Monday, January 7, 2013

Hidden Staircases of LA

We’re Alyssa and Kimby Penning and together we make up Team Pink. Todays race started off in Echo Park in LA. 

We were told yesterday to prepare for a long and rigorous challenge that would require fitness. Seeing that we are members of Calvin’s cross country and track and field teams, we were pretty excited about this. At Echo Park each team was handed a map of the hilly neighborhood and a group of 30+ photos of unique elements of the neighborhood itself. We optimistically began sprinting to get to the race’s designated area. We knew that we would be allotted two hours in order to complete this race, but none of us could have known what lay ahead of us in the streets of this neighborhood. Our fate became apparent as soon as we crested the first hill. Now Kimby and I have done plenty of hill workouts in our time as distance runners. However, the hills of Echo Park put all of our hills to shame. They were steep and they were many. We’re sitting here, in our homestay, trying to describe how steep these hills were, and we are failing to find the words. Anyways, they were terrible. Aside from the nature of the hills, the neighborhood itself was breathtaking. Over every hill was a beautiful view of the city, uniquely constructed homes, hidden stairways connecting streets at various altitudes, and tons of street art. As we said before, our task was to canvas the entire neighborhood, looking for the objects shown in our collection of pictures. We had to run up and down even the smallest of streets to make sure we didn't miss anything. We really had to keep our eyes open the entire time. Once we came across an item in a photo, we had to mark it on a map, according to its number (each picture had a number on the back). We decided that it would be best for us to run for the entire two hours. We think this gave us a great advantage. We also discovered that it worked best for Kimby to organize and describe our photos while I navigated the map and streets. We think this will be our favorite race of this interim and one of our favorite running workouts ever.

 After this race, we got to relax for a while. We found a park with lots of sunshine, sat down, and ate our lunches provided by our wonderful host families. Some even found the energy to play a game of ultimate Frisbee. 

The second event of our day was attending a taping of the Jay Leno show. It was such a unique, “bucket list” type of experience. Jay was hilarious, as were Snooki and JWow (two cast members of MTV’s The Jersey Shore). Watching the show was relaxing after running around all morning long. 

We found dinner after the show, some watching the BCS game, others exploring local restaurants. Finally, we enjoyed a 45-minute drive back to our homestays. While they are not planned parts of our races, the car rides to and from locations have become one of our favorite parts of the interim. Getting to talk with different people during every ride has been great. We’ve got a good thing going with this group. We’re SO excited to continue on this Amazing Race!

Final results for the Hidden Staircases of LA Race:
1. Red & Pink(TIE)
3.  Navy
4. Orange
5. Kelly Green
6. Graphite & Royal(TIE)
8. Vegas Gold
9.  Forest Green & Gold(TIE)
11. Columbia Blue
12. Purple


  1. Love following this! OK - fess up... that's not really Jay Leno, but a life-size stand-up replica of him. Right?

  2. you are going to be legends.....come on learn to kayak Vegas Gold!!

  3. Staircases are part of the house that comes in different styles that depends on the availability of the materials and the kind of theme the homeowner wanted it to be. There are a lot of staircases types and as we see it, attic staircases are the most common. Their functionality varies and the following examples are indeed very interesting. Interesting in the sense that it encompasses style and function as one.