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Urban Dare Boston 2007

April 28 2007
By Rodney Jacobson

Palmer and I traveled down from NH Saturday morning. We parked at the northern Alewife T stop for easier parking, and to prebuy a "Charlie Card" for the T. We took the T to Park Street, and arrived at the starting location well before race time. Only a few teams were there before us.

We checked in, and contacted our support team. Kip called me back later to tell me that our ground support, Patrick, was in the area. He was lurking in the area on his bicycle, and we talked with him briefly about our plans.

The weather report had been warning of rain, and the race director had even sent out a warning and told us to be ready for rain - and that some of the dares would be adjusted for the weather. But the weather was looking very good, so we were sad to have a lot of heavy clothes. Fortunately, Patrick came to the rescue and threw our stuff in his pack.

When I spotted a box of numbered tennis balls, I figured we'd have to find the ball with our team number (67) after we were released from the trivia start, like a previous Urban Dare this year. I was hoping they'd spread the balls out in a large area and Patrick might be able to spot ours ahead, but they kept them in and around a box instead.

The trivia started a little behind schedule because there were so many late registrations. In the end there were 65 teams. The first trivia question asked about the original name of the company which put up the Citgo sign by Fenway (or something like that). B seemed to be the most popular, and almost everyone tried to squeeze in with the crowd. Since we had no clue, we went with the crowd. Some teams liked C or D. One team was trying to squeeze into B from A, but time ran out, so they were stuck as the only team in the correct box. That single team was confused, but finally realized that they got to start the race alone in first.

The next question was something about what the "576" on a politician's license plate represented. A girl next to us was bouncing up and down at her partner, going all, "I know this!!" So, since we had no clue, we followed her. Wrong again. More teams were released.

I don't remember the next question, but some guy seemed pretty confident this time. And he looked more serious than the girl we'd followed before - so, since we had no clue, we followed the guy. He brought his partner to the back corner of the D square because it was close to the tennis balls. That made me confident. So we did the same. D was correct, so we were released to start the race.

The tennis balls weren't set up so well... they were too close together, so everyone was crawling in close to the box and trying to push around to get a look at as many tennis balls as possible. Luckily I stumbled upon ours pretty quickly. We traded it for our clue sheet (at last we had a clue!), and quickly ran to a sidewalk to set down the sheet and email pictures of the clues to Kip. The sun was too bright to be able to really see the phone's display, so I accidentally took full page pictures instead of half-page. But that worked out because the good lighting made the pictures readable.

Ground support had trailed teams to the nearby CP1 - so we hurried over there to find about 15 teams waiting patiently in line. Each team was having the team behind them take a picture. It was a little hard to go along with this, but felt rude to just run up and take our picture from an angle - plus we didn't have any idea where to go next. So we waited and took our picture in our turn.

Then it was off to Quincy Market. We were a little confused about what we were looking for, but Patrick showed up and helped us find the dare. It took a lot of courage, but we managed to each eat a large M&M cookie! Palmer asked if we could repeat the dare, but the volunteer wouldn't allow that.

Next Kip told us that this would be a good place to get our picture with four people doing the Vulcan Salute. He was right, since there was a good crowd around. Palmer found a small group of teens outside and asked them to help. They looked like the perfect group, but turned out to be not so enthusiastic about it... fortunately they reluctantly agreed to help us out, and we got the picture.

We then were off to a statue for CP2. Patrick showed up on his bicycle, and led us quickly to the statue. A couple other teams there wanted to do the Vulcan thing together, but we had already done it, so kept running.

For CP4 we ran into trouble. It felt good running to the Old North Church, because onlookers were encouraging us, telling us we were going the right way, and other teams had already passed by. They even turned us when we started to run too far. But at the church we only found other teams - no race volunteer for the Dare that was supposed to be at CP4. We poked around for a while, wondering if we needed to go in, or up, or around... but couldn't find anything. At some point the idea seemed to be to go to Charleston.

The answer for CP4 turned out to be City Park in charleston, where we had to search for index cards that told the values of each letter in a long word we were given. This was a fun little task, but we weren't very efficient, and ended up circling the park a few times, and eventually trading a few letters with other teams. We realied that we should have written down every letter we came across for trading value, but didn't think of that in time. Finally we finished our word, and totaled it up.

Off we went to Bunker Hill. Palmer pointed out to me that it wasn't a good idea to sprint out the last distance to the monument, because we had to climb all 292 stairs to the top. I verified that we were sure about this, twice, before we headed up the spiral stairs. The lighting was poor, and the stairs were crowded, but we made it up to the top and got our picture with a damaged cannon. You can see from the picture that the stairs were pretty hard on Palmer.

From there we jumped on the T, and jumped off one stop early because all 3 teams on the T with us were gettting off. Our phones wouldn't connect underground, and we still weren't entirely clueful, so it seemed a good plan to follow the crowd. When we reached the surface, one team ran off to the right. Kip told me to run off to the left, which made me nervous... but when another team ran off straight ahead I felt better - at least there wasn't a popular choice. So off we went to find some sort of statue. Part way there we saw Patrick ride by on his bicycle, and we cried out happily to him, as it always lifted our morale to see him. He led us to the statue and took our picture.

We met another team at the statue. They were alarmed that we might be doing the clues in order (because they were going to win the race). They were looking for help on the Emancipation statue for #11, so we traded info with them in return for help finding the Louis Armstrong mural. This trade should have been very good for both teams, but in the rush they didn't give us helpful information, and after a simple dare (We had to both spin around three times with our heads on a baseball bat, then run around a small set of bases) we soon found ourselves wandering around the area of the mural without any ideas.

Palmer asked at an info desk, but the guy had no idea what she was talking about. We ran into a few other teams, but they were as clueless as us, so no use to follow. Finally Palmer went to ask at a ticket window after two guys outside told us that other teams had been asking inside. Unfortunately we entered just after a customer, who took plenty of time choosing a seat. The ticket seller knew what we were looking for, and helpfully told us to go down an alley between a Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, and somewhat less helpfully pointed us in slightly the wrong direction.

We started running down the wrong street, when Patrick showed up. We told him what we were looking for, and he realized that the businesses were back behind us, and we quickly looped around to our left to come up the alley from the back. He rode ahead, and we were delighted to see him slam on his brakes, half spin, and crash to the ground. Clearly he had seen the mural! (Good thing he's already seen it, because there's not much of it to see behind my head in our photo.)

From there we took the T again to a dare which was 20 pushups. Palmer did the pushups while I called Kip for further instruction. I wasn't terribly helpful, making Palmer laugh while doing her pushups... but she finished anyway, and we headed off. We soon met up with Patrick, who led us off to the Abe statue.

Then he led us somewhat away from the final dare - but my tiredness made me call Kip to confirm street names, and soon we were heading back the other way. We entered the bar along with a group of teams, and tried to adjust our eyes enough to be able to get our jigsaw together. We got a little momentum, and completed our puzzle in good time to stop the clock. Total race time 2:34. Good for 8th place. The team we had traded info with had won with 1:55, and was pretty upset about the fact that they'd messed up giving us directions to the mural.

Thanks so much to everyone for their support! We had great fun!

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