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Grand River Amazing Race returns after one year’s hiatus

The reaping is underway and the gamemakers are hard at work plotting the most wild and creative course yet.

After a year off, the Grand River Amazing Race returns June 20, centred around Kiwanis Park in Kitchener.

This time, organizers have gone to great lengths to style the event after the mega-popular book and movie series, The Hunger Games.

“Everything is mirrored after the movies and books and we have had a lot of fun with that,” event coordinator Leanne Husk said. “We were looking for something that would allow us to be creative, but also challenging at the same time. The very first year we really stuck to simple minute to win it type challenges, and we kept getting feedback that people wanted it to be harder. So it kind of gravitated towards (reality television program) Survivor-type challenges, and we’ve also incorporated themes each year. Last time (in 2013), it was the special forces theme, which was a lot of fun.”

The motif really shines in the lead up to the event, Husk said, pointing to some of the promotional materials and videos the group has put together featuring Hunger Game’s jargon like “the reaping,” “tributes,” “gamemakers,” and “surviving victor mentors.”

It has been a successful formula, having brought in over $100,000 from 2011-2014, with another $22,000 already donated for this year’s event.

The competition sees teams of two -at least one member must be over 18-years-old- pledge a minimum of $150 towards one of five local charities: Woolwich Community Services, Kitchener Waterloo Humane Society, Parents for Community Living, Grand River Hospital Foundation- Emergency Department, and Bereaved Families of Ontario- Mid-Western Region.

For extra motivation, there are perks for hitting fundraising milestones: $300 gets a team access to a canoe; $550 and you receive survival weapons and tools; $800 earns a map of the arena; $1000 and you’ll get a sponsorship parachute “when you’re in a pinch;” $1,500 gets a special gamemakers map; and $2,500 earns teams a surviving victor mentor to guide them through the course.

Top teams will win prize packages including a weekend getaway, Toronto Blue Jays tickets, Drayton Entertainment tickets and a rock climbing excursion.

But it won’t be easy.

“We’re nuts,” the event states on its website.  “We get our kicks sitting around dreaming up crazy challenges that we’d never do in a million years ourselves, but get to make a reality at your expense. So, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’ll be hard to do while you’re trying to move an orange with a banana suspended between your legs or flying down a slip and slide head first, amid blasting hoses anyway. Should adrenaline kick in and take over your better judgment, we’ve got your back; you’ll surely snap back into reality when you cross the finish line and we hand you a “cold one” not a gel pack.”

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