It was a rainy afternoon in Portland, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the hundreds of people who showed up for this year’s Portland Challenge. We crowded into Blitz Pearl District to check in and stay dry before the 2:00 P.M. start time. With at least 172 teams, Blitz was packed and getting outside to our start area in the parking lot took a little time. Once outside, team captains circled up and waited to receive their list of clues. With clues in hand, we waited for the countdown and then headed back to our teams to get the challenge started.
My team, Street Smart, took some time under a canopy – where it was somewhat dry – to start solving our clues and planning our route. Then our first stop was Powell’s Book Store to find a picture of one of the presidents that was on Mt. Rushmore. As we headed down the appropriate aisle, a shopper overheard our conversation and immediately handed us a book about Lincoln. He had obviously been helping out a few other teams. We took our team photo with the book and then headed off to purchase a postcard for one of our next tasks. One of the other clues had mentioned buying something with a $2 bill, so my teammate asked the cashier if she had one. Amazingly, she did and we were a step closer to yet another challenge we needed to complete.
The rain was coming down pretty good, so we had our clues inside a Ziploc baggy. But, being runners in the Portland area, we are used to running in the rain so it wasn’t that big of a deal. The race organizers, who we had to assume aren’t local, gave us a break due to the weather and allowed teams to find just 10 out of 12 clues instead of the usual 11 needed in order to finish. That allowed for some faster times overall.
Most of our running around was pretty close to the start area. The farthest destination for us was probably the World’s Smallest Park. After getting our team photo at the park, we headed off to pose for a photo recreating the much talked about Damian Lillard winning shot for the Blazers in the Park Blocks. There, a random guy joined us for the photo and “guarded” me a little too closely. I have to admit, it was a little creepy but kind of funny at the same time.
We also had to find a specific piece of art, buy something made in Oregon with that $2 bill, pose with the umbrella man at Pioneer Courthouse Square, get 60 feet off the ground, and more.
Just as we finished our last challenge there was a huge clap of thunder, so we were relieved to be headed just around the corner to the finish line. According to my Garmin, which did lose the satellite signal whenever we went indoors, we only ran about 3 miles by the time we finally made our way back to the finish at Blitz. Once there, we had to get our photos checked to ensure we got at least 10 things completed. Any inaccuracies or too many skipped items would incur a penalty. We managed to avoid any penalties and come in 73rd out of the 172 teams. (See full results here.) Not a high enough ranking to make it to the National Challenge Championship, but we had a lot of fun anyway.
The Portland Challenge was Street Smart’s 2nd race of this genre. We learned from a few of our mistakes at the first event we did and improved our strategy a little. We have already re-hashed our performance at the Portland Challenge and are ready to improve yet again for next year! We’ve enjoyed adding a bit of strategy and problem solving to our running game. I’d encourage you to try the Portland Challenge next year with a few of your running friends and see what you think.