City Dash is London’s greatest (and best value) urban adventure

My legs hurt. They burn with the realisation that no matter how many miles you notch up jogging around the local park, you’re still going to ache like a bitch when made to sprint an indeterminate length of time from a standing start, which is what Mike, James 1 and I spent Sunday afternoon doing in St. Paul’s in the pursuit of a series of cryptic checkpoints. I call it ‘Surprise Ultra High Intensity Interval Training…with Clues!’ The organisers call it City Dash. Which I suppose is a bit snappier.

City Dash London

RUN. The ‘super-speedy’ guard chases a team in the green zone.

We were sprinting away from the motley band of guards patrolling the four zones we had to explore. City Dash is an urban wide game that sends its players on hour-long skirmishes around Central London, solving clues and evading guards, some more belligerent than others. It’s a sort of cross between a room escape game, like Lockd, and blood-curdling zombie wide game 2.8 Hours Later, but with a sophisticated mobile app that allows players to enter checkpoints, uncover new clues and check their score in real time.

City Dash LondonUnlike 2.8 Hours Later, whose organisers cordon off acres and acres of London (lest the general public catches sight of the cast of lurching terrors, panics and initiates Code Red), City Dash takes place in public spaces, often teeming with tourists. This can lead to some entertaining exchanges with members of the public who want to know why you’re running around like a maniac or peering out from behind statues.

Dozens of cryptic clues are hidden all over town.

Dozens of cryptic clues are hidden all over town.

Tickets for City Dash start from just £10pp, which in my opinion makes it one of the best-value things to do in London. The price creeps up the more people sign up, but never tops £21, which is still an absolute bargain. There are maps all over town – at the weekend we did St. Paul’s, but we’ve also signed up for another in Bank in August. City games are good to start with because there aren’t too many people in the side streets at weekends, so it’s pleasingly (and eerily) empty, but there are regular games held in Soho, Shoreditch, Greenwich, Baker Street and on the Southbank too.

Now, before you start the game, your team gets to choose whether you’re up for a proper challenge or just a laugh. We chose the more difficult game, which means navigating is trickier and also that the guards will really gun for you. (Don’t worry about navigation too much if you don’t know the area – the grid references are enough to go on, even if you’re new to the city.) If you’re not up for being chased, I’d recommend perhaps starting on the easy setting. Also: wear your gym kit. Seriously. Some guys turned up with camel packs, which I think might have been overkill, but consider it a workout opportunity. It sure as hell beats the gym.

Buy tickets for City Dash online from £10. You need a team of 2-4, or City Dash can put you in a scratch team. 

Author: Emily Gibson

Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.