Thursday, 11 September 2014

Thursday's Theme of the Day: Amazing Race

The Amazing Race reality television show is like a huge scavenger hunt with challenges and clues along the way.  Instead of receiving a list of objects to find or places to go to at the start of the game, clues are given throughout the game that lead each team to a particular destination where a task, challenge or clue is waiting to lead the team to the next destination.  Hosting your own Amazing Race type of party can be a bit of work but is well worth the effort and will leave your guests amazed and happy.

In creating your Amazing Race party it is a good idea to be familiar with the terms and rules of the actual Amazing Race television show.  The television show has several teams of two people racing around the world.  The amount of people you have on your teams and the distance you want to travel is totally up to you.

In The Amazing Race, Route Markers are uniquely-colored flags that mark the places where teams must go. Most Route Markers are attached to boxes that contain clue envelopes, but some may mark the place where the teams must go in order to complete tasks, or may be used to line a course that the teams must follow. When creating your Amazing Race, Route Markers may not be practical or necessary.
When teams start a leg, arrive at Route Markers, or complete certain tasks, they normally receive an envelope that contains their next clue.  As the creator, you can make these clues as easy or as difficult as you want.  You can make them riddles for participants to figure out or make them poetic.

Route Information Clues instruct the teams where to go next. Such a clue usually provides only the name of the team's next destination; it is up to the teams to figure out how to get there. Besides route information, clues can be for tasks or challenges. Be creative in thinking of tasks or challenges for the players.

There are several different kinds of tasks or challenges you can use in your Amazing Race: Mental Tasks (tasks that require mental skill and the ability to solve different problems including puzzle solving, riddles, trivia quizzes and brain teasers), Physical Tasks (tasks that require running, jumping, climbing etc. as in a relay or treasure hunt) and Mystery Food (an Amazing Race will not be complete without having these around. Some ideas include raw vegetable shake, jalapeno peppers, raw eggs, etc.).
Here are some examples of Amazing Race challenges you can incorporate into your next party:

Mental Tasks
Riddles: Nothing beats a hard to solve riddle, especially if the players would need to solve ten difficult ones!
Word Hunt: Create one that would fill an entire paper. It will make the players go crazy in finding hidden words!
Picture Puzzle: Print out a picture (it could go with the theme of you party or an abstract art) in a huge paper and paste it on a cardboard. Randomly cut it into different pieces and you’ve got an instant puzzle for them to solve!
Difficult Tasks
Send me a text message: Have a rule that the players aren’t supposed to bring their phones and wallets during the race, this would mean that they have to convince strangers to lend their phones and send a text message.
Surf a site: Open a website that contains a password to the next challenge. This would also involve the help of strangers or creative access to a computer with the web.
Refill the bottles: position small soda bottles (could be 5 bottles per team) a few yards away from the nearest water source (bathroom or wash station). The task is to refill the bottles using only their bodies or clothing from the source to the small bottles.
Gold coins hunt: Hide toy gold coins around the perimeter of the race and the challenge is to find 20 or so coins before moving to the next round.
 Mystery Food
Raw vegetable shake: Combine in a blender some raw vegetables (bitter gourd, okra, etc.), water and blend thoroughly. Instant vegetable shake! Make one tall glass serving per player.
Mixed Ingredients: Think of foods that when combined together would be gross, although edible to eat. For example, combine Jell-O, corn chips, mashed bananas, gummy bears, canned sardines and mix well. Top with chocolate syrup mad you’ve got an exciting menu!
A Detour presents the team with a decision between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. Typically, one task is less physically demanding than the other but is tedious or requires some amount of time or thinking to complete, while the other is usually a more physically demanding or frightening option that, depending on the team's ability, may take less time to complete. The decision about which task to attempt lies solely with the team. A team may choose to switch tasks as many times as they wish with no penalty other than the time lost in attempting the tasks and travelling between task locations. Unless otherwise instructed, teams can work together to finish a Detour option. Once a team has completed one of the tasks, they are given the clue to their next location.

A Roadblock is a task that only one team member may perform. Normally, once the racer completes the Roadblock, the team receives their clue to the next Route Marker.  Early seasons allowed teams to distribute the Roadblocks between the team members as they desired, which allowed one team member to do nearly all the Roadblocks. This was changed in Season 6, which limited a single teammate to a maximum number of Roadblocks s/he could complete, thus forcing his or her partner to perform roughly half of the Roadblocks, as well.

Pit Stops are the final destination in each leg of the race, and where all non-eliminated teams go after checking in.  Each Pit Stop is a mandatory rest period which allows teams to "eat, sleep, and mingle" with each other.

In the Amazing Race TV show teams are eliminated after rounds of play.  As the creator of your game, elimination rounds are not necessary.  If you were to eliminate players after certain rounds, you would have some pretty bored guests while they wait for the rest of the party to finish the game!

To prepare your Amazing Race, create an outline of how the race will go from start to end. Include the things needed for each station.  Visualize the route and consider the possibilities of transportation.  The number and size of your teams may be dictated by your transportation needs.  To save the hassle of having to arrange the transportation, your Amazing Race can take place at a mall or shopping center so that all of the destinations are within walking distance.  You can also choose to have Detours, Road Blocks or Pit Stops.
It is a good idea, where possible, to ask the stores and business that you are planning to include in your Amazing Race for permission.  Download a sample follow up letter for businesses here to be given after you have asked their permission to include them in your Amazing Race party.  You may need to solicit the help of several people to facilitate the activities at many if not all of the destinations.  Some business owners are happy to be the helper but many are not.  Keep in mind that businesses are more likely to be cooperative if you are not interfering in the running of their business or better yet if you are purchasing their service or product as part of your game.  A thank you note or card to the business after the party is also a great idea.

Click here to Download a sample Amazing Race that was done at a shopping center. There were 6 teams with 3 girls on each team.  Each team was given colored tee-shirts at the start of the race. This helped the shop owners more easily identify them.  There were 14 clues. To save having to have too many helpers the list was divided in half and helpers were assigned 2 different locations, one in the first half of the game and one in the second half.  Because the entire game was in a mall area, the clues were given to each team in a different order to avoid all 6 teams showing up all at once at one location. For example, team one had clues #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and so on and team two started with clue #2, and then went to 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 1 and team started with clue # 3, and then went to 4, 5, 6, 7, 1, 2 (although they had no idea that the order was mixed up).

It is surprising what is available at seemingly normal stores. In this Amazing Race the music store had a gallery with fancy string instruments, like a watermelon ukelele, the outdoor store had a climbing wall at the back of the store, the dentist office gave the participants dental floss that they had to use at another location, the craft store had a craft room where the participants were allowed to make a creation before moving on, and the golf store even had a putting green!

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