Urban Dare brings 'Amazing Race'-style adventure to streets of Oklahoma City

Test your Oklahoma City know-how, physical prowess and trivia skills in a few comprehensive hours with a turn at the Urban Dare " an adventure race that challenges teams of two with a series of clues that will show participants a whole new side of their home turf.   


Although September marks the first-ever OKC stop for the Urban Dare, the race is not a new event. Kevin Keefe, a fitness enthusiast and fun seeker originally from Washington, D.C., created the nationwide race in 2005 as a way for runners to break away from the usual 5K or half-marathon events.

"I was trying to create my ideal race," Keefe said. "I had done every type of race imaginable, but there wasn't much like this."

The self-proclaimed trivia nut envisioned combining his love for solving with his need to stay active, and the result was the Urban Dare. The concept of the event is simple: Teams are presented with a list of 12 clues for locations in Oklahoma City. Decipher the clues, find the checkpoints, fulfill the tasks and, most importantly, do it faster than the other teams involved.

"If you're a fan of 'The Amazing Race,' you'll want to do the Urban Dare," Keefe said. "I essentially created an interactive race with the city as my landscape."

When Keefe first began Urban Dare, the race took place in only two cities: Washington, D.C., and Boston. The following year, the event found a place in 10 major cities, and this year, the event includes 30 cities across the U.S. Winners of local races receive a three-day Royal Caribbean cruise, which doubles as the setting for a grand-finale Super Dare in February 2010.

The Oklahoma City Urban Dare begins and ends at Tapwerks Ale House & Café, 121 E. Sheridan in Bricktown, on Sept. 26, and where it will lead is a mystery until start time at noon. Race literature approximates the total distance to be around 5 miles, depending on a team's chosen path. Teams can navigate on foot or by public transportation, and each stop on the race will challenge participants to a mental, physical or silly dare.

Examples include manageable tasks like solving a riddle, climbing a wall, or shooting a few baskets. An official race stamp on the team "passport" proves the completion. Race essentials include an Internet-enabled cell phone, digital camera, map of the city, notepad and a pen.

Rudy Cassol and his wife, Julie, of Irving, Texas, competed in the Dallas installment of the Urban Dare in May, finishing an impressive seventh out of approximately 80 teams, with a time of just under two-and-a-half hours.

"We have done plenty of races and were kind of bored with the typical 10K or half-marathon," Cassol said. "Any race that takes your mind off the fact that you're running is a winner with me."

Strategies for the Urban Dare are as varied as the participant, but success for the Cassols, who raced alongside a pair of friends, came from quick-handed partners stationed in front of computers.

"We called them our 'Johnny Google Fingers,'" said Cassol of their off-site, Internet-equipped friends. "We didn't have cell phones with Internet, so we relied completely on them."

From there, it was a matter of choosing the path, and according to the now-experienced Cassol, the route makes all the difference. "I think the first place that you go is key," he said. "We went to the closest place first, but then we had to do a lot of backtracking to hit the other locations."

Many racers choose to solve all the clues before pounding the pavement, while others try to solve as they travel. And while some speedy teams finish in two hours, there are plenty that clock in closer to a more leisurely four. There is no perfect way to race, as long as participants enjoy the journey. And with a family option, teams of four can take to the streets, as long as one team member is 16 years old or younger.

"It is a great physically and mentally challenging race," Cassol said. "The mental aspect and strategy portion keeps your mind off the monotony of endurance exercise."

And that type of diversion is just what Keefe was aiming for with the creation of his popular event. "I've done triathlons, marathons, even sailboat races," he said. "But this is a race that anyone can do." "Andrea Miller

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