On Saturday, during the Great Urban Race, teams spread across Columbus to solve riddles, tackle bizarre challenges, capture their trip in photos and return to the finish line.

On Saturday, during the Great Urban Race, teams spread across Columbus to solve riddles, tackle bizarre challenges, capture their trip in photos and return to the finish line.

Sad you missed your shot this year? Dry your tears.

Amateur adventurers will have opportunities to do pretty much the same thing on Sept. 3 during a local stop of the Great Race and on Sept. 11 during the Pointless Pursuit.

Yes, the city hosts the Great Urban Race and the Great Race.

In a few short years, Columbus has become an epicenter of scavenger hunts - a city where people yearn to scour for clues with nothing but their wits, fresh legs and a crazy costume.

But why?

"I think the main reason is because shows like 'The Amazing Race' are so popular," said Kristen Warren, a Central Ohio resident who produces the Pointless Pursuit. "There's such a small number of people selected [for the show] and an even smaller number who could take off a year to do it."

Most who dream of racing around the globe are happy to settle for a small, manageable taste, she said. And condensed local versions provide it.

Like contestants on the CBS reality show, those who sign up for one of the races must find destinations by deciphering puzzles and brave a challenge at each one. Hunts are a test of street smarts, stomach strength and sheer will.

The appeal lies in an exciting, everyman experience that's as challenging as competitors want it to be, Warren said. Racers also get to experience some new places along the way.

"When we designed the course, we wanted to make sure everyone had the opportunity to do extremely well," Warren said. "We see a broad range of people - much more than you would at a marathon or 10K."

Families come to bond while attempting to shake the paw of a stranger's dog. Distance runners like to compete in an event that forces them to pick their own course. Others come for a few challenges, dip out and trade war stories at the after-party.

And, Warren added, scavenger hunts like these tend to be memorable: "When you go home after the race is over, you talk about the fact that you put your hand in baked beans and learned a new pole dance."