On The Hunt
This past Saturday, the 4th annual Great Richmond Region Adventure, an awesomely fun event sponsored by the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau and arranged by specialty madcap adventure firm Ravenchase Adventures. My team finished 7th out of 46 groups, and the all-gay High Fivers brought home 3rd place and a sweet $600 prize. It was great fun for us, and I couldn’t recommend the experience more. Here’s how it all went down.
The Great Richmond Region Adventure is a hybrid of a scavenger hunt, a road race, and those brain teasing puzzle books printed on newsprint you can only buy at airports and bus stations. Up to six people band together to make a team and appear at a pre-arranged location on a Saturday morning, somewhere in the Richmond region. Working together, the team has to figure out a series of puzzles and dash from spot to spot so they can piece together a final clue and finish the event.
Our team of six, the Three Dollar Bills, made it over to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts early on Saturday morning to get rolling. The contestants swarmed the steps of the Pauley Center and the lawn area facing Sheppard Street as the 10AM start drew nearer. Other teams showed varying levels of preparedness and coordination, befitting the free-form nature of the event. There were teams with matching t-shirts and outfits, complicated looking binders, pricey running shoes, and apparently some carefully designed warm-up drills. Our team members had prepared by just chugging drip coffee at home and remembering to bring pencils, but whatever. We were as ready as we needed to be.
Chris Dove of Ravenchase Adventures gathered us around to give us our pre-trip safety and rules briefing — watch for traffic, move around on foot only, that kind of thing — and then we all struck off jogging to begin our quest. The only info we were directly given about where we were going was that all of our targets would be in the “dark dusty rose area” of the map they handed us, which turns out to have been Byrd Park. We had to figure out where we needed to go from the five clue sheets we were given, which made for kind of a scene. It’s kind of challenging to figure out riddles while running. For me, at least.
We got our targets set though, and after a little more than a mile of travel, we got to our first query, a cipher keyed to tombstone dates in the Robinson family plot. After frustrating ourselves with two bad dates, one of our team members helpfully furnished the right one, yielding the actual answer in seconds. We gleefully showed our figuring to the attendant, earning our first game piece and sending us scurrying to Swan Lake for our next puzzle, keyed to a replacement cipher based on the park’s bird information sign and the disruptive taxonomic name for the Greylag Goose. One more game piece, and off to the statue at the head of the Maymont Children’s Farm, which proved to be the most vexing clue of the outing. The correct answer was locked behind a surprisingly tricky accounting of what, exactly, constitutes a foot “mid stride.”
The next two puzzles were cinches compared to the earlier challenges. At the Carillon, we sent one team member running around the sunken garden to try and match photos of Richmond attractions to their names, collecting that game piece quickly, and at the foot of the city reservoir, a swift answer to a question about a regional tourist attraction left us with all the clues we needed to decode our final destination.
We raced to Boat Lake, followed the instructions from our clue, and were issued one final anagram to complete before we could cross the finish line. A quick scribbling of the words, and tada! We’d completed the adventure in 1:27, snagging the 7th place slot. We saw another all-gay team there when we arrived, the High Fivers, who beat us by a solid 15 minutes with a 1:15 time, good for their 3rd place overall finish. After unwinding a bit from our mental strain with a turn on the paddle boats, we hiked to F.W. Sullivan’s for a much welcome beer, courtesy of Ravenchase Adventures. Ahhhh, beer.
By my track log, we traveled a little less than 3 miles over the course of the morning, just far enough to be a little tuckered at the end. It was well worth it. Our team had a blast participating, and we’ll be back to shoot for 6th or better next year.
Taber Andrew Bain is a librarian who loves adventures. He covers Richmond Flying Squirrels baseball at Nutcap.
This article was published last year after the 2010 Great Richmond Region Adventure – a huge citywide scavenger hunt. This year’s event is on Saturday, April 30.April 20, 2011
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