As a group of four scurried through Walmart Sunday evening searching for the Grinch, members worked together to stay ahead of the three teams competing in the Amazing G-race.
After Janel Contreras competed in her first Amazing Race competition in Sioux Falls several years ago, she was inspired to bring that same opportunity to Mitchell. Rather than using the same format as the popular T.V. show known as “The Amazing Race,” Contreras took a different approach and developed challenges that included doing good deeds and supporting local organizations.
“I wanted to make challenges that had meaning and brought people together,” Contreras said. “This is one way I hope to spread some Christmas cheer and give back to the community over the holiday season.”
Sunday’s inaugural event saw four teams compete, each comprised of three to four people. The teams all started off with same challenge at 4 p.m. The first team to successfully complete all of the 10 challenges was dubbed the winner.
Considering some of the challenges incorporated each team singing Christmas carols on Main Street, along with finding ornaments on the tall Christmas tree in front of the Corn Palace, it’s safe to say Contreras achieved her goal of spreading the Christmas spirit.
“I made sure every riddle of the challenge was able to be Googled, because I don’t want this to be a daunting challenge. The goal is for the teams to have as much fun as they can,” Contreras said. “The competition side is fun, but it’s all about having fun and supporting the community during the holidays.”
For example, one of the challenge riddles read, “Find the rodder that is cuddly as a cactus, as charming as an eel and you wouldn’t touch him with a 39.5 foot pole. He will be somewhere in store No. 2990.” The first sentence is the Grinch Who Stole Christmas theme song, and Mitchell’s Walmart is store No. 2990, meaning the Grinch is somewhere inside Mitchell’s Walmart.
Contreras highlighted one of the most meaningful challenges she’s excited for teams to experience during the Amazing G-race, which entails purchasing a Christmas card and a light that will be gifted to a local military veteran.
“We are focusing on WWII veterans as well, because I found out there were a few living in Mitchell. And we don’t know how long these veterans will be around, and I want them to know they are not forgotten,” Contreras said, noting the challenge concludes with setting up luminarias at the Veteran’s Park in honor of veterans.
From LifeQuest to the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) bar and local businesses, Contreras was taken aback by the community support the first-ever Amazing G-race received.
One of the biggest helping hands who assisted Contreras in organizing the competition was her daughter, Christine Schelske. With how well the event went Sunday night, the two already have their sights set on making new challenges for next year’s Amazing G-race. Contreras said she hopes to make it an annual competition, but she emphasized how it’s not all about the end result.
“Everyone we asked was so eager to get involved and help with the challenges. I couldn’t believe how many people went out of their way to help with this,” Contreras said. “There is so much more to this competition than winning.”
Schelske thanked the teams for competing in the event, and said the race is a unique way to give back to the community.
"We put a lot of time and effort into this race, and we are thankful for you all being able to help pay it forward this Christmas season," Schelske said to the teams prior to the beginning of the race.