Monday, September 14, 2009

Great Urban Race lived up to its name

Passing along an e-mail I got today from reader John Speight about his experience at the Great Urban Race, held Saturday in uptown Charlotte:

"You missed a truly great race on Saturday. After your second blog about the Great Urban Race, a look at its Web site, and some family encouragement, my son and I decided to participate as a team in celebration of our birthdays this week. (He turned 16 Sunday, and I turn 42 next Monday.)

"There were around 125 teams participating. There were teams dressed for speed and in it to win, teams just looking for a great time, and teams looking to win the costume contest.

"A team dressed as Ghostbusters won the latter, with outfits that looked like they came from the movie set. A close second were the urban cowboy -- complete with leather chaps, vest and red Speedo -- and his partner the macho biker, a la The Village People. Imagine the uproar when the Speedo strolled into Independence Park to complete a clue challenge amongst the Elizabeth Traditional Elementary School Fall Festival!

"The clues ranged from easy to challenging, even involving the Observer twice. Clue No. 4 was hidden in the real estate classified section of Saturday's paper and Clue No. 11 was an encrypted message that required teams to have their picture taken next to the oversized front page declaring Elvis' death across the street from the Observer building.

"Teams got all 12 clues at once, so we had to solve them to plot the most efficient course of travel. Our course went just under eight miles and led us from Seventh and Tryon streets uptown to Elizabeth, over to Metropolitan in midtown), up Morehead (finally got to run up the hill we missed at the Blue Points 5K), around the stadium, through the park on The Green, The Square, over to First Ward, and back to Seventh and Tryon. We did it in 2 hours and 15 minutes; the winners -- 'Samantha & Stace' -- did it in 1:50.

"We placed 13th overall and took top honors in the Family Division. (Family teams had to have a member under 18.) A total blast and what a birthday memory. One of the greatest father-son days ever had. Exertion, logistics, focus, endurance and fun. Hard to top.

"Our top 25 finish qualifies us for the national championship in New Orleans on Nov. 7. If our wife/mom will let us, and we can scrape together the funds, we may be on our way to an epic road trip. ... "