by Carolyn Daughters
Denver is home to a design-loving community, so it makes sense that regional design association AIGA Colorado found a creative way to celebrate our diverse downtown through one of the cornerstones of design: typography. Letterpress typographer Rick Griffith of MATTER and I Heart Denver owner Samuel Schimek teamed up with AIGA to host Terminal Velocity, an adventure race like no other.
On Saturday, June 23, on what turned out to be the hottest day so far this year, racers took off from I Heart Denver Store in the Denver Pavilions. From signs, ads, and billboards to murals, landmarks, and buildings, teams of two to four didn’t let the temps phase them as they biked around town in a race to be the first to find and photograph all 26 letters of the alphabet—Denver style.
Most teams finished in around two hours, and the race ended with an after-party at The Matchbox. The first place team got a $130 gift bag from I Heart Denver Store and a one-year unlimited photo storage account from Boulder-based Snapjoy. All racers also got a hand-printed letterpress poster designed by Griffith and a free drink at The Matchbox. Not too shabby, especially considering that the entry fee was just $10 per person.
Participants included designers, design students, and many outside the design community, and all signs point to the race being a huge success. “The racers solved some really hard challenges,” said Elysia Syriac, President of AIGA’s Colorado chapter. “The teams were energized before, during, and after the race. They made it look easy.” “During the busy summer season, it’s great to have an inaugural event that’s a success right out of the gate,” Schimek added.
During the race, all teams used smartphones, Instagram, and Twitter. Snapjoy, a cloud-storage service that organizes photos across multiple photo services, helped choose the teams that took the most artistic photos.
“Instagram was simple to use, and we were able to judge all the photos in real time,” Snapjoy marketing guru Dustin Henderlong said. Designer Danielle Fay agrees. “The racers took some super creative photos,” she said.
The idea for the race came while AIGA members Syriac, Charles Carpenter, Felix Sanchez, and Kim Mallek were at a leadership retreat in Chattanooga, TN. They thought up a geek fest scavenger hunt focused on Denver’s typography. When Schimek, Griffith, Fay, and writer Carolyn Daughters joined in the planning, the idea took on a life of its own. They decided to call the race Terminal Velocity (“terminal” for a curved typographical stroke, “velocity” for bikes and speed).
The race also amped up exposure to Denver landmarks and businesses. “It was wonderful to see so many energized people with type on their minds,” Griffith said. “To make an event like this happen, you need the collaborative energy of smart, civic-minded people who are actively involved in their community.”
The best part is that AIGA Colorado will share race info with the other AIGA chapters. “This race has such a broad appeal that we’re going to take the race across the country,” Syriac said in closing. “So be on the lookout for the 2013 Terminal Velocity because next year’s race is going to be even more awesome!”
I Heart Denver Store