I may have accidentally stumbled upon what is by far the sweetest race in all Toronto. Picture the Amazing Race. The adrenaline, the checkpoints, the challenges. Now bring all that hype to Toronto and donate all the money raised to a charity whose mission it is to to “provide a safe, supportive place where children and youth can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, build positive relationships and develop confidence and skills for life.” Welcome to the Capital One Race for Kids.
Short, Blonde, Bearded and sort of German
The weather was perfect as we rolled into the square at Yonge and Dundas. The sun was shining and there was a light breeze sweeping over
race participants as they entered from every corner of Toronto. Most were wearing the bright red Capital One Race for Kids T-Shirts we’d been given as part of our race-kit. Others, like us, had customized their uniforms and showed up in neon jumpsuits, corporate swag and serious looking sports attire we weren’t 100% prepared for.
As 60+ teams gathered together in the square, we started to get the sense that this was a bigger deal than we’d anticipated. We’d signed up months ago at the recommendation of a friend and nearly had to back out because of injuries, babysitting trauma and other complications that would have made it way easier just to stay at home and work on our tan. Thankfully, last minute, we’d managed to get our act together and show up on time at the start line. The Short, Blonde, Bearded Germans had arrived.
After mixing and mingling with the race organizers, and posing for a few pictures for tourists, we were welcomed to the main event by a kids dance group who rocked the stage and a warm up led by a fitness guru who sent a number of the men skipping their way straight to the sidelines. Upon receiving a detailed break down of the rules, which included the ability to use public transit, and allowing the corporate fundraisers a 5 minute head-start (darn you!), we were off.
Our Amazing (Race) Challenges:
The way the race was set up, you had 10 challenges to complete. 5 were compulsory and five were optional (we were given a number from which to choose from). When the organizer said “GO”, your captain was to grab your race material and you were on your way. Your race material consisted on a passport, to be stamped after completing every challenge, and a list of clues that, once decoded, would lead you to all 10 challenges.
The first 20 minutes of the race was spent mapping out our attack. Thankfully we had one team member who knew Toronto inside out and was able to provide us with a sort of, kind of, plan of attack. After deciphering our list of compulsory, and chosen, clues, we were off!
During our 3 hours and 1 minute of racing, here are the challenges we encountered:
- Frisbee Toss: One person at either end. One throws the Frisbee, the other catches the cup that is placed upside down on a pole in the ground.
- Geography: Match the flag to the country. Nailed it!
- Flash Images: Watch a 10 second video clip over and over until you could collectively name 60 images.
- Go Fish: Fish tennis balls out of the water a la hula-hoop turned lasso and reel in balls painted with letters spelling “fidelity”. A friendly
reminder not to stray…
- Bartender for the Day: Perform 3 acts of brilliance with cocktail shakers.
- Re-create the Straw Model: One person knew what the model looks like and had to direct the rest of the team to replicate. Thankfully, we had a teacher on our side!
- Wheelbarrow Push: GRRRRrrr…unt! One person in the wheelbarrow holding a hockey stick and maneuvering the ball around the pylons as the other one… pushed.
- Shopping Cart Hysteria: Price match a set number of items, collect your grocery list and then get ‘er done.
- Build a Mask: Recreate a mask using clay at the Royal Ontario Museum!
- Darts: Shoot darts at numbers on the wall until you reached 100!
Celebrating Lucky Number 13
My personal fave was matching the flags! No wait, the Frisbee Toss! Or maybe the Flash Images? Clearly there was WAY too much fun to be had. And calories to be burnt! Our race perimeter extended all the way North to Bloor, West to Bathurst and East to Church St, so pretty much ran around Toronto for 3 hours straight. And I mean ran. We paused occasionally to walk it out but for anyone who thinks this race can be done in flip flops and jean shorts – forget it!
As we ran past the finish line, we were being cheered on by groups of volunteers! Convinced we were the fastest one on the course, we were crossing our fingers for first prize: round trip tickets with West Jet anywhere they fly [jaw dropping]. Unfortunately the first place team had not only ran, but sprinted the entire length of the course. As for teams 2-12, well that’s a mystery. Maybe they were aliens. We’re not quite sure. But we do know that we gave it our absolute all and in the end, we pulled in at lucky number 13.
In any other race, I’d be a little miffed that our hard work hadn’t paid off – but this wasn’t any other race! This was the Capital One Race for Kids and in this race, 13th place gets a prize! How about that. 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place… and 13th place. Maybe it was our wicked attire and super positive attitude that made karma side with a couple of short, blonde, bearded Germans. Whatever it was, we’ll take it and we have every intention on making good on those passes for a free kayaking trip around the Toronto islands- thank YOU very much!
Curious? Check out the Capital One Race for Kids website and sign up for next year. It’s an AMAZING race you’ll never forget.