You’ve already seen my race recap from the Minneapolis Fight For Air Race, so this post is about the rest of my Minnesota visit. Even though I didn’t spend much time there (less than a day!), I had a wonderful visit to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and a big reason why is my friend Jason.
I met Jason a few years back on the stair race circuit, and in addition to being a great guy, he’s crazy fast and accomplished – one of the top-ranked in the entire nation. He picked me up at the airport and let me crash in his spare room – did I mention he’s a great guy?
My flight landed right before dinner, and we were hungry. Jason knew of a place that had dozens of choices and was nearby: MALL OF AMERICA! I had never been, but remember all the headlines when it opened in the ‘90s, so I was game.
It’s the largest mall in the country, and YES, it is huge. We did a lap around one of the floors (there are four) to survey the restaurants, and that walk was three-quarters of a mile – I measured it on my GPS. Then we picked a restaurant that we passed on the other side, so we covered half that distance again!
We ended up at a place called Cadillac Ranch, which had a big menu and live music – a guy with his guitar. I ordered a bacon and blue cheese burger, and swapped fries for broccoli.
In addition to shopping, there lots of other stuff to do, and one attraction caught my eye:
It’s a 2,500 square foot room, filled with a grid of columns and arches. Between many, but not all, of the columns, are mirrored walls. Because of the angles and repeating patterns, the effect is that it looks like there are corridors that extend forever, but most of the time, when you start walking down one, BAM, you hit a wall and have to find another way. It’s very tricky, a LOT of fun, and I’d go back again in a heartbeat.
I’m not lean enough so that the rest of my body is hidden by that column… what you’re actually seeing on the left side of the column, instead of my legs and butt, is the reflection of another part of the maze.
They give us gloves to wear, so we don’t smudge the hundreds of glass walls with fingerprints, but on more than one occasion I’m sure I left a face print from running smack into a mirror.
It’s like one of those 3-sided department store fitting room mirrors went apeshit with steroids!
We wandered the maze, having fun and taking photos, and eventually found the exit. Then we decided to race, one at a time, with the other person outside the maze with a stopwatch. Jason finished in 1:49, but I finished in 1:17.
It will probably be the only time ever in my life that I will ever be faster than Jason!
After the maze, we wandered Nickelodeon Universe, the huge indoor amusement park in the center of the mall. There were tons of rides, including at least four roller coasters. We went on Rock Bottom Plunge, the Spongebob-themed one that crams a nice drop, multiple inversions, and quite a bit of speed into a tiny corner of the park.
After a fun outing at the mall (I haven’t used that phrase in years), we drove back to Jason’s place, passing downtown along the way.
Jason pointed out the building where we’d be racing (which I don’t think you can’t see from this angle), as well as the other two buildings that have stair races. Three stair races? Go Minneapolis! Plus, there’s a stadium race (like this one) in the summer!
I’ve been inspired by Jason since I met him, but after seeing his home, I’m inspired even more. There’s race medals and awards everywhere: a room dedicated to them, but since the racks and shelves are full, they spill over to other tables and counters, and piled on the floor. In addition to stair races, Jason is an avid runner and triathlete, and he has the hardware to prove it. My medals are all finisher medals, which Jason has in spades, but he also has tons of medals for finishing at the top of his age group, or top three overall. Jason also showed me his spreadsheet, filled with columns of data and notes from all his races, that he can sort and search dozens of ways, which he uses to set goals and study his progress. His home is clearly the home of a man dedicated to athletic pursuit, and the depth of that dedication is awesome to see. He has a comfy spare bed, too!
I already covered what happened at the race, but afterward, Jason, me, and two more friends, Nam and Kate, went to breakfast a few blocks away, at a place called the Hen House Eatery. I ordered a custom omelet, with broccoli, spinach, and mushrooms (I added sriracha on top), and dry toast on the side.
Then, back to Jason’s place for a shower and to get our stuff, and we shared an Uber to the airport: I was heading to Chicago for Hustle Up The Hancock, and Jason was off to compete at Scale the Strat in Las Vegas (the race where we first met three years ago).
It was a quick trip to Minnesota indeed, but a very fun one, and one that included smart choices and activity… two hallmarks of good travel, no matter where I’m going!
Keep it up, David!
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