Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Toronto City Chase (Long Version)

Since L lives so close to race HQ at Yonge & Dundas Square and it didn't kick off til 10am, we were able to sleep in after our late night strategy and junk food session. Of course, I was wide awake well-before the alarm.

I logged into the event Facebook page first to see if there were any clues. City Chase often has something up their sleeves. Sure enough...

I frantically started spamming friends with messages/texts/calls to secure the point. L was up before long to see what was going on and soon enough, we had all the requirements. Thanks to those who were able to help us out on this one! We noticed that the clue asked us to check in "upon completion" so we threw on some clothes, hopped on bikes and headed to the specified location immediately on the off-chance that they were set-up before 10am. No such luck, but at least we tried!

Back at the house we scarfed down some food and finished getting ready. We were buzzing with energy and excitement and knew it was going to be one crazy day.

Shortly after 9 we were loaded up with our water packs/belts, cell phones, clipboard with maps/notes, pens, etc. and walked over to the starting area.

We chatted with a volunteer as well as a couple of girls who were looking for advice, but also clearly thought we were taking this too seriously. It was fun to look around and check out the other teams - some who appeared to be out for a good time and others looking more focused.

Eventually they started some opening announcements along with a couple of guest speakers, and revealed the winner of the logo contest (unfortunately, not us). As the clock ticked past 10am, they finally told us how we would find our clue sheets. You think they would just hand them out? That would be way too easy!

There were bunches of balloons around the square, and some of these balloons contained scraps of paper with pertinent information. We happened to be standing next to some balloons so I dove in with the rest of the crazy people and got completely tackled/tramped. I managed to snag one of the tiny pieces of paper from the ground and got out of there in one piece - barely.

The paper listed GPS coordinates, which L texted out to our crew immediately as we took off for the Facebook clue location at ING Direct. We were shocked to learn that we were the first ones there, and got out in under a minute.

Chase Point # 1 secured!

A massive crowd of Chasers had swarmed in after us, apparently assuming that we were picking up a clue sheet. We squeezed our way through and hit the street running.

We had some difficulty finding the correct location based on the GPS coordinates, but luckily we spotted a crowd of Chasers at Nathan Phillips Square and were able to pick up a clue sheet there. What a relief to have it in our hands! This can be the most stressful part of the day.

In the past, we've stopped to review the clues and maps to plan out a route before choosing a direction. This time we wanted to get moving FAST and had planned out a few possible scenarios ahead of time.

One clue jumped out at me and I recognized the location from a previous Chase, so we had the address included in our notes. We decided it was a good place to start because (a) they were handing out "VIP Passing Lane Cards" to the first 25 teams to complete it (used to skip the line at another Chase Point), and (b) it was one of two locations where we could collect our bonus point for our fundraising. [this information was included on the clue sheets]

clipboard was the best $1.25 we ever spent

We sprinted to the nearest subway station, pausing briefly to send out some texts to our team before we would lose signal underground. We hoped that they would figure out some clues for us while we travelled. We poured over the clue sheet ourselves in the meantime, figuring out as many as we could and plotting out our first few Chase Points.

Out of the subway, we had a short run to our destination.

Unchained Melody: Oh, my love, my darling; I've hungered for your touch... Come to The "naturally occurring aluminum silicate" Room and act like Patrick and Demi.

We were the first team to arrive! Volunteers instructed us to use modelling clay to replicate a small structure and we immediately got busy rolling.
photo from City Chase Canada - not us
We were out of there pretty quickly, having earned a Passing Lane Card as well as our point for charity.

Chase Points # 2 and # 3 secured!

We had figured out the location of our next stop while on the subway, de-coding the address using a number/letter correlation grid.

Fermentation: 8, 5, 1, 4 - 20, 15 - B, zero, A - 4, 1, 14, 6, 15, 18, 20, 8 - 1, 22, 5

It was a wine/beer/cider-making store just down the street where we listened to a brief info session before answering a quiz (required 5/7 correct). L listened and completed the quiz while I continued reviewing clues and trying to keep up with texts pouring in from our support crew. L was done in just a couple of minutes with enough checkmarks to get us on our way.

Chase Point # 4 secured!

With some help from our crew, we determined another address in the area and ran there next.

Doggy Style: Find: (the # in the police dog unit) minus (the # of dogs in The Incredible Journey) times (the # of years 1 human year equals in dog years) plus (the # of Dalmations). Take this number to the Danforth and ruff it up! 

A table was set up outside where one of us had to sample two bites of food while blind-folded, and identify which one was dog food. L gobbled both down, got it right and we were out of there fast. We received another Passing Lane Card at this location too, although it wasn't indicated on the clue sheet so they must have made a last minute change. Bonus!

Chase Point # 5 secured!

We knew we were making great time so far, weren't hitting any lines and had the very valuable Passing Lane Cards in our possession to use later.

We had to start tackling the mandatory Chase Points. One side of the clue sheet stated that we must complete at least 4 out of 6 specified in a list.

Our crew has been scrambling to figure out where they were. L was able to map them out in a logical order, taking us back towards the downtown area. We were able to hop a subway to the first one, and another team graciously pointed us in the right direction as we tried to get our bearings. We promised to pay it forward!

1, 2, 3... PULL!: At the patron saint of Ireland's Catholic School, get harnessed up and act like a mule.

We found a school parking lot where there were various Mistubishi cars set up with harnesses, and immediately recognized the challenge from last year. We had to buddy up with another team and maneuver the car [in neutral] around some pylons. One person was pulling with a harness from the front, one in the driver's seat to steer and two pushing from behind. We also received an unexpected helpful push from someone else, who we later learned was on the overall winning team! Our group worked well together and finished the challenge in no time.

another City Chase photo - not our team
Chase Point # 6 secured! [1st of 4 mandatory points]

From here we had a bit of distance to cover and weren't on the subway line. We hoofed it on foot towards our next stop, hoping we would catch a streetcar passing by. No such luck!

We happened to catch sight of another Chase Point at a park along the way and took advantage. (We were constantly on the look out for the red volunteer shirts and white Chaser shirts.) It wasn't on the mandatory list, but we could still use the point.

Slingshot: (the "G" in ROYGBIV) + (the suffix for dog-, red-, hard-, ply-) Park

There was a bit of a wait so we decided to turn in one of our Passing Lane Cards to skip the line. For a second I felt bad for the teams waiting (I have certainly been in that position as well), but it's all part of the competition!

Once again we recognized the challenge from last year, and immediately assumed the same roles we had taken previously. I strapped on a helmet with a bucket on top, and L grabbed a sling shot and hacky sacks. I had to catch one in my bucket from 20, 30 and 40 feet back. It's certainly harder than it looks, but we managed after only a few attempts.

last year's photo
Chase Point # 7 secured!

We continued on foot along the route we had been taking and there still weren't any streetcars in sight. It was a long way to go and L was suffering with the distance, but hanging in there like a trooper.

We eventually made it to our destination to find a massive line. It could have easily been a 20-30 minute wait. Luckily we were able to use another Passing Lane Card to jump the line.

Chilly Choices: I scream, you scream! Scoop yourself to Ed's at 920 an taste the difference.

There were 5 dishes of ice cream and we were asked to taste test while blindfolded and correctly identify the flavours. For each one we got wrong, we would have to eat a cricket. Without a second thought (or consulting L), I announced that we'd skip the ice cream and go straight for 5 crickets. We needed to get out of there as fast as possible!

The volunteers looked at us like we were nuts, but handed us the tub of bugs. I panicked when I saw the LIVE crickets, but L dove in and ate them like a champ without a second's hesitation. She ended up "only" having to eat 3 because they were running low. Blech!!!

Chase Point # 8 secured! [2nd of 4 mandatory points]

We ran out of there to continue on foot to our next stop. Along the way I realized that we still had the Passing Lane Card; the volunteer must have forgotten to take it and we were clearly too focused on the task at hand to notice. We certainly weren't turning back, so we tucked it away feeling slightly guilty.

After running for what felt like forever, we made it to our next stop.

SALTO: Bring out your best Nadia Comaneci at the Catholic School of the Apostle of the Gentiles.

We arrived at the school and found a volunteer standing outside. All we had to do was make a silly face. We think that the task was originally supposed to be something more challenging inside (gymnastics?) but it worked out great for us because we were out of there quickly.

Chase Point # 9 secured! [3rd of 4 mandatory points]

At this point we only had one to go, but we had a pretty long way to travel back into downtown. We had better luck with the streetcar this time, and rode it all the way back to the main subway station. We knew exactly where we were going this time (or so we thought) so we had a chance to chat with a couple of other teams. We got off at the main downtown station.

We unfortunately misread one of the clues and thought there should have been a Chase Point at the Air Canada Centre, which is massive. We tried several doors and ran all around the outside of the huge building before we found a way inside, only to find that there was nothing there. We easily wasted a 5-10 minutes, but luckily we knew of another location and we hadn't gone too far out of the way.

We went back to the same station we had just come from, and grabbed a streetcar which would let us off directly in front of our final stop on the water front. The driver had obviously been seeing plenty of other teams, and kindly showed us exactly where to go.

There's no "I" in Team: This is a real cooperation test, working together you'll be at your best. Don't forget to bring a guest to 283A Queens Quay West.

not our photo

There was no line up, and we were immediately able to join forces with another team to maneuver these "skis" around a short pylon course. We had a hard time getting started, but quickly got the hang of it and found a rhythm.

Next we each had to take turns on the stilts (fortunately we were able to help hold each other up) for a short distance. Somehow we motored through it and even passed teams who had started before us. We were in turbo mode!

Chase Point # 10 secured! [4th of 4 mandatory points]

On our way back to the street, we remembered that we still had the Passing Lane Card that hadn't been collected, so we handed it off to another team who were very grateful. Pay it forward!

We used transit (streetcar followed by subway) to head to the finish line. It felt like it took forever for the subway to show up (it was actually about 3 minutes) and then it was moving soooo slowly within the tunnel. We were convinced that something was wrong and we were going to end up stuck in there. We were losing valuable time and stressing big time, putting on quite a show for other subway riders.

We considered getting off at the next stop and hoofing it, but made a last minute decision to stay on. Miraculously, the train started moving at normal speed again. Phew! Two stops later, we piled off and ran through the station like absolute maniacs. We knew the top winners had finished, but we were still hoping to have made top ten. Every second counted.

We finally made it back to Yonge & Dundas Square and ran straight through the finish line.

It took a moment for the officials to verify our Points, as we anxiously waited to find out our result. When they told us that we were 7th overall and the FIRST FEMALE TEAM we started screaming like crazy. You could say we were excited! It had all been worth it.

QOTP Chasers
2h 40m
7/650 teams
1st place all-female division

We hung out for a while before staggering back to L's for a shower and change of clothes. Our heads were spinning and we could not believe we had done it. We owe a great big thank you to our support crew - we could not have done it without you guys! There is probably just about as much pressure and stress on the crew as we had in the race.

We headed back to the finish line a little while later, just in time to see the last minute teams pouring in before the 4pm cut-off.

Line-up to finish at the cut-off -
We had finished more than 3 hours earlier!

Eventually they gave away some draw prizes and awards to the top finishers. We won a $50 Running Room gift card each along with out our awesome license plates.

The first place team moves on to the national championships, which is a whole different experience. Personally, I think they should send the top female team as well... not biased or anything. :) We will keep trying, no matter how far fetched it may seem. Last year we placed 184th so you just never know what can happen with a little luck and a lot of determination.


Meg said...

AWESOME!!!!!!!!! Whooooot

Anne said...

What a great race! Perhaps a little too stressful for my tastes, but I have a feeling the post-race high must be amazing! :)
Congrats once again on your great finish!

macnic said...

Amazing! I love the show the Amazing Race and this is just like it! Way to go!

Anonymous said...

wow that is intense!
i dont know if i would be able to do something like that. it sounds too much! hahhaha

u guys did amazing! congrats, congrats! great job!

Robin said...

Wow that's incredible. Congratulations!

Still Running said...

Do they have clues all over the country for national championships? That would be cool. Congratulations on your win!

Deb said...

Great Job!! And Crickets?? WOW!! I would vote for the top all female team to also move on to nationals. You guys are awesome!!

Jill said...

3 live crickets? Seriously? Yikes.

You guys did awesome, and I am totally digging those huge smiles on your faces at the end, I know you had the time of your life - how cool!!!

Jen Feeny said...

OMG that sounds like SUCH a freaking blast and you guys killed it! I am kicking myself in the butt even more now for not getting back to you in time to help with the first name/last name thing!!! FAIL!

Nicole @ Haute Runner said...

Great job!! Congrats!

J said...

Congrats! You girls are really getting good at that race! Must be so much fun!

Runners Fuel said...

Congrats!! Looks like so much fun (except for the bugs)!!

Caroline said...

Cnograts! that is impressive!!!
should be on TV!!!
the bugs..no thnak you!! you are better then me!!!!
fun to read!!!!

karen said...


Nice team name! :P

runnergirl training said...

Wow! Very interesting!!

Gotta Run..... said...

OMG... that all sounded like too much fun! I have completed a few events like that but yours takes the cake. They really thought of everything.


Love the report. I can see the smiles in your faces as I read it. :)

Unknown said...

You ladies ROCK. That sounds like it was a ton of fun, and I would love to do something like that sometime, maybe not in Canada though.

Congrats on first place for female team, must have felt great!

Lindsay said...

I noticed a little theme in here... L had to do a lot of the grunt work!! I would disown you for making me eat crickets... Jus sayin' ;)

Congrats tho - that is super awesome first place and they held up a "tape" for you to run thru! And the license plate is cool - I am slowly collecting them for each state I ran a 'thon in :)

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

This sounds utterly AMAZING!! What crazy fun...minus the bugs. I'd need a great partner for that one. yuck!
Congrats! And they should send the first female team, no doubt!

ajh said...

Live crickets! I wish they televised this. I would love to watch it.

MCM Mama said...

Great job! And WTG L on eating the crickets. I'm gagging just thinking about it. ;o)

Char said...

Eating dog food and crickets?!! L probably didn't need any recovery food after but maybe a stomach pump.

Great, fun day!

Cory Reese said...

No. Way. That looks like the most fun race ever! Plus you have bragging rights that you have eaten a cricket!

Nicole said...

SOOOO COOL!!!! :) Sounds so much fun! I cant believe she ate 3 live crickets! WAY TO GO!

Anonymous said...

CONGRATS, you two!!!! I am BEYOND confused as to how this whole race-system works (where was the support crew?! are there any rules as to how you can figure out the clues, get around town, etc?? Were there other teams on the subways? Ha, I have about 50 other questions...). Anyway, clearly I'm blown away by how you guys just figured out your way through it all :) And L ate crickets?!! Omg. Serious dedication...

Richelle said...

Congrats on your win! I don't know if I'd ever want to do an adventure race like that... eating dog food and crickets does NOT sound like a good time to me. I admire your dedication to this event and your willingness to do whatever it takes. :)

Laura said...

Love it...CONGRATS!
Crickets.are.gross...you guys are seriously hard core...

kristen said...

I love that you skipped the ice cream for the crickets...

Amy said...

I agree! They should send you to the National Championships. Congratulations again on your awesome finish!

Anonymous said...

Obviously, I'm way behind on some posts... But I had to comment because this just looks like an awesome time!!! Wow. I would love to do a race like this. Congrats on the amazing 1st place... Cherry on top!

Yo Mamma said...

Planning on running this in June for the first time. You're posts have been great at giving me/us a sence of what to expect. You guys are awesome, congrats and good luck in 2012! Our goal for this first time is to just finish.

Unknown said...

Great stroy about your starting day and your works on all days. I like it. Check toronto airport limo services.