Monday, June 21, 2010

Toronto City Chase

On Saturday I participated in the Toronto City Chase for the third time.

City Chase Overview:

Experience Laughter, Adventure and Discovery!

The Mitsubishi City Chase Powered by BlackBerry Bold is a unique urban adventure that requires participants to exhibit teamwork, resourcefulness, determination and the ability to make decisions on the fly as they search for ChasePoints scattered in unknown locations throughout the city. ChasePoints are designed to test teams with a variety of physical, intellectual, adventurous and humorous challenges.

To conquer this 4-6 hour urban event, 2-person teams will run, walk and use public transit to navigate their way throughout the city, while calling family and friends for help, accessing the Internet, and even employing assistance of total strangers. The first team to complete the required ChasePoints and cross the finish line WINS.

This year I had a new partner (L) and our friend Lil Meg paired up with another of our friends to come along for the ride. The 4 of us wore awesome matching outfits and stuck together all day. We had a blast!

Group reflection-shot on the way to the start.
L, me, E, Meg

We arrived at the start/finish area at Nathan Phillips Square to find many teams already congregating around the stage about an hour early.

Pretty soon, they started the opening announcements. We immediately took out our paper and pens and jotted notes like maniacs. In previous years, we had to complete a scavenger hunt in order to receive our clue sheets and taking notes has been imperative.

As it turns out, we didn't need to take notes at all and the host was amused by how frantically everyone was scribbling. At 10am on the dot, we were told that the clue sheets were available at the four corners of Nathan Phillips Square. It was a mad rush of red shirts as we all scrambled to get our sheets. Fortunately, nobody lost an eyeball.

We quickly scanned over the two-sided clue sheet (approximately 40 to choose from, 10 to be completed) and got the show on the road. We used our time in transit (and line ups) to map out a logical route through the city (mostly thanks to L).

Chase Point # 1 - Walk Hard: "At Trinity Bellwoods Park we'll see how you fare as you make your way between two trees in the air."

There were about six lengths of cord between trees and one person had to navigate the entire course tight-rope-style while supported from below by their partner. It was a lot more difficult than it looks and we had to take our time. We had waited in line for 40+ minutes (longest we waited for any challenge all day) and if we touched the ground, we'd be sent to the back of the line. Luckily, no slips!

Chase Point # 2 - Target Practice: "Raak de doelen met een paintball geweer, anders wordt de kont van jouw teamgenoot het doelwit! Ga naar de "pit" in Trinity Belwoods Park." (not all clues were in English!)

We made a short run to the other side of the park for the paintball challenge, which had unfortunately been shut down due to safety concerns. They gave us a stamp just for showing up.

Chase Point # 3 - Sweeeet Ride: "With one in the seat and one on their feet and two others helping you move through the street, the staff await your arrival in the parking lot of this west end mall that opened in 1957."

A quick Google search and we were on our way to Dufferin Mall. Once there, we worked in a group of four to maneuver a car (in neutral) around a couple of pylons, then reversed into a parking spot. We had one driver (E), one director (Meg), one puller with harness (L) and one pushing from behind (moi). It was hard, but we nailed it on the first try. Go team!

Chase Point # 4 - Art of Movement: "Expressing yourself through movement and play, jumping and climbing, getting through your day. Parkour is the challenge, the 'Monkey Vault' the way, just understand that movement is play. Head north of Bloor on Dufferin and look for Geary Ave on your right."

We were instructed to tumble our way through a short routine, rolling over the obstacles, bouncing off walls and somersaulting on a padded platform. There was an alternate (supposedly quicker) challenge where we would jump from the railing shown in the back onto a foam mattress, but we were all cautious of injury and went for the obstacle course. It took less than 2 minutes and (most importantly) nobody got hurt!

Chase Point # 5 - Gastronomy: "At 'The Monkey Vault' teams will identify foods from around the world, some are tasty but others will make you hurl."

This one was right outside the 'Monkey Vault' and had just a short line. One teammate(myself) had to identify five foods while blindfolded. For each incorrect guess, the other would have to eat a cricket. L was brave and trusted my taste buds. The mystery bites were: dried cranberry, corn pop, chocolate chip, dried pea, dried apricot. I got them all right ... except dried pea! (I thought it was a soy nut). L had to eat a cricket. (Ewwwwww!) She handled it better than I would have and got that sucker down without too much of a fuss. :)

Chase Point # 6
- Burn it Off: "You'll learn a lesson at the Goodlife on St. Clair, but there's a reward at the end so do not despair."

We hit the Goodlife gym where we were asked to select a chocolate bar, and then informed that we would have to burn that number of calories on either the treadmill or elliptical. I had completed this challenge last year so we knew what to expect. After a quick Google search, we selected one of the lower-cal bars (Twix) and hit the treadmills with 210 calories to burn (as a team). I cranked up the speed and incline and busted butt for about 10 minutes. We were dripping!

self-portrait post-workout in the Goodlife washroom

Chase Point # 7 - Say Cheese: "For Annie Liebowitz this would be a ton of fun, at the Rogers Store near Davisville & Yonge."

We were assigned a Blackberry Smartphone and instructed to complete six of the tasks listed, documenting each with either picture or video on the Smartphone. We successfully:
-convinced a non-participant to swap shirts
-played leapfrog with a non-participant
-serenaded 5 non-participants
-carried a non-participant's bags (random act of kindness)
-photographed 5 non-participants with a Blackberry Smartphone
-photographed something to represent the number 100 (this was the 100th City Chase event)

Chase Point # 8 - Using Your Head: "Near 'Boot Camp' with another team you must cooperate, lack of team-work will quickly seal your fate."

I rocked the bucket helmet (which I later realized was on backwards - oops!) while L had to sink 4 hacky sack baskets from farther and farther away. L had excellent aim (she only nailed me once) and I made some pretty sweet moves myself to catch them, if I do say so myself!

Chase Point # 9 - Boot Camp: "Any G20 security near Balfour Park at Rosehill might be a little nervous, watching you grunt and groan as if training for the Secret Service."

We made our way through a series of physically demanding boot camp style tasks, from high knees to push ups to dragging each other across the grass in a child's sled, and we had to complete the circuit twice. I may be able to run for four hours, but L was breathing down my neck on this one (and I could barely move my arms the next day).

Chase Point # 10 - Serve 'Em Up: "Mix up some drinks, learning from the masters. Opening 11 to 3 at the Yonge & Bloor Jack Astor's."

L had to balance a mixing cup on her forehead and pour an entire glass into it without spilling. She totally did it!

With our 10 challenges completed and 10 stamps to show for it, it was time to make our way back to Nathan Phillips Square for the finish line. We don't have official results yet, but the 4 of us finished with arms in the air under 4:30.

There was an additional Chase Point located at the finish line (Zoolander) so we stopped by to check it out, and somehow I ended up doing this (I am petrified of snakes!):

That kid seems to like it.

Overall we had a fantastic day and I will do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, I'll be completing the second Toronto event in August with my sister, and I'm already lined up for both events next summer!

The City Chase is one of my favourite events and one that I highly recommend to everyone looking to push their limits both physically and mentally. Check out the U.S. series here.

Make sure you stop by to read Meg's account of our adventures. Special thanks to my awesome teammates for making it such a great day. And YES, we are all still friends!

ETA: race pics


J said...


J said...


This race sounds awesome! Can't believe you held a snack on your arm! Very brave! And I love the matching outfits! So cute!

Unknown said...

Wow, what an awesome day of fun but I bet you guys were tired!! I loved the bucket helmet, too funny!!

Anonymous said...

OMG! That sounds like a BLAST!! It's a little bit of everything and I love that you all wore the cheetah skirts! YAY! So fun!

abbi said...

this looks like so much fun, and I loved your matching outfits!

Amy said...

Sounds like fun! One year, I'm going to have to time a trip back to Toronto so I can participate!!

Sarah said...

That sounds INCREDIBLE :)

Anonymous said...

Ah, this sounds SO FUN! I love the "Goodlife Gym Chocolate Bar" Challenge - kind of puts things in perspective before you grab that snack ;) ha.

Love the pics!! Glad you Cheetah gals had fun!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

crickets and snakes!! eeeeeeek! You're braver than I!! Sounds/looks like a blast though! :)

Indi said...

What a totally awesome concept for a race!! It looks like a ton of fun!! Love that you did the last one...especially if you have a fear of snakes. Way to conquer!!

RoadBunner said...

This sounds like lots of fun. That cricket thing, though... I am not so sure about. Yuck!

X-Country2 said...

Omaha is having an event like this, and I'm dying to do it. Looks like FUN!

Lily on the Road said...

OMG, you totally rocked it!!! I'd never in my wildest dreams do something like that so GOOD FOR YOU GIRLS!!! As for the cricket (poor cricket), I'd throw up, however the snake, they are one cool reptile!!

ROCK STARS all of YOU!!!

Jen Feeny said...

That looks like such a blast! Great job team and thanks for sharing all the fun! OMG I totally want to do something like that (only minus the snake) :)

MCM Mama said...

How fun! What a great concept and such interesting challenges.

Zoë said...

That looks PHENOMENAL! What a cool race/challenge!! Awesome job! :)

RunToTheFinish said...

oh my gosh that looks like a COMPLETE blast!! I think at mile 22 you can carry me saturday to make it more challenging

ajh said...

This looks like so much fun! I esp. liked when you did all the stuff to/with strangers. I was totally sold until I saw you with the snake!!

Anonymous said...

This looks like such an amazing race! You guys have such endurance (and great outfits). I loved reading about this!

Anonymous said...

wow marlene, thats awesome! u did such a great job!
awesome recap and fun pix!
thnx for sharing the experience with us!

Kelly said...

That sounds SOOOOOO awesome. I have heard of people doing similar races and I had no idea what they really entail, but it sounds like more fun than I even thought it would be. Thanks for explaining the whole thing :)

Raegun said...

That looks like so much fun!

Nicole said...

OH my gosh! That sounds and looks like soooo much fun!!! :-)))))

Jess said...

I remember your previous reports about this race; it sounds like so much fun!

yumke said...

Congrats and cool! I saw plenty of you guys in my hood. Looks like everyone was having a lot of fun.

Anne said...

How guys looked gorgeous being awesome :)

How brave too...I don't think I could do the snake...ugh.

Anabela (Bela) Neves said...

OMG that looks like sooooo much fun!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like fun! And awesome outfits- sporty and glamorous at the same time!

Boris T said...

Sweet! Nice report, I am jealous. I have to miss both Toronto Editions of the race.

Pahla said...

Wow, amazingly fun!! And very well done by you and your teammates!

Char said...

What a fun day! I did one of these a couple of years ago with my sisters and my son and had the best day! They only held it once and we were so disappointed.

EndorphinBuzz said...

This looks like so much fun!

I think there was something similar in Ottawa last week. I saw a few teams of four people all wearing the same shirt walking around and poking at the same sights.

Laura said...

Such an awesome race....friends of our did it last year...weren't there tarantulas last year as well?

Denise said...

i want to do this!!! how fun! and you look like a bad azz pushing that car!

Badgergirl said...

OMG! Sounds like so much fun! Except for that whole snake thing. :)

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

I love that you put the bucket helmet on backwards, I would totally do that..

What are you wearing in the last few picts?

Toni said...

That sounds like so much fun! I love all the pics!

RunningLaur said...

Too much fun - your outfits are great too!

Lindsay said...

oh man. i remember reading about this adventure last year! so fun :)

(coulda done w/o the snake pic though lol)

Unknown said...

Wow you just made me SO excited! I'm completing the Toronto city chase #2! So excited ahhhh!!