GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Last year it took 3 months to find the $5,000 treasure.
This year the winners of the Metro Area Treasure Hunt solved the puzzle in just five days.
“This year it was significantly easier because it had checkpoints built in,” explains Sam Filcik, one of the co-winners.
Filcik and partner Mike MacGregor say they used teamwork to unravel the 16 clues in the puzzle. They spent many hours on the computer doing research and studying Google Maps. And they say their determination and problem solving skills paid off when they discovered the winning certificate in Mackay Park.
“You really had to put your mind to work,” says MacGregor. “I don’t know if one of us by ourselves would have gotten here. Certainly not as fast. We made a great team.”
“It’s very surprising,” was the reaction from treasure hunt creator Brian, who prefers to keep his last name private. “After the last one took 3 months, to have the treasure found in a few days was surprising. I know they put a lot of hard work into it and definitely deserved to find it. It was just unexpected.”
This was the second year for the Metro Area Treasure Hunt and the creator says probably the last. Between the cost of the treasure, plotting out the puzzle, setting up a web site and declining participation, he says he is losing too much money to continue.
“It was fun,” he says. “I am glad we were able to provide some enjoyment to some people. But looking forward, it is doubtful we can run it again.”
The 2016 hunt drew more than 300 geocachers from around the area. It began in mid-September and ended December 21. Brian says he didn't make the clues easier than last year, but he did add more landmarks, and also made it more Google-centered.
"Unfortunately, with the cost of the treasures themselves, the additional cost to debug and maintain a website, we've lost money on both of these hunts," said Brian. "Couple that with the dwindled participation this year (only 60 people), it's unlikely there will be any more of these treasure hunts."
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