Photoessay: The Idiotarod: When Good Shopping Carts Go Bad
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Washington, D.C. —
When you mix a shopping cart, six team members, bar hopping and bonus points for schmoozing bar hostesses and sabotaging your enemies, you get the annual Washington, D.C. Idiotarod race. On Saturday, this bizarre fund raising event, which originated in San Francisco 13 years ago, pitted teams of "sleds" together to race from bar to bar in Washington, D.C.'s fashionable Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan neighborhoods. Each "sled" consists of a "borrowed" shopping cart and six human dogs to pull the cart. Points are given for originality, the best time and best sabotage of another sled.
The race is held to benefit the Arlington Food Assistance Center and is organized by Ellen Shortill and Kristen Heatherly. Their organization, called "SMASHED" or "Society for Mature Adults Seeking to Help, Entertain and Donate", takes the position that donating small amounts many times ultimately benefits the smaller charities. Said Shortill, "Our goal is simply to have fun and raise money for those charities that don't really get any attention."
The race this year consisted of 22 teams. Although team "Save NOLA" got to the last bar first, teams can win bonus points for (among other things) flirting with bar hosts and hostesses at any of the five bars along the route. The route is approximately 3 miles long, and each team is required to spend at least 20 minutes in each bar. Heatherly noted that "it doesn't matter who got here first, ultimately its the team with the most credits and the best time that wins."
Unique among the participants are brothers Pete and Chris Magnuson who are attempting to get on the 10th edition of Amazing Race on CBS. Their team called "Pick Pete and Chris" ran through the streets with t-shirts hawking their website and their fervent desire to be chosen for the next edition of the television show.
"Its not really about who wins, its that we get to have a blast and raise some money," said Shortill. The charity event raised about $500 and various canned goods for the food pantry.