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Shannon Bryan

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Posted: February 11, 2015

Adventure & treasure: Heroes of Humanity’s Love Quest mini-mission is this Saturday. Win gold!

Heroes of Humanity wants to bring real adventure – and real treasure – back into our lives. The first adventures is Love Quest, which comes to Portland this Saturday.

Written by: Shannon Bryan

Once upon a time we believed in trunks filled to the brim with rubies and gold. We believed in X marks the spot. We believed that our own wit and courage would lead us on extraordinary adventures that ended with long-buried riches – and maybe a pirate skeleton.

But then we grew up, and those Goonies-inspired ambitions faded, leaving well-marked 10K courses and timing chips in their wake.

Now we have a chance to get the adventure back.

Introducing Heroes of Humanity, an event promotion company that’s bringing real adventure – and real treasure – back into our lives. The first of these adventures (or “missions,” as they’re called) is Love Quest, which comes to Portland on Valentine’s Day – this Saturday. And the mission ends with, what else, gold and silver. No joke. First place gets a quarter-ounce gold coin worth $350 and second place gets a 10-ounce silver bar worth $170. It’s your childhood fantasy come to life.

So what is a mission, exactly?

Well, it’s part geocaching, part adventure race and part scavenger hunt, according to Aaron Frederick, Heroes of Humanity managing partner and the guy behind the whole idea.

The Heroes of Humanity concept riffs on the increasingly popular mud runs and obstacle races we’ve been hearing about and competing in over the last several years. Like those races, a Heroes for Humanity quest has a starting line, a finish and a pre-planned course in between. But unlike, say, a Tough Mudder, participants won’t know what the course looks like, what challenges they’ll encounter along the way or where they’ll ultimately end up. And the fittest athlete or fastest runner won’t necessarily be the first to the treasure. These missions require an agile noggin, too.

“We’re very consciously designing a game and not a race,” said Frederick.

There’s also a strong charity connection to Heroes for Humanity events, he said. The winner of each mission will walk away with riches (see aforementioned gold coins and silver bars) but they’ll also get to send a matching gift to a local or national charity of their choice. For Love Quest, that means a couple hundred dollars. For future missions, that gift could be $4,000 to $20,000.

“We feel proud about that offering,” said Frederick. “We are not a nonprofit, but we can create a popular business model that’s a byproduct of a super fun experience. We can do real good for local and national charity organizations.”

Also cool: Missions don’t take place on a self-contained course with arrows pointing the way. They’re woven into the existing environment (in the case of Love Quest, that’d be the city of Portland).

“For our events, we really want to be integrated in the community,” said Frederick. “Geographic landmarks and locations, urban trail systems and surrounding natural resources are our playground. We want people to be out there.”

Heroes for Humanity graphic

Heroes for Humanity graphic

Each mission gives participants a real sense of place, he said. “There’s a direct connection to the place you’re in.”

And Frederick plans to have Heroes of Humanity quests in a whole bunch of places. In fact, he’s already working with partners in Orange Beach, AL and Boulder, CO to set up site-specific missions there, as well as a flagship event – the Resurgam Mission – here in Portland on July 18 (registration for that event is now open, too).

But first: Love Quest in Portland.

The Valentine’s Day event runs from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday and costs $35. You can enter as an individual or as a team. Once registered, adventurous questers will be sent additional details, like how to log in to MapDash, the smart phone scavenger hunt app that will help guide you through the six-mile course, which will wind around Back Cove and the Portland waterfront (which means, of course, that you’ll have to have a smart phone to participate. Frederick also hopes to have a proprietary Heroes for Humanity app for future missions).

Along the way, you’ll encounter waypoints – or gates – and a challenge you’ll have to overcome to move on. The MapDash app will track your movements and offer clues to locate the waypoint if you’re having trouble locating it.

“You’ll show up and be presented with a challenge,” said Frederick. “That could be climbing up one of the sculptures on Eastern Prom,” he joked. (No challenge will actually ask you to do anything the authorities would frown upon.) “Or answering multiple choice trivia or decoding a secret code that they find in the field. Or it could be using a clue from prior gate to open a treasure chest that’s locked with a combination lock.”

The point is: You won’t know until you get there. That’s part of the adventure.

“The course is really an interactive one,” said Frederick. “It’s not just an app on your phone, it’s also real-world elements. We want to keep this feeling visceral.”

The possibility of finding the “gold at the end of the rainbow” is part of that visceral experience Frederick is going for – that extraordinary adventure we imagined when we were kids. And it’s really happening.

“For me, it’s about the experience,” said Frederick.”The more interesting and challenging the experience, the more memorable. It’s the reason we go and do things.”

The chance to uncover hidden treasure doesn’t hurt, either.

Love Quest Mini Mission

1-3 p.m. Saturday in Portland. $35.
The six-miles course will take you in and around Portland’s waterfront, Back Cove and who knows where else, with multiple waypoints along the way. “I’ve been a waterfront wharf rat in Portland for many, many years,” joked Frederick. “I’m milking that time and experience.”
First prize is a quarter-ounce American Eagle gold coin worth approximately $350. Second prize is a 10 oz silver bar worth $170.

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