By Joe Dudman and Kelly Barten
Treasure seekers took over the streets of downtown Canby on Saturday, June 14th in the annual Get A Clue Scavenger Race. Team Run Oregon (Kelly Barten and I) were among dozens of teams of two to five people of all ages who set out seeking clues and points from various local businesses during a fun two-hour event.
We later decided that smaller communities are perfect for this type of event: Friendly businesses in a thriving downtown core, not too much traffic, and a city street grid that is pretty easy to figure out. We hope more smallish towns around Oregon “Get a Clue,” because we’d take this show on the road and support other scavenger-hunt type races in the future!
So, here’s how it went:
Teams checked in at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds, crossing paths with 4-H kids taking their rabbits and chickens to an exhibition, then waited anxiously for instructions and the official handing out of clues at 9:30 sharp. Sealed envelopes were given to each team, then a 10-second countdown led to the sound of ripping paper and the great reveal of the clue sheets.
The teams burst into the sunshine and scattered in several directions, heading for their choice of checkpoints. Kelly and I set out for what we thought would be the nearest location on the clue sheet, before Kelly had an epiphany (before you rush to the dictionary, that’s a brainstorm, not a medical crisis or gastrointestinal incident), and we decided to stop and mark our map with the clue numbers.
We soon realized that many of the checkpoints were in a tight cluster, and that had a calming effect, as we non-Canby residents became more confident about finding our way around town. Kelly’s navigational skills throughout the race proved to be a big asset to the team! (Translation: Kelly possesses the uniquely female skill of being able to look at a map when she’s lost.)
On our way to our first choice of checkpoints, we happened upon another: a big tub marked with orange cones with a pair of volunteers and another team standing next to it. We made a beeline toward the group, and were instructed to locate a ball with a yellow star on it among the hundreds of balls in the tub. We quickly found one, and took it inside the adjacent business, where we received our first additional clue.
This led us to a nearby cafe, where we had to successfully play bingo before moving on. This took us awhile, as several teams fared better than us, forcing us to start over each time. Once we were finally able to yell “Bingo!” and collect our points card, we set off on the rest of our adventure.
Other tasks included waving a mattress sign on a street corner and getting two cars to honk (which Kelly accomplished quickly by focusing on cars stopped at the light), making a “rap” video (which I hope never reaches cyberspace), discovering the original nickname of Canby High’s sports teams (“Tulips” – no wonder they changed it in 1929!), and carrying a raw egg intact back to the finish.
Early on, we located a checkpoint, walked in, and spent several minutes unsuccessfully trying to figure out what to do, to the amusement of the proprietress. Much later, we checked in at another location where we were instructed to take a flower back to this store. That explained the nice vase full of flowers prominently visible on the counter! Kelly repaid the patience of the owner by buying a tiny purse for her two-year-old daughter.
Although we didn’t achieve a perfect score, skipping two checkpoints in order to avoid any time penalties, and forgetting to take some bubblegum to another location (we blew it – get it?), we still had a great time, and were impressed with the design of the race, the friendliness and enthusiasm of the volunteers and business owners, and the energy and happy spirit of the other teams.
We returned to the fairgrounds to check in with ten minutes to spare, and had our points tallied. In a nice touch, each teammate received a number of raffle tickets equal to the number of points the team scored. The tickets could then be placed in our choice of jars for a chance to win several cool prizes. I felt a little embarrassed to win a free entry to the Joe Dudman 5.0k, but I had put a few tickets in that jar hoping to win an entry for a friend, and it made for a funny moment. Kelly won a very cool gift “birdcage” filled with “girl stuff” from another business that volunteered to be a checkpoint – The Crooked Cottage. (Good stuff, ladies … check out their facebook page here!)
All in all, this was a very fun and unique event, and a nice change from urban adventure races in the big city. I hope we will return next year with our minds set on finding all the checkpoints and exploring more of Canby. Didn’t run it this year? Well, “Get A Clue” and sign up for the 2015 edition!