Packed Suitcase | Great Urban Race 2011: DC Edition
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Great Urban Race 2011: DC Edition

Great Urban Race 2011: DC Edition

Who hasn’t wondered what it would be like to be on the Amazing Race? The idea of racing through some unknown land, uncovering clues and having a rip-roaring time along the way is enough to entice anyone to apply for the show.

Luckily, I didn’t have to go quite to that extreme to have a similar adventure. Yesterday the Great Urban Race came to Washington, DC, one of 40 cities worldwide that hosts the Chicago-based events. My Dad and I spent the better part of the day racing all around town, uncovering clues, solving puzzles and trying our hand at various activies as we raced to complete the race in the alotted 5 hour time window.

We were Team Globetrotter and, needless to say, we had an amazing time. We ended up finishing in 3 hours and 54 minutes, well under the time limit. UPDATE: This just in… we finished #148 out of 364 teams! I am very happy with this result! (Fun Fact: 85 teams didn’t finish/ gave up/ didn’t return to get evaluated.)

Though the race we learned a few good tips for anyone wanting to run the race in the future.

1.) An overcast day is your friend.
You may think you want a sunny, perfect day, but as you run around frantically searching for locations you’re gonna get hot. An overcast day actually is the perfect weather to run a race such as this.

2.) An iPhone is invaluable.
For Google research, walking directions, metro times, hints to puzzles… the iPhone probably is the single most valuable tool for you to successfully complete the race. And it’s 100% allowed!

3.) When you get your clues, try to solve all of them before leaving.
We followed this technique and I don’t think we would have finished if we hadn’t. Backtracking to pick up a clue you’ve missed will waste precious time.

Rather than tell about our whole adventure, here is our journey in pictures. Enjoy!

The Globetrotters are ready to go!



Lots of teams checking in… there were GUR’ers all over DC!

Stop #1: Pilates at Stroga in Adams Morgan (Clue #2)

Dad’s youth busboy experience comes in handy at the DC Diner at Adam’s Morgan (Clue #7)

He can do it with one hand behind his back!
“Excuse me, sir… can I honk your horn?” Yep… not wierd at all. (Clue #9)

Race or not, we took time to stop and… kiss the roses. (Clue #9)

Mkaing friends and starting a conga line (Clue #9)

Had to find a street sign with double letters… and this one had double doubles. Sadly, no extra credit (Clue #8)

From Pinball Wizard to shuffleboard king. (Clue #5)

Our reward!

Hello, tour bus! (Clue #9)

Quick stop to the Portrait Gallery (Clue #11)

Had to take a moment to get Pitango Gelato… pomegranate and pineapple flavors, in case you were wondering. (Waiting to start Clue #4.)

Waiting and waiting… probably should have skipped this one and taken the 30 minute penalty. But I really wanted to do the “guess the spiciness” challenge… (Clue #4)

Finally! It was our turn and I guessed correctly on the first guess. In case you were wondering, left to right it was Medium, Hot, Mild. (Clue #4)

After running to the finish line, we made our way to the camera check to get our final score.

At the end of the race, we made it in 3 hours, 54 minutes with no penalties. Not bad for our first race!

  • Kelly Paras
    Posted at 13:05h, 16 May

    I have been interested in these races for ages! Looks like you had a blast – congrats on finishing in under 4 hrs!

  • Tricia
    Posted at 16:17h, 16 May

    Too funny!! We were there, too. I just happened to Google GUR DC 2011 to see if any images were posted from Saturday's race and found your blog. We're actually the team in red in your picture for the camera check. Hope you had fun! I know we did!

  • Packed Suitcase
    Posted at 17:56h, 16 May

    Kelly, you totally should try it next year. It was a blast!

    Tricia, how funny that you were in one of my pictures 🙂 It was such a fun day.

  • CitySolve Urban Race
    Posted at 06:05h, 18 May

    Ya'll don't have to wait until next year as CitySolve Urban Race is coming to DC on September 17th!

  • jade
    Posted at 05:38h, 20 May

    I have always wanted to do this! and how did we live before iPhones?!?! 🙂