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Amazing Race: Chandler style

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Kiara Vander Pol gets wet during the ballon toss event as part of the "Amazing Race" Saturday afternoon in Chandler.

CHANDLER -- Which Chandler landmark can be seen for miles? What building was used as the Red Cross Relief Center following the June 16, 1992, Chandler tornado? Where was the Chandler Lumber Co., once located?

If you can answer all of those questions, chances are you would have done pretty well in the Amazing Race Saturday afternoon during Chandler's 125th Anniversary celebration.

Trivia was just a portion of the overall race, however, which had 18, four-person teams running from one challenge to the next. Stations stretched from the city dump on the west side of town to the community center near Minnesota 91 on the east, and from the city park on the south to the water tower at the top of the hill to the north.

As if all that running wasn't enough, they had to complete all 10 challenges within an hour and a half to vie for first prize.

The challenges included both physical and mental activities, from changing a car tire to eating a whole watermelon, playing a water balloon toss with the balloon lathered in Vaseline, driving a tricycle -- forward and backwards -- blindfolded, and putting a puzzle together.

At one site, teams had to choose their challenge -- completing a task involving shaving cream or eating a mystery food item. The shaving cream task required one volunteer from the team to get his or her leg shaved, while the mystery food had to be served to a blind-folded teammate.

"First it was really sour and then it was really hot," said Lacey Vanden Berg, a member of the Chandler Chain Gang team, of the mystery food -- a banana covered in Tabasco sauce.

Why the food challenge instead of the shaving cream? "We agreed early on that if there was anything gross to eat, I would eat that because I'm not so good with the puzzle challenges," Vanden Berg said. Most teams chose the shaving cream challenge.

The Chandler Chain Gang was one of several teams talking smack prior to the race, getting guff from some of the younger teams about who was going to win.

Linda Strampe, at 56, gave as much as she took in that department.

"We're going to take them out with our chains," Strampe declared. With bright orange T-shirts and chains dangling around their necks, the Chain Gang team name was based on Chandler's history.

"We wanted something with the railroad," said Strampe. "It was either this or the Chandler Tubba-Wubbas!"

As the Chain Gang waited for the race's start, Team Awesome's Wyatt Post was forced into a calisthenics stretch after a teammate grabbed his leg and began lifting it toward the blue sky.

"For the last 30 minutes before I was drafted, I've been working tirelessly," joked Post, who was joined by teammates Logan Kluis, TJ Vanpeursem and Kory Welgraven.

Whatever pre-race antics they did must have worked, as they finished in first place with the best overall time for completing the 10 challenges.

Team Awesome, featuring members ranging in age from 14 to 16, weren't the youngest. That honor went to the Tiny Tots, a group of teenage girls the youngest of whom was 13. Participants had to be age 13 or older.

The Tiny Tots, talking pre-race strategy, said their age could be an advantage.

"We're faster and we can fit in more places," said Kjersten Sankey. At the same time, she recognized the potential disadvantage. "We're younger, inexperienced and naïve."

There were just four rules to the contest -- a team had to wait to do a challenge if there was a team in front of them, they needed to respect all of the locations and return to the Chandler City Park by 4 p.m., whether they completed all 10 challenges or not. They also could ask for help from anyone except those on a different team.

The Jets team, which completed seven of the 10 challenges, relied on team member Shawn Weinkauf's mother for assistance.

"My mom was originally from Chandler," she said. "We were using her as help, but a lot of them we couldn't find."

The clue that proved the most challenging for teams, "It never smells good here, that's why I'm out of town," took them about half a mile out of town to the city's dump.

"We kind of did (the challenge stations) in a circle around Chandler, but not everyone is going in a circle," organizer Schmidt said.

Just four of the 18 teams completed all of the challenges. After Team Awesome members were presented $20 Cenex gas cards for their first place finish, the iFearless team of Jada Messick and Emma, Jack and Amy Shattuck each received a coupon for a free large Pizza Ranch pizza for second place.

Third place team was The Cut-Offs, including Haley Bose, Chanel Madson, Austin Kluis and James Dahlgren.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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