Photoessay: The Idiotarod: When Good Shopping Carts Go Bad

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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.

Racers get ready to start in the 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. which raises money for Arlington Food Assistance Center
 
The Tom Selleck Experience team races in the streets of Dupont Circle in the 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. which raises money for Arlington Food Assistance Center
Racers on the streets of Dupont Circle in the 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. which raises money for Arlington Food Assistance Center
 
Team Jungle Fever on the streets of Dupont Circle in the 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. which raises money for Arlington Food Assistance Center
Racers on the streets of Adams Morgan in the 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. which raises money for Arlington Food Assistance Center
 
Team "Save NOLA" races on the streets of Adams Morgan in the 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. which raises money for Arlington Food Assistance Center
Racers on the streets of Adams Morgan in the 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. which raises money for Arlington Food Assistance Center
 
Team 4 Brides on the streets of Adams Morgan in the 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. which raises money for Arlington Food Assistance Center
Racers on the streets of Adams Morgan in the 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. which raises money for Arlington Food Assistance Center
 
The A Team dances for the crowd on the streets of Adams Morgan in the 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. which raises money for Arlington Food Assistance Center
Racers in Saturday's 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. run for the finish line. The race raises money for Washington, D.C. charities
 
The official Finish Line of Saturday's 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. which raises money for Arlington Food Assistance Center
Team Pick Pete and Chris reach the finish line for the 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. which raises money for Arlington Food Assistance Center
 
Racers on the streets of Adams Morgan in the 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. which raises money for Arlington Food Assistance Center
The Save NOLA Team runs for the finish line in Saturday's 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C.. The race raises money for Washington, D.C. charities.
 
Racers in Saturday's 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. run for the finish line. The race raises money for Washington, D.C. charities
Racers in Saturday's 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. run for the finish line. The race raises money for Washington, D.C. charities
 
Organizer Ellen Shortill watches the teams celebrate at the finish line of the 2006 Idiotarod race in Washington, D.C. The charity raised about $1,000 for Arlington Food Assistance Center
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Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.


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