I assisted the amazing Dax
(wow, that sounds like a stage magic act, doesn't it?) in whatever ways I was able for his superb planning of Journey to the End of the Night: Chicago. On the evening of April 11th, about a week before the event, we met up and walked the 7.5 mile route so that I could preview what the players would see on the 19th, and so Dax could troubleshoot the map he'd created for the players to use. The first five photos below were taken on that walk, at about the same time of night the players would be encountering the same sights during the game. We took the shortest distances possible between checkpoints and did not use the train. I'm really glad we had the chance to do this, since I was the agent for the final checkpoint, would have to drive all the equipment directly from the starting line to the finish line when the game actually began, and would otherwise not have gotten to see the route at all.
A small crowd of about ten people had gathered at the starting location around the fountain in Wicker Park when I arrived around 6:15pm. We set up small tables for the registration forms and to display the awards, and cut the lengths of blue and red ribbon that would be used as armbands to designate runners and chasers. I took up the duty of making sure everyone got signed in, took one blue and one red ribbon, and received a route map/checkpoint manifesto. Dax made the opening announcements, including the reading of the rules, around 7:15 - at this point, there were about 150 runners ready to begin their Journey. In the middle of his instructions, his cellphone rang, much to the amusement of the crowd. It was the staff chasers calling in from their starting positions in the field, checking in with Dax and reminding the runners that there was actually something to be running from
once the game started. At 7:30, Dax's bullhorn rang out with an "ON YOUR MARKS! GET SET! GO!!!
" and a whistle blew - the 150 gathered runners immediately dispersed in literally all directions from the central point of the fountain. This was an incredible sight, really, one of my very favorite moments.
I hopped in my car and delivered some extra supplies to the ladies at checkpoint 2, then made my way down to the lakefront to set up the finish line. On my way there, I got a text message - the first runners had passed through checkpoint 1, at about 8:15. I also learned that my fantastic checkpoint 6 partner, Daniel, had gotten a flat bike tire on his way to meet me and was diverting to the train. Because I wouldn't have any help unloading the car and wouldn't be able to unload, watch the supplies, and park my car all at the same time, I called Dax and we reached the decision to move the finish line to Solidarity Drive, the street that ran behind the original Field Museum checkpoint and alongside of the Shedd Aquarium. I was able to secure parking, and I tied the CG0 flagpole to the side mirror of my car, so approaching runners would see it. I set up tables full of cupcakes for the inevitable arrival of hungry players, and began to wait.
Daniel arrived with his injured bicycle just before the first chaser to finish trotted up to us at about 8:20. It was d - clare
! Four more chasers arrived before our first runner - Matt Larrain
with his manifest signatures completed - ran up and threw himself on the ground in exhaustion at 9:00. After that, there was a series of chasers - all with "kills" - who came in to share stories and have some delicious sugar- and carb-filled snacks. Our champion chaser, Whit
, with an incredible thirteen
captures, arrived around 10:30.
We gave medals to the first 12 chasers to arrive with at least one capture, and to the 45 runners that returned their completed manifestos (I have 13 of those medals to make and send out this week - I promise I won't forget!). Everyone had wonderful, exciting tales of evasion and strategy - it was so much fun to be there as people came in and added their chapters to the evolving story of the Journey. Dax arrived around midnight and awarded the trophies to Matt and our most prolific chaser, and medals to the players with the best stories from the field - LittleMonk
, lara black
, and OliverX
. The party broke up shortly after the ceremonies due to lateness of the hour (it was about 1:30am), weariness of the players, intervention of the authorities (although it was very mild and the delightful Ms. Minx
did an outstanding job of placating them), and the promise of an afterparty by Gremlin
Thank you, Dax, for giving our city this epic event! I can't wait to read everyone's stories!