Day 1, Stage 1: Washington D.C.

16Jul07

The race started with a handful of clues at the National Mall. There are 8 teams in the race, and much to our surprise, one of the other teams is San Francisco based, featuring one lone Hoosier to boot. Even more bizarre is that this Hoosier is a Rose-Hulman graduate, as are 4 of us. This is clearly the highest concentration of Rose-Hulman alumni at anyplace outside of Terre Haute in the history of the institution.

We trecked all over the mall, and moved through the clues pretty well. At one point, there was a scroll hidden in the nook of a tree, which proved to be a bottleneck for most of the teams, as many of us ended up there at the same time. Scott was sharp enough to actually find it and we moved on to the last clue.

After solving that clue at the World War II memorial, the instructions had go from there to the checkpoint for this stage, a little east of the White House. We noticed one of the other teams 100 yards or so ahead of us as we left the memorial. We didn’t want to be in last place, so we decided to pick up the pace and jog as best we could in an effort to see if we could pass them. Needless to say, it was quite a bit further to the finish line than we anticipated. According to Google, it’s about 5000 feet from the memorial to where we finished.

Sprint to Victory

On the map here you can see the path. As we approached the finish line, we were pretty close to the the other team, and they decided to head up the street to be good little citizens and utilize the crosswalk. We decided to exploit this law-abiding weakness by jaywalking across a busy street (green icon) about half a block in front of a manned cop car (yellow icon). Fortunately, our gamble paid off, the D.C. SWAT team didn’t descend upon us, and we made it to the end one minute ahead of team Bloodshot.

Much to our surprise, we were the first team to finish. Boo-yah. We can take comfort knowing that we led for at least part of the race, regardless of what happens over the next 6 days. We’ve been paying for our “run for the finish line” since then, with sore muscles for all, a swollen knee for Jason, and a sore ankle for Mike. But hey, at least we held a one minute advantage in a 7 day race. Take that.

A righteous celebration consisting of Vienna Beef hotdogs, cold drinks, and complaining about getting too old jog slow for “almost a whole mile” ensued as we started our drive for Richmond, Virginia, and the next leg of the race.

Here’s a smaller map of our entire journey around D.C. for this stage. Total distance is about 5 miles.

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Honest Abe had a secret message for us. He told us: “Head for the woods, wander about like fools for an hour, and then return to the first tree you looked at. It is there where you will find the clue, hidden in an obvious spot. Curse your idiocy afterwards.” Not wanting to disappoint the Captain, that’s just what we did.

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