That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. - Nietzsche

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Race report - Urban Dare Cincinnati

So, a few weeks ago, thanks to a handy facebook sidebar ad, I became aware of this thing called Urban Dare. It's a scavenger hunt/trivia game/race, sort of like the Amazing Race (I imagine, since I've only seen bits and pieces of the show). Something you may not know is that my nerdiness and my love of trying new, random things are perhaps even greater than my love of running. This was RIGHT up my alley. I tried to talk the less-adventurous husband into it, but he was having a bad day and was not in the mood to hear about my latest idea that involves him venturing into unknown territory. (Actually, he said have fun. Then I told him it was teams of two. THEN he said he didn't want to hear about it.) So I left it alone for a while.

A few days later, Groupon featured half-price registration to Urban Dare. HALF-PRICE!!! I was so on it. When I got a chance to talk to Mark the husband, I pretty much told him: "That race thing I wanted to do? It's half-price. We're so doing it."

What I didn't know was that we would be doing it on the hottest day of the year. No, literally, the hottest day of the year. 100 degrees. And the thing started at noon. Even though I had explained how you get to the various locations on the map - walk or run - Mark saw me putting on my sports bra that morning, and asked what for. Then he said, "Really? We have to RUN???" I was afraid that he would want to bail, but he's the competitive type once he gets going, so I figured we'd be good. And we were.

We met at a martini bar downtown, got our shirts and our numbers. His went on his back, mine went on my front, to ensure that we always stuck together. We all had to wear our shirts, too. We also got our passport to get stamped. After a brief intro, and a costume contest (which the only team in costume, two girls in tutus and feathers in their hair, won), we got our clue sheets. Our strategy was to sit down in the shade and attack the sheet first, since we were told the clues may not be in logical order. He started at the top, I started at the bottom, and we pulled out our cell phones to start writing down addresses. I had trouble finding the only baseball player to be MVP in both national and American leagues, but Mark found out quickly that it was Frank Robinson. The only clue we didn't get relatively quickly was the location of the Hamilton County bicentennial bell - there's one for every county in Ohio. It was ridiculously ungoogleable. As he searched for it, I pulled out our downtown map (it was a last-minute decision to do a web search and print one out before we left) and marked out all the spots we needed to hit, and figured out the fastest route. He still couldn't find the bell, so I called some friends as we speed-walked to the first spot.

On the way to the first spot, I was skimming our clues and noticed there was a bonus - a 5:00 time deduction - for getting a picture of four people acting like they were shooting bows and arrows. We passed a bus stop and I asked the people sitting on benches if they would help us out. We got one guy who was super enthused about it, and two other people who agreed to do it, but we couldn't get a fourth person to step up. They were looking at me like I was out of my mind. I explained that we couldn't be in the picture. Then a woman came up to the bus stop, smoking a cigarette, and we begged her to do it. It took a little reminding that they needed to mime arrow-shooting, but they got it:

I sincerely hope that none of these people ever face a life-or-death situation dependent on their archery ability.

Onward to our first stop - The store with the same name as a 2006 film where Crispin Glover plays two brothers. Another team took our picture in exchange for us taking theirs.

Next stop was the Freedom Center, just down the road, for a picture with a piece of the Berlin Wall. (Did you know that was there? Me neither!) The problem was, the Freedom Center is huge. Where was the piece of wall? Inside? Outside? I ran in to ask an employee. Mark says we should've just followed the other teams, but how did we know that they knew where they were going?

Took us three tries. Sun was in his eyes.

We hadn't bothered to look up the location of Frank Robinson's statue - it had to be somewhere near Great American Ballpark. This time, we did follow the other teams.

He's right there over my shoulder. Note the other team taking a pic right behind us.
 Then things got a little hairy. We never had figured out where that bell was. On the way to Simon Says, I had called some friends, who weren't sure either, but guessed that it was in one of the parks near the Purple People Bridge. I had guessed the same myself, so we decided to go there...but partway there, I just wasn't feeling sure about it. That gave us a lot of ground to cover to try to find it, and we didn't even know that it was there. So we stopped for a minute and re-googled, and this time, Mark found out it was in front of the courthouse. Sweet. And then I realized we had missed a stop - a park that I thought was across from the Reds Hall of Fame, except it wasn't. I had mapped it haphazardly based on google maps on my phone, but I had to re-look it up, and as it turns out, I was off by a few blocks. The park was actually not even on our printout map. So we had to do a bit more backtracking to get there.

We were both feeling a bit frustrated, and it was HOT. Thank God we brought water bottles. We slowed way down and I was frustrated with that, but then we found the park. There's a big statue of Abe Lincoln, and we saw another team taking a picture with it. "Is that what we need?" he asked. No, we needed the Marine Corps Memorial, and it was a dare, not a picture. I *think* that team may have been confused by another clue, which involved a statue of the 9th president, and I snickered.

I spotted the passport-stamper, who did so after we completed the dare - run three-legged around a circle of cones. We nailed it.

Game on!! On our way to the next landmark, we passed a group of hotel? restaurant? workers outside on a break. They asked about our race, and I asked them to pose for another picture we needed - hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. They were happy to oblige and said they had done the same for a few other teams.

They were so happy!

Our next stop was the grill belonging to the lead on Sanford and Son.
Really hard to take self-pics with someone over 8 inches taller than you.
We found the courthouse! I had the address wrong in my head, but he clarified, and we had our bell.
Much smaller than I had thought it would be. (That's what she said.) Note the self-pic reflection in Mark's glasses. And I'm totally cheesin'.
Just around the corner was the "What's Happening Downtown" mural. I had no clue how anyone would know that's what it was called, nor do I know how Mark managed to find out. It's on the side of a mental health agency. You really can't tell, but it shows three people looking in different directions out windows.

Yeah, good enough.
Next was the temp agency that shares the nickname of UMass.

Note how we get progressively less smiley as we go. We literally stopped moving just long enough to snap this.
Close to being done!! We found the statue of the 9th president. (William Henry Harrison, not Lincoln. The first President to come from Ohio. He served one month in office before he died. That's most of what I remember from 8th grade Ohio history.) That one was a dare - I had to stick my face in a plate full of whipped cream to find a piece of gum and blow a bubble. Whipped cream on your face is gross when it's 100 degrees, and I think the heat made the gum funky. It was a weird texture...crumbly. I couldn't blow a bubble to save my life. Lack of saliva, maybe? I asked if Mark could try and the UD staffer didn't care. I popped the piece of gum in his mouth and he eventually managed to blow a bubble. I spotted a towel and asked if I could use it, and got shot down. I wiped my face with the shirt I'd worn before I got the official race shirt.

We jogged to the last spot. Mark spit out the gum. I almost got ran over even though I had the right of way. At the firefighter's memorial, we had to find letters that had point values, and calculate the point value of the word on our passport - importance. The letters were on sticks in a bee-filled flower garden and some were tricky to find, but we split up and got it done.

Last one!! I was happy to notice that there were other teams going farther from the finish line, which means they weren't done yet. We ran back to the bar, but we were missing a picture. I had been looking for a happy-looking couple the whole time, and I finally spotted one. I sprinted through a red light to catch up with them. They agreed to recreate a famous WWII photo for us:

They were every bit as adorable as they look here!!

DONE!! We booked it back to the starting point. Our official time: 1:32. We got our 5 minutes knocked off for a final time of 1:27 and finished in 17th place out of 80-90 teams.

Wow - a fully stamped passport!

Not shabby at all. It would've been nice to win, but I figured we wouldn't - we had no clue what we were getting into, and neither of us are 'nati natives, even though we love trivia. Our teamwork was pretty freaking amazing, and like we usually do, we made up for each others strengths and weaknesses. I was SOAKED in sweat - stupid cotton shirts!

What a clue sheet looks like after it's spent 1.5 hours being covered in sweat and water bottle condensation.

When we got home, I mapped out our route, more or less, and found out we had covered 3.6 miles. And I was totally proud of my logistical skills - it was the most logical route (minus the slight moment of confusion) that we could have taken, I think.

E marks our sidetrack/backtrack. Otherwise, quite the nice loop!

Pretty fun experience overall, and a good chance to tour downtown (we hardly ever venture down there!) and learn a bit more about the city. Thumbs up.


  1. Nice recap! We were probably right in front of you at the finish - lol! My husband & I came in 16th with a final time of 1:22 or something after the deductions. I'm not completely sure about the time, but I know the guy told us we were 16th.

  2. You were!! I remember the guy telling the people in front of us in line that they were 16th. I didn't know to be looking out for you, though, so I didn't pay attention. :)