About ten days ago on a Saturday morning LA and I participated in City Chase
. Our team name was, of course, Grätüïtöüs Ümläüt. Here's a quick recap with some hints for future City Chases:
We started at Eau Claire plaza and endured a lot of talk from the MC. A coworker and his race partner were honored for winning last year and also for raising about 3K for charity.
The race started when the MC announced that "security guards on Prince's Island have the clue sheets". This triggered a mad dash by all involved. LA and I second-guessed ourselves and went to one of the remoter parts of the island on the assumption that they'd be spread out. Nope, they were all smack dab in the center at the major crossroad of the park.advice:
During the opening announcements, you'll be in a large area that can fit everyone. It will likely be next to
a big empty area where they'll hand out the clue sheets. Be at the border between the two if you can.
The clue sheet had puzzles describing each of the Chase Points that we had to go to. There were 37 ("Thirty-seven!"
) of them IIRC. There were some odd groupings you had to do, and also some "do this or that, but not both" situations where teh chase points were very close to each other (for example, two where a block away from each other on Kensington Road).
We hunkered down and started solving the puzzles, which required middling knowledge of the city and some google-fu. Make sure you have a smart phone. It took us a little over half an hour to have solved the majority of the clues (we only got one wrong, owing to neither of us having ever been to Flames Central) and have a semi-optimal route chosen.advice:
Take a snap-shot of the clue sheet and email it to a helper, then bolt to one of the mandatory check points!
Our route? Start at the University of Calgary and work our way back. So it was onto the train to go to the northwest.
Chase Point 1: At the UofC, near the library tower, we had to do each of the following:
- skip rope simultaneously with your partner.
- Run a soccer ball through pylons.
- kick the soccer ball to each other through the pylons.
- Leapfrog with your partner.
- Solve a four-piece puzzle.
The difficult part for me and LA was the difference in our heights, she being wee and me looking like Herman Munster. We managed it though.
Chase Point 2: We ran down to the Volleydome (just south of the University in Athletic Park) and got to play another team in beach volleyball. We lost 5-2, but had fun.
On the way back to the train we stopped at DQ for ice cream treats. Any race where you can have ice cream in the middle is a good race. Sadly, I dropped my cone before I could finish it. Oh well, it was just going to get into my mouth anyway.
Chase Point 3: At the North Hill Fire Station there were two possible chase points. One was for anyone who had raised $50 for charity. We qualified, so we got that. The other point was for doing a bunch of fireman stuff - dragging hoses, carrying a body, that sort of thing. Unfortunately, they only had a few fireman on hand to supervise and one or two sets of equipment. This led to a long line that wasn't really moving. Someone said "40 minute wait", which I can believe, except I think that number was a guesstimate. We skipped that one, even though it looked like a lot of fun.advice:
We should have rushed to this one first and beat the lineup, solving other puzzles along the way (after all, we had to go there anyway to get our charity point). Failing that, raising $150 instead of $50 would have got us the point and allowed us to skip to the head of one lineup! This would have been a good choice for that.
Chase Point 4: We took the train down to Riley Park and found a fitness setup. You had to pick a snack from a list. They then told you how many calories was in that snack (it had things like a Mars bar, doughnut, muffin, bag of chips, etc.). Once you had a calorie value, you and your partner had to burn that many calories. They had a bunch of exercises there that you could do (examples: fifty sit-ups burned 40 calories, thirty 10-pound bicep curls burned 15 calories). This, more than anything else, contributed to my being stiff and sore the next day. I chose the Mars bar, since I know donuts and muffins have no standard sizes and can be as big as you like, but a Mars bar is constant. We had to burn about 350 calories.
Chase Point 5: We headed south to Kensington road and had a choice of two chase points (we could only do one of them though). We went to Pages book store (the one beside the Plaza theatre) and were instructed to go to the upper level and find some "visual poetry that is neither part of a book or on a bookshelf" and identify the creator. A lot of second-guessing and we finally found artwork on one of the windows made up of a maelstrom of letters.
Chase Point 6: At the Kensington Running Room we had to find five differences between two mannequins, the mannequins being decked out in an assortment of merchandise. LA found four of the differences, despite my having the brilliant plan of taking pictures of one of the mannequins and using it to compare to the other (they weren't beside each other in the store).
We had now run through most of the convenient northwest chase points.
LA: Why don't we take the loser-cruiser to Inglewood?
Me: What's the loser-cruiser?
LA: The Bowness-to-Forest-Lawn bus.
Me: Of course!
Chase Point 7: Once in Inglewood we went to 4 Cats art store to do some finger-painting. We had to use three methods of getting paint onto a canvas and "recreate" some pollock-style art on the wall. One of the methods had to include popping a water balloon with paint in it (not much paint, thank Groo).
Now we had a dilemma, we could go to the nearby chase point at Fair's Fair Books, but that would mean missing the bus back into downtown. Or we could catch the bus and hit a chase point in downtown on the way down to 17th avenue. The bus was coming in two minutes, so we opted to skip Fair's Fair.rant:
Why does the city only run the #1 bus (the "loser-cruiser" referenced above) every 30 minutes on Saturday? Every time we were on it it was standing-room only - hell it was "move to the back of the bus so others can get on"
crowded. That's not even including the handful of race participants. This bus is clearly being used and used well - crank up the frequency Calgary Transit!
We got downtown and discovered that what we thought was a chase point wasn't. We had got the clue wrong (which hurts more for this pair of geeks). We headed down to Melrose Cafe with less than an hour left in the race. Maybe we could finish if the chase point was a quick one. It wasn't.
Chase Point 8: At Melrose Cafe, the lower level was taken up by a martial arts school. What school you might ask? Ninjas! However, before we got to the ninjas, we had to cool our heels for a half hour in line. A line that went right by Melrose's bar. Any race where you can have a pint of ale in the middle is a good race.
We had to go through a bunch of ninja exercises to qualify for the point. Having read comics and watched movies throughout the 80's I had a bad opinion of ninjas (specifically the Westerners who learned it) as pretentious goofballs. Our guide did a lot to lift that bad opinion though. It seems like a fairly egalitarian martial art, and that pleases the socialist in me. We had to run through some obstacles, demonstrate our ability to skulk, sneak, dodge sword thrusts and missiles and finally we got to throw some shurikens! This was probably my favorite of the chase points that I completed.
This does suggest that the local SCA could get involved - volunteer to do a checkpoint where people put on armour and tabards and did quick one-off combat with Nerf weapons. Maybe not though - the ninja stuff was decidedly non-contact. Oh well.
We now had ten minutes left to get back downtown and check in before the 4pm deadline. We weren't going to be getting those last two chase points. We were a few minutes late, but were told before the race that they would have the finish line open until 4:15. This turns out to be incorrect, they finished at 4 on the nose and we missed check in, so there is no record of our team finishing.
All the race participants got treated to a free drink at Flames Central. Sadly that venue isn't quite large enough for everyone; neither LA or I were able to get seats as we were amongst the last people to get there.
City Chase was a blast and I recommend it to everyone. Vancouver peep: It's in your neighborhood on August 25th!