We Own This City

Is that all you’ve got New York?




You couldn’t muster up any better competition? Instead, you let a group of Canadians walk on in, race around the city for a few hours, and come away winners of The Amazing NY Race (with the t-shirts to prove it)?

The Winners - Hecktic Travelers

Not only did we win the race, we dominated the eleven other teams. The second place team didn’t even come near us, with our final tally at 311 over their 246.

Although Pete and I had already been in New York a few weeks, we were far from experts on navigating the subway (which was where the race was largely based). The rest of our team was comprised of our Calgarian friends Paula, Sharon and Daren, who had come to the Big Apple for the first time that weekend.

Our sheer superiority even included being embarrased out of the road-block challenge where we had to answer questions about New York. Thank goodness we received 25 points just for making it to the challenge, because I believe we scored zero on the actual quiz. How were we to know that it is illegal for women to wear body-hugging clothing, or what percentage of single-dwelling apartments in the city are occupied by females?

We can credit our massive final score to some solid strategy going in. Paula, a dear friend who I met through competitive curling many years ago, offered a truthful revelation about her character the day before. She admitted freely to our group that she discovered she might have a problem with being “too competitive“. While recently donating blood, she silently raced her friend to see who could fill the bag the fastest. She won.Β And there we had it: Paula became our team captain and chief-decision-maker.

We divided up the tasks to conquer the 3 hour time limit. There were 20 scavenger hunt items to find, 6 clues to decipher based on subway art, a detour, and the road-block – each item involved the entire team being present for pictures proving the completed task. Before getting on the subway, we wandered around the downtown area to knock off some of the scavenger hunt items. The boys and Paula scoured the area while Sharon and I worked some google magic to find answers to all the clues.

Searching for Smoochers

One of our first completed items: pose with a smooching couple!

And then we were off, bouncing from train to train, station to station. We walked, ran, harassed strangers to help us, and screeched to a halt when one of us would notice something obscure that we were looking for.

Mohawk on the Subway

We needed a picture with someone who had a mohawk!

It wasn’t the best way to show our friends the sights of the city, as we jogged through some ugly, under-construction subway stations and ran through the streets with no attention paid to the views around. But it turned out to be a great way to get to know the New Yorkers themselves. Some ignored us completely, but many generous locals often approached us to ask if they could help, and we even had one train conductor hold up his cars so that we could get a picture with him and get his advice on where to go next.

Posing with a Conductor

We worked well as a team and had a lot of fun doing it. We trusted each other for decisions made and didn’t cramp on each others tasks. Paula led us well, yelling when she needed to (!) and making the tough decisions on when we needed to cut our losses and move on from finding certain clues. In the end we only missed 3 of the 27 necessary items.

We almost failed to get the valuable 25 points awarded for finishing the detour. Needing to complete the requirements for either “Sing” (get pictures with the whole team and six different musicians) or “Bling” (pictures with six different people wearing bling), we faltered early and were uncommitted to either one. We finally landed on “Sing” and had to get awfully creative to capture some of the shots with the short amount of time we had left. We conceded defeat when we approached the finish line and were two pictures short. Luckily, there happened to be a band playing at the pub, and we stopped the music to take our final necessary picture.

Steel drummin' in the Background

A musician (steel drummer) on another subway track.

The Hunt for Musicians

Another musician in the background

Amazing New York Race - Search for Musicians

The final musician shot at the finish line!

Turned out we didn’t need the points anyways as we were leaps ahead of everyone else.

We own this city.


Our ever-competitive and fearless team captain approached the organizers at the end with one more important question: “Are we the best team you’ve ever seen?” They had no answer.

(We’ll just assume we were.)


46 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • March 5 2012

    I would love to do something like this, I actually see quite a few races in Toronto but never do one.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Maui on my mind

    • March 6 2012

      I’m going to look for them in more cities when we sit long-term. We had such a good time.

  • Jeremy Branham
    March 5 2012

    Nothing wrong with Canadians winning this! New York is a melting pot anyways so even Canadians are welcomed! πŸ™‚

    Glad everyone had a good time doing this. Sounds like a lot of fun!

    • March 6 2012

      Actually, there were even very few actual New Yorkers in it (I admit NOW!) A lot of people from the area, but no Manhattanites I think.

  • March 5 2012

    What a fun time!! I want to do this in Las Vegas!

    • March 6 2012

      I’m sure they MUST have something similar in Vegas? Ohhhh…the scavenger hunt clues you could have in that city would be incredible! πŸ™‚

  • March 6 2012

    Whoo hoo, way to kick butt in NYC!

    This sounds like a really fun race – definitely not your average city experience!
    Amanda recently posted..DOs and DON’Ts on a Great American Road Trip

    • March 6 2012

      That is for sure! And we were lucky to have found it (Pete actually had it as a “Facebook ad” – the first time we’ve ever bought something because of it!) It was such a good time.

  • What fun guys! I keep hearing about this race every year when it’s too late to join in!! One of these days I’ll do it and see if I can give you guys a run for your money!!! The last NYC scavenger hunt I did I finished second, but that was only because the finish line was on Governor’s Island and the boat only ran there every half hour!
    Aaron @ Aaron’s Worldwide Adventures recently posted..Visiting Disputed Territories: Israel’s Golan Heights

    • March 6 2012

      This particular company runs them every three weeks or so, and can also organize private ones as well. I think I’m hooked. I’ll be looking to do more in other cities!

  • March 6 2012


    As IF you guys wouldn’t win! I didn’t know there was anyone more competitive than you, Dade!

    • March 6 2012

      What? I’m not really that competitive. At least not anymore. I had to let that go, because if I was super competitive, I am sure my marriage wouldn’t survive (seeing as Pete likes to punch his iPod when he loses games – haha!)

  • Joy
    March 5 2012

    How awesome that you had dear old friends from back home with you. That must have made it a truly amazing race. You all look like you had so much fun.

    • March 6 2012

      We were so fortunate to have so many of our friends come to visit us. We had such a blast!

  • Paula
    March 6 2012

    I think you guys gave me way more credit then was due, I had to be captin by default as I can’t use electronic devices to navigate our way around – and Pete was the camara man, and Daren being the social butterfly – was in charge of asking people if we could take their picture. I had a lot of fun and would do it again – but only with the same team.

    • March 6 2012

      I dunno Paula, all your yelling at the start really set the pace for the day. πŸ™‚

  • Gillian @OneGiantStep
    March 6 2012

    Go Canucks!! What a great, and unusual, way to see the city. I think they have one here in Calgary – I’m going to go look it up right now!! Congratulations!!

    • March 6 2012

      Thanks Gillian! I know about a MAJOR one in Calgary every year (June I think). Sharon and Daren did it last summer, there were 500 teams or something? That one was more intense, i.e. they had to wear bathing suits under their clothes to do a swimming challenge among other things! They are trying to convince us to come back and race this summer. πŸ™‚

  • Ha, “they had no answer”! Stunned speechless, I’m sure.

    • March 6 2012

      I think so too. πŸ™‚ Not sure anyone had asked them that before!

  • March 6 2012

    Great fun , I’ d like to try on of these as well

    • March 6 2012

      It is well worth it! Especially with the right group of friends. πŸ™‚

  • Ali
    March 6 2012

    This is awesome! I didn’t even know something like this existed. Congrats on winning!

    • Pete
      March 7 2012

      Thanks Ali! I think most big cities have something like this now. And if not, they should. πŸ™‚

  • March 6 2012

    Sounds like SO much fun. I imagine there were no Manhattanites because they are “above” such silliness. BTW, there’s a wonderful race in San Francisco that takes place around Chinese New Year’s. You’ll have to try that one.

    • Pete
      March 7 2012

      How fun would that be – to do a North American tour and compete in these kinds of races along the way! Hmm…wonder if I could convince my teammates… πŸ™‚

  • March 6 2012

    Congratulations guys! Looks like you had a lot of fun during the competition.
    rashmi recently posted..Coming to America Moments

  • Super fun competition. What a great way to explore NYC!

  • March 7 2012

    Aren’t you guys just good at everything you do?! πŸ˜‰

    • March 7 2012

      Haha, hardly. That’s why we surround ourselves with people who are. πŸ™‚

  • March 7 2012

    Wow, sounds like a great thing to take part in πŸ™‚ Well done on what sounds like a deserved victory πŸ˜€
    Laurence recently posted..Dealing with bed bugs when travelling

  • March 7 2012

    Oh this sounds like so much fun! I’d love to try one of these. Is there a company that organizes them nationally or do you just have to hunt around for a race?
    Reena recently posted..In Pictures: Strasbourg, France

    • March 8 2012

      I’m pretty sure that Pogo Events does other big cities in the US (check their website pogoevents.com), but I don’t know of any that spans the country more than that.

  • Leah
    March 8 2012

    Love your experience, so cool that you found this to do with the Calgarians. And I laughed out loud at Paula filling her blood bag first. I may have thought that exact same thing once. But in my defence, it’s pretty damn boring on those beds. Unless of course there’s a fainter.

    • March 8 2012

      Haha! We had a pretty good laugh hearing that story as well. Of course I was not surprised, having played competitive sports with her before. I’d definitely rather have her on my team then not! πŸ™‚

  • March 10 2012

    Awesome! This race is much harder than ones like this in Toronto but they’re a ton of fun. Glad you had a great time doing it even if you’re friends didn’t get to see the city. Looks like they had a blast and had a different experience. I don’t think the Empire State Building is going anywhere anytime soon. πŸ™‚

  • Cam
    March 11 2012

    hah – this is great!
    We did something similar a few years ago but with Smart Cars. It was a race around Vancouver with 100+ Smart Cars on a scavengar hunt – pretty fun, but sketchy

  • March 12 2012

    This looks fun! I live in Austin, and I saw an event like this going on recently in downtown one evening. It looked like a blast. I bet it’s even better in NYC with so much to explore!
    Emily @ Maiden Voyage recently posted..Boston Common’s Graveyard on a Snowy Day

  • This looks like so much fun!!! I organized a scavenger hunt in eastern europe last year… we had a lot of fun completing the challenges!!

    • March 22 2012

      We’ve talked about doing something like that before too – that would be AWESOME fun!

  • March 27 2012

    You guys are AMAZING! Love how you rocked the challenge and won. Respect! <3

    • March 28 2012

      Haha, thanks Cheryl! I still can’t believe we won like that. πŸ™‚

  • April 2 2012

    YES! Take that NYC! Canadian Domination

  • April 23 2012

    So from what I can see is that, there are musicians almost everywhere in the city. I don’t mind that at all! If they play good music that is. Great post. And hooray to the Canadians!
    Alexa Mesiler recently posted..Mountain Biking Excursion in Miami’s Key Biscayne

    • Pete
      April 24 2012

      Hey thanks!! Yeah NYC is full of musicians, especially in the subway stations. Some good, some horrible, you just have to get lucky and find them.

  • January 8 2013

    Waaaaa! This looks like so much fun! I’d love to do something like this some time! Finding your way, solving riddles, accomplishing tasks… Sounds superduperfun!
    – Yes, I did actually write ‘superduper’! –

    Would also be fun in a subway city like Paris, Barcelona or Berlin!

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