Rachel and I spent our post-brunch Saturday afternoon running the streets of D.C. as Team Double Dare in the Great Urban Race. This is one of a series of Amazing Race-like events held across the country in which teams of two solve a series of clues and navigate the city completing mental and physical tasks. We originally signed up thanks to a challenge from a friend–Justin–who, with his teammate Pat, is way into these things. Naturally there was a lot of trash talking leading up to the race itself, so in the spirit of competition, we were ready to put up a fight.
Coming up with a team name and matching costumes was the first challenge. We wanted to wear pink tutus, but a miscalculation on my part left me without enough tulle to make one for each of us. Plan B? Easy-to-wear spandex, running tops and tube socks. We spent much of the race pulling down those tiny shorts (neither of us played volleyball), but all in all our attire worked in our favor. The winners of the costume contest were dressed as Oompa Loompas, complete with orange faces and green wigs. Some teams definitely came to win this competition rather than the race itself–it was hot, and all that facepaint and heavy gear couldn’t have been fun to wear.
The race began in Adams Morgan, where organizers ran through the rules and handed out clues. As soon as we grabbed our envelopes, we ran a few blocks south to start solving and strategizing. We (stupidly) made a deal with Team Now You Know 2.0 to work on the clues together, but they solved a few–and stole one or two of ours–and then ran off while we stayed behind to finish planning. We hadn’t done any prep other than to assume that our general knowledge of the city and some quick iPhone Google searches would be enough, so the few extra minutes really helped our efficiency in the end.
A number of the clues took us to Foggy Bottom, which is where I work, so we knocked out five or six of the total 12 in a short period of time. We got in the ring at L.A. Boxing, solved a puzzle about beer and breweries at McFaddens, ate a giant cookie at Marvelous Market, found GWU’s unofficial mascot (a hippo) and completed a tic-tac-toe board, which involved taking pictures shaking a dog’s hand, with someone in GW attire and with a group of 5 or more people in matching shirts.
Our next set of tasks took us to the Mall, so we hopped on the metro–just barely–over to Federal Center and ran to the Botanical Gardens. We had to find a particular plant and take a picture in front of it. Thankfully, some nice lady, who apparently had already seen a large number of teams run through, told us the exact location. Next stop: figuring out the translation of a German verb (to jump) and taking a picture in front of a statue in the Sculpture Garden.
The last two clues took us to Old Ebbitt Grill, D.C.’s oldest saloon, where we had to take a picture and answer a trivia question. Then we ran a block up the street to a clock on top of a Suntrust Bank building, where we had to get a picture of us when the time read 1:20, 1:40, etc. We had a minute window on either side to get this done, and unfortunately the idiot bystander we gave the camera to couldn’t understand what we were asking him to do. The time in our photo read 1:22. So we had to sit and wait for 20 minutes, which we knew would cost us in the end.
After we finally got someone competent to take the picture, we ran back to the finish in Adams Morgan. We were expecting to see a lot of teams on our way, and we certainly were expecting to find a lot of finishers already checked in. So imagine our surprise when we crossed the line and the field was more or less empty. Our place? 4th.
I think I can speak for both of us when I say that the highlight was not just coming in 4th, but calling to Justin and Pat from across the field and watching their shocked expressions as they turned around. Don’t underestimate Team Double Dare.
I’ll update with an official time and total field size when the results are posted, but at the end of the day, we qualified for the national championship in Vegas, exceeded expectations (ours and our competitors’), ran about six miles and generally kicked ass.
P.S. Justin and Pat won the whole thing, so congrats to them.
Update: We finished in 1:54 and placed 4th out of 501 teams.