Since we had such a great time at the GUR Nationals in Puerto Rico this year, on our flight back, while lamenting having to leave the beautiful island, we started talking about what cities we can race in this year in order to attempt another reunion at the nationals. I was debating flying back to Chicago to race with my friends there, and maybe just find someone to walk the Los Angeles race with just to get familiar with the city, but as we descended into Chicago, I mentioned to Kyle that she should keep an open mind and at least consider coming to Los Angeles to race with me. Luckily for us, the flights to LA for this past weekend were cheap enough for Kyle to agree to come visit. And just like that, we signed up to compete in the first race of the season!
Now, I may have gone to college close to Los Angeles, and I may be living here now, but I am still quite clueless when it comes to streets/public transit. LA is a weird city where while you can walk around, few people do it, and unlike more centralized cities like Chicago, you don’t take a train to downtown to just hang out at a bar…or at least, I don’t. I did walk around downtown and am familiar with a few streets/buildings, but this race started in Central LA, which is quite far from downtown. Also, GUR mostly uses local businesses for clue locations so my knowledge about downtown buildings had a very small chance of coming in handy. I did know how to find the Hollywood sign in the distance so we can take a picture of it without actually having to go to Hollywood, but that didn’t come in handy either. To add to the frustration, apparently finding a LA transit map is a monumental task as well. Yes, you can find it online, but it is huge to print on a conventional printer, and yes they have an app, but do you know how many times it crashes?!?!?! Also, the temperatures were predicted to be in the 80s, meaning ~ 100F swing for Kyle!
Come race day, we decided to just have fun and hope for the best when it came to public transit. The race started promptly at noon and we took our clue sheet outside to take some pictures and email them to our amazing googlers! While Kyle was doing the emailing, I tried to pin point a few clue locations to decide in which direction to go first. My phone’s 4G network decided to bail on me, and while Kyle called her husband to give us the address of one of the clues we solved, we realized that the clue sheet photos never made it out. So with a few clue locations in hand we decided to head west to see if we get AT&T to cooperate and hope we didn’t miss any clues on the way. I have a few choice words for AT&T, but I am going to abstain from putting them in writing. We also decided on the best tic-tac-toe strategy and we took our first picture while running to the first clue location: a license plate with the number 8 on it, for 8 years of GUR. This is probably our worst series of selfies to date, but it is what it is!
After more running, we made it to one of the clue locations: Molly Malone’s Irish pub on Fairfax. There, we had to drop golf balls on beer bottles topped with inverted caps and replace the caps with the balls. Since they had used caps, we realized the best strategy is to try different bottles and not keep replacing the cap on the same one. We managed to get 3 bottles capped with the golf balls and then a volunteer took our picture outside the pub. Thanks!
Afterwards, we headed north to the farmers market where two of the clue locations were located. First stop: icing mustaches at Short Cake.
Second stop: Fritzi Dog where they recorded a video of us claiming fritzi’s is the best. Will have to go back and verify that ;-)
Afterwards, we back tracked a little bit to Carmela’s ice cream where we had to do a taste test. The ice cream of choice was rosemary and roasted pine nut, a little different, but yummy.
We then proceeded to keep running north and made it to Canter’s deli where we had to bounce 2 ping pong balls into bagels. One for me, one for Kyle, and we were out of there and ready for our picture in front of the location.
We then ran south to the St Jude’s location in front of the Bagel Broker. We donated a few dollars, signed the banner, and tweeted our picture.
At this point we were starting to get a little worried about our tic-tac-toe since we had yet to find a CA flag and the banks/post office didn’t seem to have it. In Chicago, lots of businesses have the US, state, and Chicago flag hung, we didn’t expect this to be so difficult. We decided that worse case scenario we use this as our skip since none of the clue locations were far enough out of the way to be a clear skip. We continued running west on Beverly and stopped first at Harvey’s, a furniture store where we had to locate an illuminated mannequin from an 1984 American sci-fi movie. There was picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger since the owner was trying to be helpful, so we called ‘a friend’ and found out Terminator was filmed in 1984. We wrote down our answer, and headed outside for a picture.
Next location on Beverly was the International Silks and Woolens where we took pictures of 3 patterns (floral, zebra and sequin) and then another difficult picture outside. My eyes were tearing up from the bright sun!
Afterwards, we ran south to 3rd to the Bar Method, which is not a bar, but a fitness place. Some mean instructor showed us one of the exercises, waited until our legs started shaking and then counted 10 more dips. My least favorite challenge since we still had to run quite a bit afterwards! Oh, well, we suffered through it, picked up a business card and forced a smile outside the location.
By this point we were getting a little tired so we ran to La Cienega to see if we can catch a bus north. No bus in sight, but we made it to the CVS and found a water bottle with the CA flag for our tic-tac-toe.
We got lucky and a bus pulled up just as we exited the store and we jumped on it for a few stops on Beverly. On the bus, I recorded a video of Kyle reading a Cool Running quote to finish the tic-tac-toe clue. We then decided to run to the closest of the 2 clue locations on Melrose, Johnny’s cupcakes! There we had to locate some toys and write down their colors. I was useless, but Kyle spotted them pretty fast, and then we took the mandatory picture in front of the oven.
Now, how to make it to the start line with minimal effort? Well, we could have taken the magical DASH bus which would drop us off right next to the bar, except that after texting ladot the estimated arrival time was 55 minutes!!! The other option was to take 1 or 2 buses south and/or east. Since we couldn’t see any orange in sight, we started running south. We spotted a bus going east on Beverly and jumped on board. The bus was moving at snail speed, so we got off at the next stop and resigned to having to go back running. Kyle and I always seem to unintentionally end up with a super long run to the finish! We found a shortcut using a diagonal street and reduced our run to 2.2 mi from 2.5, not much, but in the heat any little bit matters. We finished 8th, in a decent time despite our longest running streak in an urban race to date and the AT&T hiccup! All our clues checked out and we enjoyed a free celebratory mimosa at Busby’s East for having qualified to the nationals.
There are still a few things to sort out, and more people to qualify, before being able to commit to the nationals, but it feels good to be qualified so early in the year. I still cannot believe we did it! Many thanks to all our friends who helped through out the day!