Thursday, December 13, 2012

Challenge Nation - NOLA championships

I was feeling good enough to fly and really didn't want to miss another championship race.  So we hopped on a plane last Friday and took a little trip down to New Orleans!  Ah, warm weather for a couple days.  A great time with our teammates Kip and Dave.  Blended gumbo - yum!  An urban racing experience - with jaws wired shut!  It was all a wonderful way to spend the last few days of not being able to open my mouth.

This was the first year for a Challenge Nation championships, and they decided to go with a semifinal/5-team final format.  We didn't think we really had a shot at making the finals since I could only jog (limited by airflow) but we had fun in the trying.

I'll toss Kip and Dave's race photos in the mix - they took a different route and smoked us (and everyone else) in the first race.  Great job y'all!

First stop - the cemetery with Marie Laveau's tomb marked with X's:

Am I allowed to add commentary to Kip and Dave's pictures?  I'll leave this one alone for now...

Across a couple streets we located an out-of-state license plate with an X on it:

Dave and Kip found one too:

We opted to start on the west side of town while Kip and Dave traveled up to City Park first.  We purchased a toy at Office Depot to drop off for Toys for Tots at an Irish pub:

While heading back toward town we ran past a couple of Santa's - John had plenty of time to snap their photo and chat with them before catching back up to me:

Hiding in the bunker outside the WWII Museum:

We had a few extra minutes before the ferry arrival, so we jogged up to this statue of Ignatius J Reilly where I made a point to really show off my mouth metal for a reason I cannot currently fathom:

We jumped on the ferry for a ride to the other side and back, capturing the city skyline along the way.  This checkpoint certainly cost us some time, but we got to sit for 30 minutes instead of potentially having to run up and/or back to City Park so we figured it made sense in my current condition.  And it was a pretty day for this photo:

Dave and Kip got a picture of the Blue Dog in the sculpture garden instead:

One bonus for our ferry ride was finding someone from Florida (one of 4 states ending in the letter "A" that also has no income tax).  That was extremely lucky!

She was a good sport as we attempted to make the shape of Florida with our arms:

Hey, at least we did better than Dave and Kip!

We couldn't skip the northern parts entirely - we did manage to catch a trolley just as it was leaving in that direction.  We got out at Jeff Davis Parkway for a photo with Mr. Dreux - yay!

Our timing on the return trolley wasn't as good.  John suggested starting to run back, but I nixed that idea so we waited a few minutes and eventually our transportation back to the French Quarter arrived.

Back south - then it really was time to run.  We were trying to make it to the clock before 2:30 pm (we had to get a picture at :00, :15, :30, or :45) and I wasn't sure I could get there that fast.

It wasn't easy, but we got within a couple blocks and then decided we even had enough time to take our picture at the Cat's Meow.  This karaoke bar had been closed when Kip and Dave came through, but it was open now.  So we got to jump on stage!

One of the guys running the place posed with us while an actual karaoke customer sang "Call Me Maybe" and completely ignored us.  I was impressed with his focus.

We made it to the church and ran around the alleys for a minute before figuring out exactly which clock and horse we were supposed to be looking for, duh.  The clock was running slightly fast, but the chimes were right on time - does that count?

Breathing through my teeth...

Dave and Kip 45 minutes earlier:

One last clue - we had to share a beignet!  Luckily I didn't actually have to EAT one because we would have had to skip that checkpoint... unless there was a blender around somewhere...

Kip and Dave easily made the finals race, while we were a few minutes out of 5th place.  Still, 7th place ain't bad for my first (and with any luck LAST) urban race with my mouth closed!

We had fun walking and running around the French Quarter helping Dave and Kip where we could in the finals race.  It was a really quick affair, less than an hour for most of the teams, and only 8 checkpoints with 1 skip allowed.

Their first photo with a cannon, with Kip possibly yelling "noooooooo!" even though he didn't know it wasn't the right one at the time:

The "hands" bench near Lee Circle:

A plaque commemorating the birthplace of "Dixie":

Mr Fountain next to a fountain:

The "chief of chiefs" in Armstrong Park:

A plaque at the Old Ursuline Convent:

A T-shirt from a school in one of the bowl games:

Unfortunately Team Nads (Go... Nads!) made it back to the finish first, and all of their photos were good.  So they came out on top - congrats guys!  Kip and Dave were the 2nd team back by a few minutes, and other teams came running in close after.  Exciting finish!

Most of the racers from the finals:

Well done, Nads!

I was just happy to be a part of the whole event, close up and in the middle of the action.  Time to get back in shape for some real racing in 2013  :)  See you there!

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