Idiotarod 2010: Not For The Weak
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Produced by HuffPost's Eyes & Ears Citizen Journalism Unit
Despite its derogatory name, the Idiotarod demands an almost James Bond-like cunning from its "idiots."
This year, not only were there fake starting locations for the race participants to contend with, but the real starting point of the race wasn't released until just two hours before its 11am start time, prompting all "idiots" to hightail it to Williamsburg's Cooper Park, hopefully in time to race around the five boroughs in a shopping cart, which is about where the James Bond comparison ends.
The race is loosely inspired by the famous Iditarod dogsled race in Alaska. However, instead of a dogsled, teams of five people mount a shopping cart (all team members must be connected to the cart at all times, acting out the parts of the "sled dogs" and the "musher") and tool it around the city. On the day of the race, a starting point, ending point and check points are announced. The quickest way to get to these places is decided by the team. The teams are encouraged to dress up in ridiculous costumes and sabotage other teams. The sabotages are extremely elaborate, some involving a smoke machine. Much of this makes little sense unless you are drunk, which many of the participants are.
Brett Herman, a racer on a team called Tiananmen Square Dance, explained that the rigamarole surrounding the race was, infact, essential to it.
"It's not really about finishing the fastest though, it's more about doing things well," he said.
The winner of the race only receives the second most important prize (the Eagles, who could be seen screeching along the route with their nest-cart, won the time trial). 2010's Best in Show went to the ladies of Fakeworkia, some of whom said they'd been running as a team for six Idiotarods. Best Sabotage ultimately went to team "Family Values," (named after the music tour created by Korn) who hacked the registration system and sold it back at a premium.
The themed costumes ran the gamut between clever and absurd: characters from Pee-wee's playhouse were gathered around a shopping cart upholstered uncannily like Chairy, Pee-wee's talking armchair. Many teams were dressed as life action puns. Notables were the panty-mimes (who wore lacy underwear over the traditional black-and-white striped mime outfit), the Tiananmen Square Dance (guys with cowboy hats in People's liberation army garb racing a cart decked as a red-starred tank), and the Master-Racers (the generous proprietors of the keg-cart, all dressed in lieder-hosen and speaking with thick faux-German accents).