Xplore is a new clue solving race for 2013. Marcy and John have had a chance to race in a couple of them, and they liked the format. Others who race these types of races have also spoken highly of the organization, so when earlier this year they announced they would be coming to Austin, I marked it on my calendar. For this race my normal race partner Kipley wasn't available, as it is a long trip from his new home in California. It turns out that Xplore allows solo entrants (most clue solving races require minimum of 2 members per team), so I decided I would go it alone. I also convinced my Austin racing pal Jason Mittman to enter. Jason would race solo, but we felt we could improve our race by working together strategically for this one.
Race day weather could not be nicer for Austin. It was mid 60's with clear sunny skies. The race turnout was rather low since this is the first year of this race in Austin. There were about 15 teams by my estimation. There were some very experienced teams that showed up. This series has a national points category where you get points for each race based on finishing and the overall series winner gets extra prizes. This race drew 2 out of town teams. The most well known is Ed Wagner, who is leading (or has now won) the overall points title. Ed always does very well so without knowing any of the other local teams, we figured he would be our main source of competition (Ed had a 2 person team with a local Austin member).
The race started right on time at noon with a countdown from 10. I stuck to my normal strategy at the start of immediately taking a picture of the clue sheets and emailing to a few folks at home to help me clue solve. Xplore had 3 pre-race clue hints posted on Facebook a couple days prior to the race. We had pre-solved those clues that led to 3 areas around downtown Austin. My plan was to immediately head for the farthest point. This would give our crew some time to solve the other clues so we could optimize our route. So, picture taken, Jason and I started running for what turned out to be clue #1. This was about 2 miles away, so we scanned the other clues to see if there were things we could do along the way.
On the way to clue #1, we were able to complete two other scavenger type clues. We needed a picture with 4 people wearing boots (clue #6), easy enough in Austin.
Next, we completed clue #11 by convincing a few folks to spin around and then walk with us. We needed a video as proof of clue completion. This is where our “enter as solo” entrants helped out. I videoed Jason, and then he made a video of me.
2 clues done, we now arrived at clue #1. We had to run through the fountain, which meant Jason and I both got soaking wet a few minutes into the race. For clue proof, we had to take a video of ourselves doing the task. Once again, we traded cameras to shoot the required videos.
A very short distance from here was a truck food festival going on with some music playing. Jason wanted to go and get our music clue done here, but I was convinced we could easily do this back on 6th street as Austin is known as the live music capitol of the world after all. So, I convinced Jason to skip this clue for now, which later turned out to be a bad decision. We then headed to complete clue #4, which was a picture of the Stevie Ray Vaughan statue. Easy enough as that was very close to the fountain from clue #1.
Once done with our air guitar picture, we headed back across the lake towards clue #7, which turned out to be Mello Johnny's bike shop. Jason and I both spend a bit of time cycling, so we knew right where that one was.
Next up, we needed a picture of us with a moon tower (clue #3). This has been used in many Austin races and we have learned to really read the clue closely. You can see these very far away, and this clue did not require that we actually be close to it, we just needed it in a picture with us, so we took these pictures 4 to 5 blocks away from the actual moon tower. We actually ended up fairly close to the moon tower anyhow as we headed for the state capitol.
Clue #2 was up next which was a plaque marking the location of the old capitol of Texas. I finally snapped a selfie photo for this one, as I did not need Jason's help to get this shot.
Next we headed across the street to the actual current Austin Capitol. Clue #12 was located on the north side of the capitol. Running across the capitol grounds we ran past Ed's team and said hello. He was doing the course in the opposite direction of us apparently. On the north side of the capitol we quickly located the statue of liberty replica and snapped our pictures.
From the capitol we headed over to clue #5 which was at the Bob Bullock museum. We needed a picture of the giant Texas star while flashing the Xplore "X" symbol with our arms.
We now needed to head back down to 5th street. We were about 12 blocks away so we hoped to catch a bus, but as we ran back we remained about a block behind the bus so no mass transit luck for us today. As we hit 6th street we looked around trying to find a musical instrument or performer to help us out. There as not much happening mid day on a Sunday on 6th street, so we headed over to 5th to the O Henry museum to get a video of a person telling us a joke. Fortunately we found a nice young lady who was happy to tell us her best pirate joke.
Now we headed back to 6th street and started hitting bars and stores looking for an instrument. We were striking out at every stop. We finally found a store selling small music boxes that played music when you turned the handle. So, we used that as an instrument and sang along while we made the videos. Here's Dave singing, and Jason singing.
We were only a couple of blocks from the finish with one clue left. This last clue was the only miserable clue of the day. We had to make a video of ourselves eating a spoonful of hot sauce. We had a bottle waiting at the finish line so we quickly gulped down a spoonful. Wow, this stuff was miserably hot!!
We crossed the finish line moments later to a first and second place finish (we crossed together, but no ties allowed). It took a few minutes for Jason and I to get the burning sensation cleared from our palettes. Our pictures all checked out good so we were official finishers. As we expected Ed's team was not far behind.
It was a super fun race on a wonderful day in Austin. We will sign up again next year for sure. Below is my log of the route we ran. It turned out to be about 5.5 miles in total.
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