My knees are aching and my mind is still racing, but I’ve never had a better adventure through the streets of Richmond. The only thing that could have made me happier about Saturday’s Richmond Adventure Race would have been winning a cash prize for our team and our chosen attraction, Maymont. Still, coming in sixth out of 37 teams was not too bad.
The annual event has been described as The Amazing Race meets National Treasure, but I’ve never watched The Amazing Race and National Treasure reminds me of government conspiracies and torch-lit tunnels. To me, the Richmond Adventure Race is an amazing amount of fun and a perfect combination of scavenger hunt, code cracking and Richmond trivia mixed with exploration, energy and endurance.
We received our first set of clues at 10 a.m., and as the bugle sounded, each team unrolled their parchment in unison. Almost immediately, the crowd dispersed – pounding the pavement, climbing stairs or whispering in corners. It didn’t take long to realize that the competition would be fierce. Maybe not Hunger Games fierce, but a battle to the end amid soldiers armed with clipboards, maps, quick wit and clever planning. The game was physical, too, as we raced other teams from station to station for new clues and puzzle pieces. I’m no marathon runner (although there was at least one team of runners among us), but our team, Four Score, kept up a steady, fast walking pace, due in large part to my husband’s long-legged and determined stride. I even found myself jogging (practically unheard of) as we wound our way through the canal walk, into the streets of Shockoe Bottom, up and down the hills of RVA, chasing and being chased by other teams in pursuit of the prize and the bragging rights.
The game can be played for the sake of enjoyment too. One of Saturday’s teams included a cute tween girl, decked out in a royal blue tutu, who chose to do the race for her birthday. My 10- and 7-year-old girls would also love to play, and even if you don’t have kids, a leisurely pace could be just as much fun. The clues lead you through some of Richmond’s extensive history and introduce you to some of its best attractions.
This year’s event was held in conjunction with Civil War and Emancipation Day – a signature event of The Future of Richmond’s Past (a collaborative effort to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and Emancipation) – and started at the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. Along the way we met Henry “Box” Brown (played by J. Ron Fleming), who escaped slavery in a 2-foot by 3-foot box shipped from Richmond to Philadelphia in 1849. We saw many historic markers, the Reconciliation Statue, the site of Lumpkin’s Jail and the USS Virginia anchor on display outside of the White House of the Confederacy, next to the Museum of the Confederacy. We studied sculptures near the Virginia Capitol, and finally, we celebrated the day at Siné, an Irish pub and restaurant on Cary Street in Shockoe Slip. Between our finishing time (11:40 a.m.) and the awards at Siné (1 p.m.), we had time to go back to the canal to check out the newly-created artwork on display during the RVA Street Art Festival.
The “adventure” in the Richmond Adventure Race – codes, puzzles, poems and riddles – is the work of Ravenchase Adventures, a company that offers custom, private hunts as well as several public events throughout the year.
Carla Murray is Assistant Director of Marketing & PR for Maymont. She is a Richmond native and a Virginia Commonwealth University graduate. She lives in New Kent with her husband, two daughters, a dog, a cat and a turtle. Some of her favorite activities include letterboxing, long walks, Cirque du Soleil shows, wine tastings, reading novels, and spending time with family and friends.