Winning Where to Next? Race
On Saturday, August 4th, W2NR held its inaugural race in Washington, D.C. With several checkpoints scattered across The District, twenty-five teams embarked on a city-wide adventure with the guarantee of a unique experience and with hopes of taking home $2000 in cash. Racers of all skill levels from near and far came to take our challenge, and only one team took home the prize money. We were able sit with Marc and Frank, long-time college friends and 1st Place finishers of W2NR DC. We thought we’d share our interview with Team Humble Bundle (as they called themselves) to provide firsthand insight for future W2NR racers!
1. What were your initial expectations going into the race?
Frank: I had never seen The Amazing Race or any game show like that. My concept of it came from my experience having done scavenger hunts and also having seen National Treasure. Looking for clues and finding monuments all kind of seems like National Treasure to me. I thought that everyone was going to be super intense about it, and there were certainly some intense, athletic people competing. However, there was a lot of room in the structure of the race for people who were not competing for the athletic challenge, but were doing it just for the stimulation of having your own adventure and getting out and spending time with your friends. So, there were a lot of different levels and a very wide range of people who were participating in this event. I went into it with a little bit more of a competitive mindset and left wanting to tell all my friends because I thought that everyone could really get in on this trend.
2. Did you prepare before the race?
Marc: We each did our own thing. We rode our bikes a little bit to prepare, and I looked up a few things in the area to anticipate possible checkpoints.
Frank: No. I did not prepare at all in any way apart from my normal biking commute.
3. How did you get from checkpoint to checkpoint throughout the race?
Marc: We tried to exclusively use bikes. We knew that we could save a lot of time traversing the parts of D.C. that are mostly pedestrian pathways and some of the major roads by bringing our bikes right to the location and being able to get on them right away. That turned out to be the case. Thankfully, most of the monuments are easily connected by bike routes. We did have to give up the bikes for the very last clue. Getting from the Mall area to the Zoo would have been a little bit too arduous on bicycles, so we decided to take an Uber.
4. What advice would you give to other racers looking to compete in Where to Next? Race in the future?
Marc: I would say knowledge of the city both in terms of landmarks and what sort of connectivity of routes there are available. A really well-connected metro or rail system is going to be a huge advantage if it brings you right to your checkpoint location. Otherwise, the personal bike or motorbike are going to be your best options because they can go on routes that cars can’t go sometimes. Also, we lost a lot of time trying to solve clues by overthinking it, so the best advice I can give is to take a deep breath and keep in mind that the end goal here is to have fun and take everything as seriously as it needs to be taken.
Frank: Don’t be afraid to cooperate with other teams. That’s where we had the most fun, and usually it’s mutually beneficial because it’ll put you and those other people both in front of the competition. We helped other people out for the very first clue and also one in the middle, and I’m glad we did. I think in the end, there’s probably going to be a pattern of teams that are the most successful tend to be the teams that cooperate the most because they’ll be able to share some of the load with other people.
5. What was your favorite part of the race?
Marc: Honestly, I had a lot of fun interacting with the other teams throughout the race. Looking across the Natural History Museum looking at a team that is also seconds away from getting the same clue as you is heart-pumping, but also puts a smile on your face. It was cool being able to see other teams’ videos being posted to Instagram throughout the race because it really humanized the whole experience. If you’re on your own, just the two of you, you still realize that you’re in a race with a bunch of other teams, which is really cool.
Frank: I really liked the Zoo for this one. There was kind of a land navigation component to it. It felt like a treasure hunt. It totally fed into that adventure narrative for the whole race. There’s a lot of different adventure races nowadays that usually involve physical obstacles or getting dirty. But, this was more along the lines of a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt which is a different take on that.
6. If you could race in another city, where would it be and why?
Marc: I would love to try one that’s less touristy for the challenge of really unique places that would require a little bit of investigation. For that reason, I think I would like to do a race somewhere like Charleston or another mid-sized city, or even something in the Midwest like Toledo or Cleveland. Something that’s not the first thing that you’d think of in terms of tourism.
Frank: I would like to race in any city that I haven’t visited. I would like to go there for the first time and experience it with Where to Next? Race because I feel like it’s a really good survey of the city. You pick up a lot of great factoids. For me, I’ve never been to Portland, Nashville, or Austin, so it would be cool to do any of those upcoming races.
7. As a local, what would motivate you to do a race in your city?
Marc (has lived in DC for 1 year): I think the competition alone is enough for me as a very competitive person. Also, working in the city but having to travel for work a lot, I don’t often get the opportunity to see a lot of the sights in DC that everyone knows DC for. So doing something like this is kind of a way to cover my own bases.
Frank (has lived in DC for 3 years): I think almost at every clue, I learned things I didn’t know. I learned a lot of fun facts about different landmarks. I experienced the city in a much more exciting way than I would normally if I’m taking family/friends around town. This was something that I did with another local that we both really enjoyed a lot. It’s a way of experiencing the city in a way that we absolutely have not had yet.