Friday, August 8, 2014

Stair Racing Summer Break

I was recently asked by a follower of my website why it has been so long since I have posted. Good question!

In the world of stair racing there is an offseason, the summertime. Most of the American Lung fundraiser races are from January to April. The fall races start in September at the Los Angeles US Bank stair race through November at the Willis tower in Chicago.

For the US stair climbing association the year starts in September for points calculating purposes and goes until August of the following year. If I ever wanted to really compete nationally and gain as many points as I can in a year, I would start in September and do as many races as I can. Maybe after I am done with my 50 states I can take a year to get as high in the rankings as possible......hhmmmmm.

If you think about summertime why in the world would you want to be racing and training in a stuffy stairwell when you can be outside hiking, running or golfing? This summer I decided I need a new way to train when I am at home. The suburbs of Utah are not known for their towering skyscrapers.
Thanks to my dad for sending me this rendering of what the former World Trade Towers would look like in Utah.
I was looking online one day and found some commercial stair masters like they have in the gym. There was a very old used one for $1,700 that wasn’t far from my house. I tried to talk them down to $1,000 and they wouldn’t go that low. Next one that came online was listed in Elko Nevada which is a 4 hour drive from my home. It is a Stairmaster Stepmill SM5 only 1 year old they these people purchased for $6,500….way out of my price range!

They listed it for $4,500. I offered them $1,700 via email and asked them to contact me if they are interested in going that low. A few weeks later I received a counter offer of $3,000, still out of my price range. My wife is patient and accepting of a crazy hobby but that is asking too much of her. I countered saying $2,000 is the highest I would be willing to go. A few weeks later they countered with $2,500 and I again told them I would be willing to come pick it up for $2,000 but that was it.

The good thing is I actually had a once every three year meeting in Elko Nevada and it was coming up in two weeks. I was really hoping if I stayed patient they would accept the $2,000 and I could come pick it up while I was there for the conference. I knew I had an upper hand considering who buys actual stair masters for their home? Also who would drive all the way to the small mining town of Elko Nevada to buy one? I just realized reading through these two questions that pretty much I am the ONLY person willing to do this! After a week they responded that they would do the $2,000 if I could come pick it up. I did it! Feeling pretty good about my negotiating skills.
The guy in the red hat is the one I bought the stair master from in Elko. This little ramp made it very easy to place in the truck.
I drove my father’s Ford Ranger out to Elko and picked up the Stairmaster from the peoples home. It was much taller than I anticipated! I had some bungees and at tarp but it was clear that wasn’t going to be enough to hold it down properly. After covering it with the tarp and a bunch of heavy duty tie downs I was ready to hit the road. A bunch of people at the work conference I was at thought I had a missile launcher or a mechanical bull on the back of my truck.

The drive back was…….stressful! I could see the reflection of the truck and stairmaster in the road in front of me and it was huge! 

The wind blew the tarp so hard that eventually some of the bungees snapped and the tarp ripped. Halfway into the drive I took off the tarp and hoped the Stairmaster was built strong enough to withstand the winds.

After 5 long hours I made it home. The Stairmaster is now proudly in my garage and I use it at least 3 times a week when I am in town. My wife has even used it a few times and it has given her a good workout. I am about ready to start my 8 year old son with training on it.
My wife admiring it before we put it in the corner of the garage. 
A Stairmaster is not as difficult as running actual stairs in a building but it can still burn calories quickly and prepare me for stair races better than running outside. This fall I am travelling quite a bit for work so I will post some of the stair runs I am able to complete.
The number of floors may be inflated but it is a great quick workout!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tallest Building in Indiana Stair Run

Chase Tower is the tallest building in Indiana and on March 26, 2014 I ran the stairs of this building marking the 13th state I have run the tallest building in.

What a crazy four day stretch! In four days I have run the tallest building in Kentucky, Washington and Indiana. My meetings in Indianapolis ended at noon and my flight was at 5:30 pm. Some colleagues returned to the hotel to work out, some rushed to the airport to find an earlier flight, others began the three hour drive home, some headed for downtown to run the stairs of the tallest building in the state……well actually I guess I was the only one that did this. I did have another colleague with me who is on the same flight to Utah and needed a ride to the airport.

Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument is 284 feet tall and built in 1902 in honor of those who served in the Civil and Spanish-American Wars.

We drove into the city, found the Chase tower then searched for parking, which is not an easy task as it is scarce. This area of town is really beautiful. There is a giant war memorial behind Chase tower honoring the people from Kentucky who fought and died in the service of the United States. It is hard to notice the scale of this memorial in a picture unless you look at the people standing by the door to the gift shop at the base of the tower. This crazy goal of mine takes me to places I otherwise would never go to.

My colleague Derek and I entered the building and he politely said he would wait at the paradise bakery in the building while I did my thing.

Lobby of Chase Tower. The stairs are just past the second set of flowers on the left.
I took the escalator to the public second floor and made my way to the stairwell. The door was unlocked and when I entered it appears there was a gate to not allow people up but it was taken off permanently and the stairwell was clear to run up. Considering Derek was waiting for me and the stairs were right there I hit the bathroom to change clothes, dropped off my backpack with Derek and began the run. My legs were pretty sore from going down all of the stairs in Kentucky two days before so I maintained a steady pace. It was nice to make it to the top in 9 minutes 45 seconds feeling like I had a great workout but not as winded as usual.

It is interesting how going up the stairs I skip a stair every step I take. Going down I hit every step so I don’t fall and get hurt. It makes my muscles more sore and also seems to take longer since I am taking double the steps. 

Derek was so patient and was also surprised at how fast of a workout it was. I was back so fast he didn't get much work done while I was gone. I changed my clothes and Derek and I walked down the street to eat some good lunch at Mccormick and Schmick's before going to the airport for our flight home.

I didn’t expect to cross this building off my list on this trip so it was a nice surprise. When I made a vision board last October my goal for the end of 2015 was to have my total states run to be 13. I have now done this goal with many months to spare. Like I have said all along I don’t have an end date in mind for when I run all 50 states but the progress so far has been encouraging and I know I am getting stronger.
View from the top floor looking down the stairwell

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tallest Building in Kentucky Stair Run

The Aegon Center in Louisville is the tallest building in the state of Kentucky. On March 24 2014 I ran the stairs of this building marking the 12th state I have run the tallest building in.

It’s been quite the travelling weekend for me. Sunday morning I ran the stairs of the tallest building in Washington. I flew home to spend the afternoon-evening with my family then at 6:00 am flew to Minnesota for a layover, then flew to Indianapolis for some work training taking place Tuesday and Wednesday. Monday afternoon I was able to take my work calls in the car and drive to Louisville. This meant I had been in 5 states in two days.

The landscape driving through Indiana was quite flat with many fields and old barns. It seemed like one our out of every four billboards were about some caverns in Kentucky that feature the world’s only indoor zip lines. I will admit I was tempted to make the detour to give this a try.

I wanted to snap a picture of the “Welcome to Kentucky” sign so I kept my phone handy and paid close attention to the posted signs. Funny thing is I could have benefitted from looking on a map to get a general idea of how far south of Indianapolis the border is. Turns out the border is the Ohio River that runs through the city of Louisville and was on the final two miles of my drive. I pulled my camera up no less than 7 times on the near two hour drive…..I’m pretty smart.

The Aegon Center is only 35 floors tall and 539 feet tall so it is nearly half the size of the building in Seattle I climbed the day before. I entered and did my usual process of asking security where the property manager’s office is so I could ask him my strange request. The security guard told me he is on the 24th floor and I could go up there but be prepared that he will tell me no. That sounded good to me! I’m in sales so I am used to hearing no, or meeting with people who are at first not happy to be meeting with me.

There were two things I noticed on my way up to the office, first, there is no key card required to go from floor to floor on the elevator. Second, once on the floor the stairwell is easily accessible. Some buildings the stairwell isn’t accessible on the public floors so the only way to get in is to take the elevator up, enter the stairwell and then go down to the bottom to then start the climb. Buildings like the Aegon Center are nice when I want to run the stairs without going through the approval process.

I entered the property manager’s office and met a very nice receptionist. The property manager was unavailable in his office so I waited in a chair and noticed a very cool chess board with buildings as the pieces. I asked about this and learned it was a gift for her 20 year anniversary with the company. I asked why it wasn’t at home and I guess she has cats that would eat up all the pieces… more reason why I will never have a cat.

Many of these property managers are in a tough spot when it comes to my request. If they officially allow it then what happens if I fall down the stairs and get injured or I do something damaging to the building? They obviously think about the insurance consequences and I understand that. Speaking to them is the right thing to do in most buildings so I am happy when I am able to have this conversation before I run. I will not detail all of my conversations in the office only to say I did not get a no like the security guard thought may happen….but I also didn’t get an 'official' yes.

I went down to the third floor, changed my clothes in the bathroom and hit the stairwell. I dropped down to ground level and 6 minutes 35 seconds later I was at the door to the roof on the 35th floor (there was no floor 13). 

I was thrilled to have another state off my list. Even though I ran a large race the prior day I was not tired and maintained a good pace on the way up. I took the steps back down to the ground level and exited to the street.

Once in the car and driving down the street I passed by the KFC YUM Center where the Louisville basketball team plays. Basketball is a big deal in this state and it turns out University of Kentucky and Louisville are playing against each other on Friday in the sweet sixteen of men’s NCAA basketball tournament. The locals are really excited for this game and the rivalry is pretty heated among them.

I made the two hour drive to my hotel in Indianapolis in time to do some computer work and go to dinner with my colleagues. 12 states down 38 more to go!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tallest Building in Washington Stair Race

The tallest building in the State of Washington is the Columbia Center in Seattle. On March 23, 2014 I joined 6000 other people in “The Big Climb” race to the top of the building making Washington the 11th state I have ran the stairs of the tallest building in.

This race is on a Sunday morning so I booked a 6:15 pm Saturday evening flight out of Utah to Seattle followed by an 11:00 am Sunday morning return flight. It is a quick trip but knowing I will be away from home a lot over the next three weeks I need to spend as much time with my family as possible.

My son had his first golf tournament of the year Saturday afternoon and the tee time was set for 3:17 pm 45 minutes south of the airport. I was very disappointed when the times were posted since I love to caddie for my son. After getting lost driving for 2 hours to find the golf course we made it to his tournament and I caddied for the first 3 holes and he was doing great. My brother in law came and swapped me out so I could get to the airport. My son ended up taking 4th with a few triple bogeys that hurt his round but I am super proud of him.

I arrived at the airport just in time to board my flight and was off on my trip. The flight to Seattle is a nice short 90 minute flight and the views on a clear day coming into Seattle are breathtaking with the snowcapped mountains,  lush green forest that leads to the ocean and many bays. I have lucked out that every time I have been to Seattle it has been sunny.

I rented a car and began the drive to downtown Seattle while driving past the large Boeing air field. 35 years ago my father had a job offer out of college to be an engineer at Boeing in Seattle and I sometimes think how different my life would have been if he would have taken that job and placed our family in here. I don’t know exactly what point of the highway it was but I came around a bend in the road and there was downtown Seattle towering in the distance. There was the Columbia Center towering over all of the buildings and my heart kind of sank and I said out loud “WOW”. I don’t know if it is due to the building being on a hill and the ocean being close but considerably lower, but I was intimidated!
My bed at the Artic Club. Eskimos.
I booked a Hilton Doubletree called The Artic Club that on the map looked close to the Columbia Center. When I arrived and parked on the side of the street it was funny to see that the building is actually kiddie corner from the hotel. This Artic Club is very unique with a wall of old pictures of people and a shelf full of top hats. Maybe my favorite part of it was the white tall glowing polar bear in the lobby.

Being a Hilton Honors member I always seem to get upgraded and have in my profile to stay in a room on a high floor away from the elevator. They put me on the 9th floor at the end of the hall in the corner. Funny thing about this spot is out of the corner window was a direct view of the Columbia Center. I opened the window, stuck out my head and couldn’t even see the top of the building. Intimidated again but laughing at how perfect not only the hotel was but the room.

View of Columbia Center from my Artic Club room

My room is the 9th floor with windows open

I’ve posted before about the president of the US StairClimbing Association is PJ Glassey. He owns a gym in Seattle called XGym and specializes in stair race training. He has a great website with tips for getting into this crazy stair racing world and is often featured in articles as an expert. He invited me to register for the race on his XGym team. This team wins the race every year and also gets to begin the race first at 8:30 in the morning. While I am nowhere near as fast as these guys it was an honor to run on their team and I made sure to position myself at the back of the line so they wouldn’t have to pass me.
Xgym team I was a part of. Xgym won the race with the fastest individual and fastest team
After a team picture we lined up and started the race. The stairwell is tight with 8-10 steps before hitting each platform and turning. It started on the 4th floor and ended on the 72nd floor so is actually a 69 story climb. At the starting spot before entering the stairwell there is some strange artwork with these bodies of people and rather than having a head they have a ladder that another guy is climbing on. One of the strangest pieces of art I've ever seen. 

I made it about 15 floors with a quick jog until I needed to skip steps at more of a walking speed. It was honestly a tough climb. Around floor 35 some negative thoughts started to creep into my mind when I realized I was barely halfway there. I didn’t let those thoughts stay in there long as I began to think of my niece Whitney who cannot walk and how I have this body that is very tired but capable of doing this. It was a dark dusty concrete filled stairwell, I didn’t have any headphones on so I only heard my breath and feet plodding along but I began to feel very grateful in my heart to be at this place at this moment in my life. This gave me the focus to keep pushing myself floor by floor.
This is the sweaty mess I am sitting on the floor trying to slow my heart down after the finish line
I hit the top floor in 12 minutes 45 seconds, grabbed a water bottle and found a place on the floor to fall down to let my heart pounding sweaty body cool down. After relaxing for a few minutes I stood up and could not believe the beautiful view out of the windows. One window I could see the space needle, out another was the Seattle Seahawks football field and out the other was Pikes Market and the harbor. What an amazing sight and if you are ever visiting Seattle on a sunny day I highly recommend taking the elevator (or the stairs:) to this viewing room.

The final results of the race placed me as the 89 fastest out of 392 males 30-39 years old. I was confused at the preliminary results that listed only around 3300 racers. The website proudly lists this race as the biggest in the US at 6000 racers. Thanks to PJ's article on the US stair climbing association website I learned that 2000 of the racers are non timed. Another 700 racers simply started the race and didn't finish. They must have stopped at one of the many water stops and took the elevator down. It really is one of the toughest buildings I have run and reading the article about elite climbers having a hard time it makes me feel a little better about my "wall" I hit at the 35th floor.

I took the elevator down, went to my hotel to shower and drove to the airport to catch my flight. I made it to the gate just in time to board. The view flying out was spectacular as usual. Looking down at the city skyline from the airplane I felt grateful for this experience and the memories this goal is providing me. My body feels healthy my mind is clear and I feel in a strange way like this goal is making me a better person.

The next couple of weeks I will be travelling to Kentucky, Indiana, the Philippines and Guam. I hope I get the opportunity to run some more stairs and will post about it when I do.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Tallest Building in Michigan Stair Race

Renaissance Center Detroit Michigan

Renaissance Center in Detroit is the tallest building in Michigan and on March 1 2014 I ran the stairs of this building marking the 10th state I have completed on my quest to 50. March 1st marks almost a year since I started this crazy goal and I am now 20% done. It feels great to have a goal and see progress coming after a lot of hard work. I am getting faster and my body is getting stronger.

When I first booked the flight to Detroit I thought I was being so smart by booking the redeye that arrived at 6:35 am Sunday morning so I didn’t have to pay for a hotel. A few weeks later I realized I was not so smart…the redeye I took got me in 6:35 am on Saturday morning…not Sunday morning. For weeks I wondered what I could do that Saturday. On Tuesday of this week I received a call from my mother in law asking if I was ever going to be in Cleveland, and if I needed to go there to climb a building she would pay for it if I could clean out and ship the contents of my sister in law’s storage unit. Amazing how things work out!

Friday evening at 1:10 am I sat in my first class Delta seat and slept for one hour of the 3-hour flight to Detroit. Landed at 6:35 am and drove for 2 hours 30 minutes to Cleveland. I pulled over twice due to fatigue, I was so tired and the long flat boring roads didn’t help. After arriving in Cleveland I took multiple loads of stuff to dumpsters and to FedEx to box up and ship to Denver. It was an 8-hour day of cleaning a storage unit that is actually quite small.

Once finished, I made the long drive back to Detroit in a snowstorm. The city of Detroit had an inch of slippery snow covering the roads when I arrived. Due to the city being in bankruptcy they don’t send plows out to clean off the snow or tow abandoned cars. By the next day the snow was still on the road and there were many abandoned cars on the side of the road.

I finally checked in the hotel with a sore back, a foggy mind but enjoyed the beautiful view out of the 58th floor windows. I hit the bed at 8:15 pm and didn’t move until my alarm was blaring at 8:15 am. Although I had slept for 12 hours I was completely exhausted. I couldn’t believe I was going to take my body to the top of a 72 story building in an hour.  I opened the drapes and along with the rush of cold air I noticed my window was covered in frost. It was quite strange but a very neat sight.

I found the check in room in a large lobby area with windows overlooking the cold Detroit River with Canada on the other side. With the amazing views, DJ playing music and the general excitement among climbers it was a great atmosphere.

Check in Area with Beautiful view

The first group they let start were the “Elite” climbers. In order to be in this group you had to submit times of other races to qualify. There weren’t many elites and it took 5 minutes for them all to be in the stairwell running. My start time wasn’t for another 55 minutes and it was with the regular group of people. I did not want to have the same crowded stairwell that I experienced in Denver the previous week. I tried to have them let me in with the elites or early but it wasn’t happening.

Pre race in the check in area
Finally at 10:00 am they let a large group of 300 runners line up. I had positioned myself well and was the 3rd person in line at that point. The start line had a strange foil type path leading to the stairs with a volunteer typing in runner’s numbers in to a little calculator type thing. They warned us not to get too close otherwise our timer might inadvertently start….strange set up.

Entrance to the stairwell
After the first two people started I was off. I ran through the strange starting tunnel and jumped up to skip my first step. Only problem was these steps are all-concrete, not very tall and are very slippery. I fell onto my hands and knees immediately and laughed as I got up. One step up and I’m already on the ground….not a great start.

The stairwell was unique where most stairwells you run up a few steps, make a turn and run up another set of steps and you are on the next level. For this building they had longer sets of stairs so each time you hit a platform you are on the next floor. This was great. It is easy to lose time while turning on platforms so I could just run fast and make the turn to the next floor.

I passed the other two people while on the third floor and was all alone the rest of the run. It was fun to hear the volunteers talk to me and say “You are the first one!” “Great job keep going”. There was one guy on the 32nd floor that said in a kind of grumpy voice “you have a reeeaaaallllyy long way to go….slow down.” I had to laugh to myself, not the most encouraging things to say to someone in a race.

Post race picture in the restaurant on the 72nd floor overlooking Canada

I was able to skip a step the whole way up and felt pretty good when I hit the top floor. The view from the top was incredible with the snow-capped city of Detroit, a large river and a great view into Canada. This is one impressive building and location that my engineering and architect family members would appreciate.

The medals area was down on the 4th floor so I had to make my way back down the elevator then into a large room with snacks and vendors. The best part was a bunch of nice ladies and a couple of guys with pompoms were cheering for everyone as each group exited the elevator and entered the room. Yes it did make me smile but I appreciated how generous these volunteers were to spend most of their Sunday morning cheering on random people.

A couple of hours later I was able to see the final results and I did the best I have ever done in a long race.  I ran the Renaissance Center in 9 minutes 34 seconds placing me 47th out of 852 racers that completed the race. Considering this building is 72 floors tall and the Denver race the prior week was 56 floors and it took me 11 minutes 11 seconds. 

What a great experience. I am really enjoying the journey of accomplishing this goal and look forward to my future climbs. Washington in a couple weeks will be my next race and I am going to be ready! 10 down 40 more states to go!!

"The Fist" statue out front of the Renaissance GM building

Friday, February 28, 2014

Tallest Building in Colorado Stair Run

Republic Plaza Denver Colorado, Tallest building in Colorado
Happy stair race season….what is that?? You didn’t know there is such a thing?? Neither did I until entered this crazy/fun sport last year. Stair race season is generally defined as February and March of each year. This is due to American Lung association holding their Fight for Air fundraisers during this time period.

The stair climbers use these timed events to add the results to the national stair climbing rankings. It is tricky to figure out which races you are going to run in since they are all so compressed. For example the weekend of February 22-23 there were 7 ALA stair races across the US. 

I competed in the Utah race and the Colorado race. This weekend on March 2nd I will be running in the Detroit Michigan race but most of the elite stair climbers will be in Nevada for the Stratosphere race. This Colorado stair run represents the 9th state I have run the tallest building in.

My 5 year old daughter and I made a daddy daughter trip out of this weekend. She joined me and stayed with my sister in law Julie and her fiancé while I was at the race. Claire brought her little suitcase she packed 3 days earlier and we had an excellent trip.

The morning of the race I realized in my rush to head out the door I failed to pack running shorts. My jeans were not going to be sufficient in a 56 story race so I rushed over to the local Walmart at 7:00 am and purchased some $10 shorts….thanks Walmart.

I made the drive into downtown Denver for the race and there were low clouds with some snow on the ground making Republic Plaza look extra tall and intimidating.

In Utah the previous day there were no more than 300 people running where the Denver race had over 3000. In Utah I was able to wait 4 minutes with no on entering the stairs before I ran. In Denver they send someone every 5 seconds. This made the stairwell packed with people walking up. I passed around 40 people on my way up.
9:00 am starting group for the Denver ALA stair race
There were times when I would get to a packed group of people or a very large person using both handrails and I would slowly wait behind them until I could pass.

This is ultimately a charity race and I wasn’t about to be rude by pushing people out of the way or yelling for them to move so I remained patient even though it was a bit frustrating to think of what my time could have been.

The last 12 floors of the building I was stuck behind R. Macias, a firefighter from Denver. He was in 80 pounds of gear and was using both rails to pull himself up. I slowly followed him until the finish line.

My time was 11 minutes 11 seconds (isn’t that a lucky number?) putting me in at 142 out of 1029 male racers. Not a bad time.

It was a great race and I was surprised to not be sore at all from the two races. My lungs were certainly overworked and a bit fatigued but my legs are fine. 9 down 41 to go!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Utah Stair Race Zions Bank Building

On Saturday February 23, 2014 I ran in the American Lung Association Fight for Air climb in Salt Lake City Utah at the Zions Bank building.

This building is 18 stories tall and 256 feet tall so this race is a sprint race. Last year the race was in the Wells Fargo building which is the tallest building in the state of Utah. From what I heard at the event Zions bank employees really stepped up to help ALA and that is the main reason for the switch. There were 18 employees from Zions Bank spending their Saturday volunteering to help the race run smoothly...pretty impressive.

In my quest to run the tallest building in each of the 50 states I was quite disappointed for the change. I live in Utah and have waited for almost a year to run in this race. The day the online registration opened I was the first person to register. The website still listed Wells Fargo center as the building the race would be in. It wasn’t until a week before the race when looking for the start times did I find out it had switched. By that point I had already paid the $35 registration fee and $50 donation which my company matched.

After all of that there wasn’t a point in complaining, I had never done a short race so I prepared to run an 18 story race. My strategy was to run as fast as I could skipping steps until my lungs hit a wall then walk briskly skipping steps to the top. I only made it 7 floors when I had to slow down.

I made it to the top in 2 minutes 26 seconds  and spend 15 minutes laying on the ground with my head pounding from the blood pumping through it. I was pretty exhausted and the EMTs kept a close eye on me from across the hall. I really should have warmed up more.
View from the top of the Zions Bank Building
After the race there was a party in a large room overlooking Temple Square and all of downtown Salt Lake City. It was a great view. One amazing aspect of these ALA races is the involvement of the firefighters. Many of the local firefighting crews come, wear 80 pounds of gear, including oxygen tanks and masks then they run up the stairwell. These guys are in such amazing shape.
Firefighters preparing to run the stairs in their full gear
When the results are announced and awards given they start with the firefighter group and add up the total time of the 4 fastest firefighters from each station. The winning station was Park City Firefighters and they were given a very cool ax with an engraving of each years past station winners.
Fireman cooling off after the race
When they showed the results for men over the age of 14 there were around 45 in this group and surprisingly I was in 3rd place. It was the first time I have ever placed in the top three for a race. Pretty cool!

There was no prize for 3rd place but first place guy that ran in 2:06 won a pair of new running shoes of his choice from the local running store.

While I probably wouldn’t have signed up for this race since it isn’t at the tallest building in the state, I am motivated to sign up for next years race to try to get 1st.  Short races are very fun. Next year I will see if I can get some other friends and family to join, especially my 8 year old son...I think he would love it!