Girls On Top

My favorite race of the year took place this weekend, the Urban Adventure Race.  The past 2 years I’ve competed in the co-ed division, but both of my male teammates had a conflict this year.  I was lucky to find 2 girls, Karen and Mackenzie, that were willing to sign up and do this crazy thing with me.  And Mackenzie came up with a great team name, Girls on Top. We met up a week prior to give them a heads up as to what to expect.  I also warned them of my competitive nature and said that I will understand if they do not want to be my friends after this race.

I’m going to give a pretty detailed account so if anyone out there is thinking about trying this, you’ll know just what your getting into.  The race started and ended at the Rathskellar this year.  Check in was at 6:30 am.  We all arrived promptly at 7 am.  Women.  When you check in, you get your first look at the course for the day.  Usually, you have a few maps to show you the course but this year there was just one.  Which worked well since we had 3 map cases, so we used one for it, one for the instruction sheet and one for the passport.  Here’s the map. The triangle right of center is where we start and finish.


You can see the circles with CP.  Those are all the checkpoints we had to go to for the race.  At each checkpoint, you do something and get your passport stamped or punched for a point.  Most points wins.  The passport is your ticket to showing you were at each checkpoint (CP). It’s crucial to finishing the race.  No passport at the end = DQ. It was Mackenzie’s job to babysit the passport. Our almost completed passport.  More on that later.


The instruction sheet gives you a clue as to what you will be doing at each CP. This was Karen’s job for the day. I was the navigator, so I was in charge of the map.  We each had our duties and got busy plotting our course.


We had our pre race briefing at 7:50 am to get some final instructions.



Pre-race photo op


So here’s what we did…

CP1-5 On Foot

For this section we could get to the CPs in any order.  We chose to do the hardest one first, a 25 floor stair climb.  Figured it was best to get it out of the way and done with fresh legs.  There was no elevator down, so make the 50 flights.  The next 4 CPs consisted of getting to a building and finding some number on a plaque, brick or engraving to prove you were there.  We visited the Capitol building, USS Indianpolis Memorial, Scottish Rite Cathedral and Benjamin Harrison school.  Our instructions told us to head back to the Rathskellar to get our bikes and head out to the next section.  I didn’t get much bathroom time before the race, so I was very happy to make it back to some restrooms or I would have become a full fledged member of Team Shart.

CP6-10 On Bike

CP6 was at a park for a special challenge.  You had to spin around with a bat on your chin 12 times then put a tennis ball in a tube about 10 yards away.  I figured out it was best to side hop my way to the tube to avoid face planting in the grass. 


We made quick work of it and headed to CP7 where we had to indentify the color of a slide in another park.  CP8 involved some javelin throwing.  2 of us had to make it into a hoop before proceeding on.  CP9 had us biking to a restaurant to find a sign on the door and write some words on our passport.  CP10 was a check in to drop off our bikes and head back out on foot. 

CP11-14 On Foot

The map showed the next checkpoints along the river to the north so some teams stayed on the dirt path and followed it around.  Not us.  Straight line is faster.  We ran through the apartments and Wishard’s campus to hit the next CPs in any order we wanted.  The punches were on orange flags hanging from a tree or a bridge.  Someone was kind enough to leave this one on the bridge.  After I punched in, I threw it back over so the next team would have to take time to pull it back up.  Hey, it’s a race!


During this section, we also hooked on a rope line through the woods using a carabiner and runner.  Nothing too technical, just annoying getting smacked in the face with sticks and branches.

CP15-16 In Canoe

We made our way back to our bike drop off and grabbed a canoe, paddles and PFDs (life vests) and hit the water.  We all got in and promptly tipped over.  And let me tell you, waterproof map cases work great when they are shut.  Karen was the only wise one with hers closed.   The passport wasn’t too bad but the map was ruined and barely legible.  Good thing was we only had a few more CPs to go and they were at locations mentioned on the instruction sheet so it wasn’t that necessary anymore.  CP15 had us repelling off the Washington Street bridge into the White River.  Some generous friends had loaned me their climbing gear so we didn’t have to wait in line like other teams and borrow gear from the event organizers.  This was key to getting this CP done quick.  We only had 1 ATC and carabiner, so I went first then ran them back over to Mackenzie to go next.  Once Mackenzie was done, repeat the process and run it over to Karen.


Mackenzie’s in the middle coming down.


Karen’s on the ropes on the right.


I was a bit worn out and didn’t realize I had put my helmet on backwards.  Thanks for the heads up Mackenzie.


We ran back to our canoes and paddled our way to a CP for a punch, then we were back to biking around for our final CPs of section 1.


CP17-21 On Bike

CP17 was an engraved phrase on the Riverwalk Promenade.  CP18 was back where the repelling happened but not at all repelling related.  If you watch Minute to Win it, you’ll know this task as Face the Cookie.  You put a Oreo on your forehead and have to get it into your mouth without using your hands.  Try it!  We all had to try but only 2 of us had to be successful.  After 4 tries, I got it!


Karen got it too!


CP19 brought us to the Medal of Honor memorial where we had to find 12 different names among hundreds and write down their middle initials.  The initials were a decipher that lead us to our real checkpoint at Victory Field.  The punch was on a tree, behind the stadium, behind the dumpster.  Nice.

CP20 was at Jillian’s where we headed to the 2nd floor to play a game of skee ball before leaving to our last checkpoint.

CP21 took place at Indy’s newest beer maker, Sun King Brewery.  Since an ID was not on the mandatory gear list, I didn’t have one.  Neither did Mackenzie.  And Karen wasn’t interested so we pounded some shots of water instead and headed back to the Rathskellar to finish section 1.

At this point, teams could continue on to section 2 of the course if they wanted.  But this is where the strategy weighs in.  For every minute you are past the cut off time of 2 pm, you lose a point.  You can see where it’s not worth going for a point if you are going to be 10 minutes late because of it.

We had 90 mintues left before cut off, so we decided to push on and see if we could get some more CPs.  We grabbed our next map and instructions that covered CP22-30.


CP22 On Bike

CP22 was at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  I kept an eye on how long it took us to get there because we wanted to be sure to have a cushion and not be pushing it right to 2 pm.  Using the canal tow path, it took us 35 minutes to bike to the IMA!  Good lord!  Subtract 45 minutes to get back, and we were left with 10 minutes to run around the IMA and get some points.  Once we arrived, we received another map showing where the CPs were.  Luckily I was just at the 100 acre park and knew the terrain. 


CP23-26 On Foot

CP23 was up near the Lily house and we had to count the trees around the fountain.  CP24 was in the rock structure and we had to indicate which corner of the wall had an alcove.  Those 2 CPs ate up our 10 minutes so we headed back to our bikes to make the long trek back to downtown and the finish line. 


We took a different route back at 10th street and biked into the finish with 9 minutes to spare. Phew!  In total, we covered 24 CPs over 34.5 miles in 5 hours and 51 minutes.  I quickly guzzled 5 glasses of water as I dried out my camelback at CP 19 and didn’t feel like stopping to fill up!  Teams were flying in from all directions at this point. It was chaos, so I took all my gear to the car, changed and was headed back for the awards and to see how my team did. When I got back, Karen nonchantly says “We won the all female division but since you both weren’t here they said to come up and get our award and picture at the end.” I finally won something and I didn’t even get the joy of hearing it myself! Urgggg! But still awesome!


Everyone got a $10 meal voucher, so we fueled up and hung out in the sun for a bit. I enjoyed the sodas more than the food.


Thanks to Jay and Monty and all the volunteers for putting on a great race!  Sorry I only see you once a year now that we don’t work together!


Thanks to Karen and Mackenzie for joining in on the fun!  I don’t think I was too out of control or pushy since they are already planning our next event in October!  I think I got these girls hooked and we’ll be back to defend our title next year!  GIRLS ON TOP!

A look at where we went all day long…