Each year Downtown Topeka plays host to one of the most unique races in northeast Kansas. The Downtown Adventure Race Topeka, or more
commonly referred to as the DART, is the brainchild of Robb Cummings and Ryan Wenrich. After participating in a similar race in Colorado titled The Oyster, Wenrich returned to Topeka with thoughts and concepts about how to organize a version within Topeka. Wenrich ran the idea by his good friend Cummings and after talking through potential ideas, decided that this was something that needed
to happen.

Being very involved in Downtown Topeka, they were passionate that the race to take place in the dynamic core and benefit the people of that
community. They reached out to Let’s Help Inc. to see if this was something that they would be interested in helping organize and having the proceeds come back to them. The leadership at Let’s Help fell in love with the idea and proceeded to advertise it as their only fundraiser. The race itself takes place on a morning in August and consists of around 40 teams that congregate downtown at the transition area. This has moved locations several times but the transition area acts as a place that the teams gather clues, return to in order to check in and show progress and then head back out to accomplish the next task. Each and every year the race is something new and the teams have no idea what to expect.

Tasks can consist of anything from logic puzzles that require trivia and math to figure out to physical tasks that require dexterity, strength and coordination. Examples from the past include:

  •  A scavenger hunt for random items collected throughout downtown such as paperclips, cans of unopened beer and a green umbrella. Teams had to check off 20 items from the list of over 80 in order to complete the task and continue.
  •  A boy scout leg that was made up of target practice with a slingshot, tying various knots and memorizing and reciting the boy scout
  • Memorizing and answering questions about a very detailed crime scene, without the body itself of course. Teams were forced to use only their memory for this and not allowed to take photos or their phone to reference.
  • That same year, teams also got the chance to take photos with some very specific perspectives of downtown while trying to match criteria that were in example photos and had to include at least two teammates.
  • The Metro bikes were incorporated and had teams creating letters in a large parking lot using the GPS mapping capabilities and then solving the puzzle as to what the letters themselves spelled out. It was WESTAR, by the way.
  • Last year, teams had to convert a set number of chips into more chips by playing in a casino hosted by the Dillon House. Games of chance were set up that saw teams trying their hands at blackjack, roulette, craps and goalposts. 

This year the DART committee has once again planned six legs of various tasks and are preparing for teams to take the challenge on August 25. The race is a great way to have fun as a family, work on team building as coworkers or have a great time as friends. Adding even more fun and festivities to the day, many teams even theme their groups with names and costumes, so bumblebees, superheroes and even classic works of art have been seenscrambling through downtown.

Registration is now open at dothedart.com and will cost $50 per person with a minimum of three per team and a max of six. The race remains to be the only fundraiser for Let’s Help Inc. whose mission is to end the cycle of poverty in Topeka & Shawnee County through adult education, emergency services, food supplies and a clothing bank. To sponsor the DART please contact lindak@letshelpinc.org.