Mayor’s Cup brings urban adventure racing to Columbia

Thursday, September 20, 2007 | 12:50 a.m. CDT; updated 12:25 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — A bike. A water bottle. An ugly doll that won’t be returned.

These items are only part of the equipment list for the Mayor’s Cup, Columbia’s first urban adventure race Planned for Oct. 13, the event promises to be a wacky and fun departure from run-of-the-mill road races and triathlons.

Signing up

The entry fee for the Mayor’s Cup race is $40 for a team of two. Participants can get more information about the event, including how to sign up, at

The course, which will remain secret until the day of race, will start at Boone Tavern and take racers around downtown Columbia, into city parks and onto city trails.

The event will push the boundaries of traditional racing.

“Although the details are ‘top secret’ until the start of the event, we can tell you that you will do things that you have never done before!” the Mayor’s Cup

Web site states.

Participants will race to different stations on the course and use a digital camera to photograph the sections of the race as they complete them. Racers choose their course length by the number of stations they visit. Winners will be determined by the number of points they earn by visiting different stations.

While many traditional races tend to intimidate recreational athletes, the atmosphere of the Mayor’s Cup is purposely inviting. Participants don’t need to be super-fit athletes, gulping down sports drinks. They’ll only need to be in shape enough to walk and bike for a few hours, at whatever pace suits them.

“It’s not an intense race by any means. It’s supposed to be more of a social event,” says race director Mike Denehy of Off Track Events. “I don’t want people thinking competitively, but more socially.”

The race will be followed by a pizza party hosted by the race’s sponsor, Shakespeare’s Pizza.

Urban adventure racing started in big cities such as New York and Chicago as an antidote to traditional race boredom. It combines elements of traditional racing and orienteering with a quirky sort of scavenger hunt, and some reports say urban racing’s popularity has ballooned in recent years.

The Mayor’s Cup is part of a four-race series that will also include the Paws in the Park race, the Mid-Missouri Ride to Rocheport and the Cross Country Xtreme, a four-plus mile run. Last year, Off Track Events organized a marathon to celebrate the enactment of the city-wide smoking ban.

Although there is no way to tell how many racers will participate, Denehy says he would like to have at least 100; 200, he says, would be “fantastic.”

Portions of the proceeds will go to the Central Missouri Humane Society and Coyote Hill, a charity that helps abused and neglected children and their families.

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