UMass holds ‘Amazing Race’ competition

By Shelby Ashline

Cheers of encouragement rang out from spectators as dozens of students and faculty of the University of Massachusetts ran frantically around the Durfee Garden, waving flashlights in search of a plastic cup.

Araz Havan/ Collegian

The pressure was on for each team of no more than three people to find the one cup that had their team’s number written on it. Only then could they receive their first clue and embark on the fifth biannual Amazing Race competition, which was held Friday evening.

This semester’s Amazing Race, which is similar to a scavenger hunt, had 19 teams participating in 10 challenges across campus which would test them both mentally and physically.

Oscar Collins, associate director of Academic Support at the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success, explained that the Amazing Race was originally planned in the fall of 2011 to create a fun activity that students would want to participate in.

The event also allows students to work with the UMass Police Department, which is in charge of coming up with all of the challenges. Police officers as well as UMass staff members man each of the stations where competitors complete their challenges and receive their next clue.

“For CMASS, our goal is really to work with a campus partner that students don’t always have a positive experience with,” said Collins.

“The other goal is really to have students see as many different parts of campus as possible, especially places they might not be aware of or have not frequently visited,” Collins added.

Team check-in and registration began at Wilder Hall at 7:00 p.m. At 7:30 p.m. the teams gathered outside of the building on Stockbridge Road to listen to UMPD Lieutenant Tom O’Donnell explain the rules of the race.

O’Donnell began by saying that running was not allowed during the competition. Skateboards, bicycles and cars were also prohibited. However smartphones could be used to help competitors solve riddles.

Teams were expected to use crosswalks when crossing streets and were asked to be respectful of others. Sabotaging other teams’ success in any manner was forbidden as well.

After each team had found the cup with their team’s number on it in the Durfee Garden, they received the first clue: a map of the counties in Massachusetts with question marks over Hampshire County, followed by a photograph of fruits and vegetables.

The teams set off to Hampshire Dining Commons, where each group had to carve a pumpkin that they would carry throughout the remainder of the race.

After two hours of traveling back and forth across campus and completing various challenges, the first teams began to return to Wilder Hall. At 10:45 p.m. the official winners were announced.

The winning team had named themselves “Pink Fluffy Unicorns.” In second place were “The Spookys” and “Team IDX” came in third.

Members of the winning team received $50 gift certificates to local businesses, second place team members received $40 gift certificates and third place team members received $25 gift certificates.

All competitors also got to enjoy pizza and wings together upon returning to Wilder Hall.

After coming in first place, “Pink Fluffy Unicorns” freshman team member Justin Chow said he felt both “exhausted” and “ecstatic.”

“I feel proud of my team. It’s such a team effort,” he said.

All of the teams seemed to have different opinions regarding which physical and mental challenges were the most difficult, though the majority agreed that they would want to compete again next semester.

“The letter scramble at the library took us a long time,” said Chow. Freshman teammate Weiixen Fam found sprinting at the Mullins Center to be the most physically demanding challenge.

In the future, Collins said he would love to see more participants.

“I think it would be fun to have more staff teams,” Collins continued. “The staff members who have come out in the past…they’re coming out just to connect with students [and] you get to see them in a different sense.”

The only faculty team that competed this semester named themselves “Cool Chicks Play Hard” or “CCPH,” which also stands for the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health, where the team members all work.

“CCPH” team member Linda Scott called the Amazing Race “a wonderful event for stress management.”

“I think it’s a really great opportunity for all of the different parts of UMass to interact,” Scott said. “We tell [students that there are] a lot of great things to do on campus, and we have to go out and show them that it’s true.”


Shelby Ashline can be reached at [email protected]