If you happen to be out and about this Saturday, July 25, and you notice carloads of brilliantly costumed nerds careening about town with a competitive gleam in their eyes, don’t worry. First of all, it’s Portland — this happens every weekend to some degree. Second, Saturday is the 2015 Portland Geek Olympathon.

This citywide event, now in its fifth year and hosted by the Portland Geek Council, is comprised of 23 different events at 13 locations in Portland. Teams of up to five people try to complete as many as possible before things shut down at 5 p.m. sharp. This isn’t just your garden-variety geek trivia contest, but a multi-disciplinary test that rewards creativity. Costumes are encouraged— last year’s winning team, Dames of Future Past, all came clad as members of the X-Men.

Organizers emphasize the importance of a diverse team, which might include one person skilled at identifying video game theme music, one who’s a NERF rifle sharpshooter, and another with some graphic design background. A pirate hunter should come in handy, too: the scalawags at PDXYAR are holding a scavenger hunt with some of their own members as the objects of the search.

“The top teams are very competitive and committed,” says organizer Joshua Dommermuth. “In fact, no non-costumed team has ever placed as high as third.” But that doesn’t mean more casual geeks can’t have fun. “We had a duo two years ago called the Minstrel Punchers who came so close to third place, even with just two of them, that the first-place team gave them some of their prizes out of respect.”

Teams need to pre-register (there’s a $40 fee) and then convene at Guardian Games at 10 a.m. for the opening ceremonies. After that, chaos will reign as they head off to places like Bridge City Comics, Ground Kontrol arcade, the Steampunk boutique Wells & Verne, and the brand-new Portland Game Store to try their luck over the next six hours. If nothing else, the Olympathon provides a great opportunity to get acquainted with a number of Portland’s best geek-oriented businesses. The course is even doable on bike — Dommermuth did last year’s circuit and estimated it as 28 miles — though perhaps impractical for the more elaborately costumed participants.

At 6 p.m., the Olympathoners will converge at the Star Theater to compete in a trivia contest while final scores are tabulated and the all-important awarding of the prizes can begin. The potential rewards are nothing to sneeze at. The purse, shared among the top three teams, includes passes to the upcoming PAX Prime expo in Seattle as well as September’s Rose City Comic Con here in Portland, $500 cash, more gift certificates than you can shake a light saber at, and various other random pieces of geek booty.

In addition to the top prizes, awards for younger players and other superlative efforts will be handed out. Though the top tier may be hard to crack, according to Dommermuth, “the fun outweighs the hard.”

The Portland Geek Olympathon is Saturday, July 25 beginning from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the award ceremony beginning at 6 p.m. at the Star Theater. For a full schedule of event and details, visit the website.

— Marc Mohan for The Oregonian/OregonLive

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