Friday, March 27, 2009

THMMC - A Different Kind of Motor

Minis gathering for the start

Wow, I'm only about six days behind on posts. Lucky for me this will probably be a short one. In my last post I wrote about the trip my wife and I took to DC last week (as in March 17th through the 20th). We got back from that late Friday night and were pretty tired.

Nevertheless, we managed to get up early Saturday morning and load back up in the Mini to head to a THMMC event, the MINI March Madness Road Rally in Raleigh. This would be a different kind of event for me as it would be my first ever gimmick rally or scavenger hunt. The rally was put on by Domino Ireland. From looking at past history of the THMMC, they did another rally in December 2007 (iirc) which was just prior to me getting my Mini.

After the drive to Raleigh, we gathered at Cameron Village with about 25 or so other Minis. Amazingly, we had members coming from as far away as Virginia and I think a contingent from the Charlotte area.

The rally itself started out with a "verbal clue" for those present. This started out the first phase of the rally which was (imo) similar to an Amazing Race format. Starting with the first clue, we had to figure out/search for the next clue. Upon finding that, you would get the instructions for the next location to go to. This went on for about 4 or 5 stops culminating at the Farmer's Market. Once there, we had to find the booth indicated in the last clue.

Once we located the booth, we received an instruction sheet and map for the next phase of the rally. This was similar to a more traditional gimmick rally format (I've been studying to see if I could take a crack at doing one of these, or even a series ala the Cooper Cup that the PhillyMini club does). You had to follow the map and along the way look for different places and answer associated questions. There were a couple bonus items that involved activities like getting a picture of your Mini as instructed.



Apparently during that phase, the teams got really strung out as I think the window of check-in times at the conclusion of that phase varied by over two hours. I know we got slowed up significantly trying to get the name of Symphony Lake (thanks to the lady working the ticket booth!) and hiking out to see the Volis Simpson wind machine thing at the NC Museum of Art(which we were surprised by the scope of the construction going on there). Somehow, we managed to get ahead of several other Minis that were with us at the NCMA (but had got ahead due to our delay) as the route wound through Cary. I guess we benefited during that part from having grown up in Cary. As in before it was a city.

That phase concluded at Umstead Park where we received a new sheet of instructions. This was more like a scavenger hunt phase as we got a list of items to find or tasks to complete and it was up to us to decide which ones to pursue based on the point values and our estimate of the time to complete. We decided to forego the tasks that seemed to be focused around the RDU Airport area and proceed back into Raleigh. One mistake we made was going all the way in to Cameron Village on our way to downtown before deciding we really needed to go to Crabtree first for an important clue. That caused us to waste quite a bit of time.

Our only money shot - a Raleigh Rickshaw

We did luck up as we were on our way to our final clue before the final rallying point when we spotted a Raleigh Rickshaw on the side of the road. Getting a picture with one was a 5-point task. Yeah for us!!!! The final rallying point was at a parking deck in downtown Raleigh where points were tallied and winners determined.

The winner of the rally was the THMMC user The Legend. Interestingly enough, they were out at Umstead Park at the same time we were trying to decide how to tackle the final phase. And we were in the final group of Minis to make it out there (properly read as "we were some of the slowpokes"). So obviously speed was not a deciding issue.

We didn't stick around to go to the restaurant afterwards (it sounds like few, if any, did) as we were quite weary and ready to head back to Graham aka the Island of Misfit Toys.

Overall, it was a very fun event. I was especially glad that my wife enjoyed it. Domino did a great job organizing it. About the only real problems we ran into that might warrant some tweaks were the wording of the clue for the Farmer's Market stop. And I'd try to avoid the malls in Raleigh as a part of the rally. They were so crowded it was difficult to get around them. Oh, and the walk to the windmill thing was too long!!!! The other thing I couldn't figure out was why we completed the clues during the middle phase. As it turned out, there were no points given for getting the answers correct. It was fun getting the answers so I guess that made it worth it, but it would have been nice if that had counted for something (especially since my wife, a Meredith grad, was one of the few that got the Biblical Recorder question right!).

So it was yet another great THMMC event. And for those keeping count, that makes 2 out of 3 months in 2009. I didn't get to anything in February. Sadly, our event for March 28th has been rained out. Perhaps on Sunday I'll take some time to figure out the final route for the Covered Bridge Run I'm working on for the club.

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