Dear Amazing Race, Please Cast Us, or How We Won The Great Bus Race

I want to be on the Amazing Race.

I have never actually seen the show, but a few years ago there was an open casting call in New Mexico that Aaron and I went to.  After waiting for hours to get called up, we had to leave so I could go to my wedding dress appointment, and our dreams of Amazing Race contestantmanship were over.

However, after this weekend, I am a little more convinced of our reality adventure show qualifications.

Saturday, in a huge promotional effort, the city of Albuquerque’s public transit system hosted the Great Bus Race. 30 couples had to go on a city-wide scavenger hunt using only public transportation and the ability to walk/run.

I think this is a FANTASTIC way to market public transportation.  Before Saturday, I had never been on an Albuquerque City Bus. Buses are scary.  My car is less scary.

I’m not sure if it was purposeful, but about 90% of the contestants looked to be middle/upper class professionals,  in other words, people who don’t take the bus (nobody we talked to had ridden before). If this was their plan to introduce a different set of people to public transportation, then they succeeded in recruiting (I signed up after seeing a press release in our Business Weekly paper, and you had to have smart phone to participate).

They divided couples into three teams, and each team was given a different first destination.  All of the destinations were city owned landmarks (a museum, a skate park, a library, etc.), and you had to prove yourself by scanning a QR code with your phone.

{Pre-Race, ready to go…that coffee was not a good idea}

Our first destination was the skate park…only about 3 miles away.  We, along with a few other couples, decided to start running instead of waiting for the bus, at least for the first mile until we hit the bus changing intersection.

Turns out this made no difference because we got to the bus changing intersection at the same time as the people who waited for the bus initially.  Bummer.

As a group, we realized the next bus wouldn’t come for another 25 minutes.  Since it was only about 2 miles away, several of the couples started running, because 2 miles should take less than 25 minutes to run.

I knew we’d be doing some running, but I was thinking it would be minimal, so I didn’t really prepare adequately.  I didn’t eat a good running breakfast, I wasn’t hydrated, my Friday night dinner/imbibing wasn’t conducive to a morning run, and I brought my Ray Bans which are the worst sunglasses to run with (I ended up just carrying them in my hand). Luckily I wore my running shoes and sports bra, otherwise it wouldn’t have turned out so well.

To say that I felt like sh** during that 3 mile run would be an understatement. BUT, we still easily left the other people in our dust. Thank goodness for running.

I was looking later at the event twitter hashtag, and found this:

I’m not positive that she was talking about us, but, cool if she was and thought we were marathon runners!  Soon enough! (She’s also a senior reporter with New Mexico Business Weekly, so her twitter is pretty public).

So, we made it to the skate park, scanned our clue, allowed ourselves to be followed and filmed by the city’s videographer, and made it across the street to the bus stop just as everyone else approached the park gates.

And then the bus came. We were at the bus stop.  No one else was. 

This shall go down in history as the point in time that I was most thankful to be a trained half-marathon runner.  Our ability to run that stretch made the difference between us making that bus and having to wait half an hour for the next one.

{Bus Rider!}

We were obviously ahead of everyone on our team, but we didn’t know how the people on the other two teams were doing.  We continued to hustle just in case.

We made it to our second destination after a bus transfer, and our friend the video man was there to greet us again.

Turns out, it would probably be pretty annoying being on a reality show, and I give kudos to all those people who don’t act completely awkward in front of a camera.  Because I was awkward.  If this video ever surfaces, it will be of Aaron scanning QR codes, annoyed that homeboy was right in his business, and me looking confused at the camera saying, “Hello!”

{Hanging out at the bus stop}

Our next destination, the Albuquerque Museum was way across town, so we jumped on a bus and headed to a transfer point that was in a neighborhood formally called “The War Zone.”  We survived without getting jumped, and made it to where we needed to be. We ran from the bus stop to the museum (half a mile), then to the next destination, The Botanic Gardens (another 1.1 miles).

It was close to noon, so it was pretty warm, and I had maybe 5 sips of water in addition to my coffee (less water means less trying to figure out which gas station in the ghetto might have the cleanest bathroom).  This is not the way to run.  But sometimes, the will to win The Great Bus Race is so great, that even heat and dehydration can’t stop you.

Of course our friend the videographer was there at the Botanic Gardens waiting for us (he told us he was pretty sure we were in 1st place).  After a 25 minute wait for the train, we thought everyone would surely catch up to us.  They didn’t.  We hopped on once the train came, chugged along to the zoo, scanned our QR codes, and then ran about a mile to the next destination.

{Train rider!}

We were right in the middle of downtown (lots of people), I was disgusting from running all over the city during the middle of the day, and so hungry and so in need of water.  I’m sure we were judged.  When we scanned in the clue, it told us that we only had one more destination, and it was a few blocks away! Food and water and victory were in our future! (Altogether we ran about 6 miles).

We sprinted toward the finish line after a scattered search trying to find it (it wasn’t really in plain sight), and we finished in a rather anticlimactic end because the event people weren’t expecting anyone to cross that early and hadn’t finished setting up.

So… WE WON!!!

In fact, we broke all event records! We were even interviewed for the news, but I don’t think they actually aired it (thank goodness because the awkwardness is too much).  UPDATE: My coworker just said she saw me on the news.  I still can’t find evidence of it anywhere though. Our ability to run 3 miles in a row helped us clinch the title of best little Great Bus Race riders in the land!

I think the next couple in was about 20 minutes behind us.

They told us we could do whatever and be back in about an hour for the awards ceremony, so we celebrated with pizza and beer!

{WHY do I feel the need to geek out every photo???}

It was a really fun experience, and a really creative marketing tool for the transit company.  The buses were very clean and very efficient. One of the lines even had library books for little kids to read while they ride! (GREAT detail!).  For a $2 Day Pass, bus riding is much cheaper than driving the SUV around town.  As promised, just about every landmark is minutes away from a bus stop! I didn’t ever feel unsafe (though, I was with Aaron the whole time).  The only part I’d be worried about is waiting at some of the bus stops which lack the security and cleanliness of the buses themselves, but we didn’t have any problems at any of the stops we waited at.

You can read the press release HERE

So, in conclusion, Albuquerque buses aren’t so bad.  And being a trained runner can come in handy in the strangest situations.  And if anyone knows the folks who cast the Amazing Race, please let them know that the Lavenders would be willing participants!

17 thoughts on “Dear Amazing Race, Please Cast Us, or How We Won The Great Bus Race

    • Thanks! And I feel like this should get us a spot! (Even though they have to do much harder things in cities that they don’t know).

    • It was awesome! I’ve lived here almost my entire life, so that really helped. Any other city, and I would have been lost on the first leg!

  1. It has always been a dream of mine to be on the Amazing Race!! I did a race called the Great Urban Race. Have you heard of that? It’s similar to the bus race you did, I think. You would LOVE it! Good job for being first, you marathon runners, you! : )

  2. Pingback: Weigh-In Wednesday May 16th: Lovely Weather We Are Having! « 2 Fat Nerds

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