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Racing Mon Jan 21 2013

Registration for the Chiditarod is Open

chiditarod2012.jpgWhy should grizzled mushers in Alaska get all the fun?

The Chicago Urban Iditarod (wittily known as the Chiditarod) will be on Saturday, March 2. You, yes you, can experience a modified form of sled racing -- instead of a pack of dogs and a musher, four human racers will pull a shopping cart on foot while a remaining member steers it. To up the wackiness, creative cart designs, ludicrous costumes and sabotage is not just acceptable, but encouraged.

The rules are basically this:

Find a group of friends, five total, and acquire your own shopping cart (feel free to "borrow" one from the local Jewel if need be, just be sure to return it). Pick a theme and costume design. Customize your cart to peak performance, and decorate it as much as you want.

On race day, teams will pull their carts on city sidewalks (obeying all foot traffic laws, natch), navigating through Chicago to hit various checkpoints. Finish first, and win. Teams can also channel their inner Dick Dastardly and plot ways to sidetrack other teams, with past examples including baby powder bombings, fake checkpoint fliers and attaching wooden "boots" to the wheels of unattended carts.

Full race rules are here, and sabotage rules are here.

Not only will the team that finishes first win, judges will give prizes for best costumes, best sabotage, Best in Show and Spirit of Chiditarod. Prize categories may be made up spur-of-the-moment, too. Past examples include Best Mustache Wax and Best Pole Dance.

In the Chiditarod, everyone's a winner. The hook to the competition is that every team must schlep at least 55 lbs. of non-perishable food in their cart, which will be donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository after the race. Last year, over 27,000 pounds of food was collected and donated, along with $18,500 in monetary donations.

The event has gotten rather large, with 755 racers and 250 race volunteers in 2012. So don't waste time: register to race or volunteer.

The Chiditarod will certainly be more fun that its Alaskan cousin. The weather might be better, too.

Photo courtesy of Chiditarod

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