This weekend we took Saturday off of renovating and participated in the GoodLife Fitness City Chase Ottawa. P does not really run that much, maybe does a 5K here and there, but he does like adventure-style racing. City Chase is an urban adventure race where teams of two run around a city to complete chase points. Chase points can be anything from a physical activity to solving a riddle. You don’t know where the chase points are located nor what the chase points will involve. It is a mystery until the moment the race starts.The race gives you a t-shirt to wear plus a bus pass to use.
City Chase Ottawa started at Lansdowne Park at 10am. The race kit pickup was downtown and only on Thursday, so many chasers were at the park early to pick up their kit. The weather did not cooperate with us and was raining lightly when we got there. Luckily, Landsdowne Park has many places to stay dry and we managed to get into a cafe for some coffee while we waited. At 9:15 a warm-up was done, followed by race announcements. During the announcements we heard a clap of thunder and at the exact moment the race started, the skies opened up.
To start the race, two clue sheets must be given out. They had the two sheets on different sides of the park, so each partner had to run and get one. By the time we ran to the clue sheet’s location and back, we were completely soaked and so were the clue sheets. Everyone then ran towards a covered area to try and solve the clues. Under drier weather conditions, I’m sure that figuring out the clues would have been less stressful, but in the rain it wasn’t fun. Pens were not working, phones were getting wet and the clue sheets were pretty damaged. There are a few mandatory chase points and looking back at the clues, the race kind of sent you in two different areas of Ottawa. You either decided to go downtown towards Le Breton Flats or to the East End towards Ottawa Hospital-General Campus/Trainyards shopping area. We decided to head towards the first mandatory chasepoint, a park across from the hospital. There were a few chasepoints right near the start, but they didn’t open until 11am. But the weather was cooperating again, so we decided to go out first. Little did we know that as soon as we made it to Bank/Riverside, we would be getting soaked again – this time with frequent lightning/thunder. We sprinted towards the Billings Bridge McDonalds and stayed there until the weather calmed down. We also used the McD’s wifi and they also were nice enough to give us a garbage bag for our clothes that were now soaked in our packs.
Figuring out the clues does require the use of either a paper map or a smart phone to figure out addresses. Most chase points were in locations that you wouldn’t know off hand (like say, heading towards Parliament Hill). You had to go to so many tiny Ottawa parks, then figure out how in the world you were going to get there. The bus pass did help, but really, it was faster and easier to just run/walk. Ottawa transit on a Saturday isn’t great and most of the locations were not really near the transitway. I think next time, having an OC Transpo paper map would make things easier.
We figured out that there were numerous locations around the Alta Vista area of Ottawa. The rain finally stopped and we went to the OC Transpo station to catch a bus. We took two busses to get to the Ottawa Hospital. We met up with several times at this point and nobody had completed a chase point yet, and an hour had already passed. We heard from another group that most of the race was down because of the lightning. While talking with the groups, we found another team from Montreal, “Team Montreal Bucket List” and ended up sticking with them for the entire race. We went to one of the mandatory stops first and were the first teams to arrive when it re-opened. We had to pump up a road bike and ride the bike around some pylons. Not really that difficult, and were done in no time. After that, we knew that Coyote Rock Climbing Gym was the next stop. We tried catching a bus, but it was faster to just run/walk. No buses passed us in the time it took to walk to the gym. Coyote was jam-packed with chasers and we had to wait about 20 minutes or so (and sign a waiver) before it was our turn. To complete this checkpoint you had to climb up the wall with no harness. P and I have rock climbed several times before and we were done in less than 30 seconds.
The next stop was just across the street and over a bit – Axe Throwing! Originally Google Maps told us it would take us 13 minutes to get there, but we took a shortcut and were there in less than 5. On the way, we saw other chasers coming from the other direction and they said the Trampoline park was just another block away. Score! The clue for that one was something I could barely solve. Axe throwing was another 20+ minute stop because of the lines and signing another waiver. Bad Axe Throwing’s challenge was to get an axe on the target in 3 minutes. If you didn’t, you had a 5 minute penalty. Apparently I am skilled at Axe throwing because I got in on my 4th try. The Montreal team was almost at three minutes before they finally got it.
The next stop was the trampoline park – you either had to jump on a trampoline, run up a wall or do the trapeze. We went with whatever was open because again, it was a 20 minute wait. We ended up getting the trampoline. I had to do a few drills and apparently I’m also skilled at that as well.
Since we were close to the Trainyards shopping area, we went there next as we knew there were two Chase Points right in that area. First we went to Farm Boy to pick up some food (advice – bring snacks!) We hit up Marshall’s first for a price guessing challenge. I’m more into the physical challenges, so this chase point was not my favorite. We were done quickly and went to Coronation Park next. Coronation Park was a Roller Derby stop but unfortunately the weather meant no roller skating 🙁 That would have been really fun! Instead, the skies opened up again and we did several warm up drills in the pouring rain. Almost all of the drills were the same as track drills. Burpees, speed skaters and some blocking drills. The group did a good job of making a good station despite the weather. But seriously, burpees in the pouring rain – wow that was lots of water in the face! We found out that there was another Chase Point just 2 minutes away!
The next station was using those bungee cord harnesses to grab some balls and put them in a hoop – another drill that is similar to track! I was the one in the harness and was able to complete it pretty quickly. There was no wait at either of these two stations. Since we had only three Chase Points to go and knew of 2 locations + a secret one at the start, we hopped on the bus to get back to Lansdowne Park.
The bus driver on one of the routes was super nice – he waited for us at the Hurdman station and told us which bus to take to get us back. He even saw that the local bus had not arrive yet and told us to sprint down the stairs. We were on the bus in no time and back at Lansdowne park. We ended up doing two chase points at that location: GoodLife and the Park itself. GoodLife was a disappointment – sing either an Adele song or a Taylor Swift one – seriously? The Lansdowne Park one was those Zorb Balls, but unfortunately due to weather they were not operating and instead did 21 jumping jacks instead. Our Montreal friends at this point were done as they paid $50 to charity to have one chase point completed. We ran to the secret location a few blocks away and launched some bottle rockets into the sky.
That was done rather quickly and we ran to the finish line. We were surprised to hear that we were only the 65th team across (out of 400). We completed just after 3pm, so 5 hours in total. That isn’t bad considering we wasted the first hour waiting out the rain. After finishing we met up with our Montreal team friends for a beer at the Craft Beer Market.
All in all, it was a fun day. I am disappointed that we didn’t get to do more “unique” challenges like touching a snake, eating something weird or pulling a bus. Since you don’t know your Chase Points, you really take a gamble on some locations. It was clear that if you went to Coyote or Bad Axe, you were going to do some rock climbing and axe throwing, but I’m not sure what the other chase points were like. We found that with the way the locations were set up, you really had to choose which part of the city you were going to focus on. We ran/walked about 8K around the loop we completed (around 12KM in total for the day). If we wanted to go downtown, we would have wasted lots of time trying to get there. There were many locations downtown – so really, it was either downtown or the east end. The bonus for us choosing the east end is that we know the area quite well. We even passed by one of my work locations! Some locations downtown seemed really cool, including the Jigsaw Escape Room and pulling a bus! I’m curious to see how many people went downtown because it seemed like everyone went East – we passed other teams all the time! I wonder because maybe we could have been done faster?
We had lots of fun at City Chase Ottawa and P already wants to do another one. There is another Toronto location in August if you are interested.
This post was written as part of the GoodLife Fitness Blogger Ambassador Program, however all opinions expressed are my own.