Mush for a Good Cause in the Chiditarod
By Todd McClamroch in News on Feb 12, 2007 4:00PM
On March 3, teams will compete in the 2007 Chiditarod, an homage to the Iditarod dogsled race across Alaska. The Chiditarod tweaks the race by replacing dogs with costumed humans and replacing the dogsled with a shopping cart. Teams of five compete in a race to checkpoints throughout the Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park, and Bucktown neighborhoods — covering nearly four miles — before reaching the finish line. To keep the teams nourished, they will be required to make several twenty-minute stops at local watering holes.
Prizes are awarded for those who finish the race in the top three positions. Additionally, prizes will be awarded for a variety of categories, including best in show, best use of bling, and the worst wipeout. You can view a full list of prizes on the Chiditarod website.
The event promotes a good cause, fighting hunger in Chicago, as each team is required to end the race with at least 15 pounds of non-perishable food in its cart. All the food collected at the finish line is donated to local organizations. In 2006, the 22 teams donated nearly 900 pounds of food. Captain Slam and the Four Hodags, last year's winners, did not roll across at weight restriction minimums as they brought across finish line 57.75 pounds of food, but they were outdone by the fourteenth place team, Haz-Mat-Rats, who won the prize for the biggest haul, bringing in 185.5 pounds of food.
If you are interested in competing in this year’s race, find four cohorts to join your team and each toss in $5 to cover the $25 team entry fee. You will need to find yourself a shopping cart and start pimping your ride. Chicagoist does not endorse the stealing of shopping carts; we suggest you ask your local grocer if they would let you borrow a cart for the event. Or buy your own from Hubert. During the race four members of the team will play the role of the dogs and pull the sled with ropes and one person will play the role of the musher and steer the cart. Team members are encouraged to swap roles throughout the race.
Chicago is just one of many cities that offers an urban Iditarod. They have also been spotted in New York City, San Francisco and Portland. Interested in learning more about registering to compete, volunteering or just checking out the madness? Visit www.chiditarod.org.
Photos provided by Chiditarod.org.