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Urban Dare Denver

July 18, 2009
By Marcy Beard - Team Vignette

We did not have the Urban Dare race series on our radar this year - that is, until Kevin announced that the winners of each race would win a cruise! Not only that, but there will be a race on the cruise (on the ship and on shore) for $5000. Well then, that would be something to race for!

John and I are in Denver anyway this month, so we jumped at the chance to race Urban Dare while we are here. Scouting basically involved trying to remember everything we had seen last year when we did the Great Urban Race in Denver. Plus we roamed around town on bikes for about an hour on race morning. I was looking for the cowboy mural and never found it until after the race, but I did see several other interesting murals, so that was something.

Just about every Beard from Texas and Colorado came to cheer us on, which was pretty exciting. I'm not sure urban racing is a great spectator sport since they wouldn't know where to go watch except at the start/finish line. But it was fun to have a crowd of supporters.

We missed the first trivia question about the original Denver Bronco team colors, but everyone knew Buffalo Bill is buried on Lookout Mountain so we were good to go with the rest of the racers. We got a clue sheet, John snapped a photo of it, and Loren ran off to send it to our crew.

Our friends from Denver, Steve and Lara, looked at the clue sheet with us. I heard Lara mention something about REI but didn't catch what it was. I recognized "Pinhorn" from CP2 and told Sheila on the phone that the answer was Kettle Arcade. We also knew the prospector statue (CP3) was on 15th Street, from seeing him that morning while driving in. John and I focused on the anagram question (CP4) for a second, removing the letters for P-A-R-K and coming up with COMMONS PARK.

Commons Park was just across the railroad tracks and not too far away, so we decided to go there first. We could get one dare out of the way and give our crew a bit of time to work on the other checkpoints. John towed me up and over the bridge over the tracks while I huffed "glad to get that crossing out of the way early." We spotted a man with a light blue shirt who had nothing to do with the race. Then we spotted the actual volunteer in a light blue shirt and ran across the grass to greet him.

He tied our legs together 3-legged style and stamped our passport. "Where do we go?" we wanted to know. He had to think a minute and then asked if we had been to the beanbag dare yet. No, we had not. He directed us across the river and toward a red tower sculpture. OK, let's go!

It was a rather long ways and I clung to John while trying to focus on picking up my feet and not stumbling. We don't do a lot of 3-legged running but maybe we should do more of it. Finally we found the next volunteer at the beanbag dare. We untied our legs, made quick work of the beanbag toss, and got our passport stamped.

We asked the volunteer if we should return the 3-legged tie and she didn't know. We decided he would need them back, so we suggested she should direct teams to bring them back to the first volunteer. She was game for that. We ran back across the bridge and met the first volunteer who had finally sorted out the details with Kevin - we were supposed to 3-legged race in a circle in the first park, not go to the second dare. Oh well! So we did the 3-legged shuffle longer than anyone else, but we were also handed the location for CP6. We were NOT complaining!

OK, what's next? Sheila had locations at the Civic Center Park and the Capitol, but nothing close to us at that point and I remembered that Lara had thought something was at or near REI (which was just down the street). John and I looked at the clue sheet and John picked out "Mona Lisa" as the painting for CP7. I remembered that Danny had driven us by there near REI last year. Markus and Brandi had also told us they really liked breakfast at that restaurant. Why haven't we eaten there yet?

We made a roundabout route over bridges across canals and asked a couple people where Mona Lisa was, knowing it was close but not knowing the exact location. I was surprised at how few people knew what we were talking about. Sheila pulled up an address but we weren't on a street to figure out what that meant. Finally we came around the right side of REI and John spotted the mural. We lost a little time there, but not too bad.

We decided to start heading east back toward town on 15th Street, aiming next for Larimer Square and the Richard Pinhorn sculpture. We were stopped briefly by the road going under the railroad tracks while we made sure we took a route that didn't get us stuck (or run over), but John figured it out.

Up to Larimer, down the street, into the courtyard for CP2:

Sheila had an approximate location for the prospector so we continued on 15th Street until we found him. It took John a couple tries with the camera while some spectators looked on (they eventually offered to take the picture for us - slightly embarassing), but he finally got a decent selfie:

We continued up 15th Street toward the area of the Capitol. While asking Sheila which clues were still missing answers, I noticed the question about the boxer known as the Manassa Mauler (CP9). I had seen a boxer mural earlier in the day and would recognize his name. While Sheila looked up the name, I directed John over on street to 14th near the Convention Center. She came back with Jack Dempsey - that's it! We ran over to the mural that I had seen and got our photo:

Time to run to Civic Center Park! We saw a team leaving that area just as we approached, and they seemed to be moving well. We ran over to do the wheelbarrow race around some cones next to the Columbus sculpture. John knocked a cone over and actually paused to put it back up. That's my husband, always looking out for the volunteers...

We next dashed across the street for our photo with the Liberty Bell at CP1:

Our crew had found the answer to the Roman math problem and the papoose sculpture. Sheila told us to go south to 12th street and then west to a restaurant called Cherokee. Sure enough, there was the artwork we were looking for:

Next we had to run south toward the Sunken Gardens. Too late we realized the park was across the Cherry Creek canal and we weren't going to come out at a bridge crossing. We studied the park from across the street, trying to locate the Spellbound dare location so we would know whether to run right or left to cross a bridge. We finally guessed to the right, which turned out to be a good guess.

We took our word, "belligerent", got number-letter associations for each of the letters from the little signs planted on the grass, and added it up for a total of 159. The volunteer said "correct!" and stamped our passport. Almost done, only one checkpoint to go! Would that it were so easy.

Sheila checked for buses but basically told us we would need to run the whole way back along Speer Boulevard. No problem, we're up for running and I was actually breathing OK that day as long as I opened my mouth as wide as I could (like a fish). However, John thinks I still wasn't getting enough oxygen to my brain, and I have to agree. Sheila told us we were aiming for 14th Street, so I started counting up from 11th Avenue, 12th Avenue, 13th Avenue - John, let's cut across to 14th! He was like, "what??" because he knew better than to call an Avenue a Street. Once we got that sorted out we were on our way again.

Oh, and by the way, before all that I had told John and Sheila that they could do the navigation to CP11 since they seemed to understand how to get there and John was holding the map. John reminded me later that I went back on that promise almost immediately. He also tried to get me to stop talking and just breathe, which might have allowed more oxygen into my bloodstream, but I took that the wrong way (you can't tell ME to stop talking) and continued blathering on and on about where we were and what direction we needed to take.

This should have been a very simple run up one simple street, but no, I had to add a bit of drama. Silly Marcy.

John paused in the shade at Colfax Avenue while we waited for cars, and he made the mistake of trying to point out on the map where we were and where we were going. He was completely mistaken (even though in his head he had it right) but before I could correct him the light turned green and we had to run again. So I was off and yammering even more.

None of that would have mattered, except that when we got to the general location of CP11 (Acme lofts), we didn't see what we were looking for. Sheila tried to give us a street address and directions, while we argued about whether to cross the canal or not and on which bridge. We were finally at an impasse, basically walking in circles while still on tow and not communicating with one another at all. It had all spiraled down to this!

Finally I looked across the way to see "Acme" on the side of a building and looking up to see a huge "ACME" screaming at us right over our heads. Oh my heck, how stupid can we be? We got the photo and finally got untangled and moving again, now aiming for the finish line.

Our fine family was waiting for us, including Lindy, Abby, and Tessa in the 5-minute bonus pose of "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil":

We ran downstairs to Pat's Bar and Grill and learned we had arrived first. A couple minutes later, Kevin had verified everything and we were declared the winners. Four minutes after we got there, the winning team from Urban Dare Denver 2008 arrived - that sure was close!! We almost lost the cruise more than once, but with some luck and an awesome crew we just made it.

Our family practicing a 3-2-1 (and-more!) pyramid, just in case:

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