Armed with clipboards and clues while running, walking and pram-pushing the lesser-known nooks and crannies of Townsville, participants in Totally Tropical Orienteering Club’s (TTOC) Urban Adventure Series (UAS) have often been asked if they are doing the Amazing Race.
While the only film crews present in this series are the ones capturing the hilarity of the photo challenges (think apple-bobbing, donut-scoffing and who-can-pull-the-funniest face), this biannual night-time treasure hunt is growing in popularity with each event; with an estimated 60 teams expected to line-up at Jezzine Barracks on Wednesday evening.
We caught up with some of the familiar faces in the UAS – as you’ll see it’s a diverse bunch of all different fitness levels and goals, but put a map in front of them and the race really is ON…
This mixed team led by Chris Head and comprising Janine Keating, Sue Price, Angela Cooper and Penny Kenchington are all members of Townsville Outrigging Canoe Club (TOCC) and – after just one series – have surprised the competition with their running and map-reading skills. Below Chris tells us more:
“Get out there and give it a go – even if you think you don’t like running or can’t read a map you will be pleasantly surprised with how much fun the series can be”
When did you do your first Urban Adventure Series? Myself and team TOCCHead first took part in the Urban Adventure Series in August of last year. We have only done this one series but can’t wait to get back into it and take part again this year!
How did you discover it? Through Linda Davis [TTOC president] nagging us about it and constantly forwarding us event invites. While most of us knew almost nothing about urban adventuring or orienteering, and never really thought running sounded like much fun (as one member recently stated: “paddlers paddle, we don’t run”), we are glad we finally took Linda’s advice and gave it a go!
What do you enjoy the most about the series? It’s just great fun. It’s great to work together as a team to plot a course around the streets, knowing that every team has their own strategies to try and maximise their score and get back to the starting point within the allocated time. It’s awesome to see so many people running and scattering out through the streets on a weekday evening.
Most challenging part? Plotting a course and finding whatever shortcuts you can. While we all thought we knew the local streets pretty well, we were amazed at how many little paths and shortcuts there are that we previously had no idea even existed.
How would you describe your team? A team of paddlers who never thought they could enjoy running and trying to follow a map quite as much as we did. We would normally describe ourselves as being far more comfortable out on the water.
Best achievement in the UAS to-date? From the very first round we competed in we scored a top 10 finish, continuing to improve each round through the series to finish fifth overall.
Biggest lesson? Just keep on going, stay together and work as a team. Everyone in the team has something to offer – there are streets and paths that some of us know better than others, so it always pays to trust your teammates and work together.
Most memorable moment? I would have to say that the very first round we took part in would be the most memorable. We really surprised ourselves with how well we did, and were amazed at how much fun we had while covering nearly 8km of running within the one-hour time limit.
Tips for newbies? Work as a team and trust your instincts. Second guessing yourself will only make you confused.
Goal for this year? To encourage more of our Townsville Outrigging Canoe Club members to take part and take advantage of the excellent cross-training opportunity the series provides. For team TOCCHead, the goal would also be to better our overall series result from last year.
Last words? Get out there and give it a go – even if you think you don’t like running or can’t read a map you will be pleasantly surprised with how much fun the series can be.
Hannele Miller, Margaret Spillman and Liz Thomas are good-humoured bunch who have completed every UAS round since the beginning – even if it meant one teammate going solo. They are usually up in the top third of the field, look after the newbies who turn up without any mates, and win one of the ‘chocolate achievement awards’ at the end of each series. Here we chat to Margaret:
“It’s light-hearted, social exercise for any level – ultra fit runners, joggers and families with strollers”
When did you do your first Urban Adventure Series? Our team the Choc Wenches started on August 3, 2011 – the first series of Urban Adventures.
How did you discover it? I heard about it through a JCU flyer. I mentioned it to Hannele who happily went along and Liz joined-in in 2012. When we started I think there were approx 10 teams.
What do you enjoy the most about the series? It’s light-hearted, social exercise for any level – ultra fit runners, joggers and families with strollers. We love the assorted challenges to earn bonus points, like apple bobbing, puzzles, dress-ups and selfies; plus the lollies at the end; great random draws from fantastic sponsors (including chocolate, thank goodness) and Linda’s introductions which are entertaining, positive and inclusive.
Most challenging part? Decisions – shall we struggle up this hill for just a few more points?!
How would you describe your team? Friends who go for fun, share the roles and go for ice-cream afterwards. We cajole friends to join us and we morph into Choc Wrenches if a male joins the team.
Best achievement in the UAS to-date? The inaugural Blue Shoe Award for the Most Consistent Team. Also, earning bonus points for the wackiest selfie… more than once!
Biggest lesson? Forgetting the Aerogard…
Most memorable moment? Three team members holding hands to slither down a slope, determined to get those points, but losing traction and disappearing backwards into a storm drain.
Tips for newbies? Give yourselves a few minutes to plan your route before you start and go for the route you’re comfortable with – who said the points matter?! You might take home something in the random draws anyway!
Goal for this year? Keep the Choc Wenches in every event.
Last words? Gather a few friends together, dream up a crazy name and have a go!
With the most regular faces consisting of James Allen, Shane Wild, Wes Liddell and Gareck Packer; this male team of two-to-seven participants has been in the top five since they did their first event. They currently hold the record for being the latest team home (14 minutes over), but were also the overall champions in the last summer series. Here James divulges more:
“In true team spirit, you can rely on Wes to eat donuts from the ground or bob for apples after running a good kilometre or two”
When did you do your first Urban Adventure Series? The Wednesday Wannabes were first formed in 2011 and have participated in the seasons in some way ever since.
How did you discover it? Through our mate: We were originally introduced by work colleagues at Alluvium Consulting and GP One Consulting.
What do you enjoy the most about the series? Orienteering provides the joy of running, but with a difference. The teamwork and camaraderie is great and having to think while on the run is a great challenge.
Most challenging part? The distance you have to cover to be competitive.
How would you describe your team? A bunch of wannabe athletes.
Best achievement in the UAS to-date? Winning the 2014 Urban Adventure (Summer) Series.
Biggest lesson? Don’t over-think your route. Just keep running!
Most memorable moment? Wes and the many eating challenges. In true team spirit, you can rely on Wes to eat doughnuts from the ground or bob for apples after running a good kilometre or two.
Tips for newbies? One navigator (requirements include good breathing management), then have a team ready to help where needed.
Goal for this year? Another top five finish with less injuries.
Last words? Don’t miss a week. You will regret it and have to wait another five months before the next adventure series!
Killer Bats – Amanda Gibbs
Led by Amanda Gibbs, this family team is always enthusiastic and predominantly about the fun. Amanda usually sprints into registration with 30 seconds to spare dragging the three kids with her (Kyle, Brandon and Mikayla) and their photo challenge photos are always impressive. Amanda elaborates below:
“I told the kids we were going on a treasure hunt – they were disappointed there was no treasure to find at the checkpoints, but when one of them won chocolate in a random draw prize things quickly changed”
When did you do your first Urban Adventure Series? The February Summer Series in 2014.
How did you discover it? I knew about them for a few years but due to having very young children who are very active with after school activities, there was always some conflict with the event times. I jumped into the events last year after a colleague reminded me about them and I discounted the late night for the kids and just did it. My husband was away at the time so getting out of the house and doing ‘stuff’ with the kids was sometimes easier than being at home.
What do you enjoy the most about the series? There’s more than one thing to enjoy: Getting out and enjoying our local community; being involved as a family in an active activity; and the atmosphere is so welcoming to everyone and anyone irrespective of age, ability or fitness level.
Most challenging part? Trying to maintain enthusiasm with a four-year-old who is distressed because we went to a different checkpoint to her friend.
How would you describe your team? Haha – we called ourselves the killer bats – it was a last-minute decision as we were running late to our first sign on – and the name stuck for 2014, but we are really “just in time”. We are a mum and three kids, aged 9, 7 and 4. I told the kids we were going on a treasure hunt – they were disappointed there was no treasure to find at the checkpoints, but when one of them won chocolate in a random draw prize things quickly changed.
Best achievement in the UAS to-date? Never losing points due to being back late.
Biggest lesson? Go for the highest points first.
Most memorable moment? Ummm, being voted cutest family during 2014 Series.
Tips for newbies? Come and try don’t think you aren’t fit enough – you can go as far and fast as you want to. It’s for anyone! Everyone will get SOMETHING out of the events. You don’t need to know how to read a compass, you can get away with minimal map reading skills and the fact that kids, dogs, babies and oldies can participate together is great. The prizes are a bonus and the end of season barbecue is a winner.
Goal for this year? To get to an event before the maps are handed out and have more time to prepare.
Last words? Get involved! UAS is a fantastic way to be involved in a active activity regardless of fitness level. The entire family can participate together in this very low cost activity.
Known as the “gun mixed team” this ensemble regularly changes and has fielded teammates from all over the world. We caught up with Kirsty Nash, who will be taking part again this year and – as you’ll see – this talented bunch is all about strategy.
“It’s a fantastic way to see a bit more of town – there all these areas around the city that we didn’t know existed before we started”
When did you do your first Urban Adventure Series? August 2013.
How did you discover it? Just by accident: Someone had mentioned it in passing and three of us thought we would have a go. We were woefully unprepared – we didn’t take any water with us, we didn’t realise that it would involve running around. We mostly thought it would involve a bit of map reading and a gentle wander around North Ward. It was a bit of a shock when we came third that night: it was then that the competitiveness kicked in!
What do you enjoy the most about the series? The variety of people taking part – everyone from families with push chairs, to scout groups, training partners, friends etc. There is a real community feel about the series, which means you can be as competitive – or not – as you like and still enjoy the event. It’s also great that the prizes are all random draws so everyone gets a chance to win something. Overall, it’s a fantastic way to see a bit more of town – there all these areas around the city that we didn’t know existed before we started.
Most challenging part? Deciding the route – do you go for big points up the hills, or more lower yielding checkpoints on the flat? It’s worth having a think about the strategy.
How would you describe your team? Ever changing – we started as an all-girls team and have morphed into a mixed team: We were Whatever 1.0 and are now up to version 3.0. There is also an international flavour: We’ve had team members from England, France, Brazil and Australia.
Best achievement in the UAS to-date? Winning the mixed category.
Biggest lesson? Deciding who is going to be the map reader for the night and sticking with it. Arguing over where to go next is a big time waster.
Tips for newbies? You get points for extra people you introduce to the event over the course of the series, so if you are coming up a bit short on points, this is a sure-fire winner. You lose points for being late getting back to the start, so take care to keep track of time so you don’t squander your hard-earned points. Finally, challenge checkpoints can gain you extra points, provide some entertainment and often give a good photo opportunity so they are worth working into your route!
Goal for this year? Have a laugh!
The first event of the four-week Urban Adventure Series starts on Wednesday, February 4 at Jezzine Barracks (5.20pm for registration, race is from 6pm-7pm). You don’t need to do all races in the series and you can join in at any time. Participants can do the challenge as individuals, couples and teams (2-5 people). Everyone leaves at the same time and must be back on time, otherwise penalties apply. There are random draws at 7.15pm with prizes from sponsors and a chance to chat at the end and compare stories. See our events calendar for more information.