Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

Friday, May 11, 2012

Team Building….Amazing Race Style!

This week was spent traveling for business to Montreal.  It was my first visit, so I was pretty excited for the adventure – especially where I was going to have the opportunity to meet so many of my colleagues from all over US and Canada.  I had no idea I would be participating in the Amazing Race – literally and figuratively! 

Bus passengers asked us,
"Where are the cameras??"
We were well equipped with some company schwag, including a backpack, water bottle, notepad, and first aid kit.  As part of a team-building exercise for this group that was comprised of many new faces, the committee who organized this event employed an outfit that put on an Amazing Race-like event for groups
like ours.  Sounds cool right?  And it was…sort of.  So I need to break this into 2 parts:

Part I – The “planned” Amazing Race

19 teams poured out of a conference room at the hotel with our first clue – a mug.  We quickly determined that we had to run the mug under hot water to produce the clue that magically appeared on the mug's surface as a reaction to the hot water.  From there, we grabbed the Metro (subway) to our next challenge:  a puzzle.  This puzzle sucked the life out of most of the teams.  Many teams spent close to an hour trying to figure this out.  The Amazing Race peeps finally took pity, threw us our next clue, and moved us on our way.

Saint Joseph's Oratory of
From there, we found our way to a church.  Many of us anticipated that we’d have to reveal the number of steps we climbed, yet most of us still managed to get it wrong.  This meant we had to perform a second task; find our next clue within the church. With one pregnant team member and one injured team member, those steps were another huge obstacle in our progress.  (As a note, those 2 team members ultimately did not have to scale the steps)

Our next clue took us via city bus to a candy store.  By this time, our injured team member had hailed a cab back to the hotel.  This clue had us scooping candy into a bag to achieve a weight of between 96 and 100 grams.  We had 2 chances, failed both attempts, so received a 10 minute penalty where we had to wait to try again.  As if we needed anymore help in falling further behind...

The last clue found us tasting and identifying ice cream flavors in the underground Mall system.  We spent a significant amount of time here as well, trying to pick the right flavors and put them in some kind of order.  I’m a little vague on details here because by now, I was D-O-N-E!  The good part was that teams who were still out there (like our team) this late in the day helped each other so we could all just finish and get to dinner. 

Great idea for a way to team-build, see a new city, and get ~5 miles of walking in (including 103 steps…twice!).  The reviews are mixed, but mostly because the fitness level and intensity were a bit mismatched.  I’m just glad I don’t get motion sickness with all the subway/bus riding!  I'm also glad our event wasn't one day later...

Montreal subway system closed?  That would've thrown a wrench in our
Amazing Race!

Part II – The “unplanned” Amazing Race

So, our trip to Montreal also had true business tied to it!  We had 2 days of meetings/presentations and it was a productive couple of days.  But let’s face it, when your VP says, “I’m going to break early knowing everyone has so much travel ahead of them”, we bolted to a cab!  Those of us traveling home to Massachusetts were all on the same 8:00 pm flight.  Because we were released early, we were all able to change our flights and get on the 6:05 pm flight.  I didn’t let Scott know, since I thought it would be a nice surprise to arrive home early.  Oh, what a surprise it was.

We happily boarded the 6:05 flight, which was delayed until almost 7:00 pm.  Fine, we were still earlier than originally planned.  We got out to the tarmac and sat for a bit, which of course is normal as a plane sometimes has to wait in line.  Next came the announcement that they were having trouble getting one of the engines going…..Back to the gate we went.  But not quickly, that’s for sure.  We seemed to take baby steps and pause, more baby steps and pause again.  Eventually, we reached the gate, de-boarded, and hustled to the new gate which was 7 gates away.  Interestingly, we were now going to try to get on the original 8:00 pm flight, which was being held for us.  Ironically, we had paid an additional $75 for the right to perform this gate dance.

All aboard, we stored our carry-on wherever it would fit and took deep, stale breaths, praying for the air to be turned on.  Next announcement, “Due to our weight distribution alert, we’ll need to change some passengers' seats….”  What?  This caused a most thunderous laughter; it was afterall just part of the outrageousity of our trip.  Who were they going to deem as too large for 14C?  It was also a little unnerving….I mean, how does a few hundred pounds here or there affect a large plane?

With all of that said, everyone made it home safe and sound.  Tired, but safe and sound.  I rolled into my driveway sometime after midnight.  Stomach growling a bit (Air Canada pretzels and a cereal bar were dinner since I wasn’t hungry at normal dinner time before the flight drama began), I just couldn’t wait to see Scott and Bella, and go to bed. 

No prizes for this Amazing Race participant, but I'll take the endless funny stories and many new friendships as my prize.  Our traveling group agreed that the most effective team-building actually occurred during the several hours of laughter between the first flight and the second flight.  Hands down.


  1. Sounds like quite the experience from start to finish!

  2. Fun idea! Too bad no one won a million dollars, though!

    1. I did meet 27 new people through the 2 day experience, so that's definitely a win (not $1M, but...)

  3. Two amazing races for the price of one? LOL! What a fun team-building experience.....and how strange on the weight distribution. Glad you made it home!

  4. I'm afraid I would not have been as charitable!

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