I Chased the City; the City Won

At Bark & Fitz I ate dog food. At Philthy McNasty's I ate three live worms. You probably saw me run by you wearing a gray t-shirt, frantically searching the city streets for a clue. Am I crazy? Yes. But there were 1400 other people just like me.

Yesterday I took part in the Mitsubishi City Chase. The event is kind of like an Amazing Race rip-off that takes place around Toronto. There are numerous Chase Points around the city and teams of two strive to complete ten Chase Points in the shortest amount of time. They've been running this event for numerous years now and have managed to raise over $250,000 for various charities since the event's inception. The charity this year was the Children's Wish Foundation.

The winners of this event would go on to face winners from six other Canadian cities in the national championship at the end of the summer. The championship would decide who would represent Canada at the world championship in Rome in late September.

Having participated in this event in the past two years I'll let you know that the most important part of the City Chase is planning your route. Once you get your clue sheet you need to decide what the best ten challenges are to complete and the best order to reach them. This year they added a twist into the clue sheet process.

The clue sheet tells you where all of the challenges will take place. Typically they have handed out the sheet at the beginning or announced where you could find it at the beginning of the race. This year they decided to make you send a text message in order to get directions. That right there describes exactly what was wrong with the City Chase this year. They announced at the beginning that this year's race would feature a "huge reliance on technology" and they weren't lying. From text messaging the directions to making the clues so obscure that you would need a Blackberry or Palm device to decipher them they managed to make the event about who was the most teched out. Knowledge of the city and physical athleticism meant nothing as long as you had the ability to go online. It really made the day less fun than previous years. I understand that you need to involve your sponsors in the show (and Palm was a major sponsor) but it's better to involve them by making their stores the site of Chase Points, or providing you with their products in order to complete a task.

Despite the overall disgustingness of the worm and dog food challenges, they incorporated the sponsors in a way that was fun and interesting, by making you visit a sponsor's location, rather than punishing teams for not having access to a sponsor's (expensive) product.

This year they did one thing right. Every year they produce a task where you need to raise a certain amount of money for charity by asking strangers for donations. Typically most teams do not participate in these challenges because it takes longer to raise $25 than it does to win a tug-of-war game or answer some trivia. This year the organizers made the charity fundraiser a mandatory challenge, which meant that every team that completed the event raised some money for children who really need it.

And yes, I can still feel the worms now.

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