Whitehorse will be the scene of an amazing race this September.
In fact, the 2012 City Chase Canadian Championships, “the world’s largest urban adventure series,” was directly inspired by the CBS program the Amazing Race.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t an inspiration for what this is,” said Dave Nash, vice-president of City Chase. “We saw the evolution of reality TV coming and in Canada we wanted to be a part of it – not so much as from a business perspective, but we wanted to be able to enjoy it ourselves. We wanted to give Canadians the opportunity to do something like that ourselves.”
Two-person teams, representing most provincial capitals, will be in the Yukon when Whitehorse hosts the event Sept. 28-30, it was announced Wednesday at the MacBride Museum.
Like in the CBS program, teams must travel to certain locations by various means – everything from running, canoeing, swimming or even public transit. Once there, they will face “chase point challenges,” ranging from brain-teasers to talent shows and everything in between.
“Those are going to test them with either physical, intellectual, humorous or adventurous activities,” said Nash. “Humour is important. We really try to differentiate ourselves by people taking this lightly. This is an experience, something you should enjoy. There is a competitive angle of course, but enjoy it for what it is. You’re seeing the city in a different way.”
Between 18 and 24 participants, coming from nine to 12 Canadian cities, will be in town for the roughly 36-hour competition. The race is not part of a television reality series. Those teams will be selected at six-hour regional competitions from cities across Canada – from Vancouver to Halifax – this summer.
Last year in Toronto’s regional competition, participants had to repel down the 28-storey city hall building. In Halifax, after a day of racing with little rest, teams had to complete a citizenship exam. The team that scored the lowest was eliminated.
“Talk about amazing pressure after you’ve been racing for 24 hours,” said Nash.
However, if you are a Yukoner, don’t bother scouring episodes of the Amazing Race for strategies. Citizens of the host city of the Canadian championships are ineligible to compete because the home field advantage would be too great.
“There has never been a regional team in a championship (in the same city),” said Nash. “We are considering it … (But) home field advantage does come into play. The reality is we are putting people in unfamiliar territory.”
City Chase organizers came up with the idea in 2003, holding a race with just family and friends. With overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants, organizers quickly made the jump to a national series in 2004. It has since been held in Victoria, Niagara Falls, Quebec City and Halifax, among others.
Though Whitehorse has not yet had a regional competition to select a team to compete in another city, Nash said that could happen in the future. After all, he seems quite impressed by the urban adventure possibilities in Whitehorse.
“Whitehorse is an amazing environment,” said Nash. “From an adventure perspective, I have no doubt we are going to blow the doors off of this thing. It will be one of the craziest adventures we’ve ever done.”
The winning team will take in more than “limit-pushing experiences.” The winners of the 2011 championships drove away in new Mitsubishi Highlanders.
“They each get one, which is a good prize,” said Nash.
The City Chase competition is far from the first or last time Whitehorse has been chosen to host a major event. In addition to hosting the Arctic Winter Games for a sixth time next month, Whitehorse will be hosting the 2012 Women’s World Fastpitch Championship in July and the Junior Men’s World Championship in 2014.
Whitehorse already hosted the Canadian Orienteering Championships this past summer and the Haywood Cross-Country Ski Nationals in 2010. The Yukon’s “wilderness city” was also the scene of the Canada Winter Games in 2007. The Yukon is slated to host those Games again in 2027.
Contact Tom Patrick at