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‘Pointless Pursuit’ brings ‘The Amazing Race’ to Columbus with puzzles, challenges

Games, challenges and competition challenged participants in this year’s “Pointless Pursuit.”

The “Pointless Pursuit” is a 14-part mental and physical competition in Columbus in the style of the TV show “The Amazing Race.”

More than 100 teams of two people each competed in this year’s 5th annual race Sunday.

“Obviously, we’ve grown exponentially over the years,” said Kristen Warren, the event coordinator and the creator of Pointless Pursuit.

“You see from year to year you learn so much from each event.”

The race starts and ends at End Zone bar and grill on Vine Street and takes participants around Columbus to locations like Wall Street Nightclub, Columbus Commons and Italian Village Park. But Warren said the race is less about the traveling and more about the contests.

“Our first year, it was very expansive and covered from (the) University District all the way down through German Village,” Warren said. “Now we’ve condensed it … I wanted teams to be able to be competitive without having to run from one thing to the next.”

Contestants are encouraged to wear silly costumes to the event, and before each race, a costume contest is held.

“There are definitely teams that go all out, one year we had a team where a woman wore her actual wedding dress — a full wedding dress, the whole nine yards, and she came in second,” Warren said.

Some of the costumes on display for this year’s Pointless Pursuit were a pair of female Vikings, some ninjas and a team posing as the man from the Dos Equis beer commercials.

At the beginning of the race, teams are given a passport, which contains 14 mental puzzles such as a word search or pictographs. Solving the puzzles reveals the location of the challenges.

Each year a new batch of challenges awaits the competitors. Some contestants said their past favorites have been a challenge in which competitors had to win at Mario Kart and a sexy dance challenge.

“I liked ‘Get Your Sexy Back,’” said Mindy Neal, who has been competing in the Pointless Pursuit with her husband, J.B., since the first year of the event. “He had to learn dance moves around a pole … so that was fun to watch your husband try to dance sexy.”

The events can range from physical competitions to silly challenges.

“We had to eat a dog biscuit one year,” Neal said. “So that was gross.”

This year’s race featured an original array of challenges, including contests in which partners have to use a slingshot to fire golf balls into a bucket held by the other partner, and a challenge in which teams had to put enough pennies in a container to match the exact weight of a sealed container.

The 2013 Pointless Pursuit was won by Team Shenanigans, which consists of husband and wife Tyler and Shannon Sprau.

“This is the fourth year we’ve done it,” said Shannon Sprau. “The first year we came in third place, the second year I ran it pregnant … and then last year we just didn’t do very well.”

This year, though, the team came prepared with a new strategy.

“First thing we did when we got our clue book was we sat down right here at the start line, and we figured out all the clues so we knew where everything was,” Tyler Sprau said. “Then on a napkin we got from the bar here, we drew out a vague map of the city… then we just kind of went for it.”

For their first place finish, the Spraus received a package containing several gift cards to End Zone and White Castle, as well as Columbus Blue Jackets baseball hats and complimentary Columbus Crew tickets.

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