The Wolfpack Files

My Life in My Words

Monday, September 15, 2008

City Chase a.k.a. The Amazing Race - NYC Style

This past weekend my friend Sarina and I entered an event called City Chase. As one of the quotes on the web site says, it’s like Fear Factor meets The Amazing Race. Basically teams of two run around the city trying to complete challenges. The first team to finish 10 of them and get to the finish line wins. I’m still not 100% why we entered, but it sounded like a nice way to spend a Saturday.

We arrived at the starting location around 8:30am on Saturday morning. We checked in, looked at the competition, and decided that we weren’t trying to win, just finish all 10 tasks in the time allowed. After watching other people warm up, the race was on. The first point we got was actually completed the day before when we got over $40 in donations to a charity (we actually ended up with $80 – so thanks to the people who helped us out!) The second point involved a scavenger hunt that basically took place right on 11th street here in Manhattan. We were given a list of 10 items and we had to either find or answer 9 of them. A couple of them were easy since we were given the list the day before. Find the architect of Webster Hall. What was the current temperature in the World Championship city (Marrakesh). The rest were a little harder/stranger. Find a tan line. Find a team wearing their shirts and pants backwards. Find a non-competitor who was the same height as one of your teammates. Luckily, you didn’t have to actually do all this, you just had to take a picture of it. I’d say in about 10 minutes we were done.

At that point we were given a sheet of paper with 30 clues from which we’d now have to complete 8 of them. The top 6 clues were broken into 3 segments. We had to do 2 of the 6, but from at least 2 segments. So we spent the next 10 minutes trying to figure out the clues and get some idea of what we might be doing. Once we sort of figured that out, we took a look at the other clues as we started walking in a general direction. I spotted that one of the clues took us to a Kaplan Center nearby. When we got there we took a GMAT-esque test of 15 questions from which we needed to get 10 right. It had been a long time since either of us had to do questions like these. We each started working and after 10 minutes decided we’d just hand it in. Luckily we agreed on about 5 answers, I got a few more and then as I was walking to hand in the sheet, I literally started randomly circling answers. We ended up with 11 right. Point #3, done.

We left and continued walking West since that seemed to be where most of the tasks were being done. But almost immediately upon walking out we spotted that one of the clues was on St. Marks and Avenue A. While it was in the opposite direction, it was also pretty close so we hoofed on over there. That was the first of what turned out to be a few uncomfortable challenges. We, along with another team, had to go up on a little stage and sing. Well, not exactly sing… see, there was a guy in charge and we had to do whatever he wanted us to do. I ended up having to become a human beat box. I wasn’t all that bad. Sarina on the other hand… the guy asked her to breathe heavy. No seriously, that was it. As soon as he said that I looked over at her and tried really hard not to laugh. It was like she was auditioning to be a phone sex operator (don’t kill me for writing that!) After the other team was given their assignments, off we went, rapping and breathing upon command. Luckily it lasted only a couple of minutes and the crowd of other competitors that were watching seemed to enjoy us. Point #4, done.

We left and went back towards the West side. On our way there we crossed Lafayette street and I suddenly remembered one of the clues had mentioned Lafayette. I kind of wish I hadn’t because the tasks was as Crunch Gym. Those of you that know me know that I’m not really a gym person and I was afraid of what was going to happen. This particular location has a Pilates room with some exercise equipment that I had never seen before. Essentially what we had to do was work out on these machines for 10 minutes. It wasn’t all that bad I suppose, but not really something I’d want to do again. Point #5, done.

Once again we left and headed West. This time we were going to one of the mandatory challenges at a billiards hall. Here what you had to do was play ping pong and to win you had to get five points. Here’s the catch. One team member stood in front with their hands on their hips while the other one stood behind with their arms through the front person’s. Then you had to try and play. I was watching the teams ahead of us to get an idea of the best way to do this and well… we won our five points in about 30 seconds. Point #6, done.

We left and headed towards the Piers. It was at Pier 42 I believe where we had to go hand in our donation sheet to prove we had gotten the $40. But there was also another challenge there that I did NOT want to do. It involved cheerleading. Sarina of course threatened and mocked me and forced me to do it. So yes, for a short couple of minutes, I was a cheerleader. The task was, you and another team had to pair up and do a cheer that had 5 phrases in it (the 2 team names, New York City, City Chase and The Big Apple). You also had to include a kick, a life and a jump. One of the teammates had to wear a cheerleader skirt (thank God I had a girl as a teammate) while one of the other team’s people had to wear a cheerleader skirt. The other two of us had to hold pom-poms. So we came up with the following rhyme (for reference sake, the other team name was The Tex Pats and we were That’s What She Said):

We are the Tex Pats

Here in New York City

We’re doin’ the Big Apple City Chase race

Shakin’ our asses

Yeah, That’s What She Said!

As you can tell, we are skilled writers. So during the first three lines we were doing a Can-Can kick, then on ‘Shakin’ our asses’ we jumped and did a 180. And then turned back around so on the last line Sarina jumped in the air and the three of us caught her. After a few tense moments (because the judge could have said we needed to do it again) he asked us whether we did a jump. Sarina quickly demonstrated ours and he passed us. Point #7, done.

The next task was down at Pier 40 so we walked on down there. Let me tell you that around now I was starting to wear down. It was 80 degrees, sunny and muggy and the heat was getting to me. But Sarina was her usual cheerful self and kept prodding me to go on and just finish it. So we get down to Pier 40 for the eating challenge. Here each teammate rolled a die and depending on what it landed on, that’s what you had to eat. The possibilities were: Wasabi; an Anchovy; a live mealworm; a live cricket; nothing and I never did find out what the 6th choice was. Why? Because we both rolled a 4 – a live cricket. Let me go back a few minutes and let you know that once we got there Sarina said there was no way in Hell she was eating a live anything… it took a little prodding but thankfully the judge allowed me to eat for both of us. So I had to reach into a bag full of live crickets and pull them out, one at a time and eat them. With people watching. I have to say, they weren’t that bad. I felt a little fluttering in my mouth before I chomped down. They were like little Rice Krispies. Point #8, done.

From there we finally were able to take a short break and hop on a Subway down to Battery Park. Here we were going to do the second of our mandatory challenges. It took a little while to find where the challenge was… this time one of us had to wear a Statue of Liberty crown and hold a barbell over our head like a torch and sing the National Anthem. On the streets of New York on a beautiful sunny day. Sarina doesn’t know all the words… I, after having gone to hundreds of hockey games in my life, had memorized it. So I got to sing. I’m sure Francis Scott Key was spinning in his grave at my seriously off-key (pun intended) rendition but I muddled through it. Point #9, done.

The final challenge was only a couple of blocks away and I was ready to pass out. This time were given Palm Centro’s and had to videotape 4 out of 5 things written down for us. The first one we did was, find a non-competitor and have her ride piggyback on one of the team members around the bull. In downtown Manhattan there’s a large brass (?) Bull sitting in the middle of the road where a lot of people take pictures. I have to say I wasn’t keen on this challenge at all since it involved finding random people to do random things for us, but Sarina was insistent we could get someone and I’m thankful I listened to her. She ended up getting one girl to do 3 of the things on the list. So first this girl got on my back as I walked around the bull. Then this girl had to play leapfrog with one of us, and Sarina took her on, although apparently this girl’s butt hit Sarina in the head twice. Then we had to have the girl do three cartwheels or three somersaults for us. She was a trooper and quickly did three cartwheels. That left one more thing to do. Either a) we had to get video of one of us riding in a rickshaw or b) find 3 non-competitors and get them to join one of us in singing the National Anthem in front of a Statue of Liberty. We didn’t see any rickshaws nearby so that left the last choice. Luckily in that area, since we were near where the boats leave to take you to the Statue, there were a few street performers dressed up at the Statue. So Sarina managed to find a foreign family who had NO idea what the National Anthem was and the four of them stood in front of a street performer (after paying him $10!) and sang the first 15 seconds of the National Anthem. Well, Sarina sang, the other 3 just stood there. We ran back to the check-in point and gave them our video and we passed. Point #10, done!

At this point I was hurting in all sorts of areas. Sarina didn’t complain once throughout the entire day even though she’s the one with actual injuries to both her feet. I have to say that if I had anyone else as a partner I would have quit a long time earlier or at the very least, we’d still have 2 tasks to do. But Sarina’s never ending enthusiasm kept me going. Which came in handy because for some reason the first three subway stations we found had no trains running! We finally got on the train and made it back to the finish line and we finished in a time of 5 hours, 8 minutes and 53 seconds.

We didn’t win, but I’m still waiting to see what the final results are. Because we finished in a decent time (an hour before the deadline) and because we actually did all 10 tasks (a lot of teams didn’t) I think we may have done pretty well. There were around 500 teams and even 30 minutes later after we ate and drank and headed home, I passed a lot of teams who were still walking to the finish. It was quite an experience, one which I would gladly do again (but only if Sarina was my partner) if I manage in the next year to get into shape because man, Saturday night I couldn’t move. Once I see the final results I’ll post them here…