The Great Urban Race – Toronto

The challenge: One city, two people, five hours, twelve clues.  It’s called the Great Urban Race (GUR), and there are a few different companies and models that put on these huge city wide scavenger hunts, but this was the one we chose.

The day started with registration at 10am, so we showed up in our Ferris and Cameron costumes, bus passes in hand. The girls, Amy and Krischele, wore some weird pink outfits that weren’t nearly as hilarious but probably aided them a lot more when they needed the assistance of strangers.

After registering, there was massive log jam of people in the doorway spilling out onto Front Street as they tried to read us the rules and hand out the clues. I was excited because I got to use one of my favourite Mitch Hedberg quotes when a GUR Staff told all of us standing in the doorway that we had to move because we were a fire hazard – “I am pretty sure if there’s a fire, we’re all going to leave – (pause) – that was the comedic genius of the late Mitch Hedberg ladies and gentlemen, not my own.”

After getting the clues we met up outside with the girls to try and solve as many of the clues as possible and create a route map for the day. Only your feet and public transit are allowed, and smartphones or phone-a-friend’s are recommended to help solve the often difficult clues. My buddy Tyler proved vital in this regard, as my phone is an antique. Thanks Tyler.

Anyways, as I was reading over the first clue with the girls, suddenly Paul, my teammate, starts running away and yelling at me, saying he knows where something is. So I take off and follow him, abandoning the girls.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“I don’t know, I was just trying to throw them off. Come on lets get in this cab!”

“We can’t take cabs!”

“What?” He closes the cab door and we start jogging north. “Frig, flip-flops were a bad call.”

Over the course of the next 3 hours we practiced Muay Thai, made homemade soda, decorated cupcakes, met a few dozen strangers, were recognized as 80’s movie characters exactly four times, solved a murder mystery, held a snake and made some origami. All that while travelling from Front Street up to Dupont and Bathurst and back down to the Distillery District (with a couple loops back through Kensington Market for missed clues).

Obviously we beat the girls.