Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The Amazing Race takes nearly 150 UMass students on a journey across campus

The biannual event sees increasing participation and popularity

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(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

By Chris McLaughlin, Collegian Staff

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On April 6, nearly 150 students competed across the University of Massachusetts campus in the Amazing Race Spring 2018.

The race, which is modeled after the CBS reality series of the same name and is modified to encompass the campus, began around 7 p.m. when participants convened at the race’s starting line in Wilder Hall, the headquarters of the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success. The event is held once each semester and is hosted by CMASS in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Police Department. This semester, the fraternity Alpha Sigma Phi assisted with the race, and its members were stationed across the race’s various “pit stops.”

One key figure behind the race is UMPD Lieutenant Tom O’Donnell. When asked how long the event has been going on at UMass, O’Donnell replied, “It’s been a long time, it’s been six [or] seven years.”

“We started off small, we had 20 teams, we’re now up to 48 teams this time and I know there’s at least six teams that they turned away, so it continues to get larger and larger,” he said.

Despite a wintry mix of weather early in the day and cold drizzle throughout the evening, teams of three donning neon pink shirts emblazoned with the race’s logo were not deterred from racing for the coveted victory, showing up in record numbers to compete.

Before the race, O’Donnell outlined the rules to contestants, specifying the number one rule, which was amplified in importance due to the inclement weather conditions.

“The first rule and most important rule is there is no running. So if you are on the track team, do not think that you have an advantage,” he stated.

O’Donnell added that team members were advised to use crosswalks and were required to stick together at all times. He warned against the use of sabotage and reminded teams to check in at each pit stop along the race to keep track of their movements.

O’Donnell ended the speech by reminding competitors that “the most important thing is to have fun.”

One participating team was the “Rose Buds,” which consisted of freshmen floormates and friends Michael Carvalho, an economics and Portuguese double major, David Gertz, a psychology major and Jacob Pazos, who is currently undecided in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, all of whom were first time competitors.

Pazos said, “We live on the same floor, so we just decided the three of us have been friends [since] the first semester and it would be fun.”

From the start of the race each team was given a “cypher,” a three-layered, dial-like device which, when rotated and aligned according to alphanumeric clues, revealed each following pit stop’s location to participants.

Teams deciphered the cypher and completed challenges such as making handmade sushi in Berkshire Dining Commons, searching the African art exhibit in the University Museum of Contemporary Art, running laps inside Curry Hicks Cage and utilizing [email protected]’ automated locker system.

It was clear to see, as Lieutenant O’Donnell had described, “[Students] will be going all over campus from Southwest to the north end of campus and everywhere in between.”

Carvalho, Gertz and Pazos failed to achieve victory and finished in a modest middle-of-the-pack position. Reflecting on the event and the stamina it required, Pazos said, “You work your mind, you work your body, and you realize you’re [still] so far behind.”

The trio agreed that they would likely take on the Amazing Race again in future semesters. Carvalho stated, “It kind of is what we expected, but like I think it’s a lot of fun and we also learned a lot for shortcuts next year.”

Gertz echoed this sentiment about future rounds, saying, “You’ll have more experience that time so kind of just in general you’ll do a little bit better.”

Someone who knew this advantage of having previous race experience was senior sport management major Tyler Movsessian, who led his “Pathological Taco Ballers” teammates junior Michael Kim and freshman Rory Milsark, both biology majors, to the first-place podium.

Movsessian said, “I came in fourth the first time [I competed] and then third the second time. So, to come in first is pretty nice. I really wanted to get a win.”

Kim, a first-time race runner himself, acknowledged Movsessian’s experience as a key advantage, stating, “We have a veteran, Tyler’s a veteran, so having him was huge.”

“To be honest, I lacked in stamina. [Milsark and Movsessian] definitely carried the team. Tyler was super good with puzzles, he was on top of everything,” Kim added.

However, Movsessian was quick to point out, “[Kim] works at a Chinese restaurant so when he rolled the sushi he did it super quick,” referring to the sushi challenge in Berkshire.

Kim said, “I don’t think I’m going to do it again. I’m going to retire with the first place. Unless I get the invite from Tyler again next year.”

At the end of the night, all teams were rewarded with complementary chicken wings and pizza at Wilder Hall as the results were announced. Third place went to “Lauren’s Bishes,” whose members were among last year’s victors, and second place went to “Gotta Blast,” who took the less prestigious secondary position after owning up to a technicality which occurred earlier in the race.

O’Donnell recognized the team’s sportsmanship, saying to the room, “give them a round of applause for being honest about a mistake that was made. They actually came in first, but they admit that they should not have.”

All first, second and third place winners received gift cards as prizes, with increasing dollar values given for each higher ranking.

Chris McLaughlin can be reached at [email protected] followed on Twitter at @ChrisMcLJournal.

Editor’s Note: Tyler Movsessian is a staff writer at the Collegian.

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