As part of an Amazon Local deal a few weeks ago ( wp.me/p1N36Q-ea
), I signed my husband and my friend up for Challenge Nation’s NYC Challenge. Figured it was good for us to have a fun race together before the three of us run Disney’s Wine and Dine Half in November, and I didn’t have any other races on the calendar until September.
This wasn’t a traditional 5k, however. Positioned like “The Amazing Race,” Challenge Nation sent us off with 12 clues to hunt down different check-in points throughout the city, where we needed to complete certain tasks with photo evidence. In the days leading up to the event, they pushed social media pretty hard core – offering up special “megahints” for liking their Facebook page and sharing suggestions for race clues on Twitter. (A strategy that certainly played a role in ensuring 550 participants showed up on race day!)
With rain looming in the forecast Sunday, I considered staying home and following my usual Sunday workout routine of Bodyworks and Yoga class.
If it wasn’t for my teammates – who don’t like to let a little rain discourage them – I probably would have missed out on an awesome time.
Sure enough, the rain started about 15 minutes before “go time.”
As we were waiting to get our clues, we noticed there were some teams who went all out – full costumes, body paint (notice Spiderman about 3 runners away from me in the photo below? Yup. Body Paint.), etc. If I hadn’t signed up for this just two weeks ago, I probably could have come up with a pretty cool team name and theme. We went with the Three Mouseketeers to keep in line with our Disney aspirations.
We also threw together our strategy about five seconds before the race started. Thank goodness we were a team of smartphone users. I played the role of Team Captain. This really just meant I had to wait at the starting line to get our clue sheet.
As soon as we got the clue sheet, we divvied up the location-based challenges and searched key words to find out which parks and monuments we needed to find. Then we assigned responsibility for each of the non-location based challenges. I was responsible for finding a building older than 1760, Diana was on the lookout for someone wearing a t-shirt from another city, and Ben had to find either a clown, a barber pole, or someone with a pet that wasn’t a dog.
And then we took off! Diana conserved her smartphone battery so that we could use it as a camera at all of our different stops, while Ben and I took turns using Google maps to get us to where we needed to be. We cursed the teams that were New York natives for having intimate knowledge of the city and knew we’d have to rely on our “blinding speed” if we were to have any shot at winning the race.
Sometime speed can be too blinding. Our team’s (self-described) turtle, Ben, stopped within ¼ mile and started shouting at us. I was frustrated that he was slowing us down so early in the race, until he calmly pointed out that we were running right past destination #2 without realizing it. Diana and I sheepishly ran back to him to complete our task, which was to draw a picture of our favorite things about New York with some sidewalk chalk.
We drew pizza and cupcakes. Since going Wheat Free, these are certainly no longer MY favorite things about New York, but the team overruled. Plus pizza and cupcakes are easy to draw. (But it can be really difficult trying to get three team members in one photo at that angle).
We headed off to our next destination, feeling lucky to have Ben’s eagle eyes on our team. The lucky feeling continued as the rain slowed down, and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. Yup, luck was on our side.
It wasn’t going to last, however… (Sorry, this was way too much fun not to make into a two-parter).