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So a couple of weeks ago [ profile] kirstenfleur and I met up to run as "Mum's Day Out" again in The Great Amazing Race. We managed to meet up at a reasonable time at Southern Cross, check in, get our t-shirts and were ready to go well before the start time. Yet again we'd decided to go in the "Racing" category, which meant that we needed to collect 400 points - after last year's failure to complete in the required time we'd gotten a bit cunning this year and raised over $50 for the Royal Children's Hospital which allowed us to skip one pursuit stage (worth 25 points.) We'd also done a lot of research on the race's sponsors in an effort to get a heads up.

None of this really helped much!

At 10am we grabbed our clue sheet, and made a snap decision to head straight for the challenge worth the highest number of points:

Challenge Stage 5 (75 points): Name of Kimye's daughter? + Slide - L. Find the official at this boulering location for a challenge to test the team's ability to traverse a wall horizontally.

They were a sponsor and we'd looked them up earlier so we knew exactly where they were in Brunswick. This was described as "the outer northern suburbs" in the race's promo - yeah, really not so much. Even so though, the trains run only once every 20 minutes and we just missed one. *sigh* We used the time to decipher the other clues, looking for other things we could get to in that area. Finally the train came, we hopped off at Brunswick with a whole heap of other teams and headed over to Northside Bouldering.

I looked at the challenge. Hm. Bouldering is basically like rockclimbing, except instead of going up a wall you go across it. I still thought this should be OK - I managed the rock climbing OK - but then I saw how they'd set it up. You had to only use certain handholds, which were marked in red, and there were around 25 of them that went across, up, down, up and up some more. Hm. I watched a very fit and much taller than me woman fall off the wall halfway across - if you fell off you had to wait 30 seconds and then could start from where you fell. I was still really dubious about my ability to do this but decided to give it a try. Three goes later, when I hadn't made it to the 3rd handhold, I went "nup, not happening" and we bailed. This was a worry because it meant we needed to do at least 3 x 25 point challenges to make up for it, and we had lost a lot of time. I was also really annoyed at myself for not being able to do it - this is the first time in any race that I haven't been able to complete a challenge. Fortunately we were able to run quickly(ish) to a nearby Pursuit stage:

Pursuit stage 2: ihsT iprstuu aegst acn be dfnou deiostu ehT Beeioruv Ceenrt on aideGnrr eerStt in Bciknrsuw.

I spent a lot of time waiting for the train working this one out - I had everything except the street name and the Centre name, which was frustrating. I ended up looking at googlemaps to get Gairdner St and the Beevoir centre, which was around the corner from the bouldering. Grabbed the points, and ran back to Sydney Rd to get a Collect Stage:

Collect stage 2: Using sign language from a Scandinavian country, decipher the location of this collect stage. Record the book title, which can be found in the front window, by Shaun Tan.

I had to google this several times as well - the sign language was Swedish and the bookshop was The Book Grocer. The book was The Singing Bones.

50 points in hand we ran back to the train station (we'd just missed a tram but figured the trains were faster anyway) and caught the train to Flemington Bridge so we could cut down Flemington Rd to the Amazing Race Challenge Stage:

Amazing Race Stage: Find the official at Ievers Reserve in Parkville to start this stage.

[ profile] kirstenfleur had googled this one and found it on Flemington Rd, near Gatehouse St. We were fortunate that a tram was coming in the right direction down Flemington Rd, so we jumped on... and then jumped off slightly too early when we saw people and flags in the new playground next to the Children's hospital. We ran over to the official, who looked at us and said "no, first you have to go to the starting point in Ievers Reserve." Oops! Ran over to the right place, got the piece of paper we needed, went back to the official. It was a Detour - a choice between juggling yellow ducks or maneuvering a rolling thing on a string. We went with juggling ducks, which required us to use one hand to juggle ducks between us, for a total of 6 catches. I was throwing high lobs (not hugely high, just over head height) so [ profile] kirstenfleur had time to catch and throw - she was doing chest passes. Hm. We did get 6 catches in a reasonably short time though, so it worked! Over for part two, which involved going to the fundraising centre of RCH and painting the TeddyLove logo on each other's faces. Then we had to identify and place internal organs on a picture of a teddy bear, and finally [ profile] kirstenfleur performed surgery on a teddy bear while I updated FB for the ages. And then we'd finished the challenge, and headed back to the start - via the same official we'd accidentally found at the start and who looked at us like we were crazy again and told us he wasn't the start person. Heh. Back to Iever's Reserve, finished the challenge and we were 150 points on the way. Unfortunately it was also nearly midday, giving us only 3 hours to complete the remaining points.

So we ran off in the direction of the nearest challenge:

Challenge Stage 4 (25 Points): in this challenge, the team must find the three Flexicars parked at the following locations and provide the colours, registration and the name of the car (found under the front and rear windshields).

They'd helpfully put these on the map, mostly I think because there are quite a few Flexicar locations in this area. And then we hit our first set of roadworks for the day, which caused us to detour through Royal Melbourne Hospital but fortunately didn't cost us much time. The locations were:

1. Victoria Street (Grey, Proton, ZVJ 900);
2. Batman and King Streets (Black, Bane, ICT 3JV);
3. Leicester and Pelham Streets (Dark grey, Dash, IEE 2NV)

We did number 3, number 1 and then realised we could do another challenge en route to number 2:

Challenge Stage 9 (25 points): Vinyasa, Jivamukti, Ashtanga, Yin, Bikram. Do these words sound familiar? Find the official at the Yoga Place on Victoria Street which offers Vinyasa, Yin and beginners Yoga.

This was literally 100m up the street from the Victoria St car, and when we arrived there were tons of shoes lined up inside. "Just wait here" said an official, so we stood outside and chatted. Another team - who were racing in the Social category - arrived and were ushered in. A second social team arrived, ditto.

"Is there a difference between social and racing?" I asked, meaning with the challenge we were at. It had never been the case before, but who knew what they'd decided this year.

"Oh yes", said the official, "they're really different."

Another social team arrived, this time with someone I used to play netball with. They were ushered in, and I asked how long we'd have to wait.

"Oh no, you can go in" said the official.

"But you told us to wait here!" I said.

"Oh no, I didn't" said the official.

Oh FFS. One of the two of them did, and both of them swore blind they hadn't. I did have to wonder what they thought we were doing, a racing team standing outside chatting to them. *eyeroll*

Fortunately the challenge was 10 minutes of calming yoga, with a pose being held for 30 seconds at the end. We completed it successfully, headed over to get the last car information and looked at where to go next given we were now halfway towards our goal. We decided to try and head towards the 50 point challenge, which meant heading across the city. Fortunately there was a challenge on the way:

Challenge Stage 8 (25 points): You dart? After taking off in Asia the world of iDarts, an electronic darts bar, is gaining popularity in Melbourne. Find the official at iDarts hive to square off against another team in a game of darts.

This was on little Lonsdale St, so off we went, discovering along the way that the city circle tram was not running due to repairs. Fortunately the buses on Lonsdale were running so we caught one from Queen St to
Russell St, walked up to the location on Little Lon and down a flight of stairs to where the darts were. Electronic darts are just like real darts except the board lights up and makes noises when you get a dart in the right place. Because we were coming in reasonably late there weren't that many teams so we just kept going until we got the required 50 points in three darts. This took about 6 goes and was quite entertaining, particularly early on when we totally missed the board.

Looking at our map we thought we'd try and get a quick nearby pursuit challenge in before heading out to the 50 point challenge. The clue was:

Pursuit stage 1: Using the race map provided draw a line between North Richmond Train Station and Flagstaff Gardens, and a line between the MCG and the State Netball and Hockey Centre. Search the area where these two lines intersect for this pursuit stage.

Even with my extremely rough drawing of lines we'd worked out this was at Parliament building. We decided to get that, head out to the 50 point challenge and then come back in again. Unfortunately we turned the corner into Spring St to see that our way was blocked by a large crowd of anti-abortion protesters and quite a lot of police, all of whom were in front of the Parliament buildings. Change of plan - we jumped on a tram going up Smith St instead in the hope that we could finally solve one of the clues which we were struggling with:

Collect stage 3: Use a phone key to work out the following locationfound on Smith Street, and answer this question: what colour is the swimsuit that is hanging in the front window closest to the door:

722559 263 87662663

We'd worked out the middle word ("and") but were struggling with the other two words. Looking up businesses wasn't helping, so we decided to just stare out the windows in the hope that we'd see a shop with a plausible name and a swimsuit in the window. I figured the shop would be somewhere near Rose St, which was where we were heading... but we got to Rose St and there was nothing. Oh well. Off we went to our Rose St destination:

Challenge Stage 7 (50 points): Famous for their $4 pizzas, this iconic pub and rooftop bar is located in the heart of Brunswick St. Find the offical at this location for a challenge to titillate the team's taste buds.

This was at Bimbo Deluxe, which I'd never heard of but is apparently at 376 Brunswick St, right near Rose St. Originally we'd been going to catch a tram up Brunswick St, but walking across from Smith St worked OK. We got there and the 50 point challenge was....

Eat a slice of pizza.

No seriously.

Eat a slice of pizza.

Granted it had chillis on it, but seriously? The 75 point challenge is really, really difficult and this is the 50 point? Sheesh. There weren't even that many chillis, or at least [ profile] kirstenfleur didn't think so. Still, we rolled our eyes, got the points and headed to a nearby collect stage:

Pursuit stage 5: Go to and find the control punch near where the photo was taken, which is close to Challenge stage 7.

This was the Rose St market, got it and headed to Nicholson St to catch a tram. Thanks to the demonstration there were no trams. We debated going back to Smith St or Brunswick St to get to another challenge stage:

Challenge Stage 2 (25 points): Offering Auslan classes, find the official at the Vicdeaf office in East Melbourne for a challenge to test the team's ability to communicate with their hands.

Then realised that they'd closed already and the only challenge stage we had a hope of getting to in time was at Docklands. 15 minutes later we were still waiting for a tram and had given up getting enough challenge points for the day.

While we were at the tram stop we started chatting with another team who'd lost their answer sheet and were frantically running around to get their final points while also trying to remember the answers. So we swapped some - we had the flexicar answers, and they gave us the answer to the Smith St one:

Collect stage 3: Use a phone key to work out the following locationfound on Smith Street, and answer this question: what colour is the swimsuit that is hanging in the front window closest to the door:

722559 263 87662663

It's "Scally and Trombone".
"Never heard of it. What kind of shop is it?"
"Kids clothing. The swimsuit is red with white polka dots, but they took it out of the window last night so we ended up going in to ask them."

There was no way we were ever going to get that.

We checked out time and our points. We needed one more collect and one more pursuit. Oh and 3 challenge stages but they were all closed. So we went for the ones that were doable, catching the tram down to Parliament where the protests had finally finished so we could get to the collect stage on the other side. From there we - together with quite a lot of other teams - headed to our final pursuit stage:

Pursuit stage 3: Solve anagram to find the following location and search inside this store to completethe stage. Hint it has a large collection of vintage products and is somewhere along Swanston St.


This had also taken quite a bit of time, but [ profile] kirstenfleur solved it while I was falling off the bouldering wall. Vintage Retrostar, a vintage clothing shop that I'd also never heard of. We got the clue ("it's right on the back wall!") and headed back to the start, finishing within the time but 75 points short. Again. *sigh*

The clues that we didn't do were:

Collect stage 1: Find the famous cow up a tree sculpture and answer the question posted on the cafe window next to the sculpture.

This is in Docklands, no idea what the answer was.

Collect stage 4: A whole of Russian with "Royal Arcade" in the middle.

This one... seriously we had no idea what they were asking for. The entire clue was in Russian. The shop was definitely "Babushkas" in Royal Arcade, but given they asked us not to go inside and we had no idea what they wanted from us outside... we ignored it.

Collect stage 5: Like "Uplift Events" on FB or follow us on twitter and read the clue for this stage that will be posted online at 10.15am.

This was Banks Rowing Club, on the south bank of the Yarra near Engineers Lawn. We were planning to head there initially but the trams/protest really killed that.

Pursuit stage 4: The store has a world of games, bikes, lego, trampolines and a huge range of other toys for kids. Find the control punch outside the entrance to this location in Harbour Town.

Also in Docklands, no idea where.

Challenge Stage 1 (25 Points): From the time of European settlement of Melbourne in 1835, this garden was used for timber cutting, cattle grazing, and as a brickmaker's field. It was planned and laid out for the visit of the Duke of York in May 1901. Find the official at the garden to participate in a challenge that will test the team's balance and coordination.

This was something at the Alexandra Gardens which are near the rowing club. Amusingly the team at the tramstop said that they and several other teams had spent quite a lot of time searching the Carlton Gardens. They were quite surprised when we told them how far off they were.

Challenge Stage 3 (25 Points): Opening in July 2007, this location is considered a community facility for residents and visitors to Docklands. Find the official at this location for a challenge to test the team's appreciation for art and life drawing.

This was the main reason we avoided Docklands, which in retrospect was silly because so many things were clustered there. I was concerned that it was one team member drawing their partner, but apparently they had a professional model. Given how bad I am at drawing though... might not have been the best choice!

Challenge Stage 6 (25 points): Find the official at a simulation venue in Docklands where you can combine exhilarating individual-yet-interconnected racing on a wide variety of renowned international tracks.

This was a place that does GP simulators, one of the sponsors.

Overall I ended up being frustrated by the bouldering, although [ profile] kirstenfleur chatted with another team on the way home who also couldn't complete it. If we'd been able to use any holds I would still have struggled, but would probably have been able to do it. Maybe. Out of the top 10 teams only one didn't do that challenge. I think if we'd gone from the Flexicar challenge to the Docklands cluster (two challenges, one collect, one pursuit) and then out to the pizza we might have just made it. Yet again not checking the closing times properly was a mistake - we could have done the Auslan, then the pizza and been only 50 points short.

The organisers do seem to be sticking with their cluster model though - besides Docklands there were 3 in Fitzroy (four if you included the Auslan one in nearby East Melbourne), two south of the Yarra, the three in Brunswick that we did and the rest were across the city. The biggest problem is that transport in/out of the city is OK, but around it is terrible. And then there are always complications... usually trackworks, but the protest shut down the top end of Bourke St and screwed up five tramlines.

So, plan for next year... get fitter so we can run the 20km needed to get between clusters. More realistically I think we should head straight to the Amazing Race stage and work from there - maybe identify the cluster with the most sites and go there next. [ profile] kirstenfleur suggested we go back to social racing, but where's the fun in that? ;-) We would have actually completed the social category within the time. In the end we finished at 3.11pm, which with penalties was adjusted to 5.11pm. We came 62nd out of 97 teams - there were a lot more social than racing teams this year, which I think may have been due to last year's course. And of course pay attention to closing times, again. *sigh*

It was fun going NOY (North of the Yarra) for a change though, even if the "outer northern suburbs" part made us laugh. Not even close guys. I hope they do keep moving it around, much as I like South Melbourne and St Kilda it's good to check out Fitzroy and Brunswick too. (Hipster central!) Hopefully they might start looking at places like Abbotsford, Clifton Hill, Richmond and Collingwood too. Maybe even the inner west, who knows!

Not sure how far we ran/walked, although we did do a fair bit of it. By the last tram ride though we were basically going "... nup." At least I managed to rant nonstop for five minutes about The Maze Runner trilogy plus prequel while we were waiting. I needed to get that off my chest.

Also I've promised Dean that next year I will have my own smartphone and stop borrowing his for these events. Heh.
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November 2016


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