My girlfriend is a huge fan of The Amazing Race. A few years ago I participated in The Great Urban Race (GUR) - Virginia Beach, and while fun, it was a cluster due to the poor public transit system in Hampton Roads. But, when I saw there was going to be an event in DC, I put it up as an option and she quickly accepted.
The race works like this - teams of two gather at a starting location, in this case Nick's Riverside Grill on K Street NW. Packets are handed out, and at noon teams are given the "Go" to open the clue sheet and the race is on! Twelve clues to solve, but you can skip one without incurring a penalty. Other wrong or unsolved clues incur a thirty minute penalty to the end of your final time. The course closes at 5 am.
So, at about 10am, the Lady and I boarded the metro, and made our way to Foggy Bottom & the 15 minute walk to Nick's. We actually got there a little early, and neither packet pickup nor the restaurant were open, so we hung about trying to stay out of the drizzling rain that dominated the day. Our team name - "Whirled Peas Thru Beer" after the H3 event where we first met. Our uniform - our hash kilts and the 2012 WPTB T-shirt, plus dual party hats (which were dubbed the Party Horns) and noise makers.
At 11 pickup opened, so we got our bibs, shirts, and went inside to prepare for the race by drinking beer and eating nachos. At about 10 til noon all participants were called outside for announcements & clue sheet distribution. And we're off - or, in reality, back to the bar.
This is where I sadly admit that we lost our clue sheet after the event. So much in the backpack was soaked, and it didn't survive. So I'm going by memory!
The first clue was a doozy - four lines to be deciphered, and none in English! Two of the lines were at least in the Roman alphabet so hooray for Google Translate...but there was no way to decipher the other two, which were in Arabic & Cyrillic. So being a quick thinker - I took a photo & posted the clue to the PRS Fit Facebook page, and the team immediately jumped on it!
We took about 30-40 minutes to solve as many clues as we could - and quickly found that four of the locations were in the Dupont Circle area. We ran the 1.3 miles to get there, and The Christian Heurich Mansion was our first stop. Around into the gardens, we had to play some carpet square game, we got five total "jumps" to get from one side of the yard to the other, had to stay on carpet the whole time, and only had two squares of carpet that we had to toss & collect. But, we got it in one try! (Even though the Lady had to be sure to remind me I am quite a bit taller than she) First clue done!
Next, we went up Connecticut Ave to find ourselves at La Tomate. From here it was to the patio to stack four tomatoes and have them balance for at least 5 seconds, taking video for proof. The hardest part? The other teams that kept banging the table when they failed. Took a couple times, but number two was done and farther up Connecticut we went!
Next stop Maddy's Tap Room. Task? Flip a beer cap off of a coaster, while your teammate catches it in a Styrofoam cup. After three catches, your done. We got through this one pretty quickly.
Forth and final stop in the Dupont area - The Mad Hatter's. The task here - each team member had to catch a tea bag on the lid of a baseball cap without using hands. A lot of head swinging motion here. The Lady got it done pretty quickly, but it took me more attempts than I would have liked.
After the hatter's we were done with Dupont Circle, and it was time to catch the metro to China Town!
So this was one of the clues that gave us trouble for a while. Four pictures, with one thing in common, at this China Town Location. A turkey. A thumb tack. A bowl. And a batter swinging away. For a long time we were stuck on Chinese restaurant, but finally inspiration came (and maybe a little eavesdropping) and we figured it out - Turkey, PIN, Bowl, STRIKE! So we got off the metro and went right to Lucky Strike bowling alley in Gallery Place. This task was pretty easy, blow a marble through a pool noodle & knock over a marker on the other side of the floor. The Lady got it in two tries.
At this point, I checked Facebook and found the the Team has solved the clue! And, even better, Zaytinya was just around the corner! So off we went, and after swinging a tea tray around my head three times, we were off and running.
Ok, so here's where street names are important. The next clue was at 625 H St NW. When the Lady mapped it, she had it as 625 H St. Which was way over by the US Capital. Thankfully, I did a double check of her map, and the H St NW location was just around the corner. So off to Vapiano we went. This task? Get six pasta tubes onto a piece of spaghetti without using your hands...so stick in mouth, very entertaining to watch, and the Lady beat me to it, six to my four. By this point, my party horns had deteriorated from the rain, so they went into the trash with the pasta.
So, seven clues down, four to go. One of the remaining clues was a gimme - GUR supports St Jude's, and the clue was go to a given address, and take a picture of our team by the sign & send out a tweet.
Next, we were off to Bobby's Burger Palace. Here, it was a matter of playing burger themed Charades. I quickly solved Ketchup & Mustard after the Lady made a couple squeezing gestures, and with about two seconds of air guitar she guessed my pantomime of Cheeseburger in Paradise. We were told that we had the quickest solve of the day.
Now we were off to the final location before heading back, Sprinkle's Cupcakes. There was also a final clue to finish - a tic-tac-toe board of nine clues, which we had to get three in a row. Well, we had found a misspelled sign a while back...and while making our way to the cupcake store we accosted a few strangers to offer them short piggy back rides. The first couple, a lady and her daughter were totally freaked and declined, but the second, a young lady who said "what the hell, I've done these races before" was down for it, and after a few seconds of awkward video, we were headed off to Sprinkles.
I'm a little ashamed of what happened here. We had to play a quick version of the Newly Wed Game, and couldn't move on until we had five answers right between us. I totally blew it, but in my defense - she's never told me her lucky number, doesn't really like to watch movies, and I said the event we met at, not the location. Why couldn't there have been a question of her favorite color! I know that one (It's orange).
And now, the final dash to the finish. Oh yeah, first we had to do a video of House of Cards quotes to finish the tic tac toe. The rain started picking up, I put on a fresh pair of Party Horns for the finish photo, and back to Nick's we went. Crossed the finish line 3:29 into the race. Went to the judging table to validate our clues, show the pictures, and turn in the items we collected.
So, remember that piggy back ride video I mentioned? Turns out it was supposed to be a photo. Yeah, thirty minute penalty. Rookie mistake. This dropped us from 39th to 56th place. But hey, we were still well into the top 50%.
Redeemed out beer tickets to rehydrate, relaxed a bit, and then trekked back to the metro for a nap. and then the most awkward Mexican Restaurant dinner ever. But that's another story!
Overall a fun time. Granted, would have been nicer without the rain, but luckily it wasn't too cold. We ran somewhere in the range of 4-6 miles. Accomplished many challenges, And beer was consumed. I'd call that a success.