On Saturday my sister and I (Team “Blister Sisters”) participated in the Toronto City Chase alongside Juliana and her hubby Mike (Team “Married With Children”). We arrived in the city bright and early to pick up our race kits, only to realize we were at the wrong location! In June the start/finish was at Nathan Phillips Square; this time it was at Metro Hall. Luckily it was only a short walk away and we had plenty of time.
We picked up our race shirts, bibs and transit passes, got ourselves organized and eventually went to grab some breakfast while we waited for the start.
Pretty soon it was time for opening announcements, final instructions and finally we were told where we could find our clue sheets. Roughly half of the teams (divided by a crack in the pavement) were sent to Union Station, while the other half (including us) were sent to Roy Thomson Hall. As usual, it was a mad scramble to this location where innocent and unsuspecting volunteers were swarmed and tackled by hundreds of lunatics in red shirts.
We retrieved our clue sheets without losing an eyeball and the four of us found a spot to sit down and decide where to start. We spent 15 minutes or so de-coding clues using our knowledge of the city, a map, Mike’s GPS and a few phone calls to hubby. We realized that several Chase Points were relatively close together toward the west end of the city. We marked out a few locations on the map and headed to the subway before wasting too much time. We decided to head to the farthest destination firs,t then work our way back downtown. We had some time on the train so we worked on a few more clues and fine-tuned our plan.
Chase Point #1: Once Upon A Time – Your parents used to read you stories of lore that were captivating, and never a bore. Runnymede Branch is where it starts, listen closely and show off your smarts.
Our first stop was at a library where we listened to a short story and had to correctly answer at least 3 out of 5 questions. It was pretty simple; the only issue with this Chase Point was the crowding of people squeezing through the doors and trying to have their answers verified in order to collect the stamp.
It was a short walk up the street toward High Park for the next two stops we had planned, but we happened to pass by another Chase Point at the local Running Room along the way. It’s hard to miss all of those red shirts!
Chase Point #2: Hostage – At Stanton’s High Park store you have lots of fun, wandering the streets to become undone.
There was a bit of a line-up, but we decided to wait it out. We took advantage of the time and facilities for a pitstop and water refills while we were there.
We were chained to our partners back-to-back and given a list of clues to help us figure out the lock combination using posted phone numbers and street addresses in the area. It was pretty comical seeing all of us hobbling along the sidewalk, chained together, frantically searching buildings and scribbling numbers. We ended up with five possible numbers for the three-digit combination and then came the hard part: trying them one at a time. It was extremely frustrating, especially since our lock kept sticking. We found out that volunteers were offering some hints, so we begged for some help. She said she could verify that we have the correct numbers, so we chose 3 of our 5 possibilities and they turned out to be correct. Mike and Juliana had already finished so they helped us work through each possibility and we still couldn’t get the thing open.
Finally the volunteer absolved us of our frustrations, opened the lock and let us go. This ended up taking way longer than we expected, nearly an hour including waiting time. Onward!
High Park was just up the road and the next two challenges were in the same area, which allowed us to make up some time.
Chase Point #3: Seize the Summer – To retrieve this clue, text the word “Summer” to XXXXX. (The text message then said “With a flick of the wrist, send the disc for a ride, after checking in with the Molson crew at High Park’s north side.”
We had to toss a frisbee from point to point along a course, with an allowance of no more than 12 tosses from start to finish. (Fortunately, they weren’t counting!) At the second ‘leg’ we had to hit one of four hockey sticks with the frisbee and were warned that something good or bad would come of it, depending on which stick we hit. Unfortunately we hit the one that sent us back to the start. When we arrived there for a second time, we hit the stick that forced us to wait until another team arrived. Fortunately, that only took a minute or two. Finally, we made our way through the course and collected our third stamp.
Chase Point #4: pHace Your Fear – Your teammate’s pH will determine your fate, a quick test and you’ll be handling something you might hate. In High Park just south of Bloor, we have a few friends you’ll need to endure.
I had my pH level tested using an indicator test strip. My pH level of 8.0 determined that my sister would hold a scorpion on her arm. (Other critters on hand were a small crocodile, tarantula and a snake.)
Chase Point #5: Attention! – .kraP uaiauhtiL ta werc eht ot troper … ytiliga, krowmaet, htgnerts, deepS. (Speed, strength, teamwork, agility… report to the crew at Lithuania Park.)
We were given a list of tasks to accomplish as we made our way through various bootcamp-style stations.
– 40 push-ups (team total)
– army crawl without touching wires more the 3x (per team)
– 100 jumping jacks (team total)*
– walk across two tire “bridges”
– 80 squats (team total)*
– navigate through a minefield of eggs blindfolded (with partner’s verbal direction)
– 30 burpees (team total)*
* My sister was having a hard time with the physical challenges and wasn’t feeling well when she got up from the army crawl, so I completed all of the jumping jacks, squats and burpees for our team
Chase Point #6: Sweeeet Ride! – This is your time to shine and be heard. Grab a few friends and check your tone; Sing loud and proud but don’t forget the words/// Find your ride in the parking lot at Keele Subway Station.
Here we found several parked vehicles and we had to find two non-participants to sit in a car with us and sing along with a song on the radio for at least one minute. At first we thought it would be impossible to find anyone to participate, but one awesome couple had parked themselves in the backseat of one of the cars and hung out back there singing their hearts out so that several teams could take turns collecting their point.
Chase Point #7: S.W.A.T. – We should all be careful when holding a gun, though tactical training can be plenty of fun. Close Quarters Battle is the name of the place, dodge enemies and don’t get hit in the face.
Here one partner had to suit up and head into a warehouse, potentially being shot at by paintballers while trying to retrieve a golf ball. The worst part was that the coveralls and masks were soaked in sweat and the place was not air conditioned.
We found the golf balls and made it out quickly without being hit. We suspected that they were shooting blanks, but realized when we left that some Chasers had been hit (and had the welts to prove it). I guess we got lucky!
Chase Point #8: Chilly Choices – During the first part, your teammate will need some success, or the second part will lead to plenty of stress. If you’re looking for something sweet, come down for a treat. Greg is scooping, so all you have to do is eat.
The idea here was for one teammate to sample and identify seven flavours of ice cream. If he or she guessed any incorrectly, their partner would have to eat a live cricket. We took a look at the samples and they all appeared very similar; nothing obvious like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry. Juliana tasted one and knew she would not be able to identify it, let alone all seven. In the interest of time, we decided to skip the tasting and accept the live cricket.
Chase Point #9: Abracadabra! – Copperfield won’t have a leg up on you, after we teach you a new trick or two. Check in at “The Rock”, a 600-ton fragment of Canada’s glacial shield.
We found a magician in the Yorkville area where we had to learn a quick card trick and demonstrate it to passersby. It was pretty simple and only slightly embarrassing convincing a couple of ladies to watch our silly trick.
Chase Point #10: Check in at the Union Station Goodlife (we had to decode a letter puzzle to determine those instructions)
This is a challenge I’ve completed at each City Chase event. Upon entering Goodlife Fitness, each team is asked to select a chocolate bar. We are then informed that we will have to burn off the number of calories in that bar, as a team. We chose a Mars Bar and had 240 calories to burn. My sister went on the elliptical, while I chose (big surprise) the treadmill. I cranked up the speed and incline and worked up a good sweat until we reached the magic number.
Final chase point completed! From here, we were on our way to the finish line. Thankfully it was just a short walk, because we were all exhausted.
We stopped for a photo op before crossing the finish line with a time of about 5:30.
It was a hot, humid and sunny day and the four of us were completely spent after trapsing around the city all day. It was an exhausting but FUN day! I know I’ll be going back for more.
I woke up Sunday morning in a world of pain, but I still had a 20-miler to complete! Stay tuned to find out how it went…