Hide&Seek 2: The Lost Sport of Olympia

This was one of the big draws for me: I’ve not been following The Lost Ring ARG particularly closely and have only the faintest awareness of the background narrative and puzzles but I’m fascinated by the Lost Sport that it all supports.

In brief:

training labyrinth

A labyrinth is marked up on the ground and a blindfolded runner has to try and exit it as fast as possible.

A bunch of other people become the walls and hum to guide the runner around the labyrinth.

That’s it! Simple, right?

…except that photo above is just the training labyrinth – the easy one for beginners so you can get the hang of the basics. And with 15-20 enthusiastic strangers all dashing around the place trying to get into position (once the runner has gone past you, you need to leg it to the other end of the wall) things can get fairly chaotic.

3 circuit training

That’s where things start to get a bit cunning.

Before we could attempt the labyrinths, we all had to do what was essentially a quick personality test:

finding your strengths

You can do it online here. This will categorise you according to your strengths (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s flawed but…) and from here you are guided towards different roles within the team.

We each got a couple of colour-coded stickers that identified out different strengths and jobs were allocated for coordinators and time-keepers etc etc. I think the strengths is a really nice aspect of what’s going on because even if they are inaccurate you immediately have a set of goals to work towards and that then means you also have something to gauge your personal development. It also saves a lot of time when you can cut through a lot of the decision-making negotiation and immediately short-list potentials for a particular role (that’s not to say we didn’t stray from the guides later on, once we’d had a chance to develop as a group…)

I am apparently a mix of Sophia (“I bring wisdom, creativity and cleverness to our mission. I am one of the knowledge-seekers”) and Thumos (“I bring courage, energy and determination to our mission. I am one of the adventurers”) the latter of which meant I got to have a quick go at being blindfolded and trying to navigate the small labyrinth.

I can definitely recommend the experience!

We were apparently doing pretty well with our time of about 30 seconds (the records seem to be about 15 seconds) so we were rapidly ushered on over to the next one – 5 7 circuits rather than three:

7 circuit advanced training

Here is some video of another group on the labyrinth for what I think might be the first time.

The Lost Sport: 5 circuit walk-through from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

It takes Toby about 1 minute 40 seconds to get around without a blindfold on. What’s interesting here is that you can see the different roles that have been established: the runner; the walls; a coordinator; someone to walk the route ahead of the wall so the wall knows where to go and, naturally, a healthy number of spectator-participants too! I’m not sure if these are roles that have already been identified within the back-story and accumulating research into the Lost Sport, but in our group they (almost identical roles) seemed to evolve fairly naturally.

What’s really, really interesting from my perspective is the team feedback that happens after each attempt. Various people are asked for feedback, the plan is modified a little and something new gets tried. Love it.

Here’s their blindfolded run. (The speeded up section at the start is them seeing if it’s feasible to have people permanently stationed on the tricky corners.) Note there’s now also someone coordinating the hum.

The Lost Sport: 5 circuit labyrinth from nikkipugh on Vimeo.

These guys really got it together after a few goes and I think there may have also been a record set. You’re looking at a time of about 2 and a half minutes. I think I heard someone say the Olympic-sized labyrinth (8 circuits) takes about 8 minutes to complete…

This is fitting right in with some of the things I’ve been thinking about recently and I would absolutely love to use this as a framework for a cross-disciplinary project looking at behavioural issues with perhaps a class of primary school pupils with any group of students to investigate any number of questions involving group dynamics, collaboration and probably lots of other stuff too. There’s so much you could do with this just by backing off and letting the class group figure stuff out for themselves.

Of course I would also be really interested in getting a Birmingham-based group of adults together who would like to spend some time figuring out how to get the labyrinth-running down to a t (it’s all in the wall, it’s all in the wall… and I think there’s a fair chance that less is more). It’s a great challenge, fun, and surprisingly addictive. The surprising thing for me was that when I asked if there were already any groups established in Birmingham, I was told that in the whole of the UK there was only a London-based group and an intermittent one in Leeds. London wins again? Bah!

About 15 people who fancy an afternoon in the sun should do the trick. Anyone up for it?