Ok, here's a my report from this weekend's City Chase in Ottawa, Ontario. I hope that this will be updated soon to include some photos once I can get them from my chase partner!
First of all, we were a bit worried with being able to run this thing, as we were running in a foursome, and three days before the race one of our runners twisted his ankle playing ultimate Frisbee. We were scrambling to find a fourth, and it was REALLY close. We finally ended up with a friend's hubby, who is a Brit and provided lots of entertainment all day.
Onto the race - so we got there and picked up our kit - simple and easy, which was not expected. We went into one of the buildings at the University for a quick washroom break, then headed back outside. It was quite hot already considering it was only 9:30am, but it already felt like 30 degrees. Luckily they had ice cold Nestea ready, which we filled out bottles with. Nestea counts as an electrolyte, doesn't it?
Soon we were stretching and getting warmed up. At that point, I ran into a friend from a message board I frequent and we got to have a quick chat. We would meet up several other times on the course. Then the organizer started explaining the scavenger hunt we would need to go on to get our clues. I thought, ok, .... then I heard "a penny from the 1800's, a small child under two years old...." WHAT???
Quickly, she said she was kidding, and explained that we would have to move to the right or the left of the city chase vehicle behind us. Our group chose to go left. Unfortunately, that was the wrong choice, as those on the right got to get running first. We finally were let go to another area of the campus, grabbed our sheet and ran to a quiet area across the street to get our route planned. I immediately recognized a number of the challenges from previous Ottawa runs, or from the race reports of everyone else. We mapped things out, hopped on a bus and we were off.
#1 - Elbow grease - .dr dnomhciR gnola edis tsew eht no 'reaG roodtuO taerG' rof noitanitsed s'awattO ot levarT (Travel to Ottawa's destination for 'great outdoor gear' on the west side along Richmond Road)
This required us to go to a local sports store and change a bike tire. Luckily the two guys we were running with knew about bikes, and gave us some hints on how to do it faster. We were also able to watch some of the people in front. We missed getting a fast pass at this stop by 2 teams! Regardless, we got the wheel off fast, pulled out the air tube without taking off the whole tire, and got it back in and inflated FAST! We even had to wait for the guys since we beat them to finishing! Great start.
#2 Tissue? Around Renu Spa you'll need to dig deep, Before you leave you'll possibly weep
This one was admittedly lame. By the time we got there, onion bits were everywhere on the sidewalk. We had to grab a piece and make ourselves cry. There was only one volunteer at this station, and about 20 chasers trying to get his attention at the exact moment a tear ran down our cheek, or else he wouldn't let us go. The onions were weak, so I just looked up without blinking until my eyes watered. The guys actually put onion juice in their eyes! It was a slow station, and the most poorly organized.
#3 tasty stranger - During the first part, you will need some success, or the second part will lead to plenty of stress. If you're feeling hungry, go to the pavilion where the queen meets the prince on her driveway.
We headed to the Dow's lake pavilion on Prince of Wales, to Lago Bar and grill. This was another long line. We knew we were going to taste test, and I was hoping it would be the same foods that Marlene faced, since I had memorized them! We got to the front after about 20 minutes, and explained to them that we both had food allergies that had to be cleared. Sure enough, the separated us and specifically laid out each plate to ensure allergies weren't an issue. We stood blindfolded and had to identify the ingredients in an hors d'oeuvre. They were really mean, and wouldn't let us guess the obvious ones, like the whole cherry tomatoes in my skewer. I guessed mine fairly quickly (tomato, green pepper, onion and boccini cheese) but my partner was stuck on her third ingredient (feta cheese). I finally was coaxing her, asking her what it tasted like, and what kind of cheese was salty. She got it, thank goodness, as the crickets were live! The guys however, were not that lucky, and one of them had to eat two. He killed them by smashing them with a water glass, then downed them like pills. Crazy!
#4 - Urban Rat - PNEYGBA HAVIREFVGL ORGJRRA YRRQF NAQ FGBEZBAG UNYY (translated - carleton university between leeds and stormont hall)
Carleton university is known for it's underground tunnels, which are used by students to cover the large campus during the winter months. Each year, students from the various residences paint murals to represent their floor. Some are kept, and others are painted over in following years. This challenge had us answering trivia about the different paintings, which were in no logical order whatsoever! This was a very difficult challenge to a non-Carleton grad, as you had to find the correct building, floor and year to answer the task. My friends were both Carleton grads, so they were solely responsible for getting us through this challenge. We were delayed a bit because one of the paintings was based on the persistence of memory by Salvador Dali (melting clocks anyone?) and we were fighting over what time the clock read. Finally, we got through.
#5 EZAM - ewrber akrp (unscramble = brewer park)
In the process of running from the last challenge to this one, mother nature decided to have a hissy fit, because it POURED. Lighting, downpour, drenched electronics kind of weather. One shoes squished and I actually resorted to putting my cell phone in the unused doggie poop bag I happened to have in my pocket.
We got to the challenge to find a mini maze made of stakes and twine. We were told to go through it and then we would be asked a trivia question. The maze itself was small, and easy to complete, but when we were at the end, we were surprised when we were asked what the maze spelled. With some overview (one pair actually piggybacked to get an aerial view!) we figured out it spelled "city chase" Point received!
There was another checkpoint right beside this one, which involved a volleyball game and then catching balls in a bucket attached to our heads while getting hit by dodge balls. We took one look at it, decided we would have gotten sand stuck to us everywhere (since we were still wet) and that it would take too long (there were only two volleyball courts), so we hightailed it to another stop.
#6 ring toss - my clue sheet is so soggy and ripped, I can't read this clue anymore, but we ended up at the Works, a local burger place that serves a tower of onion rings as one of their specialties. The had a huge model of their onion ring stand made, and we and to throw 2 rings onto the tower to get the point. We both had 9 rings. Sounds easy, but this was definitely harder than it looked. It took us 4 tries (we had to go to the back of the line each time we missed) but we finally got it, and my partner won a tower of rings from the restaurant for getting 3 rings on the tower! She was my superstar at that moment, because ring toss is not my forte. 0/36 rings for me!
#7 The Hunt - At Rogers Plus near Glebe's Car Wash you will check in, Armed with a Blackberry, "The Hunt" will begin.
We got here to find a blackberry and a list of challenges waiting for us. We had to complete 6 of 8 tasks to get our chase point. We had to get a non-Ontario licence plate (easy in Ottawa) a group of 10 non-participants in a line from smallest to largest, a group of 5 people posing with a blackberry, make a video of us doing a good deed, a video of one of us proposing to someone on the street, and a before and after shot of one of us changing shirts with someone. We were soaked from the rain and sweaty, but luckily for us, we found a guy riding his bike shirtless who was willing to play along. So he took my shirt, and I posed on the street, in my sports bra. A bit embarrassing, but we got our point and ran.
#8 - burn it off - Chewy, gooey and oh-so-sweet, chocolate can be a really nice treat. Work hard at Queens Goodlife and don't despair, a yummy surprise waits at the front stairs.
So this was the challenge where you picked a chocolate bar, and had to burn off the calories between the two of you. There were lots of double sized bars, so we went with the crispy crunch, which was 240 calories. My partner and I hopped on treadmills, jacked up the inclines and speed, and got the calories burned off in less than 10 minutes. We were depressed when we got off and found we didn't get any free chocolate after!!! By that time, we could have used it.
#9 - Electric Avenue - this challenge will not have you creating a spark, but it just might be located on one.
We headed down Sparks street, where two chase points were supposed to be located, and found three guys standing in front of three cars. We were given trivia questions about the electric cars in front of us, and had to get the answers from information sheets on the cars, or the Internet. The more questions you missed, the more bricks you had to carry back and forth between two pallets, which were to simulate the weight of different car parts I think. We got all 5 right, so only had to carry 3 - 5 pound blocks. This was a quick point at a time where we were quickly approaching the 6 hour deadline.
We went to find the second chase point on sparks street, but it was not located where the clue said it would be. We found another team, with one member in a wheelchair, and chatted with them about the point. We were informed it was far out of the way, and difficult to get to, so we decided to point them in the direction of the chasepoint we had just completed (as they could complete it easily) and headed back to the finish. We were forced to stop at the Rideau centre as one of our members was suffering with major blisters 5 hours in, and had some fun being questioned by people about what we were doing.
We ran to the finish where chasepoint #10 was located:
#10 - Zoolander - one pick of a marble, and you could be in tears, or this could be the time you tackle your fears. Close your eyes at the start line for 30 minutes and this chase point will appear.
I was TOTALLY psyched about this one, I wanted to do it SO bad. Unfortunately, because of the heat and the time that had passed, they closed this checkpoint down to keep the animals safe. We got our point and dashed about 100m to the finish, for a time of 5:35 (we think)
It was a great experience, and one I would do over. You need to know the city well, and the transit. I think next time my goal would be to finish in time, but focus on the most intense and fun checkpoints. I would have changed some of the challenges we did if I could do it again. At least now I will have 2-3 dog tag medals this year, as my half marathon is doing dog tags as well.
I'll post pictures when I get them!!