All About Cotopaxi Questival 2017: San Francisco
It’s been two years since my friends and I competed in our first Cotopaxi Questival and a lot has changed about the 24 hour “scavenger hunt” in just a couple years! Within two years, the San Francisco race jumped from 218 teams to 480 teams and they made a number of valuable changes within the Questival app. What hasn’t changed about Questival is its ability to push you as an individual and group beyond your limits to tackle dozens (or even hundreds) of experiences you never thought you could do within a day. All while laughing through hilarious blunders and unexpected situations.
For those of you scratching your heads wondering what on earth a Questival is – it is a scavenger hunt similar to the Amazing Race, in which teams of 2-6 people complete as many challenges as possible within 24 hours. The challenges range from physical (e.g. completely submerging yourself in a natural body of water with your clothes on) to locational (e.g. take a picture with the Yoda statue at the Presidio) and are each valued at different points. The 10 teams with the most points are then ranked by other teams based on the quality and creativity of their photo/video submissions (in the Questival app) and the team with the highest peer score within the top 10 wins! Previously, the first place teams from all the Questivals across North America were sent to Central America to compete in one big Questival elite showdown, but this year’s winners won prize packages worth $700 (per individual). There is a lot of Questival information to relay, but I’ve done my best to breakdown the most important parts for you if you’re interested in competing or just curious about the race in general.
More Cotopaxi Questival Basics
- Questival is hosted by Cotopaxi, an outdoor gear and apparel brand. Their logo features a llama, which is why so much of Questival features llama imagery and llama-inspired verbiage (e.g. “llamazing” is a word used a lot during the race).
- You will be emailed the challenge list 24 hours before the start of the race, which included 308 challenges this year. The challenge categories include: pre-event, adventure/quirky, camping & survival, check-in, checkpoint challenges, community & culture, food, hiking & travel, service & environment, social media, sport & fitness, and surprise.
- The race kicks off at 7:30PM on a Friday at the very high-energy Check-In Festival.
- Early bird pricing for Questival starts at $35 and includes a Cotopaxi Luzon backpack, which retails at $39.95.
- You are able to view all your submitted challenge videos and photos on your automatically populated team page.
Why You Should do Cotopaxi Questival
- It will push you to do things outside your comfort zone that you’ve never done before (ok, maybe this isn’t ideal for everyone, but I personally felt liberated each time I did something new). For instance, I approached a girl at Golden Gate Park and randomly offered her flowers for a Questival challenge. It turned out to be her birthday and her dad took a picture of her and our team on his phone! They were some of the nicest strangers we met.
- You’ll see things you’ve never seen before. I’ve lived in the Bay Area for over 3 years now and my second Questival attempt STILL managed to introduce me to novel things in the area. For instance, who knew there is a grove of 13 trees in Golden Gate Park to represent the original colonies?
- It is a bonding experience! 24 hours straight is a lot to spend with a handful of people. It brought us closer together and even introduced us to new friends. One of our teammates invited someone he had just met 2 weeks prior to the race and he was an excellent addition to our team!
- You will create memories that will last you a lifetime. My team and I still laugh about things that happened at our first Questival two years ago. Let’s just say we aren’t fans of driving around Santa Cruz past 2AM anymore…
Cotopaxi Questival Tips and Preparation
- If you plan on camping, book your campsite in advance! We made the mistake of trying to book a campsite the day before and they were all booked up or didn’t accept last minute reservations. Because of this, we ended up sleeping in our car in a parking lot. The sleep deprivation was real.
- If you want to win, you should definitely plan on camping. We lost out on so many high-point challenges because they were required to be completed while camping.
- It’s incredibly tedious, but everyone on the team should read through the challenge list. You’ll want to remember challenges on the go and be able to do the small/easy ones en route and in your car.
- Map out the places you definitely want to hit up and plan accordingly.
- DO NOT miss the starting-line challenge at 7:30PM at the Check-In Festival. This is worth a huge number of points. It was worth 24 points this year (most challenges are worth 1 or 3 points).
- Review the challenges the night before so you can go shopping for anything you need Friday during the day (e.g. we bought jump ropes, a basketball, a tub for stomping grapes).
- Make sure to check whether the challenge requires a video or a picture. A video challenge WILL NOT accept photo submissions and vice versa.
- ALWAYS have your totem in all your photos and videos. This is a flag or ribbon Questival gives you at check-in. Your submissions will not count without it.
- Dress up! I noticed that a lot of the top teams had well-coordinated – or hilarious – outfits.
- Bring snacks and water! You will get hungry and thirsty.
- Bring portable chargers. You will be on your phones throughout the entire race.
- Be sure to double-check your writing. For instance, I noticed multiple typos in some of my submissions (whoops). That sleep deprivation will get you!
- Clear up your phone storage! One of my personal obstacles was that my phone ran out of storage during the race and wasn’t able to record video properly. When your phone runs of out storage as you record a video, it comes out as a plain white screen. We had to go back to our previous location to film the challenge all over again. Delete all that you can on your phone before Questival!
- Make sure you properly research the landmarks to make sure you’re taking a picture with the right ones! We accidentally submitted a photo with the wrong San Francisco fountain…
How My Team Did
- We learned some valuable lessons from 2 years ago! This was evident, as our team came 49/480! Last time we finished 77/218 teams.
- This year, Questival introduced prizes for a number of challenges. My team won the “Create a team intro in the style of an 80’s or 90’s sitcom” challenge! Each of us won a $25 Cotopaxi gift card. You can view our winning video here. I have watched it maybe 100 times now.
Check out the entire gallery of our Questival challenge photos/video on our team page.
Some of my favorite challenge submissions from Cotopaxi Questival 2017:
Our challenge photo with Golden Gate Park’s plaque commemorating the park’s trees representing the original 13 colonies
Good luck on your future Questival races!