Team Edmonton’s James Dean and Team Ottawa’s Chris McQuinn began the 2012 City Chase Canadian Championships over the weekend in Whitehorse as competitors. They ended the urban adventure race as teammates and champions.
In a first-time occurrence in City Chase, their partners were eliminated during a paintball challenge, so Dean and McQuinn combined to make a mixed Edmonton-Ottawa team.
They placed first with a winning time of 36 hours and 20 minutes.
“We were quite upset, obviously, each losing a teammate,” said Dean, whose partner David Quaschnick was ousted. “We’re still upset about it, but it’s still just a game. Still, it was tough.
“One of City Chase’s mottos is, ‘Expect the unexpected.’ They definitely threw that at us early this morning.”
“It’s bitter-sweet,” said McQuinn. “I race with Scott (Chisholm) all the time but the way the race works is like that: you’ve got roll with the punches.”
Ten teams, representing seven provincial capitals, competed in the event that organizers call “the world’s largest urban adventure series.”
City Chase creators drew their inspiration for the annual event, started in 2004, from the CBS program the Amazing Race. If the City Chase championship was a television show, there would be enough material to fill a season.
Beginning Friday morning at 4 a.m., teams went through fireman challenges, mountain biked to Mount Sima to go through the WildPlay obstacle course and down the zip line, built rafts and rode them down the Yukon River, dug for treasure in the Carcross Desert, had a chili cook-off – the list goes on and on.
There were also some quintessentially Yukon challenges, such as gold panning, dry-land dog mushing, Dene games and fly-fishing.
“The people of Whitehorse really stepped up and helped us out,” said Dean. “We had one woman let us into her house and we got in a bubble bath with candles, because we needed a video of that. She allowed us to make a meal in her kitchen, and we got a video of that. And they gave us a newspaper because we needed a picture of me reading a paper at a bus stop in only my underwear.”
Crossing the finish line at the S.S. Klondike Saturday afternoon marked Dean’s fourth time winning the event in five attempts, placing second last year. He and partner Quaschnick also won the world championships in Rome, Italy, in 2007.
“This is the most adventurous City Chase national championship I’ve done,” said Dean. “It’s raw, in the wild, out there taking advantage of the incredible terrain Yukon has.
“It was very hard on the body but beautiful on the eyes.”
It was McQuinn’s sixth time in the national championship and his first time winning.
“It was great,” said McQuinn. “We’ve never raced in a city before where the outdoors are so accessible. It’s amazing. This place is a gem.
“We kind of underestimated all the outdoor things you can do in Whitehorse.”
Team Vancouver – John Markez and past champion Nicki Rehn – placed second with a time of 37 hours and 40 minutes. Team Montreal – Alain Lacasse and Brigitte Nehma – took third with a time of 38 hours, 55 minutes.
The Yukon was not represented in the event. Organizers felt locals would have too big an advantage in the race with in depth knowledge of Whitehorse, like knowing the quickest route from Rotary Park to the Yukon Brewing brewery, as teams were forced to learn.
The City Chase organization has not ruled out the possibility of holding a qualifying event in Whitehorse, like those held in the seven cites represented, in the future, said Dave Nash, a partner with InField Marking Group, the company behind City Chase.
“It’s possible for sure,” said Nash. “Typically speaking, we’ve held this in cities that are a minimum of 150,000 – typically more like four or 500,000 – because there’s a volume perspective to hosting a regional event.
“Certainly there are regional events close by, in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary (that Yukoners can enter).”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org