The Great Puzzle Pursuit

Indiana Jonesin’ for a new adventure this summer? Start exploring, flex those brain muscles and compete in the Great Puzzle Pursuit in Pittsburgh.

Inspired by movies like National Treasure and The Da Vinci Code, the Great Puzzle Pursuit spans seven different historic locations in Pittsburgh with seven puzzles in each spot. The competition offers a unique activity for groups of friends, out of town visitors or even a different kind of date night. With a “solve at your own pace” format, every participant has the opportunity to win and see the city in a completely new way, while doing their best Nicholas Cage impression to decipher clues and move to the next location.

Jason Stowell and his wife Amy launched the Great Puzzle Pursuit in April. Longtime fitness competitors at events like Warrior Dash and Fun Run, the Stowells felt that timed, one-day experiences weren’t ideal for everyone and often lacked in the puzzle department.

“We’re thinky, puzzle type people,” says Jason. “We decided to create something where as long as you complete it within the season, you have a chance to win.”

Though the Pursuit has been in action for three months with 80 teams currently competing, it’s not too late to join in the hunt. It will conclude on September 15 with an after-party at the West End Elliot Overlook, food and drinks included. As long as individuals or teams complete the challenge by then they have a chance to win, but all participants are invited to join the after-party. A winner will be chosen at random from all qualified teams for the grand cash prize which is currently up to $1,000.

Registration fees for individuals is $99; teams of two can join for $175 and the cost of a four person team is $299. However, using Groupon or LivingSocial, registration is only $49 for individuals and $99 for teams (the Pursuit’s website is currently offering a 50% off code as well). Participants follow clues and solve riddles directly through their smartphones (a requirement to successfully compete). Everything runs through the Pursuit’s website, which is mobile-optimized. Without spoiling too much, Jason explains that each location tells part of a larger story, “weaving a narrative through historic locations, statues, monuments, memorials and more.”

So far the fastest completion time has been six hours, with roughly a day and a half average for most competitors. But fair warning: only 13 teams of the 80 total competing at this time have completed the challenge.

Join in the inaugural challenge and look for it to continue to grow in other cities. A Philadelphia adventure is already available and a Cleveland challenge is ready to launch this coming April. The Stowells have already begun plans to include St. Augustine, Buffalo, New York and Washington D.C. in the future and an official app is also in development.

“We wanted to make something more cerebral, that lasts longer than a day,” says Jason. “It’s a passion of ours that we turned into a business.”

Ian Mikrut

Ian Mikrut is a writer, proud Pittsburgh native and Grove City grad. When he's not at local concerts or trying in vain to improve his golf game, you might find him at DeLuca's in the Strip.