Yesterday my friend Peggy and I competed in the Geneva Lakes Amazing Race for the third year in a row. We had a blast, as always. The race was done in six parts. The goal was to finish with the most points. Raising more money gave you helpers, while doing challenges well gave you points. We got to pick and choose most of the challenges that we did, but some were mandatory.
Part One: Fundraising
Every team must raise $1000 to compete. That's easier than it sounds. We do a charity rummage each year, and earn enough for two teams to complete. So now my husband and his brother compete, too. This year, we raised $2650. Yay!
Part Two: Pre-Race Challenge
The night before the race, organizers host a pasta dinner. They also include a bonus challenge to help teams get a head start. This year's challenge was to eat and identify 14 Jelly Belly bean flavors. Of course they used the nasty ones. We identified 12 of the 14 (got Earth Worm and Dirt mixed up...understandably), so earned 24 bonus points. Other flavors: baby wipes, grass, dog food, rotten egg, vomit, boogers, ear wax, pencil shavings, skunk spray, centipede, soap, and one other that I can't remember. Probably a good thing.
Part Three: Race morning!
Phase 1 of the actual race took place in Whitewater, about 30 minutes from our base camp in Lake Geneva. There are penalties for being late for check-in, so we were a bit stressed, but still had fun. We started strong and did many of the challenges, which included:
* Get inked! We had to find a specific tattoo parlor from clues and put on a temporary tattoo. 10 points
* Campus bingo! We had to locate a bingo card and run around the UW-Whitewater campus finding answers to the clues until we had 5 in a row on the bingo card. It was pouring rain, so this one was quite difficult. But we finished fast and headed to our next challenge. 30 points
* Sweet Spot! We found the right cafe and had to dig through buckets of M&Ms to find the two that had X's marked on them. Hard to do, but we figured out a good technique and earned our 10 points quickly.
* Get Cheesy! This one was great fun. We had to find a park using the clues and when we got there, Peggy put on a shower cap that I covered in shaving cream. I then threw cheese balls at her until I got 15 to stick on her head. Hilarious!! 10 points
*Re-creation! We had to find a brochure at a grocery store and recreate it by locating the building and taking an identical picture for 10 points.
*Joy of the Games! We found the right park and had to play four holes of frisbee golf, go through a very tall maze, and sink all four baskets on this highly unusual hoop:
We struggled getting the top basket, but finally got the angle right and snagged 30 points.
*Puzzles!! Along the way, we had to take pictures of specific things and solve some word puzzles and sudokus for extra points. We earned 67 extra points - woo hoo!
End of phase 1: 191 points...and second place! (We opted out of one challenge worth 30 points - it was pouring rain and the challenge required riding bikes. Lucky for us they cancelled it. Everyone who went there got an alternate challenge that apparently took a very long time.)
Part four: Race afternoon
After eating a foot-long turkey sub hand's free (and we both were eating the same sub, kind of like Lady and the Tramp but nowhere near as romantic), we got to start the next phase. That's me in the purple in the photo above...got some sub in my cheeks! Phase 2 of the race brought us to Elkhorn, where we did some really fun challenges.
*Money in the Bank! Find the right bank and correctly name all the states in one region of the US (we chose Midwest), then dig through boxes of quarters to find the matching states. They estimated it would take 40 minutes. We finished in 10. Yay! 30 points
*Rising Tide! We had to figure out the location from its old name (thank goodness for smartphones!), then build a plumbing system to move water from one bucket to another by hooking it up to a car battery. My hubby's an engineer and a fish enthusiast, so I have helped him hook up pumps, hoses, and tubes many times. Easy-peasy for 30 points!
*Going to the Dogs! We bought food and supplies for a local animal shelter for 20 points. Bonus of 5 points for having our total come to exactly $8.69, including tax.
*Ghosts in the Graveyard! We had to find the earliest date of birth in the entire cemetary. Luckily it was a small one. 10 points
*Be Very, Very Quiet! We located the local library and spent time filling in a questionnaire with information that could only be found by walking around. This one took longer than the estimated 20 minutes, but we still found all the answers and snagged 10 points. Sshhhh!
We didn't have time to do three of the challenges, so missed out on 50 points. But we stayed in the pack with 110 more points and a total of 301, so we were fired up for the final phase!
Part five: Race afternoon II
Phase 3 of the race kept us on the base camp grounds. This phase was TOUGH!! I know they were trying to separate the pack, and it worked. We only managed four of the seven challenges available to us. To get the challenges, though, we first had to complete 5 different minute to win it style activities, which was pretty fun. We moved bags with our teeth, stacked soda cans with spaghetti noodles, balanced dice on tongue depressors, shook ping pong balls out of boxes strapped to our hips, and balanced two golf balls on top of each other.
(That's not us, but you get the idea.)
*Whatever Floats Your Boat! Using cardboard and duct tape, we had to make a lake-worthy vessel. Peggy and I grabbed a huge piece of cardboard and fashioned into a canoe. We used our duct tape to keep it curved and seal the bottom and sides so no water would come in. Peggy manned it since she is very light. She had a couple wobbly moments but stayed out of the lake and rowed to shore from the end of the dock. 30 points and lots of complements on our color-coordinated duct tape. I wish I had pictures!
*Tired Out! So aptly named. We had to go a mile along the shore to pick up our clue. The problem was, there was no real trail and the overgrowth was so bad our arms and legs got ripped to shreds. At one point, we even had to climb a barbed-wire fence! When we reached the end, we got two slap bracelets and two raw eggs to bring back to the starting line as proof we made it. (If we broke the eggs, we'd lose 5 points.) Peggy and I didn't want to go back that way so tried to find another trail. All we found was a swamp, so we had to go overland once more. We got to the road by climbing another barbed-wire fence. Peggy ran on ahead while I teed up the next clues, but we felt so defeated. What was supposed to be a 30-minute challenge took us an hour and we were pretty beat up. We didn't break the eggs, though, so got the full 35 points.
*Driver's Ed! Even though we were tired, we didn't want to end on a low note, so we pushed on. We had 25 minutes left to get as many points as we could. We opted for the low-pointers and prayed we could do them quickly. This one was a blindfolded golf cart obstacle course. I drove and Peggy guided me through the course. We didn't hit any of the obstacles and got our 10 points in a hurry. We also had so much fun we recharged and regained our fighting spirit!
*Have a Ball! With 10 minutes to spare, we dared another challenge. (Risky since you lose 10 points a minute for being late!) This one had us digging through a giant mound of golf balls for the one with the smiley face on it. Tick-tock, tick-tock. We were just about to give up when Peggy found one. 10 more points and back we went to base camp!
We netted 85 points this round for a total of 396. We had no idea where we stood any more. We figured we fell pretty far behind when we got off course.
Part six: Laser Tag!
As a final push for points, all teams got to compete in a laser tag game. We had to run from one side of a park to the other without getting shot out by our assigned "hunter". Even though we knew we were out of the running, Peggy and I decided to postpone our stretch and nourishment to give this last challenge a go. Good thing we did! We ran from tree to tree in an effort to avoid getting shot. You get four hits before you are out. Our hunter ran up on us and then his gun "jammed" - while he fixed it, we sprinted to the finish line. We each got shot four times in the back but crossed the finish line before he got us each a fifth time. Whew!! That earned us 31 points.
At the end of the day (which was about 10 hours), we had 427 points. We thought we might in fourth or fifth place. As they announced the top six teams in descending order, Peggy whispered to me that we did worse than we thought since they were at third place and still hadn't announced us. With only two places left, we knew we were out of it - after all, we took 13th out of 17 teams last year. So when they read off second place, we didn't register at first. Who is Team Puzzled? Oh wait - that's us!! Even with all the pain and suffering in the final round, we managed to take second place. Go team!!
We are now super-stoked for next year's race. We still can't believe it, and are thoroughly amazed with our progress from last place in year one to second place in year three. Can we win it next year? Who knows?? But one thing I do know - it will be a blast!!