Monday, August 3, 2009

We didn't win The Great Urban Race, but we had fun

This past weekend Jenn and I participated in The Great Urban Race in Chicago. It was a a lot of fun, a little frustrating and a tad tiring as well.

As you can see here, there were a lot of people in Cubby Bear where we met up. We were told there were over 500 two-man teams. It seemed like a lot more as we were trying to fight our way to get the clues.

I should explain a bit about the race, in case you are too lazy to click the above link. That's okay, I would be too. It's basically a giant scavenger hunt. We got a list of 12 clues that were either tasks we had to complete, riddles to unravel, or things to find. Many of them required photographs to prove that the particular task was completed. No honor system when money is on the line. Also, that means you'll actually see pictures of me and Jenn here. Amazing!

This was a team event so you had to have a team name as well as a costume or same shirt. We didn't want to do a costume, though we came close. Our team name was The Greatest American Heroes, as you may recall, that had something to do with our shirts we (meaning me) chose for the event. There were quite a few in costumes; we saw some Smurfs, Doc and Marty from Back to the Future, and some chefs. It was fun to see the innocent bystanders on the streets looking at all of us as we ran up and down the streets of Chicago. Many would point, and many asked what the hell we were doing. Though, as can be expected, some people found it annoying. At least they seemed annoyed. Those people were probably a blast at parties.

After we got our clues we ran over to the Taco Bell next door to plan our attack. We were armed with pens, my iPhone, a laminated sheet to put the clue sheet in, and we read through the clues to find where everything was located. We found all the ones closest to where we were, numbered them in order that we should do them, then headed out. Looking back on it later we realized we should have done it a bit differently, but I'll get to that later.

I'll just hit some highlights for you. I don't want to bore you to death.

The first thing we hit was the tattoo shop. No, we didn't have to get a tattoo, well not a permanent one at least. I had to put on of those temporary tattoos the kids get in cereal boxes on my face. It wasn't difficult, but we didn't have water to get it wet so we ran to the Walgreen's on the corner to buy a bottle to get it wet. The first one didn't work, that's why it looks like I have dirt on one side of my face.

We had to play charades at Comedy Sportz down the road from the tattoo shop. Jenn made me act it out, she thinks I'm better at acting the things out. I think she just wanted me to make a fool out of myself in front of the other people. Luckily, there weren't too many people there besides us racers. The answer was horse, by the way. It wasn't too hard. I'm glad it wasn't a Pictionary contest. I suck at drawing.

At Chicago's Dog House Jenn had to feed me a hot dog. Not a big deal. It was a good char-dog too. I only put ketchup on it. I'm a bad Chicago native.

While we were there some customers asked us what we were doing. So we told them a little about the race. The thought it was interesting, then I happened to notice the lady's shirt. It was a tie-dye shirt. One of our clues was to take a picture of a real person wearing a real tie-dye shirt. In other words, someone not in the race. What a stroke of luck. She was very nice and let us take a picture of her. I'm not going to put it here since I didn't ask her, plus it was pretty blurry.

This clue we had a problem with. It was a riddle and we just didn't get it. Luckily some other team helped us out. Here's the riddle:

Mr. Reynolds is odd. He likes balloons but doesn't like parties. He likes books but doesn't like reading. He likes weeds but doesn't like flowers. He likes swimming but doesn't like water. He likes letters but doesn't like words. He likes noodles but doesn't like pasta sauce. He likes apples but doesn't like plums. He likes coffee but doesn't like tea.

According to the pattern in the riddle, take a picture of all teammates in front of a street sign the Mr. Reynolds would Like.

I'll put the answer at the end. It seems obvious to me now, at probably to you too, but in the heat of the battle, it was over our heads.

After a few more clues in the Lincoln Park and Wrigley area, we had to head to the loop on the 'L'. Neither Jenn or I are well versed in the use of the 'L' so this was the most stressful part of it. Especially when some nice person had us go on the wrong train to head downtown. Luckily we realized that after the first stop, but it still slowed us down. I'm pretty sure she was paid off by one of the other teams. I think we were a big threat out there.

Nothing too exciting happened downtown, for the most part. We had to count the flags at The Palmer House Hilton, then head to Daley Plaza to take a picture in front of this statue. We had a little trouble figuring out where to go. We got all turned around for some reason. Luckily two other teams were there heading the same way. We helped each other out.

The finale, for us, was to head to Daley Bicentennial Plaza and complete three challenges. We had to do a crab walk, leap frog and wheelbarrow across three (yes, three!) tennis courts. I haven't done any of these activities since grade school! The crab walk went okay, though my abs were a little tight by the end, the leap frog was a little better, but the wheelbarrow was the killer. Jenn was holding my legs while I walked on my hands. Let me tell you, I have muscles that hurt that I didn't remember I had. Like the muscle under my shoulder blade and my fingers. I was pretty wiped after that. Not to mention that we had already walked and jogged a few miles by this point.

We made our way back to the 'L' to go to the finish line at Cubby Beat. This was about 3 pm, or so. Not too late since the game ended at 5pm. Well, it wasn't our day. It turned out that there was construction going on this week on the 'L', so we sat for about 30-40 minutes on one train, not going anywhere, then we had to wait at least 20 minutes, of not longer, for our transfer. It kind sucked the fun out of the whole game. There were plenty of other teams in the same predicament as us, and nobody was very happy. I hate construction season!

We did make it back before 5:00pm, but not by much. All we had time to do was check in, get or pictures checked and head to the car so we could pick up Quincy. Then we headed to Jenn's parents to get the kids and go home and have a take out dinner at 8:00pm. We were quite tired after all that, but it was a lot of fun. I recommend it to anyone who lives near one of those towns that have this race. We will probably do it next year. Maybe next time we'll win. Watch out suckers!

Also, next year we are going to do the parts in the Loop first, I think it would have been quicker.

The answer to the riddle was any name that had double letters. Ugh, we are stupid.


Florinda said...

Sounds like fun - and exhaustion. I can see why you compared it to The Amazing Race.

It looks like LA already had the race for this year (back in March), but I just might check into it for next year.

Glad you shared the pictures!

Mike said...

Florinda: It was fun. I totally reccomend it. I noticed that too. It will be in LA before you know it. Let me know if you do it.