life travel what happened

Great Urban Race 2011

Great Urban Race is an international urban adventure race like the TV show Amazing Race. Participants are required to form teams of two to solve 12 clues and complete mental and physical challenges while discovering a city.  Joseph and I decided to compete in San Francisco this year as “Team Portal:

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Driving to San Francisco:

At the start line, each team is given the clues in a sealed envelope:

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We needed to solve 11 of the 12 clues.  Each incorrect clue has a penalty of 30 minutes:

Fwd: Try 2! Fwd: Try 2!

Cell phones, GPS, maps, remote help are all legal and even encouraged.  Almost every team we saw had an iPhone.  Also, most public transportations like buses, metro, cable cars are allowed, but taxi, bicycles etc. are not.

In hind sight, we should have brought a real paper map along to plot all the locations.  The best we could do was draw our own (on the right)…EPIC FAIL!


Here’s the complete path we took (red = run, blue = public transportation).  We ran a total of 6.5 miles on foot!

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For each clue, we had to take pictures of our answers as proof…you’ll see some of them below.

Start (no clue what to expect):

Kara’s CupcakeNeeded to take a picture of Joseph feeding Ethan a cupcake. Joseph ate it all in the end since Ethan felt Joseph needed the sugar to keep up.


A Child’s Delight: Ethan pwnd making the animal balloon while Joseph watched while sweating from all the running.


Ghirardelli SquareJoseph cut in front of a line of people (HOW RUDE!) to get the picture with the Ghiradelli mascot!


Petaluma’s Sternwheel: This was one of the clues we could not solve.  So we took our life-line and called Mike up.  The answer was “Petaluma’s Sternwheel“, so here’s a picture of us jumping in front of…This one goes to you Mike!!!


49 mile scenic marker: When you need to find one, it’s not that easy!!!


Taking the bus: Time to rest up and plan for our next batch of clues!


Thirsty Bear Brewing Co: We needed to determine the flavor of beer just by smelling it!  Vanilla or Floral? Coconut or Citrus? Chocolate or Coffee?  Sadly, we got 1/3 correct…..EPIC FAIL!

Missed the Bart:

Dolores Park: Took a picture with a stranger with real facial hair while Joseph sported a fake mustache.


Conga dance: Ethan and Joseph convinced a nice family to pose for a conga photo!!!! NICE!


Street sign clue: We picked up our last clue…a street sign with 2 consecutive same letters.


Here is our last dash to the final line:


Finish line!  We took around 4.5 hours, and placed 94th out of over 200 teams!  If you were curious for comparison, the 1st place was completed in an impossible 2.5 hours…(almost double our speed)!!!  Absolutely amazing!


Lots of bananas: After 4.5 hours of running all around the city, you would be hungry too!!!


So there you have it…Great Urban Race 2011 San Francisco!  We had sooooo much fun!


Hungry Cactus’ Verdict: A

Great Urban Race is an extremely fun activity to go with a friend if he/she is a problem solver, an adventurer, can keep a good pace and knows how to have a good time!  Joseph, you were perfect!!!  Would totally do this again next year!