Thursday, June 23, 2011

Race Report - Great Milwaukee Race

Last Saturday was the Great Milwaukee Race held in downtown Milwaukee. I participated on a team along with my friends Mike & Paul. We were team "Mothball, Pinto, and Flounder. Why Not?" (If you don't know the name reference, watch Animal House). Funny enough, a friend told me they saw Mark Metcalf down at the race. He was the actor who played Niedermeyer in the movie Animal House and lives in the area. Wonder if he saw our team name?

I am going to only tell you what I thought of the race and how we did overall and not get into our strategy. I know a lot of the racers read my race report from last year and I don't want to give away any strategies we may have (strategy is a big part of this race). Actually, they didn't work out too well this year anyways. Last year we took 5th place out of 50 teams and this year we took 14th. We were so bummed!

Overall, this race is a very fun and exciting race to be a part of. You never really know what place you are in because there is no set course so you keep racing all the way to the end. Not all teams race, some just participate for fun and to see the city a little.

Here are the basics. At the beginning of the race, each team is given a folder with 10 clues, a crude map of the city, a passport, and a sheet explaining some bonuses you can earn. You then solve the clues and go to each destination that the clues says to go to. At each destination, there is a challenge to take part in. Once your team completes the challenge, you earn a sticker for your "Passport" that indicates you have completed that challenge. You are only allowed to walk, run, or use city buses to get around though city buses would only slow you down. If you run the most efficient route possible, you can do the entire race in 7 miles. If you screw up a clue or go a wrong direction, the race could be any longer distance. Challenge destinations are open for 4 hours.

The race started and ended at a bar called AJ Bombers and that is where awards were handed out to the top 10 teams plus a few other awards, one being Best Team Name. We did not win that, a team called "The Knights of the Mars Cheese Castle" won that. If you are from the Milwaukee area, that is pretty funny since there is a Mars Cheese Castle just off the Interstate just south of Milwaukee.

The clues this year were far more difficult than last year and some you actually needed some "Milwaukee Knowledge" to complete. Smart Phones or using the Internet was completely allowed and encourage. You could call friends too, they just couldn't give you a ride. Here is a couple of the clues from this year:

"Clue #7 Just to make sure no teams decide to cheat and use vehicles to take them around, we include this location. It's been known to swallow vehicles" This clues references an incident from last summer during a high rain storm that caused some flooding and actually created a sink hole in the middle of the city and took an SUV down in it. It was actually on the National News too.

"Clue #6 Complete the following equation to get the address of this establishment on North Farwell Avenue: 5,060 minus 3,216 plus 4,724 divided by 8 multiplied by 3 minus 507 plus 2,244 divided by 3 plus 566 = _____ North Farwell Avenue" Not exactly a tough clue, but you still needed to do all the math. Good thing most phones these days have calculators on them. It definitely saved time.

Some of the other clues were far more obscure and definitely needed Internet search help unless you are a complete Milwaukee History geek, which I am not.

Once you arrive at each destination, you have to do a challenge before you earn your sticker. Here are some of the challenges we had to do. There was a putting mat that you had to put the gold ball into a matchbox car and make the car go into the hole. There was a full size game of Jacks where once teammate bounced a large rubber ball and the other picked up "jacks" that were about 10 inches large each. One challenge had us throwing bags into the holes of a corn holing game (big game played at tailgating parties in Wisconsin). One challenge has us walking around a dried up ice rink with a large marshmallow at the end of a plastic spoon held in our mouths. Another had us looking over a blurry picture of Veterans to find a specific blurry veteran. This was held a the War Memorial Building. The challenge I liked the best was where we had to walk up a long ramp looking in the trees around the ramp for a very small sign tacked to a tree. We then had to say the secret phrase to a volunteer at the top of the ramp. the challenge I disliked the most was when we had to go into the Wisconsin Athletic Club (A sponsor of the race) and do lunge walking for an entire lap around their indoor track. This really did a number on my knee that has some bad tendinitis.

There was also things your team could do to take time off your final score. I am not a fan of these Bonuses as it kind of takes you away from the racing aspect to this event. I can see why they like to have them, just not a fan. Unfortunately, they did not tell us how much each bonus was worth ahead of time so you could not easily determine if they were worth while. In my opinion, they were worth WAY too much time off. But here is what you could do to earn time off. Take a photo of your team next to 5 separate statues that are not a part of your clue list. Get a photo of 5 strangers (who are not a part of this race) to form a human pyramid. Get a photo of 5 strangers (who are not a part of this race) joining your entire team in a kick like. Find a monument (pictured on the clue sheet) and take a picture of your team next to it. It is on the route you will take to complete the race. Funny thing about this one was that when I heard where this monument was, we didn't even go past it on the route our team took. there was also a hidden Easter Egg at each challenge that held a time off ticket in it.

It took our team a total of 2 hours to complete the entire race and with time off, we were somewhere near 1:45.

This is one heck of a fun race to do though. It is similar to The Amazing Race on TV but more condensed and with all clues right away. After your team is done, there is the bar to hang out in and have a bite to eat waiting for the final results to come it. You then get to see the teams you saw along the course and talk all about how everyone did and the routes they took. We had a blast doing this race again this year and will definitely be doing it again next year, hopefully with better results. The only drawback I encountered was at the first challenge. When we arrived, there were about 7 teams already there so we had to wait about 10 minutes to take the challenge. I know, I know, why didn't we just get there faster. But it did suck having to wait. We didn't have to wait at any other challenge.

Great job Great Milwaukee Race.

Keep on Running!!!

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