On Saturday morning (April 13), the picturesque grounds of Harewood House were transformed into a long stretch of inflatable obstacles for entrants to run, climb or jump over.
Thousands of people showed up to tackle the world’s largest inflatable 5km, including myself and a nine of my icelolly.com (affiliate link) workmates who challenged ourselves to raise money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, our long time charity partners.
The challenging course featured 12 giant inflatables along the route including huge slides, difficult climbs, uneven surfaces and enormous spiky balls. My personal highlight was the 45m wide and three-and-a-half-metres high The Wall. I was able to climb up the monstrosity without issue, but my descent was much less graceful and followed a short break atop the obstacle.
Some of the obstacles were quite busy and allowed a maximum of three people on at a time so we had to queue for them, but this was seen as light relief and a well-deserved break from the 5km stretch of (intermittent) running. Thankfully, we were never waiting long and did not fret as the entire event had a focus on positively, rather than PB’s.
Gung-Ho prides itself on being ‘seriously fun’ and it’s easy to see why. We spent the duration of the race in fits of laughter and came home with hilarious stories to tell. For instance, I had a mishap on the very first obstical, one of my friend’s jumped off ‘the wall’ and bounced straight off the inflatable onto the grass, and we all thought about cutting corners before getting told off.
I definitely did not do as much training I would have liked, but what I lacked in preparation, I made up for in sheer willpower, crossing the finish line and a sea of foam in a respectable time and without injury.
As soon as I finished, I wanted to go again (although I’m sure my body would have regretted that decision immediately). There’s something about running around on inflatables that makes you feel young again, allowing you to relive fond memories of play centres like Alphabet Zoo and Wacky Warehouse.
The parking, staffing and course itself were flawlessly organised. However, I expected better toilet facilities considering the magnitude of people expected to take part. As there were only 7 portaloos, the queues were constant and some people even choose to go into the woods instead to ensure they would be at the starting line in time for their race wave.
Regardless, Gung-Ho Leeds was a success and I’d recommend it in a heartbeat. I’ll be back again next year, donning the 2018 sports top and headband I received in my winners pack.