After see­ing lots of talk about the Mer­rell Urban Oys­ter Race being bandied about Twit­ter, we decid­ed to get the low­down from Clymb mem­ber and over­all out­door and yoga expert, Tali from Cup­cake Mafia. 

She gave us all the details on this year’s race in Den­ver and how it helps grants the wish­es of chil­dren who real­ly need them the most.

The Clymb: What is the Mer­rell Den­ver Urban Oys­ter Race? How many years have you participated?

Tali: It’s so hard to sum it up, but if you’ve ever seen The Amaz­ing Race, it’s kind of like that, just con­densed and in one city. Last year was the first year for Team Cup­cake Mafia; we com­pete in the wom­en’s full course divi­sion. Once the race kicks off, we go out on foot or on bike and are faced with all kind of puz­zles and chal­lenges. For exam­ple, last year they start­ed me off blind-fold­ed on a tour bus. Once we got to our stop I was giv­en a clue and I had to call my team where we met up on foot. We then raced around to find three local stat­ues and have our pic­ture tak­en in front of each. It was a day filled of adven­tures like that. Any­thing from burn­ing a hun­dred calo­ries at a health club, beer pong, and eat­ing a cup­cake with­out hands to find a scoot­er key. You just nev­er know what you’re going to get.

TC: How much did you raise last year? How was that used with­in the Make-A-Wish Foun­da­tion?

T: Last year our team raised about $2,650, and the Den­ver race as a whole raised $25,000, grant­i­ng four wish­es for the local chap­ter of Make-a-Wish. For those unfa­mil­iar with the orga­ni­za­tion, they work to help chil­dren and teens who are fight­ing life-threat­en­ing ill­ness­es to grant them a wish and give them con­tin­ued hope. Whether it’s build­ing a pirate ship in their yard or giv­ing them an oppor­tu­ni­ty to work in the field of their choice for a day. The wish­es run the gamut.

Team Cup­cake Mafia at last year’s Den­ver Urban Oys­ter Race

TC: What’s your fundrais­ing goal this year?

T: Our goal this year has been to raise $5,000, which is the aver­age cost of a wish. So far, we’ve raised over $6,000 so it would be awe­some to make it to $10,000 and ful­fil two wishes.

TC: You’ve come up with some cool incen­tives to get your read­ers to donate.

T: Yes! My amaz­ing team mate Lynn is an extra­or­di­nary knit­ter and spin­ner, fiber arts is a com­mon bond in our team, and she worked with a pat­tern design­er who made a shawl pat­tern avail­able to any­one who donat­ed $5 or more. She also has some beau­ti­ful skeins of yarn that are going to be part of a give­away for donors, for the shawl pat­tern and oth­er knit­ting good­ies you can check out Lyn­n’s Blog, Knit­ting Triath­lete.

Since not all our friends and fam­i­ly are knit­ters, we are also offer­ing some oth­er prizes for those who donate $20 or more. We have two great gift cards from Ama­zon for $25 each, two ECO yoga mats from prAna (my favorite mat!), and a beau­ti­ful jew­el­ry set from Made for Grace. All the details and a pic­ture of the set are here at my web­site, Cup­cake Mafia.

For more infor­ma­tion on this and oth­er Mer­rell Urban Oys­ter races, check their site above. If you can’t par­tic­i­pate in a race in your area, feel free to help Team Cup­cake Mafia in their efforts by donating.

Why I climb?

When asked “Why do you climb?” I wish I had a real­ly pro­found answer. For a lot of peo­ple it’s about push­ing them­selves to extreme lev­els or even in some cas­es feel­ing clos­er to a high­er pow­er. For me it’s a lit­tle more sim­plis­tic. I climb because I can.

I was nev­er an ath­let­ic child or teenag­er. I began work­ing out in my ear­ly 20s with the moti­va­tion to look bet­ter not to feel bet­ter or to find inner strength. Then in my mid 20s I real­ized I want­ed to be out­doors more, need­ed to be out­doors more. I was miss­ing that con­nec­tion to my sur­round­ings and I found that in hik­ing and camp­ing. At that time I became fas­ci­nat­ed with climb­ing. The strength and ease of climbers was amaz­ing to me. Luck­i­ly I had a boyfriend who climbed. Unfor­tu­nate­ly he was kind of a schmuck. He ini­tial­ly tried to talk me out of it telling me my body was the wrong type, that it was hard­er than I thought and I prob­a­bly would­n’t like it. Then he real­ized a girl­friend who climbs equals instant belay slave. So he “taught” me how to climb. By taught I mean he taught me how to belay then took me to routes not suit­able for a begin­ner. We spent a few after­noons where he would “show me how it’s done” and then I was done.

After our rela­tion­ship end­ed and I was mak­ing new friends and evolv­ing my life. Then I start­ed to put the pieces togeth­er. My ex-boyfriend was­n’t right, it’s not that I was­n’t cut out for climb­ing, he just was­n’t a good instruc­tor for me. So I signed up for a wom­en’s climb­ing course with The Wom­en’s Wilder­ness Insti­tute and I have been climb­ing since then. They taught me what I need­ed to know to be con­fi­dent in my skills and safe­ty and to know when I need help. I learned that just because I don’t have the typ­i­cal climber’s body or build it does­n’t mean I can’t do it. I just have to find new ways of mak­ing it hap­pen. More impor­tant­ly I have fun climb­ing. I don’t care if I nev­er climb above a 5.9. As long as I am enjoy­ing myself and find­ing new chal­lenges that’s what’s important.

So I climb because once upon a time I was told I could­n’t. I climb because I am stub­born. I climb because I can.

You can read more from Tali at My Cup­cake Mafia and fol­low her on Twit­ter.