Urban Iditarod

Yesterday started out with my last Intro to Argentine Tango class. I was kinda bothered that my dance partner bagged on me. But I danced all the same. I cut out a couple minutes early myself to prepare for… The Urban Iditarod!! Barry and I, being the two founding members of The Team That Registered Just Last Night, were also the principal sled bearers. Well, we were the whole team.

I stole the shopping cart. We decorated it together in my garage. We threw it in the back of his truck and were off! (well, we were already "off", but you knew that already).

It was quite an odd thrill, stealing a shopping cart. I finally settled on parking a block away in a public lot. I then went in and bought several jugs of water and brought them back to the car in the cart (because of course there'd be no way I could carry all that heavy water. When back at the quiet lot, PHLOOP, into the car it went! The decorations were Blues Clues paw prints mutated in a hundred different ways by Paint Shop Pro. Printed it out on UPS stickey labels (thanks UPS, I owe you) and onto the cart and us.

We got lost trying to find the start (they'd never really start at 1pm sharp, would they? Yeah, I suspected they would… and they did. At 1:10 we drove past the starting spot and noticed that ah HA we were following a car with a shopping cart in back! "Follow that car!" We followed them a couple blocks and I kinda got worried that… I don't know, maybe they were just shopping cart thieves. So at a red light I ran up to their car, knocked on the window and breathlessly asked, "Do you know where you're going?" I noticed the passenger's black nose and floppy ears… the driver said back, "Yeah, we'r…" I smiled and ran back to our truck.

Another couple blocks later, there we were, stuck in downtown SF traffic. We figured they probably really did know where they were going but maybe… … So I hopped out again, knocked and asked, "Are you sure?" She stuck out a yellow slip of paper saying, "You've been issued a citation for good karma!" "Err?" The light turned green and I rushed back to the truck, citation in hand. The ticket was pretty funny. Most of the preprinted citations were for things like "boldface lying" or "being mean". But, down at the bottom there was a space for "karma commendations", and next to it was written, "trying to find the Urban Iditarod".

At the next red light, a dog jumped out of the car with the shopping cart in it and ran back to us. We started talking, the light turned green and we asked him to jump in. We were all having a grand old time even in the face of missing half of the race. We dropped off our passenger with the other car at the second checkpoint. We proceeded to park our car near the third checkpoint, jumped out, got all of our stuff ready and were off! We quickly realized that we were having a hard time… it's difficult to run with a shopping cart on the sidewalk when you are the only ones doing it. And then some people told us, "Hey, I saw a bunch of other people like you going the other way just a few minutes ago." They would then point in the opposite direction from where we were going. Yipe!

So we were off to the fourth checkpoint. We ran to Washington Square Park and hardly slowed down because we did not see hide nor hair of what should be a giant cacophony of dogs and shopping carts. As we were running down the hill from Washington Square Park to the wharf, I started to get pretty good at skidding the shopping cart tactfully in order to steer it smoothly. We got more toward the flats and a pair of dogs asked us, "Which way are we supposed to go?" I held up the map and in a completely out of breath voice said, "I ugnt oh!" The light turned green for us and we started off again, I beckoned them to follow and as we ran along, I welcomed them to our sled team.

Getting to Jefferson Street on the waterfront, we asked a few people if they had seen a bunch of crazy people with shopping carts. A few said they had but the reports were too spotty for us to think that they were in front of us. So we walked slowly toward The Cannery. And then from behind, the lead car passed us and all of a sudden we were in the middle of wonderful bedlam. We were only a block or two from the finish line, but we were in it! 

It turns out that the party at the end of the race was a fucking blast! It's kind of hard to describe. There was the mingling of the end of a road race with… the end of a road race where everyone had just hauled their own beer to the party. And everyone was made up in what would, in the normal world pass for pretty good themed Halloween costumes or totally devout football fans. Here, it was just normal. There were the Snoop Doggs who demanded I speak ebonics for one minute if they were to give me a beer (see the photo). And the super hot dog cart complete with umbrella, hot dogs, mustard, supercharger and exhaust pipes. The requisite toga and tutu clad dogs, and Frank Chu. I had seen Frank several times but never spoken to him and didn't know about his Wikipedia entry. I asked him about the sign and… well… he told me. It was actually kind of an intense experience because I was sober enough to try to understand what he was saying and drunk enough to let the words flow over me like a rushing brook. Barry saw the conversation and he told me it looked pretty intense from where he was standing.

Pictured is the Pets.com sockpuppet (who recently got a job with Bar None Insurance) and friend. He'll be appearing at Great Adventure with Spinal Tap all next month. Also pictured is.. I wanna make a shout out to the Snoop Dogg possee. Blood bro, keepin it alive on the wharf, bringin it home. It was fuckin real, I'd lay down and die for every one of them. They made me an honorary member for … well… doing something wonderfully stupid :-)

It was actually pretty sad bringing the cart back. After setting it down in the super market parking lot it appeared as an empty hulk of its former glory.


  1. Lee says:

    I’d also like to add that it was Laura who first mentioned the Urban Iditarod to me several weeks ago. I had forgotten the exact date that it was coming up but when I saw a notice saying how they had to ask for donations because the police were charging a $1,000 permit fee, I jumped and called friends immediately.

    Thanks Laura!

  2. Vickie says:

    Wow, Lee!!! It sure sounds like you’ve found your bliss and I couldn’t be happier for you. I can’t imagine an event like this going on in Hackettstown.

    Yay for you!!

  3. Lee says:

    Sure it could… But it’d be some kind of chocolate themed event. I could see a soapbox derby happening on that long hill in front of M&M. And there’s ballooning about 20 minutes south, around Lebanon.

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