One of the most fun events of the year took place in Canby on Saturday, June 4th. Involving some running but including so much more, the Get A Clue Scavenger Race took teams of two to five on a whirlwind tour of downtown Canby businesses, parks, and other landmarks, in a quest to solve puzzles and gain points within a two-hour time limit.
Teams gathered for instructions at the Clackamas County Event Center , then team captains were handed an envelope containing the clues and a list of checkpoints to be opened when the countdown hit zero. My team of three got to work locating the addresses on the map, with Brian checking them off and Charissa marking them down. Once we had them written on the map, we began to plan our route. There was no set course, and teams could visit the checkpoints in any order they chose (although in some cases you needed a clue from one place to gain points from another).
Most of the checkpoints were concentrated in a central area, so we decided to head first to two that were farther away. At one of these we solved a cryptogram which gave us instructions to find another location and complete a task there. Part of the fun involved multi-part challenges like this, where clues at one location came in handy at another checkpoint across town. Some of these were described in advance, while several others were there for the teams to discover as they went along.
As we scurried around town, we found ourselves (among other things) creating a chicken with marshmallows and toothpicks, breaking open chunks of ice to reveal a clue, trying to suck pudding through a straw as fast as possible, peeling a banana with only our feet, picking up a heavy couch and rotating it 360 degrees, counting the parking spaces surrounding a particular city block, and playing Yahtzee with a huge set of dice. (In a nice twist, the Yahtzee challenge was a game-within-a-game, with a special prize for the team with the top score). There were also special bonus items distributed around town. We saw a coupe teams carrying some back, but we didn’t find any ourselves.
Many checkpoints gave us cards worth points, and a few gave us letters for a final puzzle. We had to abandon our search for a couple checkpoints as the clock ticked away and we had to rush back to the finish to try to make the two-hour cut-off. We ended up with 15 points, but lacked a couple letters and extra time to cogitate, so the ultimate solution to the puzzles went unsolved.
The beauty of Get A Clue is although we only ended up running roughly a 10K, and most of the locations were concentrated in a central area, the challenges and puzzles kept us busy and really filled the two hours. You had to be on your toes both mentally and physically if you had any hope of finding all the checkpoints, completing all the challenges, and solving all the puzzles.
Back at the finish, teams checked in and volunteers tallied their points. Each team member received a number of raffle tickets based on their point total, which they could place in jars in an attempt to win the prizes of their choice. I love this system, as it rewards the participants based on how their team did individually, regardless of how they placed overall. And with a great array of fun prizes from local sponsors, everybody has a good chance to win something cool.
The Get A Clue Scavenger Race is a terrific combination of mental and physical exercise, and is always very well devised, with lot of fun and creative puzzles and challenges. The event really shows off the city of Canby nicely, with the friendly cooperation of local businesses, as well as introducing participants to parks and quiet neighborhoods.
Although I was a little disappointed we didn’t get to every checkpoint and solve every puzzle, I still always have a great time at this event, and if it was too easy it wouldn’t be as much fun. I’m already looking forward to next year, and wondering what the race directors will have up their sleeves.