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    Amuzing Race 2009 - Race Report

    Wednesday, June 17, 2009

    Mike and I along with our friend Nate and Mike's brother Dan competed in the annual Amuzing Race, a fundraiser for the Rochester Public Library. This was the third year for Mike and I to participate in the race, which is very similar to the television show, Amazing Race. Teams of four are given clues which take them to different locations in and around the city of Rochester where they compete in challenges and race to get to the finish line first. We always have an awesome time doing the race and this year was no different. Here is our race report:

    As always registration and the start of the race was at the library. We all gathered in the auditorium to review the rules and receive our first clue. In previous years we have tried to position ourselves near the door so we could be ready to run out and get a good start on the race, but in the past 2 years the first clue didn't involve needing to get out of the room quickly. So this year we didn't worry about where we were standing and wouldn't you know it, the first challenge had us all run upstairs with a definite advantage to those getting up there first. We had to locate two candy bars hidden somewhere on the second level of the library. Our team was one of the last teams up the narrow stairway and so we were left with locating the more cleverly hidden candy bars. We all felt very frustrated at first as we saw team after team completing the task while we were still wandering around aisles of books. It seemed like we were the last team to still be searching. Luckily, Nate had some keen eyesight, located both bars and notified the rest of our team. We ran downstairs and received our second clue which instructed us to travel to Peace Plaza on foot for the next challenge.

    Nate and I decided to let our more athletic team members do the running, so Dan and Mike set off for Peace Plaza while we got the car and met them there. Once they arrived, they had to search through a Post Bulletin newspaper to find a message for the racers. After some searching, they finally located a Lost and Found ad that told us to drive to the Girl Scout camp within Rochester city limits. Luckily I was aware of the location, so we were fast to set off in the direction of the camp.

    When we arrived there we were given the next clue - a Roadblock challenge, which meant that we had to choose between 2 challenges. We could either learn and sing two Girl Scout camp songs for judges or roast marshmallows to make and eat one S'more per team member. The singing challenge sounded like it would be faster, so we started with that one first. The two songs were the Brownie song ("There is something in my pocket which belongs across my face...") and "Make New Friends," which were two songs I know very well thanks to my many years as a Girl Scout. However, the boys on the team didn't know the songs and when we found out that we had to memorize them, we decided that making and eating S'mores would be easier and faster. It was a breeze for us and we quickly moved on to the next challenge on the clue we were given at the campfire. Next we had to locate 7 out of 11 trees within the Girl Scout camp that were listed on our clue and marked on the tree itself. We had to collect slips of paper with the tree names from a little pouch on each tree. This involved a lot of running around on very muddy trails, which was extremely tiring and even caused Nate to slip and sprain his ankle (poor guy!). We were able to make up some ground at this point because the guys realized that a whole group of trees were back in the campfire area from the S'mores challenge. Most of the other teams were still running around the trees when we finished and were given the next clue.

    Next we had to locate the Bookmobile somewhere in the small town of Byron, which is not far from the camp. We drove around for only a short time before spotting the Bookmobile, getting another clue and moving onto the next challenge. At the Byron Links mini-golf course each team member had to take turns putting onto one of about 6 greens for a hole-in-one. One person from every team either had to get one hole-in-one or if they could not, the teams could move on after 25 minutes of trying. Our team came so close many times, but we were unable to get that allusive hole-in-one, so when the 25 minutes were up, we were able to get our next clue and leave the putting green behind.

    From there we had to travel back to the library in Rochester. We got there quickly, snagged a parking spot from a friend and fellow racer out front and ran inside to find that a challenge was setup in the auditorium. A projector was showing images from movies and we had to guess the movie titles correctly. We only had one chance to do them correctly (it was at this point that I actually remember to take pictures during the race).

    There were 30 images and if you named 25-30 correctly, you could receive the next clue. If you scored less than 25, you had to incure a time penalty. The penalties were longer depending on how many you had incorrect. Thanks to our team's extensive knowledge of movies, we were able to get 26 correct and could proceed to the next challenge without a penalty. From the auditorium we then had to run upstairs to the library's parking ramp roof, which was about a 7 flight climb (more running!). Once up on the roof, we had to search the surrounding buildings and ground by sight for a race volunteer holding a bunch of balloons. Once again, Nate's keen eyesight helped us and we were quickly able to locate the balloons.
    Then we had to race by car to the location of the man holding the balloons and he would give us the next clue.

    The clue from the balloon guy told us to go to the Silver Lake Boat Launch where team members were to canoe or kayak around Silver Lake looking for a volunteer on a bridge who would hand them the next clue. I was very excited for this challenge, because I adore kayaking! I decided to "take one for the team" and do the kayaking by myself.
    It felt so good to be out on the water and I found it easy to paddle quickly despite being very tired from previous challeges. I knew exactly what bridge to paddle to and made quick work of getting out there, getting the clue and paddling back to the boat launch. Other teams seemed impressed that I kayaked alone for the challenge and I have to say that I was extremely proud of myself; it was so much fun!

    We ran back to the car and read the clue which instructed us to locate the Kutzky Park shelter. We had a vague idea of where the park was, but because Kutzky Park is split into two halves along a river, we unfortunately chose the incorrect location and had to turn around to get to the other side. Dan and Mike ran to the shelter to see if the challenge needed 2 people or 4. We all needed to do the challenge, so they waved us on. Nate and I drove the car over and hopped out to help with the challenge. We had to take uncooked pieces of dry spaghetti and gumdrops and create a structure that could stand 36 inches tall on its own for at least 30 seconds. We looked around and other teams were making cubes out of the materials, so we stupidly did the same thing. During our construction process, we realized that we shouldn't have worked so hard to make a cube, we could have achieved the needed results from a much simplier structure. So we modified it and quickly had our finished product. At this point in the race, we were pretty sure that we were ahead of most of the teams, but we didn't know how far ahead. We kind of pushed ourselves to beat this one team, "the green team" in particular who seemed to be pretty close to us throughout the whole race and so when we finished our spaghetti-gumdrop structure before them, we were pretty pumped! The next clue told us to locate and drive to the building under construction which is named for the first African American to travel to Antartica. At first we were all stumped, but after a few minutes of thinking, I remembered that the new elementary school on the northwest side of town is named after a notable black Rochesterian, but I wasn't exactly sure where the school is being built. Ironically, just as we were driving north on Highway 52 trying to figure out where to go, the "green team" passed us! We were pretty irked that they got ahead of us, until we realized that they knew where they were going! We followed them all the way to the new school, which was where we thought it was, but who knows where we would have ended up if it wasn't for them! A volunteer at the school gave us each a water bottle and another clue.

    The clue told us to go to John Hardy's BBQ, but purposely didn't say which location (northside or southside) to go to. We hedged our bets and went to the northside since it was closer to the school. The lanes heading south on Highway 52 were down to one lane and we weren't sure for how long, but the traffic looked bad. We took a detour to avoid the traffic, but we soon realized that the backup wasn't as bad as it looked and we had lost some ground on beating the team ahead of us. We arrived at the northside John Hardy's restaurant only to receive a clue that said we had picked the wrong location and we should drive to the southside location. At this point we were all very bummed. We knew we were not in the top 10 (the lady at the restaurant told us we were the 12th team to check in there) and we didn't think we could catch up with the "green team." But we did our best to get to the restaurant as quickly as we could anyway. We were just a few blocks away from John Hardy's when we realized that the "green team" was only a few cars ahead of us. Mike avoided a red light by cutting through a gas station (illegal, we know) to get ahead of them. Suddenly the race was back on for us and our adrenaline was pumping again! Mike had enough forethought to turn a little before the restaurant, which is not accessible from the side of the street we were on. Amazingly, we got to the volunteer, got our clue and were back in the car before the "green team" even arrived!!
    The clue told us to head to the History Center of Olmsted County, which we knew was where the finish line was located.

    Mike did some fancy driving to get us to the history center very quickly, we parked the car and we all ran like crazy people to the volunteers waiting outside of the building. We had one more challenge to complete - we had to correctly remember the sponsors of each leg of the race. Luckily we had been keeping all of the clues which had each sponsor name printed on them and we were able to quickly compile a list of enough sponsors to get the next clue, which told us to locate the picnic shelter and cross the finish line. We ran to the shelter just as other teams were arriving for the last challenge. We triumphantly crossed the finish line and learned that we were the ninth team to finish! Amazingly we DID finish within the top 10 AND we beat the "green team!" After a round of high-fives and a finish line photo, we "raced" over to the buffet table for a much deserved John Hardy's lunch!!!

    We didn't beat our finish from last year (8th place), but we managed to stay in the top 10 even with this being a much more physical race, having a new team member and one person getting injured. We also had so much fun, as always!

    2 Responses to “Amuzing Race 2009 - Race Report”

    Jenna said...

    What fun! I always wanted to do the amazing race but this sounds just as fun...and you don't have to travel the world!

    Nate Skalsky said...

    Jessica, that was an awesome run down of what happened. I can't wait till next year.