3rd campus race shows off the University

The annual Gopher Adventure Race highlights campus’ hidden gems.

A swarm of windbreaker- and swimsuit-clad students, alumni and faculty sprinted across Northrop Mall toward a sea of water bottles.

Their mission: find two that match to earn a clue to the next task.

The playful competition was a part of the third annual Gopher Adventure Race, where 200 University of Minnesota community members competed in a series of physical and mental challenges across the Twin Cities campus. Modeled after CBS television reality show the Amazing Race, pairs of contestants travel the campus area, completing challenges along the way.

“I’m not gonna lie, it’s a blast,” said senior Phillip Kelly, who has won the male division of the race since it began in 2010.

He said his biggest challenge this year was staying warm after water-related activities like the log-rolling station at the St. Paul campus gym and canoeing near East River Flats.

“You have a chance to really explore campus in a way you’ve never done before,” he said. “I love how they connect students to the Mississippi River because we walk over it every day, and we don’t even think about it.”

Participants also disc-golfed in the Knoll Area,  rushed to repair bike tires at the University of Minnesota Bike Center, played music identification memory games at the Rarig Center and tried their hands at archery on the St. Paul campus.

The event was organized by seven classes from the University’s recreation, park and leisure studies program in the College of Education and Human Development, said program director Connie Magnuson.

“It’s unique because it’s an academic tool,” Magnuson said, “but it also is unique that it really highlights the

Magnuson said the Gopher Adventure Race gives participants the chance to experience parts of campus that they may not be acquainted with.

“A national park in our back yard and cow barns at the same campus is pretty amazing,” she said, “so we want to make sure that people enjoy the full spectrum of the campus here.”

Standing side-by-side in black and pink jackets that read “Team K,” the wives of University President Eric Kaler and head football coach Jerry Kill said they were excited to participate in their first race.

“It’s just actually a great adventure because neither one of us know what we’re really getting into,” Rebecca Kill said.

Karen Kaler said she was eager to see the work of the students who planned the event.

“This college is so varied, which I really love,” Kaler said. “Anything the students do ends up being wonderful … so we’re excited to participate because they’re doing it.”

Both said they looked forward to contributing to the event’s goal of getting people outside and staying active.

Kelly, a global studies major, said he appreciates the race’s effort to promote

“The way that they brought together recreation and responsibility in nature I think is awesome,” he said. “To bring it on a public stage with this race is just really cool.”