What is an Urban Adventure Race?

Tara Barnett

An urban adventure race is an elaborate scavenger hunt designed to challenge players both mentally and physically. Participants are typically asked to complete a number of tasks that take them to different locations in a city or region. These tasks are usually formulated like a puzzle, and completing the race with speed requires both quick thinking and physical prowess. While in some cases, an urban adventure race may involve physical feats such as climbing, running, or even boating, most races are designed to be easy enough for the average person to complete and enjoy.

Urban adventure races take place in large cities.
Urban adventure races take place in large cities.

The basic components of an urban adventure race are usually the tasks involved. Participants may be required to gather, photograph, or otherwise document that the tasks have been completed. A task might consist of taking a photograph of a landmark, or it might involve drinking a shot at a bar. Typically, the tasks and the complexity of the clues are matched to the level of the participants, such that a race designed for experts will be harder than a race designed for children.

Digital cameras are sometimes required for an urban adventure race.
Digital cameras are sometimes required for an urban adventure race.

Getting between each of the tasks may significantly increase the amount of time the race takes. Many races involve simply running to find each clue, but some specify a mode of transportation that must be used. To simplify the race, many organizations isolate a specific urban area in which all of the clues may be found and inform participants of these boundaries.

Urban adventure races may be organized by any group, including companies, cities, and schools. There are some companies that specialize in this type of contest, offering events in many cities. Setting up an urban adventure race requires knowledge of the city and some cooperation with city officials. There may be limitations on what kinds of tasks may be performed, and special permission may be required for features such as inflatable slides or rope swings.

Some races have specific limitations on who can participate. Teams may need to consist of a certain number of people, there may be age restrictions, and there may be a dress code consisting of a costume or team shirt. Special equipment, such as a digital camera or bicycle, may be required. Most organizations also charge a registration fee for an urban adventure race, but there are some free races.

While competitive people may take part in an urban adventure race and prizes may be involved, many participants register for the event for fun. An urban adventure race can be a great experience providing group bonding, exercise, and a new experience of a city. Whether bonding with friends, coworkers, or family, a large-scale scavenger hunt can be a highly memorable experience.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@pleonasm - Well, the classic example of a great urban race that most people are probably familiar with is the reality show The Amazing Race, although it's not always tied to urban settings. It does involve participants rushing around and trying to finish various tasks before their competitors though.


@KoiwiGal - I've never done one myself, but I've heard of some that sound so amazing. There's one in New York that is designed to be extremely challenging, to the point where they recommend that you have people with PhDs on your team if possible. And there's the international one run by Misha Collins that takes a week and involves almost 200 different tasks in different countries.

I like the idea that they aren't necessarily tied to speed as well, since urban races tend to be fairly dangerous if they are done at top speed, because of traffic and pedestrians.


If you can find an urban adventure race for families or children, definitely get your kids to participate. It will end up being one of their most precious memories, particularly if they get to do it with their friends.

I participated in a particularly well made race when I was a teenager and we had so much fun doing it. It was all based around taking photos rather than trying to find particular objects, and the most creative photos got extra points, so we weren't just trying to race against the clock.

Life can sometimes seem like it doesn't have any excitement, or clear goals, especially for teenagers. It was really nice to have a moment when we were all striving for the same thing.

Post your comments
Forgot password?