CityRace Santa Monica


Course Map

NOTE: This only shows the game boundaries



After the sub-par Devil’s Gate Dam 5k, we needed this race. I signed us up for the Chinatown scavenger hunt but due to the +100 heat that day I had them reschedule us for Santa Monica. Man did that work out well for us. I was unsure what to expect so I had brushed up on some random facts about Santa Monica and fully charged my phone.

The starting point was a great overlook right next to the California Incline. There was a large group of people with 30 teams ready to scramble across Santa Monica for the next three hours. We named our team Team M&M, put on our City Race Buttons, got clues and  the rules:

  • Stay within boundaries
  • You can use locals, phones, guards, whatever you think will help you solve the clues.
  • The questions are not set to any order and can be done at random.
  • Three hour time limit. Teams will lose 10 points every ten minutes over.
  • While there are optional questions, if you want to finish in top 10 you will need to do them.
  • Run now!
CityRace Button
As Melody would say: “BUTTONS!”

With that we were off! I told Meghann we should split off from the group and find a spot where we can figure out a game plan. She suggested we walk and talk while making our way towards the 3rd Street Promenade since most of the questions would be centralized there. Smart gal.

We walked over to the Promenade and I began to Google the simple ones. One question referred to the seasonal rain storm in south-east Asia, a monsoon, and wanted to know the address of the restaurant with the same name (+10). Another asked about the city code that prohibited defacing public property (+15). We breezed a few but we quickly hit a wall.

About seven questions were linked to each other and the first clue asked how many Buddha statues were on top of the entryway. Google only found one reference to Buddha in the area, some random coffee shop but the entryway lacked Buddhas… trick question perhaps? We decided to skip the question for now.

One hour in and we were half-finished and completed about two laps of the area. I was nailing every bar reference and Meghann was solving a few on her own. I had a tendency to make every question complex… she would quickly ask me to take a breath and think that the simplest answer was probably the correct one. Ah, Occam’s razor proved quite handy.

We kept running into other teams and noticed they were also struggling with the Buddha question. Some began to yell at each other and were starting to complain about the heat. While the distance wasn’t too bad, the 90 degree heat and backtracking would be the biggest obstacles.

There were times where I could tell my nerves were starting to fry and hoped I would not take it out on Meghann. Think of trying to solve a crossword puzzle with your partner while walking down a busy random city and only one of you could hold the clues. As was walked from block to block and back again, I kept trying to solve the one question while Meghann would ask me another. I would have a “EUREKA!” moment and try to explain my answer only to have her completely debunk my theory. It was grueling.

By the 1.5 hour mark we were down to just the seven Buddha linked questions and about 6 that focused on the pier. We shifted our focus to the bonus questions, luckily they were simple “buy x from y” questions so the only taxing part was paying for it.

Then… as we stood by the same block we had been on about four times and in the middle of a conversation with a local… I finally saw the fat bastards.  I yelled:


They were on a door frame across the street. I don’t think we even thanked the local as we quickly began to cross off the other questions. One by one we were knocking them out of the park but hit a snag on one that asked about guardians of a “mystical place”. Even with the Buddha clue, I couldn’t think of what mystical place the question was referring to. We had made a note of it and decided to not get caught up on this one question. Two hours in and we ran towards the pier for the big finish!

The pier questions were quite easy. A few “name this” questions or ones that asked about the number of items in a certain locale. The most difficult one had us look at the age of the two cannons located right before the pier. That just involved some sprinting to each gun.

We looked around and only spotted a few teams at this stage of the race. We knocked off more bonus challenges, such as taking a picture in a photo booth (+5) with a stranger (+5). When we took the picture the guy wished us good luck and hoped the prize was worth more than the $8 we spent on the picture. Meghann and I looked at each other and concluded we didn’t care about the prize. We were just having fun running around Santa Monica. The total cost of the items was about $17. More than reasonable for the amount of entertainment we were getting.

With about 30 minutes left we had wrapped up every bonus question but needed to find a kid to cross the finish line with us (+5) and still had to answer the mystical place question. Meghann was double checking the answers and corrected a few. Still.. mystical place… I let my brain go blank and… bam!

There is a hotel named that and it had some lions in front!

We made sure every question was answered and made our way to the finish! We climbed the steps up to the finish and turned in our score card. We got credit for 15 out of 20 in the bonus questions. The results of the rest of the questions would be announced twenty minutes after the cutoff point. We high-fived and took a moment to just relax and look at the ocean.

CityRace - Santa Monica: Post Race
Team M&M. As Meghann said: We have the best dates!

As we sat there going over our answers and recapping the morning, another team was finishing up and they had a kid… bastards had bribed the kid with a free pail (another bonus question) and had told his parents why they needed him. The tourists loved it and took pictures of their child walking up and turning in the scorecard. Bah. A few more teams came in but it was obvious a good amount of teams had just quit. I only counted about twenty teams at the finish line. The couple that was fighting over which direction to go did not make it to the finish…

The announcer thanked us for coming and congratulated those of us who finished. He began to read the answers. Through ten questions we were perfect! And then this…

We asked you to play Jeopardy for one question…
and in that show you answer with “What is…”

Boos were yelled, a few teams walked out, and I looked around for a pretzel to throw at the announcer. Yea that was all that we screwed up on. They named the Top Ten and we came in tenth with 175 out of 190. The other teams were between 180 and 185. If we had just gotten that what is… bah! Still it was a great time and we celebrated our finish with dinner at Barney’s Beanery. We signed up for another scavenger hunt for November, this time we will run around Olvera Street in downtown LA… and this time I will drag a kid to the finish if it means another 5 points!

CityRace - Santa Monica: Top 10 Finish!
Top 10 Teams… we got screwed by Jeopardy!

2 Responses

    1. haha there were shopping questions too! I kid I kid. As long as you can keep your cool I think you would do fine. We could always do M&M&H&J… hmmm that acronym doesn’t look right.