Team No. 2 takes first place

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Race Across Hamilton County participants complete a challenge called “Worm Diving” at Quaker Park in Westfield. (Photo provided by Michael Hoffmeister)

The Race Across Hamilton County began with an energetic leap forward at Ritchey Woods in Fishers and came to a competitive close at Forest Park in Noblesville.

The second stop in the competition was Westfield’s Quaker Park. Stephanie Fix with the Westfield Parks & Recreation Dept. said of the four challenges, the “Worm Diving” provided contestants with the sweetest event. In this challenge, each participant was given a fishing pole with a gummy worm attached to the end and had to lower the gummy worm into a fish bowl full of pretzels, retrieve a single pretzel using the gummy worm, and eat the pretzel without using their hands.

“They were blindfolded during this process and had to be verbally guided by their teammates. They also had to figure out the trick to the challenge, which was to lick the gummy worm before ‘fishing’ with it,” explained Fix. “This challenge was definitely a fan favorite!”

When the dust settled, Team No. 2 (Shannon McDonald and Meachelle Wishart of Noblesville) took first place – and a $350 prize.

McDonald and Wishart, who have been neighbors and running buddies for about five years, had joked that they should do “The Amazing Race” together. When the opportunity came up for the Race Across Hamilton County, they agreed to sign up.

“It took real team work,” Wishart said.

“We both have our strengths and weaknesses and seemed to really balance out between the two of us. The area that I wasn’t as strong with, Meachelle was strong with,” McDonald explained.

Neither of the women planned or trained for the event. They simply avoided the crowd and focused on the challenges.

“Everyone seemed to run for the closest thing first,” Wishart said.

“And just the opposite of where everyone else went, we ran,” McDonald added.

Second and third place was a rivalry between two teams not only from the same city, but also from the same family. Jason and Kathryn Kempson (Team No. 16) and Jared and Becca Kempson (Team No. 19) of Carmel shared the same time down to the second. With both teams’ overall time recorded at 3:01:57, the judges had to determine who qualified for second or third place.

Amanda Jackson, the recreation program coordinator for Fishers Parks, said the judges did this by placing the five park sites into a hat. A site was picked at random and the scores from that site were compared. The team with the best time took second place.

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