HARLEM — A scavenger hunt inspired by the “Amazing Race” will decide Harlem’s smartest, fastest and strongest.
Harlem Routes' will have teams run about five miles over the course of the hunt, and task them with challenges designed to push their brain, body and taste buds to the limit, organizer Kameeka Shirley said.
“I really love the show ‘The Amazing Race’ and I thought it was an excellent way to engage people and try something new,” she said. “There really are a lot of great things going on here and by not going north of a certain subway stop people are missing out on quintessential New York experiences.”
Some of the challenges include blind taste tests at local restaurants where competitors will have to accurately guess what ingredients are in a recipe, recreating a painting found in a local art gallery, or completing 20 minutes of hot yoga, she said.
The race, which takes place May 2, is open to people of all ages from across the city. There will be four waves of races, two for family teams and two for adult teams, including a "blind date" category.
People who don’t have teams can enter the “blind date” heat where they will be paired off with another random competitor. If sparks don’t fly after the first checkpoint, competitors can swap partners, Shirley said.
Other than the "blind date category," each team can have two to four members.
As people reach various checkpoints, the slowest teams will be eliminated. The winner for each wave will get a "Night out in Harlem" package, including gift certificates for various spots in the neighborhood, Shirley said.
“The grand prize is designed to bring people back to the area,” Shirley said.
Shirley, who moved to Harlem three years ago, organized the event to show off her neighborhood. Friends often invite her out to the Lower East Side or the West Village but when she invites people to Harlem they ask if it is safe, she said.
“I wanted to let people know that if they come to Harlem, we will take care of you,” she said.
The idea is to change people's perception by highlighting how much there is to do. Instead of experiencing just one restaurant or cultural institution, competitors will discover many of Harlem’s hidden gems, she said.
Registration to Harlem Route is already open. Individuals can sign up online for $50 and teams for $160.
There will be a party after the race at restaurant and bar Corner Social, at Lenox Avenue and 126th Street, Shirley added.