I’ve joined a couple of “The Amazing Race”-style contests in the past and although me and my partner always lost, this didn’t stop me from wanting to join more.

And so when I was invited to join the Amazing Feel Good Race in Crocs Duet, I instantly said yes, and then blackmailed my sister Anika to be my partner.

The contest sounded challenging and fun. The challenge was for us to go to five to-be-announced Crocs stores in the metro (SM Megamall, Ermita, Marikina, Gateway, and Trinoma), accomplish a task in each one, and have a photo taken in front of the store with the flag visible in the photo. First team to finish all challenges and reach the pitstop wins. And oh, teams can choose their own route but should take public transportation—so strictly no taking cabs or asking for a ride from friends. The prize? A lot: 12 pairs of Crocs footwear for the first placer, eight for the second placer, and four for the third placer.

Since I am a commuter—I take the bus, the jeep, and the tricycle on a daily basis—I was pretty confident about placing in the contest. I have to admit though that when the destinations were finally revealed, I felt a little worried because I’ve never been to half of them. But since my sister is more streetsmart than I am, I still felt like we had a big chance to win.

The starting point was at the Crocs store in EDSA Shangri-la Mall, where we changed to white tees and a pair of Crocs Duet, the brand’s latest model which was inspired by their classic one. Featuring a dual-density construction, the style (which comes in flip-flops and clogs) has a soft and cozy upper, plus a tough and more durable outsole. My sister and I decided to run to SM Megamall as our first stop since it was the nearest among all five stores. Once we got to the Crocs store, we saw that a couple of other teams were already there, completing a jigsaw puzzle. We impatiently waited for our turn and once we completed ours, we dashed off to Ermita as our next stop.

My sister and I decided to ride the MRT. It’s been years since I last rode the MRT so I was pretty excited to hop on the MRT again. At the station, my sister and I patiently waited for our ride to arrive and when it finally did, we ran to the first door, only to be stopped by security. I then remembered that the first one was reserved for just females, pregnant women, and the elderly.

“Buntis ka ba? asked the potbellied security guy, who himself looked nine months pregnant.

“Do I look pregnant to you?” I snapped back. I asked him 15 more times, with an escalating tone and volume, annoyed that he was sarcastic. He could have just reminded me that it wasn’t for guys. I didn’t even bother explaining to him that I didn’t see the sign and that I just forgot since I was in race mode. Anyway, he eventually left, the next ride arrived, and my sister and I were in Ermita after a while.

The next challenge was for us to count all the pairs under the Spring/Summer collection in the Ermita branch of Crocs. Anika and I decided to count particular models and just add the sums. When we didn’t get the correct total, we switched models. We still didn’t get the correct total number of pairs. I did a count on my own—and got it.

Helpful strangers

Afterwards, we headed to Marikina for our next challenge. Going there was quite a nightmare simply because we didn’t now how to get there. And so we did a lot of unnecessary walking, plus a lot of asking, which slowed us down. This particular part of the challenge made me realize just how helpful the regular Filipino is. We asked quite a lot of people—passersby, sidewalk vendors, security guards—for directions and each one of them didn’t hesitate helping us. We actually owe these helpful strangers a lot; they made it possible for us to reach our next stop in Marikina (even if it took the LRT forever because of some glitches), where we had to do a hopping challenge, which fortunately didn’t take a long time to finish.

Feeling the time pressure, my sister and I rushed to our last two stops: Gateway Mall, where we had to answer a couple of trivia questions, and TriNoma, where we had to count the Jibbitz accessories.

Finally done with all the challenges, we couldn’t wait to rush back to the pitsop in Eastwood Libis. As usual, my sister and I didn’t know how to get there so we asked the security guard, who unfortunately didn’t have any idea, too. We asked another security guard and he directed us to a terminal. We found an FX going to Eastwood but the problem was that we were the first passengers and it would surely take a long time before it’d get filled up. And so we asked for an alternative way of getting to Libis. As it turned out, there was no one short trip that would get us to Libis. We had to go all the way to Cubao and then take maybe another ride or two there, according to our source.

That worried me. There we were, done with the challenges, one ride (or maybe to or three) away from the pitstop and it was starting to seem like the 12 pairs of Crocs were beginning to be out of our reach. We knew we couldn’t give up though. And so we ran to the highway, ready to take the jeepney or run even more just to get to the pitstop and win the race.

And then a text message. It was one of the organizers informing us to go back already because the three winners had already been chosen. Great. And so we hailed a cab and went to Eastwood, which we discovered was very, very far from our last stop.

On our way to the pitstop, my sister and I realized several things, the most important of which was that choosing the right route in a race is very, very important. We might have finished the challenges quickly but because we had to take more rides and walk a lot (thanks to choosing the wrong route), we took more time.

When we finally got to the pitstop, we were surprised and embarrassed to find out that most of the teams were already there. If it’s any consolation, at least we weren’t the last one to arrive; we were second to the last!

Proudly looking fresh despite running around the pollution-infested metro for five hours, my sister and I wolfed down glasses of lemonade and devoured spring rolls and maki.

We might have lost big time, but we didn’t feel that bad. After all, we had so much fun. And it’s really true what they say—that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Not only did I have new experiences (riding the LRT for the second time, and finally getting to places I’ve never been to), I also learned some things: that I am not as street-stupid as I think I am, that strangers can still be kind and helpful, and that the metro is full of cute commuters!