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Thursday, March 28, 2013

How to Host and Amazing Race Event

My husband and I are Amazing Race fans. We also teach the young adult Sunday school class at our church. We thought it would be fun to combine these two things and put on an Amazing Race event for our class. It was such a hit that our youth leaders have asked us to help them plan one for the teens. After church, I separately overheard a nine-year-old boy and a sixty-something woman  say they thought we should do one for them, too! Really, such an event could be done for any age group, young or old, and can be hosted as an event, birthday party, or any other fun gathering.

Here are the steps we took in planning our event:
  1. Set your date and time period. We planned to make ours last from 8:00 a.m to 8:00 p.m. Turns out our racers blew through the challenges so quickly they were done by 3:00! However, setting.the times gives you a framework to work within.
  2. Brainstorm challenges your teams can do. We had teams of two just like on the show. Challenges can be physical, mental, or a combination of both. Because this was a church event, we made some of ours service-oriented, like doing chores for some of our elderly members' homes and making bracelets for Shoebox Ministries.
  3. Select locations to put clue boxes and get permission from businesses, homeowners, or whoever, to place a box on their property. We made our own clue boxes out of shoeboxes by covering them with red and yellow duct tape and mounting on wooden stands. On some, I added paper fasteners to the lid and front side of the box. I wound a rubber band around the paper fastener on the box. Then I stretched the rubber band up and over the paper fastener on the lid to keep it closed (see photo).  
  4. Make up a schedule of where your racers will go to find clue boxes and perform challenges. Give a copy of the schedule to those helping with challenges so they'll know roughly when to expect the racers.
  5. Write clues to lead racers to clue boxes and challenges and print them on 4" X 6" postcards Make sure these clues include words or phrases racers can find in an Internet search to help them find where they're supposed to go. For instance, one of our clues was, "Go to 'where the pets go' closest to the church. Matthew 4:19" Googling "where the pets go" led them to the Petco a half mile from our church. The verse clued them to look in the fish department for the clue box. One of the challenge clue cards read, "Take one plate of cookies to the church Paiute widow. Do chores for her as instructed when you get there. (Choose who will do this challenge.)" This led them to my 80-year-old mom's house on Paiute Street who had a list of chores.waiting for them when they arrived.
  6. Establish checkpoint locations for teams to find out where they stand in the race. We had two such checkpoints and used local landmarks as our locations. Racers had to figure out clues to find these also.
  7. Establish your rules up front. We allowed racers to use their smart phones to research clues. We only let one member of each team to do each challenge and required them to choose which team member would do each challenge before they knew the details of what they'd be doing. Other rules included the same player can't do more than two consecutive challenges, racers had one hour to complete a challenge and if they couldn't complete it in that time, they were give a ten minute penalty, but could move on to the next challenge. Make whatever rules you feel are appropriate for your group. Print out the rules and give a copy to each team the day of the race.
  8. Locate drivers and videographers for each team. We thought it would be safer if racers weren't driving themselves around. And we definitely wanted to capture the race on video.  We used teens as our videographers and their parent or grandparent as the driver. The videographers acted as witnesses that racers completed challenges by the person who chose to do it, that they were done correctly, and within one hour.
  9. Decide if you'll give prizes to the winners and if so, what they'll be.
  10. Make up a list of things racers will need to bring with them. Money? Church directory? Water? Cleaning supplies? Smart phone? Give the list to your racers a week before the race.
  11. The day of the race, take your clue boxes to their locations before the race begins. We made the mistake of having only the first couple of boxes in place, figuring we could put the rest out after the race began. Turns out the racers did the challenges way faster than we imagined and sometimes beat us to the next clue station before we had the clue box out! We had trouble staying ahead of them.
Some of the benefits of hosting an Amazing Race event are that it is a great team builder, and brings different generations together in one fun event. If you have questions about details of how to pull off an Amazing Race event, or if you'd like a free copy of our rules, e-mail me at And if you'd like to see more pictures of our Amazing Race event, check them out on my Facebook page at While you're there, I'd be honored if you'd "like" my page.  You can also Google "The Amazing Race" for challenge ideas.

 I hope you have as much fun at your event as we did!