Every year of the hunt, I’m asked if I’ve ever wanted to participate myself; If my job isn’t as fun as racing and would swap places one year. Strangely enough, the question was begged this year more than any other year. I typically have two responses to this question. The conceited response:
“I did actually race in SH2009. And I lost. A true Huntfan would know that. Do your research before you approach me with such pitiful questions”
…and the more respectful and expounding answer:
“I wouldn’t want it any other way”
To explain why I love organising the hunt, I have to explain two extremely strange fascinations from a particularly young age.
The first is the listing and ranking of anything that can be listed or ranked. You may be able to find some sort of OCD in this, but I enjoy not looking for answers with this one. It’s just part of who I am. Consider the three big events I organise every year. The Hunt, The Goys, The Hottest 100. See a pattern?
The second is the dream to be a game show host. The chance to become puppet master, as contestants traverse their way through a plethora of absurd obstacles. My heroes are Micallef, Probst, Keoghan; The legends of hosting. This dream comes through in everything I do. Turning daily events into (usually) friendly competitions. I’ve even seen it in my teaching, basing a lesson around a game show which taught the skills of bartering and bargaining. It’s not in the syllabus, but I don’t give a fuck. The kids learnt something very valuable.
So far this sounds extremely Machiavellian. It’s not. I have never organised the hunt for my own gain. Most people know that it’s more money and time out of my pocket than anyone else’s. The hunt is inspired by the competitive spirit I’ve seen in my friends since I’ve known them. The determination to outdo one another in anything. Nothing is too big or small an achievement that can be one upped. Swimming underwater, throwing rocks into a pipe drain, avoiding cars at night. Everything.
And this ambition is what initially inspired the hunt. But it’s not what has kept it going the last 6 years. What’s kept it going is the laughs which come along with it. Winning is not what it used to be. It’s second prize if you don’t have a good time. Sure, it’s physically challenging, with accounts of people exhausted for multiple days following. But, I’m told it’s completely worth it. And I can only really judge the race’s success off its testimonials. Which, for six years, have been glowing.
The stats are piling up, and every year the hunt becomes more of the institution it is today. Spanning over five hunts is just under 500 challenges, and just under 50 competitors. The list maker inside me hates that we didn’t hit the round 500/50/5.
As creator, I’m dropping any sense of modesty for this moment. I’m immeasurably proud of the hunt this year. Potentially my favourite? Definitely top 2. From the point of arriving at gorgeous Sandon Point, it was a goose bump day. Great teams and fun challenges to revisit. There was no arguing come scoring time. The hunt had taken what may be the final step from a competition to a circus. Now, people were doing ridiculous things and parading their lack of dignity for laughs over points. It was pure fun. And it’s a day I’ll cherish, just like the other four.
I did thanks on the night, but I’ll thank everyone again. Thank you to the house owners, the drivers, the co-planners, the racers, the gnomes and the mums who don’t think about dinner at two in the afternoon. Of course, apologies any workers or civilians affected by the intrusive nature of the hunt. We’re better than most the youths in Crown Street Mall anyway.
Since Scavenger Hunt 3: Road Trip, I’ve questioned the potential return of the race in future years. Feeling as though the hunt requires some sort of send-off. Burial at sea? 21-gun salute? A special Hunt themed goys? I don’t really know, but I’m starting to think it doesn’t matter. This year, the hunt was contemplative in nature. The nostalgia could be seen as a final goodbye. The thought certainly crossed my mind whilst planning. It would make sense, considering my approaching transition from student to teacher, the dwindling numbers of contestants and an exhausted list of challenges. But I’ve learnt to never say goodbye. If #SH5TARR wasn’t the last hunt, then great, I’ll see you all next year. But if it was, then it left us with grace. Sneaking early out the back door, a legend of the party. Something people will laugh and talk about for many years to come.