This past weekend I participated in my first urban race, and I had a blast! I mean, races are fun in general, but running around the city and solving clues is even more exciting! One of my co-workers has been participating in urban races for quite some time so she convinced several of us to sign up for the Chicago Urban Race for CHD. We split into two teams: the friendly polar bears pictured above and the deep sea penguins. Having two teams made it a lot easier to take pictures of each other at the clue locations.
The race started shortly past 11:30 am, which was good because I could sleep in, but not so good because I had a bit too much time to think and was getting a little nervous as I didn’t know what to expect 🙂 In the end, the clues were not too bad and the tasks were easily solvable. I’ve heard some urban races can get quite intense, but this one was not too bad. As long as you could make it to the locations, there was no reason to fail to complete the challenges.
We started the race at a little cute bookstore in downtown Chicago where we had to find a few books and then take a picture with a sign in the bookstore.
After the trip to the bookstore we finished solving the clues and had to make a decision about where to go next. Most of the clues were further north and we had to take public transit to get there. We decided to go to the farthest out place, a pizzeria on the north side, but in retrospect we should have skipped that one (you get to skip one of the non-mandatory clues). There was some confusion when we got there as the guy outside the store was asking people to take pictures in front of the pizzeria and tweet them, but then there was a challenge inside as well (where there was a big line!). The guy inside asked us if we checked in with the twitter dude, so we went back outside. I found it strange when he said that not all the team members had to be on the picture and I asked if it mandatory, and he said no, but it’s highly recommended…dude, I don’t care about it if it’s not mandatory…this is a race!!!! Anyways, that clue took a little more than it should have and we probably would have been better off skipping it.
After this clue, things got a little faster. We ran to the Nest furniture store and I used my memory skills to solve the challenge.
We made it to a sporting goods store as well. I thought it had a strange name, but it turns out it’s just nowhere spelled backwards! 🙂
We also got to go to McFadden’s bar. I’ve been to this bar many years ago and all I could remember were sticky floors and annoying guys. I was happy to see that the floors are indeed cleaned during the day 🙂 The challenge was to dress up and take funny pictures in a photo booth…how fun do these pictures look? 🙂
Back downtown, a sweet challenge was waiting for us:
And to end, my least favorite part of the race. We made it to SweetWater Tavern where after taking a fancy(?) mango juice shot, we were handed a t-shirt that we had to sell to strangers for $15!!!!!! It was quite embarrassing and I just wished they would have asked us to pay a little more for the race entry fee or make us wear the t-shirts during the race to raise awareness for CHD. I’ve heard this has become quite common during urban races, so if any race organizers are actually reading this, please STOP! It’s not fun begging strangers to buy your t-shirt after you’ve been running all around town solving clues.
After the last challenge, all we had to do was to sprint to the finish point! Easier said than done, as we were more than 0.5 mi away, had to run uphill, down metal stairs, over a metal bridge, cross the street on yellow….but we made it!!! Technically, we came in in 11th (and 12th for the second team) place, but the team in front of us (by a few seconds!!!) was so disappointed that they didn’t win any money (only top 3 got cash prizes) that they didn’t stay to get their pictures checked so I guess technically we’re number 10 now 🙂 While exhausted, we were really happy to finish in top 25 (at the bigger races this is the cut off to make it to nationals so we used this as a measure of success). This was a lot of fun and I’ve already signed up for the great urban race in July…that one will be a little more challenging and has involved eating mealworms (eek!!!) in some cities so wish me luck 🙂
While some people tried to run us over (including a police car while we had the green man!), some didn’t willingly make room on the sidewalk for us to pass, some Chicagoans were really nice to us and they even let us take a picture with them eating hot dogs for our tic-tac-toe clue!
I love this city! 🙂