Solutions

Running the Race

Urban Challenge

Hundreds of participants, dozens of events. Putting on one athletic competition is challenging enough, but when it's a series of competitions extending across twenty cities, encompassing contestants from all over the United States, that's a real challenge. Unless, like the organizers of the Urban Challenge, you're taking full advantage of the data–management power of FileMaker Pro, the award–winning database software application from FileMaker Inc.

Overview

  • In cities all across the US, the race is on as hundreds of eager competitors vie for honors in the Urban Challenge. But the biggest challenge of all is to keep ahead of the massive data–processing requirements and FileMaker Pro is up to that challenge.

Industry

  • Information Technology
  • Small Business

Our small staff is able to manage events across the country — and it all goes off without a hitch because of FileMaker Pro.

— Brian Flatgard, Communications Director, Urban Challenge

Business Challenge

"Think on the Run!" That's the slogan of Urban Challenge, a unique combination of athleticism, adventure sports, and mental acuity that's been thrilling competitors looking for something different since it grew out of a casual treasure hunt planned for a twelve–year–old girl's birthday party by a fun–loving dad. Contest creator Kevin McCarthy, the "guru of fun," devised a challenging adventure game for his daughter and her friends — hiding a series of clues all over town, and challenging them to solve them all and find their way to the end of the course. From there, the idea just grew and grew, to where now the same game is a summer fixture in cities from Boston to San Francisco, from Atlanta to Seattle, all leading up to an annual national competition in New Orleans.

The contests might be described as a cross between a TV reality show and a good old–fashioned scavenger hunt. Two teams of contestants, drawn from entrants representing a cross–section of every walk of life, match wits and strengths to be the first team to hit a series of twelve checkpoints hidden throughout the host city and take digital photos of each location. Complex clues must be solved in order to reveal the locations of these checkpoints, which could be anywhere at all, up or down or all around. On foot, on bikes, in taxicabs, or on the subway, contestants never know where the route will take them or what they'll find when they get there. It's a game that challenges the mind and the body.

Successful Solution

And FileMaker Pro has been part of the fun from the beginning. "We never even considered any other solution," comments communications director Brian Flatgard. "FileMaker Pro is so easy to use and set up. It's also great because it's so robust and scalable. In our downtime between seasons, I tweak the databases a bit more, and it runs even better the next year."

The return on investment is remarkable in that using FileMaker Pro is a lot like having a whole other employee doing a massive amount of work for us. The price of the program has returned itself many times over because it's a versatile workhorse that easily handles all data tasks thrown at it.

— Brian Flatgard, Communications Director, Urban Challenge

FileMaker Pro runs behind the scenes throughout the Urban Challenge, but for the organizers its most valuable application is in tracking information on race participants. "We gather all sorts of demographic and contact information in a relational database that tracks how they signed up and how they heard about us," Brian explains, "as well as information on repeat racers across different races, and we export this data into Excel to view it in charts. We also automate all our communication through FileMaker Pro, so new registrations automatically receive welcome messages, customized to their city and race, and asking them to verify the information submitted and fill in any missing data."

FileMaker Pro is also busy once the races are run, processing the results and generating reports and statistics for the Urban Challenge website. But FileMaker Pro doesn't just run in support of the Urban Challenge, it also plays a vital role in the competition itself. "We have a portion of our race called the Trivia Challenge," Brian continues, "in which the participants answer 30 questions before the race starts. The best and smartest teams earn the right to start first, with the worst starting thirty minutes later. We have the racers fill out Scranton cards, and use a FileMaker Pro database to rank the teams on the fly instantly showing results on screens throughout race headquarters."

Customer Benefits

Needless to say, FileMaker Pro is an indispensable tool at every level of the Urban Challenge — and it's more than paid for itself along the way. "The return on investment is remarkable," enthuses Brian, "in that using FileMaker Pro is a lot like having a whole other employee doing a massive amount of work for us. The price of the program has returned itself many times over because it's a versatile workhorse that easily handles all data tasks thrown at it. Our small staff is able to manage events across the country — and it all goes off without a hitch because of FileMaker Pro."

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.
408-987-7227
kevin_mallon@filemaker.com
http://www.filemaker.com

For Urban Challenge:

Brian Flatgard
Communications Director
Urban Challenge
602-692-9503
brian@urbanchallenge.com
http://www.urbanchallenge.com