Fantastic Day. Fantastic Race.


(L to R) Brena, Tracey, Mary + Keely. Powering up and bonding over breakfast at Farmer’s Market before The Race.


I’ll admit it.

I wanted to quit.


It was raining (and raining and raining) and I was soaked from the top of my head all the way down to my rain-soaked shoes. My first mistake was ignoring the weatherman. When he used the word violent to describe the weather, that should have been my first clue. But hey, it NEVER rains in Southern California, right!?!?!?

The game clues were tricky and made me feel like a dolt. I didn’t mind the walking so much but the wind/rain combo made for quite the challenge (a polite way to say It-Was-So-Awful-That-I-Was-Hysterical). My cute little coat from Paris (not a rain coat either) got so heavy from being wet that it added what felt like an extra 10 pounds to my 3 layers of soaked clothing underneath. I’m not sure why it decided to rain on the very day I picked to participate in the Amazing Los Angeles Race (now known as The Fantastic Race), but it did.

But guess what?  I would do it again. Because it was The. Best. Group. Bonding. Exercise. I have ever experienced.

I flew in Keely from Washington DC; she’s a certified lifeguard, member of the Howard University Swim Team and, after the race, became a new member of my kids travel program staff. The idea was that she would join Mary (another certified lifeguard and current staff member), Brena (my 16 year old Little Sister from Big Brothers Big Sisters that I’ve loved since she was 8 years old) and myself for a tricky dicky scavenger hunt around Los Angeles.

A great way to see how everyone would work together, I also had my own personal agenda after having threatened a year ago to become a tourist in my own hometown. So on a Sunday in March 2012, Mary, Keely, Brena and I tested our patience and our respective LA city-IQs and, by Metro and on foot, traversed across LA in an ah-mazing (fantastic, even) Los Angeles race! What a day!


Say what now?

I don’t want to spoil anything by telling you the exact itinerary and locations, but I will tell you that we found clues in fortune cookies, took the LA Metro (you DO realize that Angelenos don’t use public transportation much, right?), counted animal statues at a cathedral and deciphered international morse code attached to an ape at a museum. And when we all got frustrated and couldn’t figure out the clues, Mary encouraged us to keep on going…and we did (which is exactly why I hired her for my teen travel program in the first place).

To our surprise (okay, shock), we came in 4th (!) out of 14 teams (only one team quit) and tied for The Nicest Team in the Race because Mary was kind and nice to a guy that was undercover. On top of that, 16-year old Brena told me she hopes we’re still hanging out in 20 years. (Awwww.)

If you are a native Angeleno, a short or long term resident, a family, a group of friends, or even a visitor to the City of Angels, have some fun, challenge yourself and sign up for The Fantastic Race / Los Angeles. And don’t let my freaky-weather story scare you because Bob – one of the owners who coordinated everything and provided a lifeline for The Frustrated – was absolutely great. Just remember to check the weather report before you go…and tell him One Brown Girl sent you!

To see a few of our photos, click here.

Tip: I found half price tickets on Goldstar.

Originally published on American Airlines
on April 12, 2012

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