City Chase is like The Amazing Race, but real — and it’s giving one New York-based Flavorpill reader the chance to enter a team of two in its upcoming competition (a $190 value). Read on for an interview with Jason Erkes, President, Chicago Sport and Social Club, City Chase USA, and leave us a comment explaining why we should pick your team to compete on Saturday. Note: Flavorpill will be competing too, so this is your chance to take us on in activities like strip bowling and cow milking as Manhattan is converted into one giant obstacle course.
Flavorpill: How did you come up with the idea for City Chase? Were you inspired by reality TV?
Jason Erkes: City Chase originated in Canada where Canadians weren’t eligible for a lot of the popular reality shows like Fear Factor and Amazing Race. The event has grown to 15 countries with 35 City Chase events this year giving everyday people the ability to push their comfort zones physically, mentally, and sometimes even gastronomically. Across the states people have loved the event and the challenges within each city.
FP: Were you any good at scavenger hunts as a child?
JE: I was good at scavenger hunts and obstacle courses, but those were mainly in the neighborhood or backyard. I can’t remember any that got me wet, dirty, naked, and made me eat something that wasn’t on a regular dinner table.
FP: How do you orchestrate such a massive event with the city that’s hosting it? Are any spots ever a nightmare?
JE: Most cities are very cooperative with City Chase, as it helps people discover hidden things in the city and highlights public transportation. Because everyone spreads out and goes in different directions after they get their clue sheet, it has a relatively low impact on the city. We sit down with a map and look at local assets such as waterfronts, unique types of performance venues, and landmarks, and start planning out what we want to do. The only real “nightmares” we have are when we want to do something like repel down a building or zipline off a bridge, and the city officials just sit across the table and stare at us.
FP: Who comes up with the ChasePoints? What are some typical ones?
JE: We have event teams in each city that help us plan the course and challenges. There is nothing “typical” about any ChasePoint, other than the fact it will push your comfort zones. We have our fair mix of bootcamps, strip activities, reptile challenges, gross eating challenges, and water challenges. Some cities let us push things a little farther than others — like our repel down Navy Pier towers in Chicago. The winning teams from each event will advance to the North American Championships in Quebec City, all expenses paid.
FP: Why did you decide not to let participants use alternate forms of transportation during the events? Has anyone ever tried to creatively side-step this rule?
JE: As an “Urban Adventure Series,” we try to highlight things in a metro city. What’s more urban than public transportation? The courses are typically laid out where teams can mix a foot race and transit to get where they need to go. City Chase is not about being able to run the fastest or being in the best shape; it’s about thinking on your feet, strategizing how you are going to get to each ChasePoint, and using the urban landscape to your advantage. That rule is black and white, so we don’t see any “creative” side stepping. Either you went on foot or on transit or you didn’t, and the latter is definitely cheating.
FP: Are you expanding City Chase to other cities? Where do you dream about launching next?
JE: Every year, we look at which cities have a creative landscape and a young, active population, and put together our schedule. We hope to continue to grow City Chase across the states, both in the number of events and the number of people that participate in each one.
Enter now to win a full two-person registration for City Chase in NYC this Saturday, July 25! Leave your comment below telling us why your team should be picked, and be sure to leave a valid email address, so we can contact you if you win.