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It seemed somehow that politicians were very important. And yet, anything seemed important about them except their politics.

— G.K. Chesterton, "The Queer Feet", The Innocence Of Father Brown

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it's personal
9/9/02 2:54 PM

Proof that I am occasionally evil...and a second place finish.

Saturday night I ran the first of a potential series of scavenger / race / treasure hunt games called Midnight Madness, put on by an acquaintance of mine commonly known as "Party Matt".

If you've seen that television show The Amazing Race, you have the general idea of how the thing works. You go to a place, you get a clue. Solve the clue and follow it to the next clue.

My team consisted of myself, Bruce, Lyndsay and Colin in the road team, with Karin, Randy and Peter manning the Internet via cell phone.

We breezed through the first several clues at a decently speedy clip, matching the pace Matt had indicated he expected the first-place team to make.

We were the first team to arrive at checkpoint 4, the O. Henry house, but another team arrived as we were still looking for the clue. We managed to get maybe a 30 second head start away from the O. Henry house, but it took us some time to solve the clue for checkpoint 5. At last we determined that it was the walkway of the 360 Bridge, and began making our way there.

It was en route to the bridge that I gave proof that I am, indeed, occasionally evil. There was some discussion of which bridge it was, what it looked like. "It's the big red arch." "Oh, the one over the canyon with all the hills and cliffs and stuff." Someone mentioned that the bridge was not lit up—"it's totally dark; we'll need flashlights."

To which I replied, "Yes, and if the three boys get out to find the clue, it will be Dark Canyon and the Three Musketeers."

Rampant groaning ensued.

When we arrived at the bridge, we were 30 seconds behind Team 4, who had been 30 seconds behind us at the previous checkpoint.

We breezed through a couple more clues before hitting the final clue, which required so many flying leaps of logic (or more aptly, illogic in some parts) that a flying squirrel would have balked at the prospect of completing it.

We made a total of three calls for hints, racking up 10, 20, and 30 minutes of penalty time respectively. We finally finished half an hour after Team 4, who had only called twice. However, due to the extra penalties, we actually finished 58 minutes behind them. Without the extra penalties, and the time wasted between calls 2 and 3, it might have been a very close race. Still, the as-yet-unofficial result is that we finished in a very respectable second place.

It is worth noting that the final clue required phone calls from every team, making the outcome of the race strongly dependent on the equitable dispensation of hints by Matt. With 15 teams in the race, even the most well-meaning race organizer is going to have trouble providing equitable assistance 15 times and keeping mental notes of all the hints given. There were also a couple of instances in which certain teams were apparently meddling with the course.

Still, one can only do so much to ensure fair play, and for the first run of this event, I'd say it was for the most part a great success. Up until the last clue, we were having great fun—challenged, but never utterly disillusioned.

Assuming our second place stands up in the final counting, I'm happy with our outcome.

Bruce and I are even giving serious consideration to running the upcoming Urban Challenge in Dallas.

If we do, I'm going to have to start running every day, though—unlike Saturday's race, this one allows travel on foot or public transportation only.

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