Race Recap: Great Urban Race, Portland


Instead of packing gel, headphones, etc., for race day,  my team and I packed  our bags with things like pens, notepads, smart phones, phone chargers, maps, and more.  The unusual gear was in preparation for the Great Urban Race in Portland.  This race was not just about speed.  It involved solving clues to make your way to various locations in the city of Portland where you completed challenges, proved you were at the location (with pictures, video, business cards, etc.) and then returned to the start with everything intact.  My team, Street Smart, was excited for the challenge, but not 100% sure of what to expect.

Team Street Smart at the Great Urban Race 2014

Team Street Smart at the Great Urban Race 2014

We arrived at the Lucky Labrador on Quimby Street, checked in, and waited for the pre-race announcments followed by the handing out of clue envelopes. At the countdown we were allowed to open our envelope and start checking out our 12 clues.  Some were easy to solve, while others had us scratching our heads.  Clues varied from a maze, to solving a Ceasar box code, to finding Yelp reviews, and even one that was in 4 different languages.  We stayed at the Lucky Labrador until we had most of the clues solved.  The most challenging one we sent to one of my teammate’s son so he could start translating languages for us while we ran.  Each location we arrived at had a different challenge for us.  After completing the challenge, we had to take photo proof that we had been there and at most places we had to take something with us like a business card, coupon, or menu.  A few of the challenges we completed were:

1) Putting a cucumber on your forehead and getting it into your mouth without touching it at KIVA Tea Bar and Spa.

Cucumber Challenge at GUR Portland 2014

Cucumber Challenge at GUR Portland 2014

2) “Playing” a stringed instrument at Schuback Violin Shop.

Street Smart "band" at GUR Portland 2014

Street Smart “band” at GUR Portland 2014

3) Eating crickets or larva or something at Glowing Greens.

4) Playing “water pong” at Sand Bar.

5) Doing the Wild Woman dance at Vibrant Studios (our team favorite.)


Wild Woman Dance by Street Smart at GUR Portland 2014

Wild Woman Dance by Street Smart at GUR Portland 2014

After running all over Portland and completing all 12 of our challenges, we made our way back to the finish line at The Lucky Labrador.  We were only required to do 11 of the 12 challenges, but any incomplete or incorrect challenges would incur a 30 minute penalty, so we did all of them just in case.  We finished in 2:46 with no penalties.  Our finish time put us in 31st place, just 6 places away from qualifying for the National Championship!  Next year we’re shooting for top 25!  (Full results here.)

We all had so much fun and we ran like crazy.  If you think this race is laid back and doesn’t involve a lot of running, you are mistaken.  We estimated that we  got in over 6 miles and I ran so many sprints trying to make crosswalk lights before they turned red, my hamstrings were sore the next day. If you want to get in some speedwork, this is way more fun than hitting the track!  Sure, you start and stop a lot, but there was truly never a dull moment.

Afterwards we kicked back at the Lucky Labrador, enjoyed our free drink that was part of the finishing bonus, ordered a pizza – which was so good – and enjoyed a little retelling of the day’s adventures.  My team and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and we will be back next year!  We’ve got to get that top 25 finish that we narrowly missed!


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