ALBANY -- So much for building suspense.
With an assist from her precocious 2-year-old son, Dominic "Duck" Burrows, Stephanie Burrows wasted no time in claiming the $1,000 prize in the Ole Times Country Buffet/Albany Herald Great Race contest after mulling only one clue.
Burrows found the blue box that was the quest of the Great Race beneath the gazebo at the Confederate Memorial on Philema Road.
"We owe (husband) Mike's mother a big dinner," Stephanie Burrows said Thursday as she claimed her prize, which also included a meal a week for a year at Ole Times and a year's subscription to The Herald. "She read the story about the contest in the paper and told us about it, so we decided to have a fun treasure hunt with our kids.
"It was such a great idea; there aren't many treasure hunts anymore. And who wouldn't want to go on a treasure hunt?"
When Mike Burrows, who works as a programmer/analyst at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, got home from work Monday afternoon -- the day that the first Great Race clue appeared in The Herald -- he and Stephanie loaded up the Duck, 6-year-old Sam and 7-year-old Tony and started their quest.
"We had a plan of attack," Mike Burrows said. "The clue mentioned a 'rocky perch,' so we figured it had something to do with a statue. We were going to Ray Charles Park and some of the other places that had statues in Albany, but on the way in we drove by the Confederate Memorial, which has a statue."
So the Lee County family made their first -- and, as fate would have it, only -- stop in their quest.
"We were looking all around the statue when Dominic took off running for the gazebo in the (southwest corner of the) park," Stephanie Burrows said. "Sam told him to come back, but he kept running, so I went after him. While I was there, I decided to take a look around. I saw a little bit of blue in the rocks under the gazebo, picked it up, and there it was."
Ole Times Manager B.J. Fletcher, while admitting she was disappointed that the contest ended so quickly, said she was happy to hand the prize money to Burrows, who is a bail bondsman at Anytime Bail Bonding in Albany. She is also on schedule to graduate from Albany Technical College with an associate's degree in accounting in April.
"One of the reasons Ole Times agreed to get involved with the Great Race is because it is a very family-oriented activity," Fletcher said. "I'm very glad to see a young family with a mother working her way through school -- someone who can really use the money -- win the prize.
"And we were overwhelmed with the response we got to the contest. From the volume of calls we received, we definitely will be back for the next Great Race."
Herald Circulation Director Michael Hill said that would take place in early May.
"Although the contest ended quickly, we received hundreds of calls from readers, so there was certainly interest in the community," Hill said. "We were proud to be a part of an activity that gave families something fun to do together, and we're happy for Stephanie and her family.
"We're looking forward now to the Great Race II, which is scheduled to start May 3. Also,