Team GearJunkie athletes win Major 'Urban Adventure Race'

A giant ceremonial check. $5000 written across its face. That was the reality for two Team GearJunkie racers this past weekend. On Saturday, July 21, Tom Puzak and Kelly Brinkman toed a starting line in Minneapolis at the 7th annual Salvation Army The Most Amazing Race, where 30 teams competed in an urban adventure race to raise money for the charity as well as go for the prize.

The race is loosely modeled after the popular television show, “The Amazing Race,” including physical and mental challenges at checkpoints across a course. But for the Minneapolis event, which is one in a national series, competitors traveled around the Twin Cities using city buses, public bikes, and running shoes tromping on pavement.

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Winners! Team GearJunkie’s Tom Puzak and Kelly Brinkman

Said Brinkman, “there were roughly 10 entertaining challenges along the way, including identifying sushi by its Japanese name and eating it, making a bed to hotel standards, juggling, canoeing, hole digging, rock climbing, and dancing, just to name a few.”

Brinkman elaborated on the checkpoint challenges: “One of the best challenges was probably at Target Field. We were in the bullpens on the Twin’s field. Tom did a ball toss into a bucket while I had to complete a trivia quiz about the signage located around the stadium.”

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Piggyback challenge

The toughest checkpoints, Brinkman said, were the “eating challenges,” including identifying sushi and then eating it “as well as a huge ‘wasabi bomb,’ which was a seaweed-wrapped lump of rice with a huge amount of wasabi inside.” The race ended with a “spaghetti and meatball challenge,” where racers had to hammer a huge plate of hot, oily spaghetti and a one-pound ball of meat! Ugh.

Brinkman said she and Puzak ran or biked to all the checkpoints, skipping the city buses. She estimates they ran and biked about 20 miles to the finish line, which they crossed 30 minutes ahead of the second-place team. The whole event took the team about 4 hours to complete.

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Nice Ride bike-share program. . . one available transportation option

The duo’s secret? “We were just constantly looking to gain time throughout the race,” Brinkman said. “Whether it was by route choice, transportation choice, or a good teamwork approach to the challenges, that was probably how we were able to finish so far ahead.”

Brinkman, who is a rising half-marathon runner, noted the pair’s “physical fitness helped because we didn’t have to wait for buses and could make good time on foot and bike.”

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Amusement park challenge during the race

Congrats to all the racers who competed in the Salvation Army’s Most Amazing Race. To date, the event has raised more than $300,000 for its namesake charity, all while letting racers eat sushi, read maps, pick route choices, and sprint to the end, where a giant plate of spaghetti is all that stands between them and the potential for bringing home a giant vanity check.

—Follow Team GearJunkie this year on the squad’s dedicated micro-site.

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