Xplore Chicago Urban Race 2013

This past weekend, my partner in crime (well, urban scavenger hunting type of crime :-)) and I participated in a new urban race that we absolutely loved. We had a lot of fun, and of course it helped that we came in second and got a cash reward as well πŸ˜‰ We really liked this race since the clues were carefully written (the challenges were highlighted to make sure you didn’t miss them), obviously quite a bit of research has gone into it, and the Xplore team was really focused on everyone having a great time…they even brought sunscreen for us in case we had forgotten!!! Here is the recap:

We knew from the facebook hints that one location will be by State/Lake and one by Navy Pier. While Kyle was taking a picture of the clue sheet, I browsed the clues and quickly realized that we would have to make a stop at Millennium Park for at least 2 clues, and that we would have to make the run to Navy Pier as at least one other clue was close to there. So while our googlers were figuring out the details of the locations we quickly headed to State/Lake and as suspected, and confirmed by Kyle’s supportive husband, we needed a picture with the Chicago theatre sign showing the Allman Brothers, while making the X sign. This was a little hard for a selfie, so we asked one of the many kind passers by to take our picture.

Chicago Theatre

Chicago Theatre

From there we sprinted to Millennium park to hug a bear/raccoon statue with red head and yellow eyes. Kyle ‘hates’ these statues as they made her lose some time in an Urban Dare race this year. She put her feelings aside and we both whole heartedly hugged the animal while another kind person took our picture.

bear hug

bear hug

On our way to the animal, we did make a quick stop to take our first picture out of 3 with sign containing the letter X.

X picture 1/3

X picture 1/3

From there we went to the Jay Pritzer pavilion to find some even kinder people to help us form a human chain between two of the pillars. We first stopped a group of 4-5 people, and then asked a few more, and soon enough the girl taking the picture guilted lots of people into joining us. We ended up with a huge chain in the end! I was truly impressed!

human chain - Millennium Park

human chain – Millennium Park

Since Millennium Park was so crowded, we figured that would be a good spot to convince two strangers to sing ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ with us. We found another kind person to record the video. I have to say, we sucked!!! worst singers ever, so no one will see the video! But here is a link of President’s Obama wonderful performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7x4ZS7ZZWc

From there, we went to the Palmer house to take a picture with their nice ceiling. On the way we took our second X picture.

X photo 2/3

X picture 2/3

And here is the nice Palmer house ceiling:

Palmer House majestic ceiling

Palmer House majestic ceiling

On our way out towards State St where I knew we could find a Garrett’s popcorn shop, I spotted Relax for our 3rd and final X picture.

X picture 3/3

X picture 3/3

The popcorn challenge consisted on a teammate (or stranger) throwing popcorn at the other person and having them clearly catching it in their mouth. We didn’t do too badly, but both of us managed to move the camera while throwing the popcorn so we needed 2 tries to get a good video. Apparently, wordpress doesn’t like .MOV files, but if I figure out a way of uploading it, you may get to laugh at me πŸ™‚

Following the popcorn challenge, we headed to an Intelligentsia Cafe for a jumping shot. It only took 2 tries πŸ™‚

Intelligentsia - jump

Intelligentsia – jump

After this, I knew we had to make our way down Michigan despite the number of people, as our best shot at a tour boat would be on Michigan and Wacker and it was on our way to Navy Pier. Some chatty tour guide (sorry, if I cut you short, but this was a race and didn’t have time to chat more :-)) took our picture. Thanks!


tour boat

From here sprinted to the other lesser known reflective structure. We knew it had to be by the NBC building since the clue had a picture of it. I was a little confused, but while trying to figure out the exact angle of the picture, we saw it and another team, so we knew where to run next.

little bean

little bean

From there, a longer run to Navy Pier for the last 2 clues. On our way there, I realized that the other clue would be too far west, so it would make more sense to skip it and just do the two by Navy Pier. The first one involved finding a fountain and taking a picture against it. We needed two pics, since we didn’t read carefully and we were supposed to be shoulder to shoulder.



even more wet!

even more wet!

The water felt quite nice, but our shoes were not too happy. Little did they know, their hardest challenge will come next: SAND! The last clue involved getting our toes buried in sand. In retrospect, we should have done these two clues in reverse order, but location wise this made more sense. Oh, well, lesson learned!



From here, it was a long run back to the finish since no public transit options seemed appealing. It was squishy and sandy, and nerve wrecking, but we made it in 1:29 to claim the second spot. I like the finish sprints to be shorter so I don’t have enough time to dwell on it, but both our last two races have involved a longer run to the finish. Oh, well, we kept some conversation going and made it back! The next team didn’t show up until ~45 min later and at the awards ceremony everyone broke into an ‘wow’ when the founder read our time…felt pretty good πŸ™‚

Overall, a really great race. I highly recommend it. I am hoping they’ll keep their promise and have one in Los Angeles next year! It was a little bittersweet, as this will probably be my last urban race in Chicago, unless I decide to fly back next year. Chicago is a great city for these races, and it also helps that I know the city well enough to navigate it pretty well. We didn’t even need a map for this race!

Thanks Xplore team for the great race, and to all the great people in Chicago that helped us with the clues and the pictures! You made my weekend πŸ˜‰

PS: after scooping out/washing all the sand, the shoes are back to being ready for their next run!

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9 Responses to Xplore Chicago Urban Race 2013

  1. Wow, this one sounds great! Sand, water, and an X theme! I love your jumping photo πŸ™‚ I am soooo impressed by your finishing SECOND and by such a margin! Way to go girl! Very inspiring πŸ™‚ I’m sure LA wil have some really fun races too!

  2. Hi Andreea! I just saw your blog post on Xperience Adventures facebook page. I loved reading your recap! We figured out the shiny landmark by the NBC building in the background too. I guess great minds think alike. πŸ™‚ This race was so much fun… maybe we’ll see you again at another one!

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