Sunday, August 26, 2007

08/26/07 Urban Dare Los Angeles

After a morning of running in the trails while my coach rode along, John and I went to the Pan Pacific Park near the Farmer's Market Grove for the Urban Dare Adventure Race which started at noon. This event permitted participants to walk, run or use public transportation as they went in search of checkpoints which they photographed with a digital camera and showed to the race director at the end of the event. Some of the early tasks took place in the park: find a tennis ball with your team number on it (there were A LOT of tennis balls all over the place), then take it to the race monitor who then gave us a sheet of paper with the word "University" on it which meant that we had to find little signs scattered about, each with one letter and a number on them, for instance "S=18" then find all the letters in your word and add up the corresponding numbers. Then we had to turn in the number to a race monitor who stamped our race "passport" and it was off to the Grove and the Farmer's Market where we had to find the next items, one of which was an Angel sculpture decorated as a tourist.

Next we had to find the park named for the actor who played George Von Trapp in the "The Sound of Music." Now I can recite and sing the entire soundtrack for this film - a talent that I am not terribly proud of, but I attribute to my mother's love of this musical. Since the rules permitted us to call anyone we wanted for assistance, I called Mom and asked her if she remembered the actor's name. Her response: "Oh, I know this! He's .... (silence), well he sang 'Edelweis' and fell in love with Maria, and oh my he certainly is handsome in that uniform!"
To which I replied, "Yes Mother, but what was his NAME?" Eventually, I had to ask her to call me back if she remembered - which she did later, just as we were about to cross the finish line. After we went to PLUMMER Park (named for Christopher Plummer), we had to solve more clues, complete more tasks, and perform a few dares, then we eventually made our way into Hollywood where we had to find the Star for the only person to ever win a Grammy, an Emmy, a Tony, and an Oscar Award which was for best supporting actress in "West Side Story." Now I must tell you that this is my mother's OTHER FAVORITE MUSICAL which I can also recite backwards and forwards. Fortunately, I didn't need to call Mom for this one. I remembered Rita Moreno from a kids' program called "The Electric Company" as well as the song about how much she liked to "Beee Eeen Ah-mer-eee-ka!" The problem was how to find her star on the Walk of Fame. Fortunately, John's friend (thank you John Elder!) was able to find it on the internet. Of course, when we went to the address, we couldn't find it so I looked around and saw other adventure racers across the street huddled over a star on the sidewalk. We quickly crossed the street and we were about to pose for our picture in front of Bob Marley's star when I thought to myself, "Hey, he wasn't in West Side Story!" That's when we discovered that each set of racers had a different set of instructions. Clever race director. Luckily, Rita was two stars away from Bob.

The "Five Minute Time Bonus" Challenge gave us the option of asking six non-racers to form a human pyramid. As we were running down Sunset Boulevard towards the finish line, I realized our options for finding six people were rather limited so I had to get resourceful. First stop: The Body Shop but there were only four "employees" taking turns on the pole at that hour. Darn, our team probably would've received a TEN minute bonus if that plan had worked. Next, I dashed into the pool area at The Standard Hotel which was full of people dying to see and be seen. The first table I happened upon had five guys and one girl. I asked politely, "We are in this scavenger hunt race and need a picture of six people forming a human pyramid, so could you please do it for us?" Then I turned to the girl and said, "You could be on top!" They all laughed and thought it was funny, then one of the guys said, "What's in it for us?" Well, $20 later, they eventually agreed and we got this great photo while they got a little humiliated in front of the beautiful people and probably only got about a drink and a half out of my $20.

Then it was off to the finish line at the bar named for a beautiful rock formation that was also an ampitheatre in Denver. Now if there is one thing I know, it is the location of the bars on Sunset. And NO, not because I frequent them often. It's because part of my eight mile running route includes two miles of the the Strip. Once we arrived at the Red Rocks Bar & Grill, we weren't officially done until one of us made a "bullseye" on the dart board. Although we were both hot and exhausted, John and I took turns trying not to injure any bystanders. At one point, I threw all the darts together because my arm was getting tired and I was trying to save some strength for the lifting of the beer mugs that was soon to come. About 5 minutes and 3 snapped arm muscle fibers later, I actually hit a bullseye! We turned in our camera three hours and forty minutes after we started with only one wrong turn that caused about a 15 minute delay and one wrong photo (I thought the first Academy Awards were held at the Pantages, but the right answer was the Roosevelt Hotel). John and I gave each other a high five, then turned around to see about 30 other teams already seated in the bar drinking what could've easily been their second or third beer judging by the volume of their voices. We heard that the winning team finished in under two hours. I'm pretty sure they must've been riding city busses that were "juiced" or else they used jet packs. Anyhow, we had a terrific time discovering sections of Los Angeles that we never knew existed. Afterwards, we were pretty tired, but with a new sense of accomplishment: we had battled with bad cell phone reception, out run city busses, successfully navigated about 8 miles of the wild west side of Los Angeles, conquered the cool kids in the cobana, got to see a stripper in action without paying cover charges or buying a single drink, and managed to have a blast during most of it!