Sunday, June 22, 2008

Blister Sisters Tear Up Toronto (Race Report)

The Mitsubishi City Chase took Toronto by storm on June 21, 2008 and proved to be a race like no other. It was by far the most grueling, physically AND mentally challenging event I have ever participated in, but also the most fun.

The event kicked off at Metro Hall at 10:00AM sharp and 5 minutes before take off, we still had no idea what we were doing. It wasn't until the countdown struck 0:00:00 that the City Guru informed us that we could find our Official Clue Sheets at one of two locations: the base of the CN Tower or the entrance to Union Station. The catch was, each location did not have enough sheets for everyone. It was pure chaos as 500 teams of two barreled through the streets of Toronto trying to get our hands on one of the vital red sheets. Remarkably, we did, and we didn't even have to pull anyone's hair.

We took one look at the two-sided list of clues and for just a moment felt like we might have been in over our heads. For two people relatively unfamiliar with the city, it was going to be anything but easy. We took a deep breath, poured over the clues, took out the GPS and street maps, called our husbands for guidance and took off for our first destination.

The clue read ”Grid Iron - Find this ChasePoint at a football field at U of T, just off Tower Road is where you want to be. You'll go through the ringer with the Varsity Blues, serious players who don't like to lose." We ran to the nearest subway stop and hopped on the TTC to Queen's Park, then ran until we finally spotted the yellow shirts of Chase Volunteers. We were going to play football at the University of Toronto!

We piled on the gear and headed on to the field where we carried the football through a slalom of pylons, plowed through five line-backers (getting tackled by each of them!), completed a pass and finally kicked a field goal. ChasePoint #1: Accomplished!

There was another clue at the University: "Wheeling Around - For the physically challenged this is wheely fun, located at U of T Field House on Court #1." We asked a couple of students were graciously pointed us in the direction of the Athletic Centre where we played some wheelchair basketball!

It was harder than we expected to wheel our chairs around the court, carrying and passing a basketball all the while. We had to make two consecutive baskets to finish the task (it took about 5 attempts to do so). ChasePoint #2: Accomplished!

A quick call to hubby who helped us find the address for another clue: Mind Over Matter - "At Kaplan on Bloor you can give your muscles a rest, as this ChasePoint is more of an intellectual test." We ran another KM or so from U of T to Kaplan Education Centre, which proved to be the most difficult task and the only one we failed. We each had to complete 10 logic questions from the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) and we had to achieve a combined score of 70%. At the best of times, these questions would have been tough, so it was nearly impossible sitting in that quiet, hot room dripping sweat all over the test paper. We gave it a shot, but didn't pass, and we certainly weren't the only ones leaving Kaplan without a ChasePoint.

Next we ran a couple KM's along Bloor to Yonge and took Yonge to Dundas where we found the Bell World Store. The clue: "Quick Learning Curve - At The Bell World Store just north of Y&D Sq., the staff have further details that they're waiting to share." From there we signed out a BlackBerry and had 30 minutes to complete five tasks:

1. Take a photo of 10 non-participants standing in order from tallest to shortest
2. Take a 15 second video of yourself performing Life is a Highway in front of at least 5 spectators
3. Take a before and after photo of yourself trading shirts with a non-participant
4. Take a 15 second video of yourself playing leap frog with a non-participant
5. Take a photo of a non-participant doing a handstand

It was definitely interesting convincing citizens of the City of Toronto to participate in these ridiculous tasks, but we met some wonderful people who were happy to oblige. Our favourite was a German tourist who didn't speak English (thankfully my partner speaks German and convinced him to put on my sweaty shirt!)

ChasePoint #3: Accomplished!

Next clue: "Pole Position - At Aradia Fitness watch the pros on the pole, then tighten your cheeks and mimic their role." We ran down Yonge to Queen Street West where we decided to take a street car several KM's west to the pole dancing studio! Sporting our red boas we had to learn a pole dancing routine and complete it correctly in three attempts. ChasePoint #4: Accomplished!

We had discovered that another challenge was further west on Bloor. This clue read "Slumber Party Gone Wrong - Test LANCER to 24680 for further instructions." We received instructions on the cell to head toward the Gladstone Hotel. By pure fluke, we noticed another challenge going on at Trinity Belwoods Park along the way: Spike Ball! We found two guys willing to play a volley-ball like game with us, which turned out to be much harder than it looked. ChasePoint #5: Accomplished!

We continued on our way to the Hotel, which was a longer run than expected. We got there just in time to line up for an HOUR AND A HALF. We lost a lot of time at this challenge, but decided to wait since we had traveled so far to get there. Everyone was getting sore, stiff and tired from standing around for so long and it was a relief when we were finally able to participate... with the Pillow Fight League! We had to complete five challenges, each of which for one minute straight:

1. Burpees while holding pillows
2. One partner curled up in a ball on the floor being pounded with a pillow by the other
3. One partner doing push-ups with the other held his or her legs
4. One partner doing sit-ups while the other pushed him or her back down with a pillow
5. Pillow-fighting one another

It was crazy in there - tiring but fun, and worth the wait. ChasePoint #6: Accomplished!

By this time, we had less than an hour and a half to get back to the finish line to finish the race. All participants who finished within 6 hours would qualify as "finishers", even without the 10 ChasePoints. We knew we would not have time to accomplish 3 more, so we decided to do one more for fun and planned to head to the finish. We wanted to do something by the waterfront and found a clue that read: "Up a creek - Navigate very carefully at Rees Street Slip, one bad move and you'll go in for a dip." We found Rees Street on the map, hopped back on the Queen street car to John, then ran all the way from Queen down to the water. We found the Chase Volunteers on one of the docks and learned that we would be kayaking in Lake Ontario...without paddles.

The challenge was fun and refreshing, just what we needed after 5 hours of running all over the city. It was definitely one of our favourites. ChasePoint #7: Accomplished!

As we headed back toward Metro Hall, I remembered that another Chaser had mentioned a challenge at the Steam Whistle brewery by the CN Tower, which we happened to pass. The clue read: "A Block From The Bottom - At Roundhouse Park your hands must be steady and calm, this is a game you played with Dad and Mom." It was giant Jenga!

Each block had a number written on it indicating a points value, and we had to accumulate 30 points without knocking over the tower. ChasePoint #8: Accomplished!

The run back to the finish line was tough. We were both completely and utterly exhausted, and it was all uphill. We finally arrived, only to discover that there was one more task we could accomplish to receive a 9th ChasePoint. My partner had to walk through a minefield of plastic balls blindfolded without touching them, with only my instructions to guide her.

There was a ton of noise and it was nearly impossible for her to hear me, but she made her way through and we were off to the finish line! ChasePoint #9: Accomplished!

We came in with 9 ChasePoints just under 5 hours and 30 minutes. The announcer called out that the Blister Sisters were finishing strong and it was a great moment. We looked at our Garmin to discover that we had run 21.5 KM in the process - longer than a half marathon! No wonder we were so tired. We are so proud of how well we did with the mental and physical challenge of completing such an event. I have never done anything like it before and can't wait to do it again!

UPDATE: A map showing our route from the Garmin! View details @ My MotionBased

(Click to view larger image.)

Official Results: 106th place with a time of 5:28:41.


Mel-2nd Chances said...

amazing race report! sounds like a great event -- definitely something different! the pics are great too! congrats on a job well done :)

anners said...

wow, that is CRAZY! thanks for the awesome race report and pics!

G said...

Great entry! This was supposed to be my first Chase but my team-mate bailed at the last minute, so it's GREAT to read about how it all went down. :) LOVED how you went through it chase point by chase point.


IMama said...

Hey Blister Sister!! We were awesome and my body is still hurting after 2 days LOL Can't wait for next year :O)

Paula said...

You do the coolest things!! What an inspiration about making life happen and going for it. You two rock!!!

Marci said...

Great race report Marlene! Thanks for the detailed recap and pictures. You look like you had a blast!

Anonymous said...

Hey Mar!

Great play by play story. I loved it and got teary eyed at the end when you wrote about the announcer saying the Blister Sisters were finishing strong. Reminded me of how great it was to cheer you down the chute for the 1/2 Chilly.

SO PROUD of you!! I am already looking forward to hearing all about the next one.

Anonymous said...

That just looked like a ridiculous amount of fun!

jillian said...

Holy moly!! Look at all that ground you covered while having fun. Great report and awesome pictures! Congrats girl.