Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know that the Mitsubishi City Chase even existed. Apparently, though, it’s a pretty popular event.
Ryan Coelho graciously invited Sarah and me to both the training session and the subsequent race…erm…chase, and since neither of us had even heard or it, let alone attended, we weren’t quite sure what to expect.
Well, the training session belied the true size of the event … about 1500 attendees on the day from my guesstimate. I’m sure Ryan knows the true number, but whatever that is, it managed to fill Yonge-Dundas Square to near capacity, then blocked Yonge Street as the initial wave of people made their way to the first chase point.
Well, it’s a little bit like The Amazing Race mixed with a lighter version of Fear Factor, and a 4 to 6 hour marathon mixed in for good measure. Participants are given clue sheets which indicate the locations of some 40-odd locations scattered around the city, a quarter of which must be completed before you can collapse. Pretty much everyone starts out traveling together but the herd tends to thin out pretty quickly as problem solving, strategy, and just plain old speed weed people out.
When I say “around the city”, I mean “well around the city”. All participants get a transit day pass which really comes in handy. I was on my bike and managed to hit about 6 chase points (the locations of various challenges to be completed). I honestly have no idea how the winners made it all the way through the event, let alone in the time that they managed to do it.
Many of the chase points require you to work in teams, often requiring one person to work as the spotter, and the other to be the patsy. The organizers also recommend that you bring things like a towel, possibly a change of clothes, and a variety of other items you may not imagine needing. But honestly, when they say be prepared for anything, they’re being totally serious.
The leveling factor of the Chase is the fact that it requires both brains and brawn. Sure, you can be a fast runner or be able to lift herculean weights, but if you can’t figure out the clues on the sheet, you’ll never make it to the locations and your chances of winning are slim.
City Chase allows, encourages even, participants to use smartphones to find the chase points using Google Maps or even to call friends at home who can look stuff up for you — the map that’s provided should be considered a bare-bones minimum! You are not, however, allowed to use any means of transport other than public transit and your own feet.
Thing is, there isn’t much at stake except for glory and recognition, so the honour system works pretty well.
Yes, people who finish with good times do get small prizes, but ultimately the whole thing is for charity (Right to Play), so cheating wouldn’t really get you much except disapproving frowns. Really, you’re just cheating yourself.
Top fund raisers can also compete in the all-Canada Championships, and the city event is the precursor to the Columbia Enduro-Chase which is like City Chase on steroids.
The next City Chase event in Toronto is being held on August 13 and if the last one is any indication, the upcoming one should be a load of fun. And when it’s all done, there’s beer at the Hard Rock cafe across from the square. If there’s a negative here, I don’t see it!