The event kicked off at Belmore Park, just outside Central Station at the somewhat rude time of 9.00am on a Saturday. Things were reasonably well organised (perhaps not as well as previous years though – for example, there were clue sheet shortages). The route was also shorter than the organisers expected by at least 1-2 hours and some of the clues were, shall we say… highly questionable. The race route was also highly concentrated around the CBD, although this is the first year where the Race has crossed the Harbour.
After a small game involving swapping cards with other teams to spell words, we solved an anagram which directed us to head to Pyrmont Bay Park, opposite Star City. This was done on foot. There, we did a wheelbarrow race where the person holding the legs of their partner was blindfolded and directed from one end of the park to the other. The unblindfolded partner was then required to instruct their blindfolded compatriot to draw various things. Then we were sent back to the Harbourside shopping complex and made to fill out a question sheet about the shops in the surrounding area and find a particular photo from the nearby Yann Arthus-Bertrand photographic exhibition, “The Earth from Above” (which I very highly recommend you check out, if you’re in Darling Harbour).
The next checkpoint sent us to UNSW. We made a dash (or more like a quick walk at this stage) up to Elizabeth Street to catch a bus. There’s something about tourists and buses on Saturday morning. As with last year, just as about the bus was about to leave, this tourist gets on and engages the drive in a 5 minute-long conversation, much to the chagrin of all the racer on board the bus (and delight of all those running for it).
Pulling up at UNSW, we were directed to perform a three-legged walk up and down the main uni walkway, looking for numbers stuck on the back of lampposts. These numbers had to be combined mathematically and exchanged for the next clue, which was the first stupid clue of the race: “Where is a place that you can play ‘HIDE & SEEK‘? The location is hidden somwhere in the clue.”
Think about that one for a while. And keep thinking. After several very long minutes of guessing, it turns out that it the location was Hyde Park. We hopped on a bus again and headed back into the city. The task there was an eating one – each team had to eat a whole chilli and a whole lemon. Dorian foolishly elected to eat the chilli. There’s little that’s funnier than watching someone munch into a chilli thinking that it’s not so bad, only to react like they’ve been smacked in the head a split second later. With that task done, we took a 30 minute mandatory lunch break and then headed off to our next destination – Martin Place.
When we got there we were handed a collection tin and asked to collect at least one donation for the Starlight Foundation. Dorian immediately intercepted a group of three girls and practically demanded they give him one coin. Mortified, I caught up with him and hastily explained what we were actually collecting money for. They took a moment to consider, and then Dorian (it’s always class with him) goaded, “come on, you don’t want to look cheap do you?” I was even more mortified. “Mate, you can’t say that!” If someone had said that to me I would have walked off. But, amazingly, the girls were goaded into action and quite a few coins clunked into our tin.
We were then dispatched to Circular Quay to inspect all the plaques embedded in the ground (part of the “Writers’ Walk”) looking for writer’s surnames which started with the letter “D” (although the clue sheet had been misprinted as surnames ending with the letter “D”). Dorian and I split up, each taking one side of the Quay. We met back up to find, rather worringly, that neither of us had discovered any names at all, so we swapped sides and managed to find four names which the other had completely missed on the first sweep.
The next stop was Observatory Hill, which took some time getting to because we took a couple wrong turns and getting there the long way. Once there, we had to roll down a hill (very dizzy!), inflate a beach ball (even dizzier!) and then kick it up the hill and back. Our next clue was another stupid one: “Go to the place where you’d find the wild mouse.” We were stuck there for a good 20 minutes trying to figure that one out.
We finally figured out where we had to go to next, taking the ferry to Luna Park, the final checkpoint. The last task was to find a guy milling about in the park with a lightning bolt drawn in texta above his eye (a Harry Potter reference). That was pretty fun actually, until we spotted him and he decided to sprint away. We started to pursue him, but quickly determined we were in no mood to run that late in the day and finally caught up with him when he got tired. We finished in a mediocre way, at about 3.00pm in the middle of the pack, an hour behind the leaders (after only being 15-20 minutes behind at lunchtime). Nonetheless, a fun day was had by all!