Questival 2017: Adventure Racing for Good?

“Serious Faces Only” — Freetail Hikers

“Are they like the Toms or Warby Parker of outdoor gear?”

My friend asked this question when I asked him to join my Cotopaxi Questival team. Cotopaxi positions itself as a socially and environmentally conscious outdoor gear company. We joined their 24-hour adventure race: The Questival.

The Questival promises 24 hours of exploring your city with your closest friends, completing quirky challenges, and trying out new things. After my first adventure race in college, I found out that that adventure hunting was the only thing that could make me run since high school freshman year PE. I immediately reached out and messaged my ride-or-dies, begging them to join me.

Questival works like this:

  • Do a bunch of random challenges all over the city and earn points for your team.
  • Challenges vary in points, so your team needs to strategize which ones are worth it. Hiking for a mile might only give you 3 points whereas eating a bug might give you 6.
  • Unless specifically stated, you need to show off your totem in every challenge. Said totem is a cloth with the words “DO GOOD”.
  • The top 10 teams with the highest points are put into a Tinder-esque swiping match where other Questivalers rate “good” or “llamazing” to determine the final rankings.
  • The winners are rewarded with an all expense paid trip to an exotic destination and Cotopaxi outdoor gear.
  • There are specific “Prize Challenges” such as singing your state song or eating a stalk of cauliflower like an apple. Yes, that was a thing.

Questival’s first race of the 2017 season took place in Austin. AKA Austinites were guinea pigs. The biggest problem was the app, Questify, that Cotopaxi made for participants to track their rankings. You had to submit a photo or video to get points for completing the challenge. Questify kept crashing for Android and even on the iPhone, photos and videos were uploaded to the wrong challenge. Cotopaxi posted on their event page with app updates and promised users that we could upload after the event ended. Apple even expedited a Questify update so that participants could submit challenges ASAP. Uncoincidentally, this also led to the quick decline of our team. Without the ability to submit challenges, we unofficially quit, instead lazing about in Zilker Park. After grabbing lunch, we headed home and, like the app, crashed.

And here I am, one week later after surviving the Questival. The biggest question: Would I do it again? Absolutely. I became closer friends with my team, explored parts of Austin that I haven’t been to before, and made quality content that will live forever in my heart and on the Web. I visited the downtown Austin farmer’s market for the first time, learning about Texas’s only native caffeine-producing plant, yaupon (which makes very good tea), and sang so much carpool karaoke that my voice started to naturally bravado.

Challenge: Do a HONY style post on a stranger. This guy sold a very refreshing, light yaupon tea. I’ll add the link later!

At the end of the day, Questival is a peer-to-peer marketing campaign; every challenge asks to be shared on social media and requires you to show your totem in the picture. One challenge requires getting a celebrity with over 50K Twitter followers to retweet your Cotopaxi post. Some teams looked like they weren’t having fun at all. I’d see people smile in pictures, grins dropping as soon as the camera turned off. So here’s my tip for the Questival:

Focus on making quality content rather than cramming as many experiences in 24 hours as possible. This will force you to enjoy random things that you’d normally never try out.

Thanks to Questival, I now have so many photos and videos that can be relived in the future. Our challenge submissions had a very Vine aesthetic to it, but this happens when memers are your friends. If you want an excuse to do many things that you normally wouldn’t, sign up for one of the Questivals in the US.

Challenge: Find this mural in real life and take a picture with it.

Leftovers:

In my leftovers section, I’ll include random things that didn’t make it into my main post. Expect grumblings, puns, and some life advice.

  • Get your Questival ticket as early as possible to take advantage of the early bird discount.
  • The “free” Luzon daypack that came with my ticket was smaller than I expected it to be.
  • Beware of “free food” check-in challenges. A very hangry team showed up early in the morning when free breakfast tacos (an Austin staple) were promised to the first 200 people. Instead, tacos were only given to teams that could put up a hammock the quickest. This camper was not happy…
  • Yes, Questival is a peer-to-peer marketing campaign for Cotopaxi but you will have genuine fun if you don’t take it too seriously.
  • I’m convinced that I was brought onto this earth for meowing all the words to Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved”.
  • Instead of saying “cheese”, we said “Serious Faces Only” for Questival photos. It started out as a joke, but eventually mirrored our exhaustion.

Here are some of my favorite challenge submissions:

Photo credits to Yuriy Minin (Twitter: Yuriy Minin) and Rainier Ababao (Twitter: @rainieratx).