Urban Challenge - San Diego (2004/07/31)

Team #6704


The trivia quiz seemed to start easy (we think we got the first 9/9 all correct), but then turned hard -- we ended up with 6 wrong in the first 20 (the main score) and 3 wrong in the last 10 (tie-breakers). That put us in the third group to go out the gate -- the same group as Team Fluffy Bunny, last year's National Champions.

Update: The trivia questions and answers are now posted. We got wrong: Beverly Hills 90210, Zodiac Sign, Father Spanker, Same-day Dead Presidents, Skateboarding, Dark Energy (grumble), King Arthur's Horse, Group of Cobblers, and Nutmegger.

Skip Clue

While lining up to start we received a phone text message with a clue to the Skip Man's location:

       Hey, paesano!
We phoned this in to the research team, and I stayed on the line to the conference bridge for most of the race.

Race headquarters was the Yard House, 1023 4th Ave (at Broadway). Our first Checkpoint was CP5.


Whatever I feel like, gosh!

What does the idiosyncratic Napoleon Dynamite throw from the bus window in the movie name for him?

Just before we were released we were told that this Checkpoint was in Little Italy, which had been omitted from the clue sheet.

ANSWER: Chalk art by Vanessa Lemen, at Nelson Photo Supplies at the corner of India and Fir.

Our plan had been to read the first clue to the research team and then go to a nearby Kinko's to fax the clue sheet, unless we knew where to start moving for the first checkpoint. Since we knew CP5 was in Little Italy we abandoned faxing and went straight to the trolley stop, where a trolley came almost immediately. On the trolley I dictated the clue to Checkpoint 6. By the time we got off the trolley in Little Italy we had directions to the vicinity of the chalk art and found it fairly easily.

Distance: about 0.1 miles to the trolley stop, plus 1.1 miles by trolley, plus 0.25 miles on foot in Little Italy.


Where's the Lamp:

Find a sculpture in the Old Town San Diego area marked at the base with the following:


ANSWER: A sculpture in the front yard at Aladdin's Treasures, 2522 Congress St.

We ran back to the trolley stop in Little Italy to catch the trolley to Old Town. At the trolley stop, and later on the trolley, I dictated some more clues. Unfortunately the answer to CP6 was un-Google-able, so when we arrived in Old Town the research team told us we were on our own. We wandered through the Historic Park and down San Diego Avenue. There were other teams around, but none of them looked like they knew where they were going. We asked a tourist trolley attendant, but no luck. Near the "Cowboys" checkpoint from last year we decided to split up to continue the search. On a hunch I went down Congress St, which is less touristy than San Diego Avenue, and where they had one of the checkpoints last year. There was a lot less "stuff" here, so it was easy to notice some strange sculptures in a front yard, and woah -- one of them has the inscription! While wandering a short distance away and trying not to look like I had just found a checkpoint I rang Paul to come meet me.

Distance: 0.25 miles in Little Italy, plus 3 miles by trolley, plus about 0.7 miles wandering Old Town (minimum would have been about 0.3 miles in Old Town).


Math 101!

In the grid below, the integers 1-16 are arranged to sum to the bold numbers. For example, row i totals to 35, column A totals to 32, and the diagonal X totals to 28. We have already filled in a couple of integers to make it easier for you. To find Checkpoint 7, fill in the remaining blanks and then add A/ii plus B/iii plus C/i plus D/iv. Substitute the sum for A in the following equation:

        (118 times A) plus 7
Checkpoint 7 is located on San Diego Street in Old Town San Diego.

i 2 1535
ii  12 27
iii8   30
iv16   44

ANSWER: 2367 San Diego Ave.

This would have been a good clue to fax in, as it was a pain to dictate. It also turned out the be pretty tough to solve, and the research team did not have the answer by the time we had finished CP6. We went back to San Diego Avenue to be in the right area, and then Paul noticed that the clue actually said San Diego Street, not Avenue. We went a short way along (back near the "Cowboys") thinking San Diego Street might be a small spur off San Diego Avenue on our map, but that was not it, and the map street finder did not list San Diego Street. We decided it was probably a typo. There were a few other teams around -- one ran past asking if our diagonals added up. Another team said they had solved CP7 and wanted to trade for CP6. We agreed and they gave us a street address for CP7, but I was paranoid enough to ask for the filled-in square so we could verify the answer. They had to ring their support team for this, and it turned out their solution was wrong -- one of their diagonals did not add up, plus they had not realized that the 4x4 square had to contain the numbers 1-16 exactly once each.

Luckily by this time our research team had cracked the puzzle, and had the correct street address, which was not far away. There were some other teams there taking their photos, including the team who had tried to trade us for CP6. (They had probably followed another team while we were getting the correct answer on the phone.) And they still wanted us to give them the answer to CP6! We were having none of it.

Distance: about 0.35 miles (minimum about 0.25 miles directly)


Near or far!

Teams have a choice about Checkpoint 8. Checkpoint 8 is either:

ANSWER: (FAR) Statue near the flagpole on the hill in Presidio Park, near Presidio Way; N 32° 45.440 W 117° 11.650

The research team had not located NEAR, so we decided to do FAR. There was some confusion getting directions, but it turned out that Fort Stockton in Presidio Park was marked on one of my maps, so we set out following that. If we had just re-read the clue carefully it said "at the top of the hill", which was probably good enough directions by itself -- although running up a wrong hill would be bad.

A road winds up the hill, while many unofficial-looking trails take more direct routes up; we mostly followed the trails. The historical marker turned out the be at (or near) the flagpole at the top of the hill, and the statue was within a few yards of the flagpole. There was a nice view from the the hill, but we only had a few seconds to enjoy it.

Distance: about 0.55 miles, some of it steeply uphill.


Dead or Alive?

Robert De Niro's Character at the end of the movie Casino:

Find both Urban Trees along the bay.

ANSWER: Urban Tree 2028, near the Cruise Ship Terminal.

I had seen some Urban Trees along the waterfront the previous day sightseeing, and had thought they would make a good multiple-choice checkpoint. I didn't bother to locate all 30 trees, but that was OK, because the research team came up with a precise location.

From the hill in Presidio park we scrambled back down the steep trails and then ran across Old Town to the trolley station. While waiting for and riding the trolley I dictated some more clues. On the trolley Paul received text messages with trivia questions -- he answered them all correctly, but apparently not quickly enough to win whatever prize was on offer. Other teams on the trolley got off at Little Italy, but we went on to Santa Fe Depot which we thought was a bit closer. The directions from the research team took us straight to the checkpoint.

Sometime around here we realized that the Skip Man clue had probably meant Little Italy, and that CP5 was the only clue in Little Italy, so we had probably missed the Skip. Oh well.

Distance: about 0.4 miles in Old Town, plus 3.3 miles by trolley, then another 0.4 miles on foot to and along the waterfront.


Open your Eyes!

If I have 21 blue sox and 21 black sox in a drawer and I reach in without looking at the sox, what is the smallest number of sox I must take out to make sure I have a pair of sox that are the same color?

Find them all in and around Seaport Village area.

ANSWER: Morning sculpture in (North) Embarcadero Marina Park.

The puzzle was easy enough to solve ourselves, but we phoned it in to the research team anyway for confirmation. From CP9 we ran inland and then south down Pacific Highway, in the hope a bus would come along while we were running, but no such luck. Pacific Highway runs right into Seaport Village, so it turned out the be a pretty direct route anyway. The research team did not have exact directions to the sculpture except "Marina Park", but it was easy to find, right near the entrance of the park near Seaport Village.

Distance: About 0.9 miles



Unscramble the anagram below to form the one-word name of Checkpoint 11. Find it in the Gas Lamp district.

         REIGN BEAU

ANSWER: Aubergine, 500 Fourth Ave (at Island Ave).

The research team had the goods on this one, and we ran/walked up to Market St and across to 4th Ave, and then south to the Checkpoint.

Distance: 0.8 miles


Hello Pinky!

Checkpoint 12 is a portrait of a larger-than-life, pink-skinned person in profile with an earring. Find it within two blocks of an establishment that shares its name with one of the characters from the sitcom Friends. Both are located east of 6th between E Street and Market.

ANSWER: On 9th between F Street and G Street; the nearby establishment in the clue is Rachel's Women's Center, 753 8th Ave.

The research team located the Women's Center, but could not be more precise than that, so we ran there first and then started looking around. At F and 9th a road construction worker saw us running and pointed down 9th, where we found the pink portrait.

Distance: 0.5 miles (0.4 miles to the Women's Center, then 0.1 miles to the portrait).


I am I am!

Checkpoint 1 is a drinking establishment that shares its name with what the following have in common:

        Aaron, O., Moore, Patrick
Find it in the Gas Lamp.

ANSWER: Henry's Pub, 618 5th Ave.

The research team knew this one, and it was just a matter of yet more running/walking...

Distance: 0.35 miles.


Early Bustin' Out of the Patented Wacky Equation:

Solve the equation below and you will know the name of Checkpoint 2.

       Atomic Weight 118.69
       Abe Vigoda character
         Checkpoint 2.
Find it in the Gas Lamp.

ANSWER: The Tin Fish, 170 6th Ave.

Yay, more running!

Distance: 0.37 miles.


Black & ...!

Checkpoint 3 shares its name with an island in the western Mediterranean Sea. Find it in or near the Gas Lamp.

ANSWER: Ibiza Tan, 107 West G Street

A one-stop trolley ride would have taken us from near CP2 to closer to CP3, but a trolley did not happen to be there as we ran past, so we kept running. We ran along a path parallel to the trolley tracks, then up 1st Ave and west on G. At Ibiza Tan the owner volunteered to take our photo, and we're smiling in the photo as we chat with him about how many times he has done this today.

Distance: about 0.55 miles.


Not the Batcave:

Checkpoint 4 shares its name with the spot Batman, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman hung out together. Find it in downtown San Diego.

ANSWER: The Hall of Justice, 330 West Broadway

Soon after CP3 my cell phone died, so Paul took over communicating with the research team. That may have been a good thing anyway, since by this time I was getting pretty tired, so keeping on going was enough to occupy me without also thinking/talking/listening.

Paul knew where the Hall of Justice was -- well, roughly! We detoured through Horton Plaza, then went a block too far north before finding the right building, all of which was not helping my tired legs. At the Hall of Justice a security guard knew the drill and took our photo.

Distance: about 0.6 miles (minimum would have been 0.35 miles direct).


It was a direct route back along Broadway to race headquarters, so we sprinted back to the finish line -- for sufficiently slow values of "sprint", as I was pretty exhausted at this stage.

Distance: 0.37 miles.

We crossed the finish line and received a 25th place marker. Our photos were checked as being good, and we were told we'd have a top 20 place after other disqualifications. We didn't notice our exact finishing time, but it was something a bit under 3 hours. The Fluffy Bunny team had been first across the line.

Update: The results are posted and our official position was 20th. According to the race report on the FluffyBoard™, the winners finished in a time of 1:39!

TOTAL DISTANCE: on foot: 7.44 miles, by trolley: 7.4 miles

From the finish line we staggered inside, where the savvy folk at the Yard House immediately seated us at a table and gave us menus, and beer recommendations.


I had thought that CP5 was a good starting checkpoint, because it let us start traveling while dictating clues and having research done, without being stalled. However in retrospect one disadvantage turned out to be that we didn't get to use those trolley rides out to Little Italy and Old Town to recover from running, because we had not yet done much running. Instead after CP9 we did 7 more Checkpoints in a row plus the finish line without any public transport to rest on (and of course the research team kept finding the answers so we couldn't rest while waiting for them!) Of course better fitness on my part would have helped here.

Another possible disadvantage of starting on CP5 was that it may have been a factor in our missing the Skip. We don't know if the Skip wasn't there yet when we were there, or wasn't along our route through Little Italy, or was there but we were just not paying enough attention.

We got lucky finding CP6, but could have done better if we'd found the NEAR location for CP8, and of course the Skip. Otherwise we did pretty well locating the checkpoints -- despite the fact that we were a little slow in getting all the clues phoned in to the research team. I notice now that the Hall of Justice is actually marked on my Downtown San Diego map!

-- David Pfitzner

Official Entrants Research Team
David Pfitzner
Paul Zastoupil
Jason Crawford
David Fullagar
Tracey Parrish
John Salmon
Lynn Salmon