Questival Planning Tips
Questival is sweeping the country as a fun, competitive adventure event for locals to enjoy with gusto. Created by Cotopaxi, an adventure gear company making gear for good, the 24-hour Questival invites you and up to five of your closest friends to go do crazy, silly things around town without spending much (if any) money. It’s a rollicking good time for teens to seniors, and it can bring out your outrageous attitudes, competitive spirits, and giving moments.
Here’s how my four friends and I had a competitive, fun Questival, while using these Questival planning tips.
Tip zero: Sign up and pick a name.
For about $45 each person, you can sign up for Questival in the competing cities of Austin, Atlanta, Tucson, Las Vegas, Nashville, The Triangle (NC), Boise, Missoula, Santa Fe, Sacramento, Washington (DC), Burlington, Charleston, Richmond, Calgary, Lansing, Salt Lake City, Toronto, Vancouver, Minneapolis/St Paul, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Indianapolis, Knoxville, Los Angeles, Madison, State College, Columbus, New York City, College Station, Houston, Jacksonville, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Hawaii, Denver, Boston, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, and Phoenix.
Next, you’ll want to download the Questify app (Android) and the Questify app (iOS), recruit your team, name your team, and then wait. For team name inspiration, think about llamas. Our team, which combined members from our walking group, Walk2Connect, picked the name Llama Connect You.
Tip one: Get your team together the day before the race and strategize.
At 24 hours before the race starts, Cotopaxi sends out the list of challenges. Here’s the final challenge list from the Salt Lake City 2014 Questival. Our team worked through the list to understand the basic purpose of the list and then we each picked the items that we each wanted to do. We were a team where the youngest was 13 and the oldest was 62. The youngest didn’t want to sing publicly at the top of her lungs, and the oldest didn’t think a drive to the state border would be smart use of our time.
Tip two: Decide, as a team, if you’ll want to just have fun or try to win.
The challenge list contains many activities organized by type of challenge and/or by points. The easier the challenge, the fewer the points. The harder or more socially impacting the challenge, the more the points. Strategically, you could do many events in less time, or fewer events in more time. If the goal is to win, you’ll want to be hyper-organized with a game plan. If you want to have fun, you can just pick the items on the list that sound engaging and do those.
Getting the team to agree to which way to approach the race can help eliminate conflicts in the team decision making that you’ll boulder through.
Our team decided to have fun, and we also decided that winning is fun, too! When we realized in the middle off the race that we weren’t having as much fun as we wanted to have, we backed off trying to robo-power ourselves through the list, thus slowing our pacing and increasing our laughter.
Tip three: Being organized around geography will increase your competitive position.
Cotopaxi organizes the list by type of category (social media, adventure & hiking, camping, etc.) While working the list, we realized that if it were sorted by geography, we could be efficient and knock out more tasks more quickly, eliminating a lot of transportation. Thus, we downloaded the pdf file, exported it to Excel, tagged items with geography (downtown, home, camp ground, anywhere, etc), and then we planned our game of attack.
Tip four: Print and highlight the list.
After we sorted by geography, we printed out copies of the list to carry with us. Constantly sorting through the app to find things became tedious. We highlighted items that carried that most points which also appealed to us as the most fun or the most important. We then tried to do those items first when we were in the geography of that item.
Tip five: Have a camping plan.
Cotopaxi doesn’t give much info about how to handle sleeping. The app closes from 1-5 AM, and they encourage you to take downtime then, too.
When organizing your team, you’ll also want to consider whether or not you’ll sleep or power through challenges that can be done in the wee hours of the morning.
Either way, you’ll want to have a camping plan. If possible, reserve a campsite as close as possible to where the event starts. Most cities don’t allow overnight sleeping in city parks.
Hint: Consider that Cotopaxi gives up a good dozen or more challenges to do at a campfire (Make S’mores with an unusual ingredient!), so think about the need to be near an open flame when planning about your sleeping accommodations.
Tip six: Pack for camping, including food, even if you don’t end up camping.
Although we had the car packed with tents and sleeping bags, we couldn’t find any camp spots (no backyard camping allowed!), and we found that all of us were very tired and wanted a good night’s sleep. The hubs and I hosted the team at our house at the last minute, and we found this was a great decision. In addition, one of our team members had packed a fajita meal, which we cooked in our kitchen at 10 pm. It was the best meal of the week, one in which we were all grateful for her hindsight due to our extreme hunger and tiredness.
Tip seven: Take a break. Or two.
The morning after the overnight, you’ll want to hit the ground running and attempt to tackle as many challenges as possible. Many of them can be done quickly in a park. We were running through our challenges, and then I realized that I wasn’t laughing.
No one else was either. The truth was we were cold, hungry, and tired. The pace was putting focus on winning and not on having fun (why wouldn’t a wheelbarrow race be fun?) So we decided to head to a coffee shop, warm up, chill out, take in some good morning vittles, and refocus. From that break, we got much more creative, recommitted to having fun, and then narrowed the list back down to the fun things.
Tip eight: Check-in all three times.
Cotopaxi hosts three check-ins throughout the race, and you do not know where they are ahead of time. At the check-ins, there are challenges to do and passport stamps to get. You’ll also regroup with the other Questival teams. At the check-ins you can wrap up a ton of points from the event and by having other Questivans to help complete some of the challenges. In addition, if you do all three check-ins, you get bonus points.
Tip nine: Use Cotopaxi’s Luzon backpack.
As part of your registration, Cotopaxi gives you an amazing backpack. It has a spot for a water bladder, which I encourage you to bring your own bladder and use this pack. It’s a well-designed and comfortable pack which will hold all the gear you’ll want to have. We carried a change of clothes, outerwear, water, snacks, a headlamp, phone chargers, and pens. I love that it comes in a ton of different color combos, all picked by the seamstresses who make them!
Tip ten: Bring a power strip.
Your phone will die. Each event requires a team member to take a photo or a video of the event which you must submit via the app. Each submission gets points. Unless you have a super hero battery, your phone will die. We brought along a power strip, and whenever we stopped to refuel our bodies, we also refueled our phones. Yup, it looked funny to haul out a power strip in Starbucks, but with power outlets being a premium, the power strip was a huge hit.
Bonus tip: Have fun. Lots of it.
Remember, this whole adventure is about getting together with your friends, exploring your city, and having fun. We spent next to nothing on the events, and we had a super rich time. Our average team age was probably double that of the other teams. We even saw a few parents out with small children, but most Questivans were in the 20-30 age range.
I’m sure there was a probably a team that not only hiked a 14er and drove to Montana, but also jumped into a lake with their clothes on and longboarded down Denver’s 16th Street Mall. We didn’t do those things, but we did recreate the Game of Thrones in the grocery store, shot a commercial about Eau du Campfire, and donated $10 to Nothingbutnets.net.
We had competitive fun at Questival. I hope these Questival planning tips allow you to have fun, too. In 2016, we loved our Denver Questival event. In 2017, we’re doing Austin. Post your Questival photo and videos below! Let’s see your best one!