How many times have you sat in front of the tv watching The Amazing Race and said "I wish I could do that"?
On Saturday Crystal and I got our chance. It's called City Chase, and it's sort of like The Amazing Race: Toronto Edition.
We arrived at Nathan Phillips Square at 7:30 to register. Checked in at the registration tent, picked up our shirts and race number, and got ready to be challenged. The preshow included breakdancers, parkour and a group fitness/dance class to get the 1500+ racers ready. With just over 45 minutes to race-time a marching band introduced the race president, who rode in with 2 Sunshine girls in a Mitsubishi convertible. It was the 100th event worldwide, so there was some special programming prior to the race. The tuxedo-clad president finished off his speech announcing we could pick up our clue sheets in the 4 corners of Nathan Phillips Square, and the race was on.
A mass of people dispersed to the far corners of the square, pushing, swearing and grabbing in an attempt to grab a clue sheet and get a head start on the competition.
After a short wait, we got our clue sheet and started to plan our day. 41 total challenges, each team required to complete 10 of them to win After deciphering some of the clues, we elected to head to Trinity Bellwoods Park and work our way North from there. Apparently we weren't the only team with this strategy as we ran into a long line and about a 1 hour wait to attempt our first challenge. They had strung up some tie-downs in the park and created a sort of ropes course. One team member had to complete the course without touching the ground, while the other partner helped them balance. We had a couple close calls, but managed to make it through and collect our first point. 1 POINT
(Crystal completing the ropes course)
Next we ran over to the station where the challenge was supposed to be a paintball one, (You take 3 shots at a pyramid of cans, and the number of cans remaining is how many paintballs your partner gets shot with), but the city put a stop to that before it started. (Something about scaring the dogs in the park) So you had to throw a bocce ball into a bucket about 15-20 feet away. I nailed it on my third toss. 2 POINTS
Next we hoped back on the street car and made our way to Dufferin Mall for the next challenge. For this one you partnered with another team to pull a car and park it, without using the engine. We got lucky and arrived at the same time as another team, so we partnered with them. I got strapped into the front of the SUV, and the guy from the other team took the rear to push. Crystal volunteered to be the one giving directions, and the woman on the other team got to steer. There was some confusion as to exactly what we needed the car to do, but we managed to complete the challenge in a relatively short period. 3 POINTS
(Strapped in and ready to pull)
Our next stop was The Monkey Vault (a parkour training centre) on Geary Ave. To complete the challenge both partners had to complete a parkour onstacle course, or jump off their 15 ft balcony onto a foam high-jump mat. I love jumping off stuff, so we decided to try the balcony leap. After some hesitation Crystal hucked herself off the ledge and landed softly on the mat below. I let her grab the camera and then I followed suit. 4 POINTS
(Leap of faith at The Monkey Vault)
Our next challenge was outside the gym. After a short wait in line one partner had to take a blindfolded taste test, and try to identify the 5 items they are fed. For each incorrect answer, the other partner had to eat a cricket. Crystal is a picky eater so she didn't want to do either, but ended up picking the blindfold. She correctly identified the cranberry, banana, chocolate chip and corn pop, but missed on wasabi (we think). So I got to mow down on one cricket. It actually didn't taste too bad, but the legs go stuck in my teeth, and they were hard to dislodge. 5 POINTS
(Not sure what that was)
Next up was a trip east on the Bloor subway line. We exited at Yonge and St Clair and made our way over to Fionn MacCool's to take a World Cup Quiz. We partnered with the same couple we met at Dufferin Mall, and divided the quiz in half. They actually ended up doing most of the quiz because they had a Blackberry, while Crystal and I were calling friends who might have access to a computer and would be able to look up answers for us. We got a perfect 10/10 on the quiz and left the pub with 6 POINTS.
Next stop was Good Life Fitness at Yonge & Bloor. Upon arrival each team had to choose a chocolate bar, and then would have to burn off that many calories in the gym. Outside Fionn MacCool's another competitor told us to pick Crispy Crunch because it was the lowest... They lied. 240 calories stood between us and our next point. Crystal jumped on the eliptical and I started to run on a treadmill. About 20 minutes later (including a short wait for a machine) we finished and left the gym sweaty and tired. Would have been nice to be able to eat the chocolate bar, but no such luck. 7 POINTS
We got lost on our way to the next challenge. (Seems we got some bad directions to Balfour Park.) After a quick check of our map we realized we were on the wrong side of the park, and decided to trek through the woods instead of going around. 30 minutes later we arrived at the next challenge: Boot Camp. It was an intense circuit, consisting of a ladder run, sideways shuffles, a slalom course, sled pull, bicep-curls and bucket carries. It was made more difficult by the sore legs after Good Life and our off-road trek, and the fact the humidex was 40+. We managed to complete it and move on. 8 POINTS
Our next challenge was in the park as well. On partner wore a bucket on their head, while the other partner tried to throw hack-sacks into the bucket at distances of 5, 10, 15 & 20 yards. Crystal's aim was dead on and we completed this challenge very quickly. 9 POINTS
Needing only one more point to finish we elected to head to the Rogers store at Yonge and Davisville to complete our last challenge. Upon arrival we were handed a list of 10 tasks, we needed to complete 6 of them. After a quick tutorial on how to use the camera on the Blackberry, we were sent off to tackle this challenge. We headed for the Davisville/Yonge intersection and started to
harass ask people on the street to help us out. We helped a lady across the street, traded shirts with a stranger, sang Life Is A Highway to a group of strangers, got a stranger to do a handstand, played leapfrog with a stranger, and took a picture of something that represents the number 100, all documented on the new Blackberry Pearl. (Cheap plug) 10 POINTS
(Still smiling and enjoying each other's company)
Having scored the mandatory 10 points, we jumped on the subway and made our way back to Nathan Phillips Square and the finish line. We crossed with a time of 5:21, 39 minutes before the course closed. Before the race we decided our goal was to complete the required 10 challenges and finish before the course closes at 4:00. We did it. Next year we'll aim to finish in 4 hours.
Overall a great experience, and while we didn't get to rappel down City Hall (didn't want to wait that long), we had a great day and can't wait to do it again next year.