful overview of how to find the new feature if it's not yet showing up on your feed.
In the early days of video games, point-and-shoot games often placed players inside a confined space, challenging them to escape by exploiting their surroundings. But alas, when imagination isn't enough, you make it real. It comes as no surprise then, that these and other modern, online games have sparked a new chapter of puzzle-solving entertainment as real-life escape rooms have emerged in recent years in cities across the U.S.
These real life escape rooms require quick thinking and some physical adventure. Typically, clues are placed throughout the room, giving participants an hour to crack the code to gain their freedom. It's not easy — often a clue or two will bamboozle you for longer than you'd like. Some tricky puzzle makers might even try and throw you and your group off-track with red herrings that actually have nothing to do with "breaking out" of the room you're trapped.
And more often than you may guess, groups who take on these escape room challenges might fail to solve their predicament before time runs out. As the escape room entertainment trend has grown in popularity, the trend has reached the Inland Northwest in full force over the past year. Below are some escape rooms that recently broke onto Spokane's entertainment scene (some local media outlets have even tried to escape these confinements). Take a look and partake in them if you dare.
1325 E. Francis Ave. | claustropanic.com
Claustropanic is home to three different rooms: school detention, a fallout shelter and an interrogation-themed puzzle. With 60 minutes on the clock, up to eight people can work as a team to escape from one of these confined rooms. As a school delinquent, your attention to detail is tested in an hour-long detention session. If you choose to face a nuclear disaster, you must break free from a faulty fallout shelter due to limited air supply. Or, opt for a session in the interrogation room and dupe your kidnappers with clues left behind from your boss. You choose, but the clock is ticking.
7456 N. Division | dareyou2escape.com
One of the first escape rooms to open in Spokane, there are three different themed options here: prison, purgatory, and Dr. Ella Mentall's Testing Facility. Most first-timers try the "prison escape" because it's the most standard of the three, though purgatory is perhaps the most thrilling because of its horror elements. Escaping from any of these rooms is not a picnic! On average, only 20 percent of participants succeed. So, if you're looking to get your brain working and want a variety of themes to choose from, this is an option.
KEY QUEST ESCAPE ROOM
202 W. Second Ave. | keyquestescaperoom.com
With some incentive and team work, groups of up to six individuals can try their hand at finding the plane tickets hidden in a ransacked travel office to make it to the airport in time to make their vacation flight, or escape certain death at the hands of a serial killer from the depths of a dark cellar. Groups who make it out of their room successfully in the 45 minute time block are awarded a Laser Quest 2-4-1 pass. As one of multiple Key Quest locations across North America and Canada, these rooms offer a team-building experience for individuals looking to bond, or just for some live-action fun.
225 N. Ella Rd., Spokane Valley | cartelhaunts.com
To match the changing of the seasons, Cartel Haunts regularly builds new rooms with different themes. During the month of love, there's a Valentine's-esque, horror-themed escape room called "The Curse of Evilina." Visitors must follow clues and retrace Evilina's tracks while looking for her dead body. The room is set up like a haunted house and there are creepy elements throughout: a masked man lurking in corners while you search for clues, moving in once in a while to groan in your ear, and a ghost woman popping out when you least expect it. Your brain might hurt at the end of the hour because the clues require acute cleverness.
The November presidential election is still months away (even though it sure doesn't seem like it), but your voice can still be heard, like, right now! At least when it comes to sharing your opinion on the best places in the Inland Northwest to grab a coffee, treat yo' self to an ice cream cone or savor a tasty burrito. We all have local favorites, which is why we want all Inlander readers to share theirs for the 23rd annual Best of the Inland Northwest Readers Poll.
Your Facebook and Twitter feeds have no doubt been filled lately with pleas from local businesses to give them a nod in 2016's poll, but not for much longer. Voting wraps up later this week, so don't delay! (Remember, if you didn't vote, you can't complain when your favorite doesn't win, just like in real politics!)
It's really easy to vote online — you can even spend a few minutes right now on your lunch break to fill out a few categories. Then save and come back, but don't forget to finish and submit, filling in at least 40 questions on the ballot for it to count — by this Thursday, Feb. 18, at midnight.
We'll be busy the next few weeks tallying the votes and prepping our big Best Of issue announcing all the winners, out on March 24.
No, be off and vote!
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