There are triathlons, there are treasure hunts, and there are adventure races. But the Urban Dare might just top them all as far as pure fun, and it comes to Denver for the third straight year on Saturday.
This urban adventure challenge is part endurance and speed, and part smarts and ingenuity. It’s this combination of skills that drives the victorious roughly five miles in total distance through the city and past obstacles like the “bubble dare” on their way to a sub-two-hour finish.
The “bubble dare,” one of many unique challenges during the race, requires a team member to plunge his or her face into whipped cream searching to find bubble gum. Once found, the competitor has to actually blow a bubble, which is harder than it sounds with white puffy sugar in the way.
“People always complain that the whipped cream changes the gum’s consistency, so it’s harder to blow bubbles,” says Urban Dare founder Kevin Keefe. Another favorite of Kevin’s: the “frozen socks dare,” in which socks are soaked in water, frozen, then worn by competitors.
Keefe founded the race in 2005 with only two competitions throughout the U.S.
“I participated in every race you can imagine,” recalls Keefe. “I started thinking about what kind of race we could do. At the time, there wasn’t really anything like this.”
The lineup of cities grew to 10 the following year and has since blossomed to 30 races across the country in 2010.
“It’s probably the biggest growing genre of racing in the U.S.,” Keefe claims. “I think a lot has to do with Amazing Race and other stuff on TV.”
In fact, the Urban Dare is self-described as a “1-day Amazing Race.” The largest Urban Dare is in Washington, DC, where Keefe unveiled the concept and upwards of 800 people compete. In Denver, there are about 200 entrants anticipated for this weekend’s race.
The rules are as follows: Teams of two solve a set of 12 clues to find checkpoints where they must take photos or perform dares in a race to the finish. Competitors may call friends or use smart phones for help solving clues. It is up to the teams to figure out the best order to complete each of the checkpoints.
Winners have typically won in less than two hours, so that’s the initial measuring stick. Most other teams will finish within four hours. In the end, the total distance covered is about 10K, though competitors may use public transportation in addition to foot travel. The twisting route will typically not veer more than a couple of miles from the starting point.
Registration is still open and will remain so until the start of the race. It’s the last chance to compete in a Colorado-based Urban Dare until next year, as Denver is currently the state’s only city with such an event. That could change, however.
“I could see expanding in Colorado,” says Keefe.
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