At the fifth annual Post Hunt, a bizarre game in which brainy Washington Post Magazine readers fanned out across downtown D.C. to solve a series of mind-bending puzzles for a $2,000 prize, the cast of characters was nearly as eclectic as the Hunt itself. Solving the puzzles requires a certain quirky sense of humor; they were, after all, devised by Dave Barry, Gene Weingarten and Tom Shroder.
Team Nogganawhin came to the contest with low expectations. After all, their team name (sounds like “not gonna win”) was a bit defeatist. Named the team too soon, it seems: the group took home the grand prize. “We really had no illusions about our chances," said John Mackedon, who served as the team's leader. "We didn't expect to win, ever, so it's such an amazing turn of events for us ... I'm literally shaking a little bit."
The team included a dozen members, some Hunt veterans, some rookies. Mackedon attributed the group's success to a diversity of perspectives. "Between us, we had a lot of “a-ha’s,” and played off each other's strengths," he said. And when they completed the last challenge, they had triathlete Damon Taaffe, 35, of Arlington, sprint to the stage at Franklin Square Park to ensure the victory.
As for what they will do with the $2,000: "We're going to subsidize a local watering hole. That's going to be our first expenditure," he said.
Shroder (former editor of The Washington Post Magazine), estimated that about 12,000 people participated.
"It's just a nice, nerdy way to have fun," said 25-year-old Emma Roach, a budget analyst from Bethesda and member of "Team Sunny" (a nod to the TV show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”)
On its face, the challenge is simple: Correctly analyze puzzles set up across downtown Washington. The answer to each one is a number. Match those numbers to clues in the magazine. Use those clues as you embark on the so-called End Game.
In practice, it is somewhat more complicated.
Liz Kepferle, a former education administrator from Alexandria, and her daughter, 15-year-old Margaret Gorguissian, struggled to make sense of a bizarre skit involving a mouse, a fox holding a torch and a man cursing and rolling around in a desk chair. Were the animals meant to represent a computer mouse and the Web browser Firefox, the cursing man a cursor on a computer screen? And what did that mean?
"I don't really have a clue yet," Kepferle said, laughing.
Congratulations to our winners:
First Place: Team Nogganawhin:
Phil Spector, 35, of Washington
Sabita Soneji, 35, of Washington
John Mackedon, 34, of Washington
Mark Cackler, 57, of Falls Church
Timothy Bouley, 31, of Washington
Madalina Cristoloveanu, 31, of Washington
Kris White, 29, of Washington
Sean Sharifi, 30, of Vienna
Nicole Mechem, 32, of Washington
Damon Taaffe, 35, of Arlington
Alva Kretschmer, 27, of Washington
Patricia Van de Velde, 27, of Washington
Second Place: Team Ashley’s Birthday
Third Place: Team Culbertson
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