We were drawn back to Philly once again for the Great Urban Race - always a fun time! This year we had amazingly beautiful weather. Plus we got to meet Team Skittles! They were happy to pose with me while they were waiting for Purple to arrive:
As soon as we got our clue sheet we learned that there was a checkpoint only a couple blocks to the north. No subway to start the race this time - that's different! We ran up to Yards Brewery and donated a bit of cash to Ronald McDonald House:
A couple blocks over we found a dog shelter where I got momentarily distracted by an adorable little dog standing on her hind legs grinning at me. Do we get to do a challenge with a dog??? No, but we got to make a "tug-o-war" chew toy and pose with the blackboard. Too bad (or really, "good thing") this photo came out blurry:
Our crew quickly solved the checkpoints right close by, sending us to a Latin American Cafe where John volunteered me to eat a poblano pepper. Uh, OK, I guess I can do that! John worked on the other half of the challenge (finding peppers on the menu) while I started in. It's never good when the volunteer cringes at the sight of you starting a challenge. At first it was just like a bell pepper, and I was happy to "take this one for the team", as John doesn't like even the non-firey peppers.
Then I hit one of the seeds and things started burning in my mouth. I worked around the seeds as much as I could, but by the end my mouth was fairly on fire. We both finished our tasks and posed with the mural (cute, John!):
Phew, glad that's over. Glad I was carrying a water bottle! It took the rest of the race for the traces of pepper to eventually wear away...
Next stop was a pizza joint where there were no volunteers in the parking lot - oops! We grabbed a take-out menu and snapped our picture there:
Not sure what else to do, we headed up the street to the next checkpoint. Going up the stairs, things got crazy - ping pong balls flying everywhere, including down the stairwell on our heads. Too funny! John donned a sombrero hat while I got to toss balls at his head until I managed to get 3 to stay in the rim. The noise and mayhem was hilarious. We finished quickly and got our photo:
We were heading back to the pizza place when we met another team who was coming from there. Still no volunteers, they reported. Moving on, then.
We found the Philly Phaithful shop and phumbled our way through a phew trivia questions. Phew!
Then to the Urban Defense Center where we learned a few blocking moves and got to use them on a pretend attacker. More useful as a post-race skill compared to eating a poblano pepper :)
Here we are posing with "Bob":
We ran a few blocks to a rather empty part of town to a martial arts gym. A guy led us through a workout routine which John attacked with gusto. I attacked it with moderation. Then we were told to do 10 laps around the gym, including this long ladder sequence of both feet in one square, both feet out, repeat all the way down the line. 10 laps, really? I suggested that they were going to have issues when a few teams arrived at once (we were the first ones there), and eventually they cut it down to 5 laps. Thank goodness!
Posing in the ring - just climbing through the ropes to get up there was a new experience, that was cool.
Down the street we found a little art gallery and had to pose with a body builder. Awesome! er... maybe not:
The task was to write a sad 2-line poem. John took this task, channeling his country music roots with "Wife gone. Dog died. Sad!!"
Around the corner was a church parking lot where a "mobile zipline" company had set up. Sadly (really!) at the last minute they weren't allowed to set up the actual zipline, so we just had to show that we knew how to put on a large harness. John was all over this one - yes, he works on roofs for a living.
We saw a playground nearby and grabbed a photo for one of our tic-tac-toe squares. We had been considering skipping it, but we were still unsure of the outcome for the non-existent challenge at the pizza checkpoint. Just in case:
Running back toward the start, we went up to Spring Garden to look for signs with the word "cheesesteak". We were checking out a cafe when I turned around to spy the largest dang "cheesesteak" sign I have ever seen - this NEVER happens. How did this happen? I think my jaw dropped (numb lips and all).
One last checkpoint - we had an address that led us to a mini-mall, and in the process of trying to figure out which door to enter we almost went into an "adult entertainment" place. Apparently some teams did, and the people working there got into the game, handing out business cards and taking pictures... too funny. Instead, we found the intended checkpoint where I learned how to mix a Southern Comfort drink. Great fun pretending to learn to be a bartender!
Dang, no alcohol in the practice drinks:
We got one more tic-tac-toe square (doing "The Dougie" across a cobblestone street) on the way to the finish, but at the photo check they accepted our pizza place picture. Happily (for us), I don't need to include that awkward video here :)
It was a really quick race with many checkpoints close together, and we were happy to get through it without any major mishaps or back-tracks. First team back - pictures good. Puerto Rico bound!