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High Trek Adventure Austin

April 11, 2009
By Kipley Fiebig - Team Vignette KD

High Trek Adventure made its first ever visit to Austin today. It was a perfect day for racing... overcast skies and pleasant temperatures for running. And on a personal note, this would be my first race since I had my braces removed, so... yay for that! Losing those extra grams of weight would undoubtedly make me faster. But not more photogenic, as I hardly ever bother posing for the camera during these things.

Earlier this year, our team of Kip and Dave won the Dallas HTA race, and likewise Marcy and John won the Houston HTA race. So both of our teams were already qualified for the HTA championship race in Las Vegas in November. Our goal for the Austin race was to see if we could get even more friends of ours qualified for the championships, because the more, the merrier!

As we were waiting for the start, we decided to do our usual test of our camera by sending our crew the rules sheet we'd received at check-in:

At noon we gathered at the starting line, and the race director unfurled the banner which had a multiple choice trivia question on it. Dave was responsible for reading in the question to our crew to solve, while I was responsible for noting the possible destinations that corresponded to each possible answer. Dave had the answer back almost immediately, "C", which corresponded to Sandy's Ice Cream. I knew exactly where that was, and so we took off running to get there.

There were a couple of streets to cross on the way, but we made it to Sandy's without incident. Sure enough, there were volunteers sitting outside with clue sheet envelopes to hand out. I opened the envelope and positioned the 3 sheets, and Dave quickly snapped pictures of them:

Once the clue sheet pictures had been emailed back to our crew, we started scanning the clues and planning our initial attack. I'd seen the statue for #5 before, and knew it was somewhere to the north of us, but not sure exactly where. We started heading north across the 1st street bridge while continuing to scan the clues. We noticed that #7 was a scavenger hunt for either a person wearing a Viking helmet, or 7 different photos of stars. We figured that we'd see stars all over during our journey, so we just started taking pictures of stars every time we saw them. Here's one such star picture... I won't bother showing you all of them that we took (we wound up taking more than 7!).

About the time we hit 5th street our crew came through for us by figuring out exactly where the newspaper boy statue was for #5. They guided us 5th and West, where another team was aleady taking their picture with the statue. We talked to them after the race, and they said that they lived in the area, and so they had immediately known where it was!

We knew we'd eventually head north to UT for some points, but we also knew that #6 was near Whole Foods, which was just west of us. We didn't want to leave this area only to have to return later, so we asked our phone contact Chris if he could try and solve it. We jogged towards Whole Foods, hoping that as we looked at the business names in the area the answer would jump out at us. The other team that we'd seen at the statue was also heading this way, so we figured we might get lucky and they would lead us to it.

Neither idea worked very well. None of the business names we saw around the 6th and Lamar area made sense for clue #6. And the other team in the area appeared as clueless about the situation as we were. Chris scrambled furiously to solve it, and we stood around for a couple minutes and debated what to do. We hated to leave an area when we knew there must be a point close by, but we also hated to stand around and not move. After a couple of minutes, we decided to just start heading north to UT, as we had no idea how long it would take our crew to solve #6.

As it turns out... not that long! We had only traveled north on Lamar a couple of blocks when Chris told us to turn around and head back to 5th street. Our awesome crew had come through for us, and discovered that the answer was Title Nine. Yes!

Chris followed that up with even more good news. Only a couple of blocks east from us was a perfect opportunity to collect bonus question #2, the symbol from former USSR's flag. It's part of the logo of Molotov Lounge.

Having cleared the points from the western downtown area, we decided that now it was time to travel north to UT. We knew the locations of some points that were in the east downtown area, but figured we may may as well get them on our way back from UT, and hopefully make our route an efficient loop. Trying to learn from our mistakes at other Austin races, where we don't even attempt to catch buses, we decided to travel north on Lavaca, which at least has several bus routes along it. But this didn't help, as by the time the first bus appeared we were already at Martin Luther King Boulevard.

A couple of blocks east on MLK brought us to the Blanton Museum of Art, where we had to take our picture from within the art piece called "Penetrable" for #2. We saw Tom and Spencer in the area, and they said they thought it was located in the museum lobby, but I'd seen the work before and knew it was actually behind the museum. I just wasn't 100% sure that the piece I was thinking of was actually called "Penetrable". But Dave described it to Chris, and Chris confirmed that was it, so all four of us stepped inside it and snapped our photos.

Now, to the east side of UT, to find Mike Myers Stadium for #8. We found the stadium easily enough, but finding any signage on it proved difficult. We finally settled on taking this picture, where the orange banner says the name of the stadium, and the stadium is visible in the background.

That must have been all of the points up north, as Chris told us it was time to head south on Red River. It was a bit of a jog back down to 6th street. We dutifully looked behind us periodically to see if a bus was coming our way, but as usual, we had no bus luck.

We passed a team just before 6th street that was stopped on the sidewalk, staring at their map spread out in front of them. We then headed to #10, Jim Jim's Water Ice. We actually overshot Jim Jim's, and so we had to backtrack. When we did arrive, the other team we'd passed that had been pouring over their map ran to the point as well.

The clue stated that we would receive a nice treat there. But the business was locked up, and nobody answered our press of the buzzer. Well, we weren't sure if receiving the treat supposed to be a mandatory part of the clue or not, but we figured if we took our picture of the locked business it would have to suffice. Bummer, no treat for us.

West a couple blocks on 6th to Shakespeare's Pub for #3. Once again, we accidentally overshot it and had to turn around to go back to it. Darn 6th street... so many tiny businesses packed into each block! Lesson learned for next time... pay attention to actual business addresses on sixth street, instead of just relying on the major cross streets for navigation. Or maybe we should just go out and party on 6th street more, so we'll know the area better!

Southwest to the Cedar Door on 2nd and Brazos, to get a picture of the big olives on the roof. This point had been used in another Austin clue solving race we'd done, and so we knew exactly what we were looking for this time around. We had forgotten exactly where it was, of course, because we never bother remembering things that we know our crew can simply look up for us again!

Back across the river! I guess that means we're almost done? Chris confirmed that only two points remained, and that they were both on South Congress. And since we can skip any one point with no penalty, naturally we'll skip the one that's farther away.

As we run we have our usual end-of-race debate on what place we'll finish in. Though we've run a pretty smooth race, I feel that we spent enough time standing around trying to figure out the first couple of clues that perhaps Marcy and John are ahead of us. Especially if they caught buses while we didn't (yet again). Also since they started south first, by the time they hit the rest of the course our crew would have had all the remaining points solved and nicely lined up for them. On the other hand... it's only been an hour since the race start, which is a pretty impressive time, so maybe we're doing better than I think.

So we head up, up, up the big hill that leads into SoCo, until we finally decide that we're close enough to #9, Blackmail. Ok, so you might not be able to read the Blackmail sign all that well in this photo, but you can see the Austin Motel sign behind it clearly enough, so that pretty much pinpoints where we were.

We head back south, downhill (yay!), towards the finish. We were initially planning on just skipping bonus #1, which involved getting a picture of someone wearing an Austin area pro or college team jersey. You hardly ever see people wearing those jerseys outside of sporting events, and we figured it would be even more unlikely to see a high-numbered jersey, which would be worth more bonus time. But to our surprise, our ground support person Sheila proved us wrong... as she met us near the finish line with both a #98 Longhorn jersey, AND a Viking's helmet! The Viking's helmet was an alternate answer for scavenger hunt clue #7, the seven stars. Well, now we had both the many star pictures, and the Viking helmet. Nothing like finishing a race with the maximum bonus time possible, and more than the required number of clues solved! You rock, Sheila!

We looked around for the finish line, and they told us it was inside Zax Pub. We headed in, and were the first team there! But, we didn't cross the finish line yet, as the top three finishers from each race received free entry to the championships. We already had our free entry from our Dallas win, so we decided to wait and let our other friends who also wanted to go to Vegas finish first.

And soon enough, they started showing up. Tom and Spencer appeared about 5 minutes after us, and won first place. Then Marcy and John showed up, but they also didn't cross the line yet, for the same reason we weren't crossing. Jason and Mike then made it in, taking second place. And since our fifth team of Robyn and Cathy wasn't planning on making the trip to the championships, it was then time for us and Marcy and John to step over the finish line.

Robyn and Cathy finished not too much later. It was Cathy's first time competing in a race of this type. And the phone contact for their team was Robyn's young son, who was helping out for the first time in a race of this type. What a well done, fun family effort!

And then there was much rejoicing. We got Jason Hofsess, the HTA race director, to pose with us for a big group photo at the end.

See you all in November, where at the championship race we'll be competing for a $12,345.67 prize! Vegas, baby, Vegas!

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