Social Media Stars Clash in Chicago's Downtown Dash

Social Media Stars Clash in Chicago's Downtown Dash
Team DownCock knows how to rock social media

And you thought you were the Mayor of your hometown pizzeria. Try tackling the entire Chicago Loop and then some.

Tomorrow on Saturday, September 10, 2011, social media’s savviest gurus will compete head-to-head in teams of two as they navigate their way around downtown Chicago. They will be seeking scavenges, looking for money saving clues and completing athletic challenges on the way to a final destination.

But the race is only part of the deal. The Downtown Dash has a list of tasks, from kayaking short distances, to visiting John Hancock's observatory, as well as a yoga challenge and physical tasks that must be completed at the two locations sponsored by Equinox Fitness Clubs.

Teams must vouch for their work by checking-in on Foursquare and sharing their findings with their own social networks via Twitter. It all gets going at the ING DIRECT Café at 11:00 a.m. and then teams head out on their four-hour quest.

Some of the teams include Team Chicagonista, made up of WGN’s Nancy Loo and blogger MJ Tam, plus The Steve Dahl Show team, sponsored by the great WCKG radio personality, Steve Dahl.

Other teams are on board with names like SquareFour, #Runnerds, Bad Hare Day, and DownCock, consisting of entrepreneur Dawn Hancock and Shannon Downey, a digital media strategist and blogger for Crain’s Chicago.

The Downtown Dash, a brainchild of social media activist Leyla Arsan, is designed to provide an interactive adventure for Chicago’s most active social media lovers while strengthening the relationship between event partners and their natural audiences.

“Teams are some of the most active social media users in Chicago,” says Arsan. “The average participant last year had 1400 followers on Foursquare and 800 Facebook friends.

Downtown Dash teams will search out locations from a list of clues. And as each clue is picked up, teams then must check in on Foursquare and share their findings on Twitter using the event hashtag #DTDash.

Teams get awarded points in real time by judges, who themselves use social media to keep tabs on the teams’ progress.

Spare batteries and scavenger savvy are what you need for the Downtown Dash.

But with the new school comes the old school. Downtown Dash contestants aren’t allowed to use cars or taxis but instead must get around Chicago by running, walking or taking the CTA with the provided CTA Day Pass. No bikes either.

At the end of the half day dash, there is an awards ceremony, and winners and top teams get awards like Motorola Xoom Tablets, Bridgeway Step-Thru Marin Bikes, $100 ING Orange Savings Accounts along with other prizes like $1000 cash, White Sox tickets and Equinox Fitness memberships.

But at the end of the day, the race is really all about connecting people socially through digital means that are already being used by the average person, not just social media mavens.

As Ms. Arsan puts it, “Participants love to engage online with brands and like-minded, socially-savvy individuals. As a result, long term relationships are developed.”

You can keep tabs of the DowntownDash of Twitter by following @DTDash and #DTDash, or by going to

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