Idiot alert: NYC’s Idiotarod set for Saturday; Planners say this year will be better

January 22, 2013 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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New York City’s 10th annual Idiotarod — a bizarre urban event roughly modeled on the Iditarod, the epic dog-sledding race in Alaska — will tentatively take off this Saturday, January 26 at noon.

Instead of racing in sleds through 1,000 miles of snow, however, the Idiotarod features costumed idiots running through the city pushing themed shopping carts.

After last year’s Idiotarod devolved into a fiasco, with poor turnout, an overly long route and general confusion, the planners of the event say this year will be better.

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Idiotarod is under new management,” a Facebook page dedicated to the race proclaims. “After an apocalyptic 2012, the annual shopping cart race and mobile art event is now under the management of the Federal Emergency Racing Agency (FERA) who will be managing the assets, in association with the Department of Homeland Absurdity, to rebuild the event and to support businesses adversely affected by Hurricane Sandy.”

Since sabotage and the spreading of misinformation about the race and its route is not only common but actually encouraged, however, there is a small but distinct possibility that the Facebook announcement is a clever ruse.

Still, almost 300 Facebook visitors have indicated they’ll be racing come Saturday.

The Idiotarod has a long and glorious history in Brooklyn. According to the blog Action Direction, the event originated in San Francisco in the 90’s and made its way to New York City in 2003. Action Direction described the Idiotarod as, “An insane, psychotic, brilliant and absolutely revolting race, but a race nonetheless.”

A number of shadowy organizations have run the Idiotarod since then. In 2004 and 2005, a group called Precision Accidents organized the event, to general applause. They encouraged over-the-top art, anarchy, ingenious technology, and diabolical sabotage strategy.  

Carts of Brooklyn Racing Association (C.O.B.R.A.), winner of the 2004 and 2005 races, took over in 2006 or possibly 2007. More than 100 teams (that’s roughly 500 people) entered in 2006. The route covered points between Greenpoint and Queens, with false starting points pre-announced to foil the police.

Months of effort went into the costumes and carts in those years. Winner for the Best Achievement in Industrial Design in 2007 went to team “Punkimus Prime” for a cart that turned into a giant robot. One judge commented, “While it could no long stand on its own by the time it got to the finish line, it was still insanely cool.”

The NYPD received the award in 2007 for “Best Sabotage.” The judge commented, “While it appeared they forgot to enter an actual cart, they had a massive team with hundreds of members. They used organization and technology. They had helicopters! That is pretty bad ass. The horses were pretty cool too.”

Team Danger Zone took over the Idiotarod’s management – or claimed they had, at least – in the late 2000’s. But by 2010, they disavowed responsibility, claiming in a post online that they had “officially sold control of the 2010 Idiotarod to the racing division of Corporation X.”

By 2012, a group calling themselves the McGeddon Clan (with “a long family history in the military, pharmaceutical, and agro-chemical industries”) was running the Idiotarod. After last year’s fiasco, they told Gothamist that “saboteurs vied to co-opt or destroy the race.

Now the Idiotarod itself hangs in the balance. Even Gothamist, a long-time supporter of the idiocy, wonders if “it’s time for the Idiotarod to stare at the sunset and think of the rabbits.”

Still, idiots everywhere are determined to roll forward. Interested parties must register online by emailing [email protected]. (All entry forms must be received by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, January 24th). As usual, registrants will be informed of the starting line the night before the race. The starting line may move several times. The police will be enforcing all applicable laws. FERA says the race will conclude with an afterparty and mobile art exhibition.

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