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The Great Urban Race

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AW Media staff team up with Bacardi Oakheart for a scavenger hunt to be remembered.

By Molly McManus

We were stretched and ready. We had all the clues figured out. We had our route mapped out. We could smell the first-place prize. We were one Bloody Mary deep. Sounds like a recipe for success, right? Read on.

AW Media teamed up with Bacardi Oakheart for The Great Urban Race, which took place Feb. 8. The ATX Man team included our brand manager, account executives and associate editor, deciding they were cut out for the competition, a series of 12 clues that pinpointed different locations throughout the city where challengers either had to run, walk or take public transportation, and then perform tasks at each destination, making it back to the finish line with the scavenger hunt completed to perfection.

From deciphering hieroglyphics, to utilizing our knowledge of Austin’s people and places, the ATX Man team spent the first 20 minutes figuring out all 12 clues. From there, we quickly mapped out the route and started a mad dash toward a bus stop that would take us from the starting point—The Bungalow on Rainey Street—to the first clue on our route, Uncle Billy’s on Barton Springs Road.

We rushed up to Toy Joy on W. Second Street because we had 15 minutes until the bus came. We briefly lost a member who stopped in somewhere to—we still don’t really know—and there was heated discussion of cutting her loose altogether. It was competition time, people, no time for horseplay. She joined us shortly after, proving the fuss to be unnecessary. We quickly finished the clue as team members put on long rubber witch fingers and picked up coins, putting them into cups. One person utilized the method of scooping with long nails to save time. Brilliant!

We then ran back to the bus stop, hopped on, only to find out that we needed to get off the bus two blocks down from where we got on. We even saw a team who was at Toy Joy run by the bus. We decided walking or running was our best mode of transport.

We arrived at Flipnotics, where we sang Matt the Electrician’s Bacon Song. We made a Vine video that shows our poor efforts in completing the challenge. Did we care? We were in it to win it, people!

From there, we crossed the street to Uncle Billy’s, where we lassoed kegs, ran to ZACH Theatre, where we unscrambled a word puzzle and then fast walked to Austin Pets Alive to do downward dogs and shake ping-pong balls out of a tissue box strapped to someone’s waist. We continued by cutting up a hill and across some property (probably illegal) to Tacos and Tequila, where we had to eat a taco (tough life). We then almost missed a stop at Wahoo’s where we sling-shot goldfish and mini marshmallows in to a bucket on someone’s head, sidestepping to Mellow Johnny’s for some biking trivia, then power walked to Stubb’s Barbecue for a blind-folded challenge. Our final stop was at Tears of Joy where—just like the clue had suggested—we cleared our sinuses with some of the hottest hot sauce we’ve ever had.

Finishing at Tears of Joy, we ran back to The Bungalow for a time of two hours and 50 minutes. We were sure we were done for after reading times for other cities being around one hour and 30 minutes, so we headed to the bar to get our Bacardi Oakheart drink of choice.

At about two hours and 55 minutes, we went to turn in our clue sheet, fatigued by the 10.5 miles we had run/walked in the three hours prior. The official looked over our sheet and we showed our proof from each station that we had completed the task. We were proud of our intelligence in figuring out the clues, our familiarity with the layout of Austin and our ability to think quick on our feet in mapping out the route for the quickest possible time, and that we had walked so far. We thought we had done everything perfectly, if not a little on the slow side. Until the official pointed out a crucial error. At Stubb’s, we were supposed to Tweet a photo to BacardiUSA and instead we Tweeted it to Bacardi, sans USA. The error cost us 30 minutes added to our time.

The winners finished at an hour and 23 minutes. They utilized an entire “crew” of support, helping to decipher clues and give rides from place to place, using the “phone-a-friend” option. They were seasoned veterans, and it would have been great to know a few of these helpful tips prior to race day.


Looking back, the takeaways are clear: Don’t base your progress on races in other cities, or how well it appears other teams are doing in your city; you never know what the penalties might be and where you are with your own progress. Double check your clues after you are finished; a simple check-over of all of our clues would have saved us from submitting the wrong Tweet, either at the time of the challenge or even at the finish line when reviewing before heading to the official. And although we crossed the finish line, maybe don’t go to the bar first before going to get your clues checked off. I mean, it may be the difference between staying in your city and competing in the national championship in Vancouver for a $10,000 prize.

Heed our tale of caution when moving forth with your own scavenger hunt endeavors. But the real bottom line is this: Scavenger hunts are a blast. Sign us up for GUR 2015 because we are ready!


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