The Great Urban Race: Coming to a City Near You

It's one part Amazing Race, one part scavenger hunt, and a whole lot of fun.

Touring 20 cities in 2008, the Great Urban Race provides the perfect opportunity to visit a new city, learn some interesting facts about your hometown, or race through the streets with other pairs of costumed hopefuls all vying to cross that finish line first.

On Your Mark?Get Set?Sit Down?


There's nothing like the buzz in the air on race-day morning. You head to registration, check in and get your packet. You check out the cool event shirt; pin on your number; and power up, sync and neatly arrange all your necessary high-tech gadgets. C'mon, it is the 21st Century, isn't it? Those are often steps one, two, and three (and sometimes four) of every race.

What comes next, however, is a little different. The anticipation grows as teams line up at the starting line. The starting gun goes off, and the teams quickly?sit down and strategize.

The Great Urban Race is not your typical road or adventure race. Teams of two (or family teams of two to four) follow a series of clues that lead them, scrambling, around a city: answering trivia questions, solving riddles and puzzles, discovering landmarks, and often eating local cuisine in a battle against the clock.

Held throughout eight cities in 2007, the race series has expanded this year--covering 20 cities throughout the U.S. from February to November, and adding a National Championship in Las Vegas with a $10,000 purse.

At noon, teams head to the starting line and are each given an envelope containing 12 clues--in no particular order. Teams literally have no idea where they're going when they start out.

When the gun goes off, says race director Joe Reynolds, most people will just sit down to carefully read each clue and then get on their cell phones with friends who are tethered to computers and possess strong search engine skills. A good strategy and strong sense of logistics can be more helpful race-day tactics than pacing and a good hydration plan.

Teams are allowed to skip one clue out of the pack, and must choose wisely to determine which clue may be the most difficult or take the longest to complete.

Most teams also come to the Great Urban Race equipped with laptops with wireless Internet, smart phones, GPS, bus schedules, subway maps and tour books for that city. Because some of the clues require teams to supply proof that they did a particular task or visited a particular landmark, the race is also BYODC--bring your own digital camera.
Food challenge clues have teams eating their way through the Great Urban Race.

The Great Urban Race is the brainchild of Joe Reynolds, a marathon runner and long-distance cyclist who has developed into an innovative race director. Reynolds hoped to create a race that was challenging, but had a main focus on fun; a race that would have people looking forward to the every year, and from each city. This is the way it's turned out for some competitors.

Reynolds' affinity for reality TV helped spark the idea of a road race/scavenger hunt. In 2007, the race was held in eight U.S. cities. The last event in 2007, held in San Diego, turned out 131 teams. With interest in the series growing, Reynolds decided to "go for it in 2008." The Great Urban Race averaged about 75 teams per city last year, but those numbers are expected to be much higher this year.

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