From 2007 to 2009, AROC Sport organised an annual ‘Rat Race, or urban adventure race.  These events were a mix of traditional adventure racing and an urban scavenger hunt!  Each team could choose what activities they would complete, how to best get around the course and how hard they really wanted to go. Over 12 hours (or 6 hours for the shorter ‘Mouse Chase’ option) each team of 3 tried to collect as many checkpoints as possible and complete as many challenges as possible. Checkpoints and challenges were worth different points, and the winner was the team that collected the most points. Teams would navigate between checkpoints by foot, mountain bike and kayak.  There were also options to use public transport. In these events, competitors got a chance to see the night lights, chase the kangaroos and have plenty of opportunities to stop for a coffee, a 3-course meal or a quick take-away on the run.  Each event also included an amazing array of ‘unusual’ challenges such as pancake making (and eating!), tree planting, water sliding, ten pin bowling, kick biking, curry past making, school exams and more. There was a lot of strategy and a lot of fun involved.

A couple of race reports are provided below.

iRULE 12 Hour Urban Debacle – 31 March 2007, Canberra.

Race Report: David Baldwin, Julie Quinn and Randall Fitzsimon mosied their way around Canberra, even stopping for 45 minutes to grab some lunch and wait for the bowling checkpoint to open. They didn’t catch a bus, instead choosing to run an additional 10km and still convincingly won the race. Meanwhile, Dufflecoat Supreme’s Adam Hunter, Steve Dowlan and Karl Strode-Penny were busting themselves trying to clear the course. They flew in the scrabble and pizza eating challenges, but took an unwise route to crawl through the ‘Kid City’ and got sucked into stopping by Karl’s house to pick up a few items for the bonus points and also check on whether his twins had been born yet. Too many detours put them in second place. They only just beat the all female Control Freaks – Heather Logie, Susie Sprague and Selina Stoute. If the girls had only read their instructions properly to see that the bonus items – a few nuts and bolts to be collected along the way – could actually total 300 and not 50 points! 

Of Mice and Men: a race report from the Rat Race and Mouse Chase 2009 edition

Contrary to last year, the final challenge for the Rat Race 2009 edition – a dazzling Hair Show that took place at Glebe Park at 8PM – didn’t upset the rankings of any of the top 3 teams. Team D1, D2 and T3, made up of former elite orienteer Danielle Winslow, former elite netballer Danealle Lilley and top Australian triathlete and Olympian Simon “Thomo” Thompson, had already cemented first place when they also took out the crowd-judged hair show honours. Indeed they were the obvious crowd favourite with Thomo looking like something many women in the audience would have liked to take home to have as a hallway statue and D1 and D2 looking stunning as always. Their winning score including the 200 point hair show bonus was 2,810 points. They were followed by team Pro Mac Lite (Trent Birkett, Pete Garbutt, Michael Rainbird) who were the first all male team with 2,380 points.
Earlier that day, many a male competitor crossing the finish line was seen parading in pink ladies undies in a bid to rake in some more points thanks to this bonus item on their scavenger hunt list. Local Canberra shops probably sold more pink underwear in a day than they had in the past three months and will undoubtedly have picked up on this new “fashion trend”: they will be ordering larger quantities of stock in the future!

For most teams, it was not so much about a podium finish, but rather about experiencing as many fun and quirky activities as possible: the water sliding and inflatable obstacle at Big Splash was definitely a crowd’s favourite on this beautiful Canberra day, as was the less-conventional pole-dancing class at FitSistas which saw competitors rotate their hips in style and perform the oh-so-sexy fireman routine! The more brainy teams performed well at a game of ‘Take Two’ at Satis Café or filling out quizzes at Canberra Grammar School, and around the Embassy part of Canberra. The more active challenges included kayaking, foot orienteering at Yarralumla and a mountain bike rally in Majura Pines which left some teams struggling a bit as to how to follow the directions! The now-traditional Iron Gut Challenge lead to some surprising mixes like meat pie with lollies, and some spiked up concoctions including Midori, Cointreau and Rum! Friends of Mount Majura and Barnardos welcomed an influx of willing volunteers who cleaned, washed and helped out in many ways. And there was something for the artsy types too with some future Australian idols giving their best shot at Spicks n’ Specks and each team putting their painting skills (or lack thereof) at completing a patchwork artwork. The masterpiece was sold at an auction later that night with proceeds going to Hartley Lifecare, the charity partner for the event.