Finally, this past weekend I got to run my first Great Urban Race (GUR Chicago), and it was a lot of fun! One of my lab friends introduced us to this race and now I know why this is her favorite. This race was very well organized and all the clue locations were staffed with knowledgeable and friendly volunteers. All we had to worry about was getting to the clue locations, solving the challenges, and keep track of our flyers!
This race was similar to the CitySolve one we did back in April. Briefly, you get a clue sheet containing 12 clues, from which you only have to complete 11 of your choice (city solve had mandatory ones, but GUR didn’t), and one of them is a tic-tac-toe. The locations are scattered throughout the city, but usually a few are clustered together, and you can run/walk or use public transit (city bikes, cabs, scooters, etc are not allowed). At each location you have to complete a challenge, take a photo (also GUR volunteers rock because they all take your pics, unlike during city solve when the second team was taking our pictures), grab a flyer, and go on your merry way to the next challenge. You get 5 hrs to complete the race and there is a 30 minute penalty for every clue you missed.
Our favorite challenge was at the Chicago Swordplay Guild. We had to complete three challenges representative of their training. For the first one, I had to use a big sword and hit a mannequin first on its head, and if that wouldn’t be sufficient to knock him dead, follow it with two hits to the sides. The second one was a precision task; using a thin sword you had to fit it through a slowly moving ring three times. The last challenge involved anger release (or that’s what we used it for) by punching a volunteers padded arm block for 30 seconds. Some contestants were very gentle and we got some nasty looks when we remarked that they probably haven’t gone to graduate school and that’s why they’re so calm 🙂 At the end we had to take a picture with swords and “not smile”.
Other challenges were more tame, such as painting a square on a canvas.
Also, I finally knocked out a trivia challenge! I am usually quite bad at trivia, but these questions were running related and we aced them. Thank God we did, otherwise the punishment was lots of pushups…yikes!
We were doing quite well on time, until the last clue which turned out to be paddle boarding on the lake! I know this must sound fun, but running in the sand and doing it on a wavy lake, it’s quite time consuming. We didn’t realize it would be so far from the road as the main address was that of the bar and we were supposed to find the instructor by “the trees”, but there was no instructor by the actual trees near the bar. The challenge was at the end of the pier by some vegetation that could barely be called a collection of trees! My partner took one for the team and successfully completed the challenge despite almost being knocked off by some other team’s member. I got to yell at him and also finished ahead of them, so we’re cool now 🙂
After this we had quite a bit of run to the nearest train station, took the train back up and then sprinted to the finish line. I underestimated the distance and thought I won’t be able to hold the sprint, until I saw 2 members of the team ahead of us slowing down. This gave me extra energy and passed them on the way to the finish line. There was some confusion at the end as the men sprinted ahead of the girls, but I blocked the scanner guy and got myself scanned out! Somehow, my other friend was scanned after the slow girls team, but we all made it into top 25 so no biggie. Speaking of which, being in top 25 qualifies us for the national race in San Juan, Puerto Rico…very, very tempting 🙂
Also, everyone who finishes gets the above super cool finisher’s medal. I love the design on it!!! Overall, a very cool race, I highly recommend it!
On a side note, this was my first race with my camelbak, and I love that thing!!! It is so light and very stable. I got the Aurora one since it’s supposed to be fit for women and it does fit my small frame nicely. Another nice feature, is the wide opening for the water reservoir so you can add ice cubes to keep the water cool on hot days…how cool is that? 🙂