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posted: 7/22/2014 11:00 AM

New Naperville obstacle race to help families 'get active together'

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  • A new obstacle race coming Aug. 2 to Naperville will be just for kids -- including those with special needs -- teens and their parents. The course will be under the umbrella of the popular Spartan Race series, which includes an event each year in Marseilles.

      A new obstacle race coming Aug. 2 to Naperville will be just for kids -- including those with special needs -- teens and their parents. The course will be under the umbrella of the popular Spartan Race series, which includes an event each year in Marseilles.
    Courtesy of Stephanie Hastings

  • The new obstacle race Sean Hastings is bringing to his hometown of Naperville aims to get kids and their parents active and healthy together. The race begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, in Frontier Park, 3380 Cedar Glade Drive in Naperville.

      The new obstacle race Sean Hastings is bringing to his hometown of Naperville aims to get kids and their parents active and healthy together. The race begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, in Frontier Park, 3380 Cedar Glade Drive in Naperville.
    Courtesy of Stephanie Hastings

 
 

When it comes to exercise, running half marathons just doesn't cut it for Sean Hastings of Naperville.

And when it comes to exercising with his kids, volunteering to coach their soccer or football teams doesn't do the trick, either.

Hastings is planning a new race that will give parents and kids a better opportunity to exercise together by tackling the fun challenge of an obstacle course.

The first Spartan Kids Race for Kids, Teens and Families is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, in Frontier Park, 3380 Cedar Glade Drive, Naperville.

Kids ages 5 to 18, including those with intellectual disabilities or special needs such as autism, can compete with or without their parents. They can tackle a 2K or a 4K course, both of which will include walls to scale, monkey bars to cross, cargo nets to climb, tires to flip and even a tunnel draped with fabric from a real car wash to run through at the end.

"Families are able to participate in this themselves as a family group. You can train with your kids," Hastings said. "Your kids can actually rip you off the couch and get you away from Facebook or watching TV to go toward a goal together as a family to get active together."

Hastings, who founded Go Ballistic Events with his wife, Stephanie, is planning the new event under the Spartan Race series after competing in several of the company's events, like the Spartan Super 8-mile obstacle race in Marseilles.

"The brand is great," Hastings said. "It's all about fitness and health and having fun."

Spartan races for adults typically have separate heats for youth, but Aug. 2 will be the first time a Spartan Race planned specifically for kids will take place on its own, said Daniel Goldstein, a consultant for the brand.

The difference with the new Naperville race is adults can sign up only if they have a child or children participating. Goldstein said that will allow families to learn together about perseverance, physical activity and healthy eating. Participants will not be timed, and each will receive a T-shirt and a medal for completing their course of choice.

Ambitious young obstacle-conquerers can even double back and complete the course more than once if they want to run in a kids' heat on their own and then again later with their parents.

"There is something very nice about a race culture which is just encouraging you to finish. When you start something, you finish it," Goldstein said. "It's also a lot of fun. Doing things that are fun -- even if they're challenging -- is a great thing to learn in life."

The race is teamed up with two charities -- the Max Lacewell Foundation, which funds research on pediatric brain tumors, and the YMCA of Metro Chicago.

Judy Ellertson, executive director of the Fry Family YMCA at 2120 95th St. in Naperville, said she is promoting the race among Y members as a way for parents to become healthy role models for their kids.

"We think this is a perfect partnership with kids and trying to get them more active and off the couch," Ellertson said. "This will be great fun."

The Y also is offering a free, pre-race training session at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 30, at Kroehler Family YMCA, 34 S. Washington St., Naperville. Ellertson said participants will go through circuits to prepare themselves for the obstacles they'll face in the race by working their upper body, core muscles and quads.

The course can accommodate up to 2,500 people who can traverse the obstacles then stick around for a post-race party with a DJ, samples from Whole Foods, food for sale from Belgio's Catering and sponsor booths to browse.

If the race goes well, Hastings said he hopes to host several more next year in Naperville, at various other spots in the suburbs and in major markets across the nation.

But first, he plans to watch kids and their parents navigate the jumps and climbs of the first course through Frontier Park, ending with "DaWasher," featuring old equipment from a feature of Brighton Car Wash at 75th Street and Plainfield/Naperville Road that kids sometimes call "the octopus," owner Jason Morin said.

Draped under 12-foot tall arches will be the fabric arms of "the octopus," ready to brush racers as they're about to complete the course.

"It'll be a fun obstacle to run through," Morin said.

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