Urban Challenge - 2004 National Championship

Miami (11/20/04)

Team Mumu (6799)

After our stunning 9th place finish in Los Angeles, we're off to Miami for the Urban Challenge National Finals. Cliff Young and Joyce Farnsworth, Team Blup, who placed 6th in Boston are also present and racing in Miami. Two more teams from our consortium of researchers also qualified for the finals but declined to attend. This is fortunate, since they were available for the research end of things, and four teams running simultaneously would have been a logistical nightmare to coordinate.


The race begins with a trivia quiz. We got 6 wrong in the first 20 and 3 more wrong in the last 10. We had no idea whether this would be a good or a bad score until we saw our number among first group of "high scorers" to be released. Cliff and Joyce are also in the first group out.

The Start

National Hotel, 1677 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL

We are released and receive the clue sheet a few minutes after 8:00am. We begin with Checkpoint #1. Cliff and Joyce begin with Checkpoint #3. Our clue sheets are identical except for one formula in Checkpoint #4. We should have taken a minute to compare the clue sheets side-by-side before we ran off, but the start can be a frantic time as everyone scrambles to get moving as quickly as possible.

On to the race:


Short and simple!

Checkpoint 1 shares its name with a Jack Lemmon movie. Find it on Lincoln Road.

ANSWER: Some Like It Hot, 841 Lincoln Rd.

An alternative answer, Avanti at 932 Lincoln Rd is what we went with. This is a 1972 Jack Lemmon movie, and it is on Lincoln Road, so this answer was acceptable. We headed straight to Lincoln Road and were heading in the right direction while the clue was being dictated and IMDB movie titles read to us. We must have walked past Some Like It Hot about block before Avanti, but didn't see it, nor any other teams taking photos anywhere along Lincoln Road.

DISTANCE: .65 miles on foot. map

TIME: Approx. 8:25am


Try explaining this one over the phone!

Find it in Miami Beach west of Washington. Picture of 7 hands portraying different letters in sign language.

ANSWER: Olivers - 959 West Ave.

We misread the signs and initially had Olivets, but quickly corrected it to Olivers and headed there by foot.

DISTANCE: 1.0 miles by foot. map


The World Sport!

Two teams are playing soccer. Team A plays the ball out of bounds. Team B is awarded a throw-in. A player from Team B attempts to throw the ball directly to his own goalkeeper but the keeper misses the ball and it goes directly into his own goal without touching the ground. What is the proper re-start?

WRONG ANSWER: Flute - 500 South Pointe Drive, Miami Beach

Of course we didn't know it was wrong until the race was over. The correct answer is corner kick. This is the type of clue where it easiest to go wrong. When you have to independently come up with the name of a place you have great confidence that you got it right when it fits all of the clue descriptors. Clearly, there needs to be more verification, and the first google answer can't be trusted.

On our way to Flute we passed by Josh's apartment and he saw us from his balcony. We knew he was up there somewhere waving, but we never saw him.

DISTANCE: about 1.2 miles on foot. map


Hammerin' Hank!

Checkpoint 4 is located on Ocean Drive. To find it, decode this extract from a famous speech. Identify the author. Convert the first letter of his last name to a number, and substitute it for A in the following formula: (100 times A)

Then a string of what looks like random symbols. It got described to research as:















This is Patrick Henry's Liberty or Death speech. H is the 8th letter -- News Cafe, 800 Ocean Drive

DISTANCE: 0.75 miles by foot. map


Not Very Appetizing!

The patented wacky equation makes its debut in South Beach!

                Campaign finance bill co-sponsor
                       Larry's last name
                           not out
          thin oil derived from petroleum or coal tar
                  past participle of see
                a drink with jam and bread

                 Sounds like Checkpoint 5

Find it in the downtown Miami area.

ANSWER: Golden Carrot Restaurant, 201 NW 1st Ave

Feingold - Fein + in + kerosene - seen + T = gold-in kero-T

We got a bus to head over the causeway. As we were heading south on Biscayne we passed the Fluffy Bunnys who had ditched their bus in favor of their feet.

When we arrived in downtown Miami we were led by Josh through the intricacies of Miami's street numbering scheme. There's a "zero" street running east-west called Flagler and a "zero" running north-south called Miami and all the others are numbered NE, NW, etc. This can be very confusing to the oxygen deprived runners. Josh's patience was no doubt tried severely, but he persevered in directing both sets of runners.

TIME: We noted the time at 9:26am when we began the bus trip to checkpoint 5.

DISTANCE: 5.0 miles by bus, 0.4 miles by foot map


Golf Above!

Checkpoint 6 is a store. Here is a hint as to its name:

Yellow, blue, red, orange, green, indigo, violet.

Find it east of the Cultural Center between 3rd and 3rd.

ANSWER: Rainbow Jewelry Corp. - 101 NE 1st Ave

Miami Golf Superstore is above at, 111 N.E. 1st Street, 2nd Floor. There were other establishments with the name Rainbow, but this is the only one that satisfied the Golf Above part of the clue.

DISTANCE: 0.25 miles by foot


But I don't like camping!

Assume you're camping at Indian Gardens in the Grand Canyon trying to boil water for coffee on your camp stove. The thermometer shows the water at 124 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature is increasing at a constant rate of 28.2 degrees per minute and you know from experience that you have 3 minutes of propane left in the tank. Can you get the water to boil with what's left in the tank?

If yes, then take a photo with Columbus, then Ponce, then Bolivar, in that exact order.

If no, then take a photo with Bolivar, then Ponce, then Columbus, in that exact order.

Find them all in and around Bayfront Park.

ANSWER: The park is at 301 N. Biscayne Blvd.

The answer is Yes. Indian Gardens is at an altitude of 3800 feet so the boiling point of water there is 204.4 degrees F. You need to heat the water 204.4 - 124 = 80.4 degrees. At 28.2 degrees per minute this will take 2.85 minutes.

It required one loop of the park to find all of the statues. A gardener directed us right to Cristobal Colon when asked in Spanish. The police, however, did not know where Ponce de Leon was, but a guy working in one of the tourist shops did. We also found the skip woman between statues which enables us to skip one of the later clues.

DISTANCE: Approx. 0.65 miles on foot. map


HELLO, Hello, hello!

A bunch of dots in a very hard-to-describe pattern... see picture.

ANSWER: DOTS, 15 W Flagler St

DISTANCE: 0.75 miles on foot map

We had a small amount of difficulty with our camera being full when we got to this point. We had been taking occasional backup pictures to make sure we got everything in the shot and not deleting any images. We now had to carefully go through and delete a few pictures without accidentally deleting anything important.


Seven Fish!

In a particularly chilling scene from last season's "The Shield", Dutch killed an animal. Use the name of the animal as the keyword to decipher the encoded name of checkpoint 9. For help on using the keyword, check out the so-so novel, "The Rule of Four".

                 A H I C M R

Find it in the downtown Miami area.

ANSWER: Bijans On The River Restaurant - 64 SE 4th St

This was decrypted using a Caesar cypher and CAT. The restaurant logo has 7 fish in it.

DISTANCE: 0.3 miles on foot map



Unscramble the anagram below to find the two word name of Checkpoint 10.

              MANLIKE REALTORS
Find it in Miami.

ANSWER: Rosinella Market - 1044 S Miami Ave

Our research team wasn't able to unscramble this, so we used the skip person on this clue. Unfortunate, since we could have walked right by here on our way to Checkpoint #11. We think the Urban Challenge people made a typographical mistake on this clue and really meant to say "Find it ON Miami" rather than "IN Miami". The clues usually narrow the search area down, and this simple wording change would have made it findable.


Stop the Pain:

Checkpoint 11 is located on Brickell. To find the address, convert into a number the **first** letter of the common name for this compound and substitute it for "A" in the equation below.

(A times 74) plus 8

ANSWER: aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid)

Going with the clue as written this would lead to an address of 82 Brickell. However, there is no such address. At approximately 10:50am we got a text message from Urban Challenge that the clue should use the **second** letter of the common name making the final answer = 1414 Brickell which does exist.

Fortunately, this didn't really cost us any time, since we were only starting to head toward Brickell at the time the text message came through. However, we realize that it means we are not far behind the lead teams at this point, since we started at Checkpoint #1 and the only possible starts were #1, #2, #3, or #4. No one could be past Checkpoint #11 yet. Sure enough, we see a few teams, including the Fluffy Bunnys, running back from 1414 Brickell as we head there.

Although it didn't hurt us much, Cliff and Joyce really lost time here. They spent quite a while searching Brickell for a non existent 82 and also several of the streets out on Brickell Key.

DISTANCE: 1.0 mile by foot map


Can you feel me now?

Checkpoint 12 has two parts and requires two checkpoint photos to comply.

Part 1: In Brickell Park, get a photo with the exercise equipment where you can practice your leg lifts. Find Part 1 in the downtown Miami area.

Part 2: Using only white symbols on a dark background from the sign nearest the equipment, take note of the following characters (ignoring the impact of punctuation on the count) and utilize them to discover Checkpoint 12. Find Part 2 in South Beach.

       37th, 4th, 6th, 20th, 37th, 21st, 46th, 17th

ANSWER: Felt - 1242 Washington Ave., Miami Beach

This clue was our downfall time-wise. As we were heading toward Brickell Park we got a text message indicating that the race end time would be extended by 30 minutes. Normally there is a 5 hour time limit for qualifying finishes, and we still had almost 1.5 hours left. We assume the extension is because of the typo in clue #11 and Urban Challenge's need to contact each and every team by phone to make sure they got the correction took some time.

Finding the leg lift equipment was easy. The sign near it read: see picture


Holding beam at side for
balance, lift leg until
parallel with ground.  
Repeat with other leg.

Distance to Part 1: about 1.0 miles by foot

Time: approximately 11:30am

We now have two strings of letters (depending on whether you start with 2000 or LEG LIFT.


Neither unscrambles to anything, or seems to be initials to anything. There are only 8 letters so phone numbers are ruled out. All we know is to head back toward Miami Beach and hope we come up with something on the way. Getting back takes a while. We find the nearest Metromover station is closed for construction and walk back into downtown Miami and catch the Metromover at the Miami Avenue station. From this station one can only go around the Inner loop, so we go to the College Bayside station and try to transfer to the Omni loop to go to the Omni Bus Terminal. Unfortunately, the Omni loop is closed today. After 25 minutes, we get a shuttle bus to the Omni Bus Terminal and wait for another 15 minutes for a bus heading toward South Beach. We still don't know where we are going in South Beach. We got off near 12th and Alton and headed toward Ocean Drive and the finish line.

Treating the 0 in the first group of symbols as the letter "O" results in an anagram of Ocean Cue so we think of a possible Pool Hall on Ocean Ave which is near the finish line. The Felt Billiards Hall is a few blocks over on Washington and is eventually chosen as a photo op when we can't find anything better. Since we still had an hour or so until the race was over we spent some time walking up and down Ocean looking at signs, menus, billboards, whatever, hoping to find something like C0EECAUN or FLFTFSLA. John really favors the FLFT Federal Savings and Loan Association, but alas none were found.

DISTANCE: 0.5 miles on foot, approx 6.5 miles by public transportation, plus another 2 miles by foot wandering around South Beach. Had we been thinking, we would have snapped a picture of Felt as we walked near it on the way across the peninsula taking about 0.7 miles off our total distance.

Felt actually is a better answer than we realized. If you turn the letters from C0EECAUN into numbers using A=1, B=2,... N=14, ... U=21, you get 305-531-2114, which is Felt's phone number.


We finally gave up and came in at the 5 hour 10 min mark, the 50th team across the finish line.

DISTANCE: 0.35 miles on foot

The first team crossed in 3:16. The seventh crossed in about 4:00. Even if we had gone straight to Felt, we would not have made it to the top 7, but we would have been close! Of course, we then would have been DQ'd due to the wrong answer in Checkpoint #3.

TOTAL DISTANCE on foot: 10.8 miles, by public transport: 11.5 miles

Other links:

Official Entrants Research Team
John Salmon
Lynn Salmon
Cliff Young
Joyce Farnsworth
Josh Fisher (Miami, FL)
Jason Crawford (Seattle, WA)
Dave Fullagar (Thousand Oaks, CA)
Tracey Parrish (Thousand Oaks, CA)
Dave Pfitzner (Thousand Oaks, CA)
David Brown (Kansas City)
Celeste Young (Oakland, CA)
Kyle Brink (Oakland, CA)
Scott Asher (New York, NY)
Cariann Chan (New York, NY)
Rick Larson (New York, NY)
Christine McLeavey (New York, NY)
Jennifer Pelka (New York, NY)