Citydash has run in the rain. It’s been run in freezing conditions and it’s run with players standing in shop doorways with a finger stuck out, and then drawn back for close team examination. “No, it’s not snow but it’s sort of frozen...ish.” If we haven’t run the game in thunderstorms it’s only because British weather has no sense of dramatic timing.
But this is the most extreme, exciting weather Citydash has ever seen.
At 2pm, the six crew of the first Adelaide Citydash are gathered in Aroma Cafe at the Adelaide university campus competing to see who can stand closest to the ice cream fridge without actually climbing inside it. Gwyn, the founder of Fire Hazard appears to be winning until Amy (stage manager) actually buys an ice cream, shaking the foundations of the whole contest. Outside it is 39 degrees, as this particular Saturday muscles its way towards a round number of forty degrees heat. People on the streets sidle between patches of shade and lunge suddenly into fountains. A student yelps as they try to walk barefoot up some stairs made of black granite. They execute an impressive tap routine and we watch their feet smoke gently as they limp out of sight.
The Aroma cafe is deliciously cool, the air conditioning creating the delightful illusion of wandering through a walk in fridge. As the players arrive, there is the group feeling of optimism. It really isn’t that hot, certainly running around outside shouldn’t be a problem; it might even be refreshing. The teams start to ready up. As long time veterans of Citydash, we’ve seen players come in various stages of preparedness; from those with a map of the area, to those with a vague sense that they had signed up to something in this general area, possibly a book club or high power lunch. I’d like to say now that Adelaide’s approach to street gaming is remarkable, excellent, and actually a little bit frightening.
Teams arrived on time or even early. We saw teams setting up war tables, laying out maps. There were team dossiers, binoculars, a team had actually printed out the rules of the game. There was even a group that had explored the area in advance.
As everyone trooped outside for the briefing, there was an atmosphere I can only describe as a sort of battle cheer. As if these players saw the weather as a sort of long term opponent, and took a great deal of pleasure in beating it down. There was absolutely no way that the roasting heat was going to stop these teams from running all over this game and having fun doing it.
When the whistle went it was a little like the moment when the doors go up on greyhound races. The players had a few checkpoints that were open at the start of the game which they could find to claim points. I had the pleasure of guarding the nearest open checkpoint, and was stood near to it, ineffectually fanning myself with a biro and wondering whether any players would venture out, or whether they would simply hunt down an air con and hug it (which is what any sane person was doing that day) when I heard a rumbling sound as fifty seven players came tearing around the corner, and then skidded, ducked and in some cases actually dived behind cars, hedges and a lamp post when they saw me.
We had warned players in advance that guards would not be chasing them at a run, and that it would be safest in the heat to keep a slower pace to the game. Our Adelaide players listened to that. They mulled it over. And then they threw it out the window and raced around the game site with the firm understanding that with dozens of checkpoints to track down and the clock ticking that the incredible heat could just go hang. They were absolutely not slowing down for anything less than an earthquake or a zombie invasion.
As a guard I had some excellent moments. When a team saw me, raced off at full speed around the side of a building and in the excitement, failed to realise that the building went all the way around and ran into the back of me. The rather excellent player that saw me, climbed into a hedge and stayed as still as they could, their legs sticking out and causing students to have to walk out onto the grass to pass them. The team that managed to stay hidden behind a tree, while I walked around it (I saw them through the glass of a nearby building, but it was excellent hiding all the same). The team that got my special, extra hard, 3 stage cryptic checkpoint worth ninety points (well done Stealth Ninjas of Destruction).
Players kept the pace up right to the end of the game, and there were some death defying lunges for checkpoints even in the last few seconds.
We’ve never had a game with so much running, hiding and post game ice cream. Ultimately Team Lekka were the winners, with a list of found checkpoints as long as my arm.
It was an excellent game, and even though it required the crew to spend the rest of the afternoon facedown in the sea to recover, we are looking forward to running many more Adelaide games. Always in reaching distance of an ice cream box.