For many, the cancellation of sports last March was the first "holy crap" moment that convinced them the pandemic was here. Games were canceled not only in major national leagues, but at your local gym. The good news? Sports are back. You can go out and play a game with some friends, or run a marathon, or play Hoopfest, then come back and turn on the game with a nice cold beer.
GO TO AN INDIANS GAMEThe Spokane Indians have leveled up since the pandemic. They're now a "high-A" affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, which basically means more, higher quality baseball in Spokane. In fact, they're about to play twice as many games at Avista Stadium as they usually do. After a year of isolation, a casual night out at the baseball park might be exactly what you need to ease yourself into being around crowds again. The season started May 4 and will continue through early September. Check out spokaneindians.com for tickets and more information.
GO TO A SHOCK GAMEBaseball not your thing? Then maybe football is. The Spokane Shock are back playing football for the Indoor Football League, and in June they plan to welcome back fans once again. It's a great time for those hot summer days when you want to have fun, but maybe you want to stay indoors with some air conditioning. Tickets must be purchased online at www.thespokaneshock.com or call (509) 934-2255.
GO PLAY SOME BASKETBALL
Hoopfest — everyone's favorite 3-on-3 tournament — won't be until Sept. 11-12 this year, but hoopers can get their fix in with an outdoor Hooptown USA league, presented by Spokane Hoopfest Association and Riverfront Park this summer. This summer league is a 5-on-5 game on weeknights so, no, you won't miss any lake weekends.
Games will be played at a beautiful new court on the North Bank of the park starting in early July, once a week. That means after the games, maybe you can go on a nice walk around the park. The deadline to register is Sunday, June 20. Visit hooptownusa.com for more details.
WATCH IRONMANIt's hard to imagine actually doing an Ironman event. I much prefer to watch athletes heroically power through the pain as I casually watch and cheer them on. Luckily, if you're like me, there's one last chance to watch Ironman in Coeur d'Alene, or at least hang out in the Lake City with a general idea of the inspirational athletic feats happening in the vicinity.
The last full Ironman Coeur d'Alene — including a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run — happened in 2017. The two years after that, they did a smaller Ironman Coeur d'Alene before the entire race was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic. But this year, the epic triathlon is back — and no half-measures this time. It's the full thing. And sure, it may be a special, one-time-only deal, but this is your chance to go back in time not to the pandemic, but before the pandemic, and see what things were like then. Registration for the June 27 event is sold out, but there is still a chance to watch the incredible athletes in action. Visit ironman.com/im-coeur-dalene.
GO ON A NATURE RUNOK, so maybe you are one of those people who enjoys going on runs. I may never understand it fully, but I may understand it a little bit more if the run is out in nature on a beautiful day.
Race the Wolf is holding an ultramarathon and trail race series on June 27 at Schweitzer Mountain. You can choose from three distances: a 52k ultramarathon, or smaller trail races. It's a tough run, but as a bonus you get the always incredible views of Lake Pend Oreille.
Negative Split, meanwhile, is putting on a "back to nature" series, featuring three runs in select Inland Northwest locations.
The first event is taking place June 13 on the Hiawatha Trail in Idaho, and you can register for a live or virtual option. Runners can park in the ghost town of Taft, Montana, and choose between a four-mile, 15k or 25k distance option. You run through railroad tunnels and past forests, waterfalls and wildlife. You also can get some shirts, wooden medals and food for your troubles.
The second run is Aug. 22 at Silver Mountain, where runners can choose a 6k, 9k or 18k course at Silver Mountain and receive a full-day gondola lift ticket, shirts and custom slate rock medals.
And to end the summer, the third run will be at Mt. Spokane on Sept. 12. Enjoy views from the top of a mountain and finish the summer with that feeling of accomplishment that always comes after a good run (or so I hear). Visit nsplit.com to sign up for these runs.
GO SWIM ACROSS THE LAKEChances are the thought has crossed your mind. If you've gone to Lake Coeur d'Alene, you might wonder how long it would take to swim across the lake.
Well, this is your opportunity to find out. On Aug. 15, Parker Subaru is presenting the Coeur d'Alene Crossing. Swimmers can register for $50 or $60 and choose between a 1.2-mile open water swim or a 2.4-mile swim. It starts around the Coeur d'Alene Resort Golf Course, and if you go for the shorter swim, they take you out on a boat to the middle of the lake instead of making you swim the full distance.
And don't worry — paramedics and law enforcement will be there to make sure everybody is safe. But maybe wear a wetsuit.
GO PICK A PLACE FOR PICKLEBALLEven before the pandemic, pickleball was taking off as a sport. Tyson McGuffin, a local who was the 2017 and 2018 Men's Singles national champion in pickleball, called it the "fastest-growing sport in America" in an interview with the Inlander in 2018.
There's a good reason: It's easy for anyone to play casually, but just as easy to make it competitive. All you need is a couple paddles, a ball and a partner, and you have a game. Plus, it's fun to see the look of bemusement on someone's face when you tell them you are a regular pickleball player. At least it's a conversation starter.
The pandemic seemingly helped the sport take off even more. Like tennis, it's a good way to stay active while staying socially distanced, and it's a great outdoor activity. There's also a ton of places to play around the Inland Northwest — Cherry Hill Park in Coeur d'Alene, Comstock Park in Spokane, Hill's Resort on Priest Lake are just a few of the many parks with a pickleball court. Give it a try! ♦