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    Amuzing Race Report

    Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    I had been looking forward to this weekend for pretty much an entire year. Saturday was to be the second annual Amuzing Race, which we participated in last year. The race is a game based on the television show, The Amazing Race, which puts teams of up to 4 people up against each other while racing all over the world (in our case just Rochester) to solve clues and complete challenges. We had such a blast last year that I could not wait to do it again! Mike and I were on a team with friends Eric and Nate and this year we came in 8th place out of 35 teams (last year we were 19th)! The race started out tough with the 4 of us struggling to figure out the presidencies of Polk, Buchanan and Arthur. We then had to take those 3 numbers (11, 15 and 21) and correctly enter them into a combination lock to receive our next clue. We had 15 minutes to figure out their chronological rank without any help and after that time we were (thankfully) able to use any library resource we could get our hands on. After finding the correct numbers in a children's encyclopedia, we were given the next clue and found ourselves racing to Quarry Hill Nature Center where we had to run up a short trail to a recycling center to get our hands on either 5 lbs of aluminum cans or 50 lbs of newspaper. We chose the cans, which we then had to bring to a park shelter, but neither of us knew where it was. After one incorrect guess of Soldiers Field, we stopped by the Running Room where the manager looked up the location on her computer (a totally legal move in the game) and it was near Silver Lake - Three Links Shelter. At the shelter we had to get a stack of newspaper, a stapler, tape and scissors and create a geodesic dome with several newspaper rolls, which actually may have been our most successful challenge - our teamwork was great and we finished long before the other teams who had started before us.

    Next we had to take our dome, the cans and the leftover newspaper to another recycling facility to get the next clue. The clue instructed us to go to McQuillan softball fields and find the R.C. Lowe park. When we got to the fields (which fortunately Eric knew the location of), Mike and Eric took off running down a trail following some other racers while Nate and I waited in the car. While we were waiting, Nate got a bad feeling about the situation, so he got out to explore and see what was going on. He walked toward where Mike and Eric had been running and discovered that they missed the check-in point! Since 2 team members have to be present to check-in, he had to call me over. The ladies then gave us another clue which said that 2 team members had to run down to the dog park - in the direction that Mike and Eric went - and the other 2 members had to get in the car and drive to the dog park. So Nate and I ran to the car and tried to quickly find the park before Eric and Mike started to run back. Nate used to take his dog to the park, so it wasn't too hard for us to find. Luckily Mike and Eric were waiting for us there so we were able to check-in and get another clue. The next challenge was to drive to the Target on the north side of town and locate the employee whose picture was in the clue. Only one team member could participate, so I volunteered. When we got to Target, I took off running through the entire store, getting many strange looks from shoppers. I think it took me about 10 minutes to finally find the girl I was looking for and she gave me another clue, which told us to go to a specific address on the northeast side of town. While searching for the house, Nate's driving skills were really put to the test, as we not only had to navigate the streets, but we also were trying to shake another team who were following right on our tail! After receiving the next clue, we had to go back to the library and complete a quiz of tv show theme songs. A moderator played the songs on a computer one by one (with a minute between each one) and teams had to write down their guesses on a sheet of paper. The goal was to get at least 10 correct and have them check your score. If you didn’t get 10 right, they would cross off the next three songs and you would have to wait that long before trying to guess again. While Nate was parking the car, Mike, Eric and I took a stab at trying to guess some songs. By the time Nate had come in, we had about 5 down on our paper, but to be sure that we weren’t docked for too many mistakes, we continued to try to get as many as we could. When we nervously turned in our sheet to be graded, we learned that we actually had 12 correct! Our reward was another clue which instructed us to take the $2.10 that we had been given earlier in the race, buy a roll of paper towels anywhere and bring the roll to the Ronald McDonald House. The only store between the library and the house must have been seeing lots of racers because the guy told Eric right where the paper towels were as soon as he walked in. We brought the towels to the house in exchange for a clue that said that 2 team members had to walk to the St. Marys water tower from the house, which is a short distance but is up a terribly steep hill. Mike and I ran (well, Mike ran – I waddled) up the hill, got the next clue and then ran back down to the car. We had to drive out to Thrivent Financial, which is out on West River Road, and complete a challenge. The challenge was probably one of the most creative activities that I have seen in a long time. We had to use a rubberband that had 4 pieces of string tied to it to lift 6 paper cups into a tower while using only one hand per team member. It took us some time because we knocked over a cup onto the floor twice, but we eventually got it without too many problems. The clue sent us to the Rochester Athletic Club where we had to locate the east door. As it turns out the door we were supposed to use was not actually the eastern-most door, but whatever, Mike and Eric found the correct door and went inside to do the challenge. Again, while Nate and I were waiting in the car, we decided that I should go in and check on them. They didn’t need my help, but it was fun to see the challenge. There was a HUGE pile of library catalog cards strewn about the floor and within the pile somewhere were 2 cards that also had “Team 43 (our team #)” written on them in red ink. As I came in the room, Mike found the first card and not too long after that he found the other.

    Next we had to go back to Three Links Shelter, which is almost on the other side of town. At the shelter, we had to do another challenge that involved all 4 of us. This time we had to create an electric current between 3 sets of wires, a light switch, an outlet and a light bulb. I was never so happy to be working with 3 men who are all engineer-minded because I would have been completely lost without them! We successfully completed the challenge pretty quickly and were soon off to the finish line!

    It is pretty difficult to surmise how well you are doing while you are playing the game because even though there are always other teams around, they could be the top teams or the bottom teams, you never know. By the time we were headed to the finish line, we were completely unsure of how we had done. We could have been in the top 10 or bottom 10, we had no idea! So we were pleasantly surprised to find out that we were the eighth team to cross the finish line, a huge improvement from last year. We had a great time racing and I know I am already looking forward to next year’s race!!