As of January 15, registration is now live for Chiditarod, the annual shopping cart race through the Wicker Park and Ukrainian Village Chicago neighborhoods. Always scheduled for the first Saturday in March, this year the Chiditarod (short for “Chicago Urban Iditarod”) event will take place on Saturday, March 2nd.
Laying claim to “Probably the World's Largest Mobile Food Drive”, the Chiditarod consists of teams of five people (four pullers and one musher) pulling shopping carts full of food for donation. Teams wear colorful costumes, and also costume their carts. The event draws together 800+ people, both participants and spectators, and has collected 75,000 pounds of food and $40,000 in direct donations since its start in 2006.
As essential as the charity aspect is the creativity that goes into the costuming. In the past, trophies and prizes have been awarded for Best Art Cart, Most Epic Fundraiser, Most Food and Best Bribe, among others. The race, which calls itself “One part food drive, one part pub-crawl, one part costumed shopping cart race, all parts radtacular!” begins with a raucous send off from the band Environmental Encroachment. Creativity is also showcased with a design contest before the event, with a deadline of January 27.
The race tolerates creative, non-destructive uses of sabotage, and there might even be a prize for “Best Sabotage”. Guidelines specify “nothing permanent”, like cutting another team’s cart in half or removing “lots” of cart wheels, with the implication that one or two might be okay. Sabotage is only allowed after the starting gun, and may only be perpetrated by the 5 members of the team: “no outside goombahs.”
In addition to the race itself, there is also the advance fundraising event “Chiditaprom” on February 8, “the 80′s prom you wish you had.” Instead of each team throwing its own fundraising party, the Chiditaprom gathers all the teams and participants for one big fundraiser. The event includes an open bar, photobooth, and raffle auction.
Pre-registration for the race is required. Online registration is open from January 15th until two weeks prior to the race, with a discount for early registration . Registration is limited to 150 teams. The race will begin at 12:30 pm sharp. For more information, visit http://www.chiditarod.org/.