Brooklyn Boro

All crust, no car: 5 Boro Pizza Challenge returns

September 23, 2019 Alex Williamson
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Pizza-loving urban navigators will face off on Sept. 28 at the fourth annual 5 Boro Pizza Challenge, a race that tests two vital New York City skillsets — getting around without a car and eating lots of pizza.

Individual or team competitors can use any combination of public transportation and non-motorized vehicles, like bicycles, scooters or their own two feet, to make it to five to-be-announced slice shops in all five boroughs then back across the finish line.

The challenge is a fundraiser for Transportation Alternatives, an organization that works to “reclaim New York City’s streets from the automobile” and advocates for upgrades to bike infrastructure and public transportation.

Last year’s champion, Brandon Chamberlin of Park Slope, relied on a combination of trains, the Staten Island Ferry and his folding Brompton bicycle to race to all five pizzerias and back to the finish line in just under five hours.

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Chamberlin, who will be returning this year to defend his title, said the hardest part of the competition wasn’t getting to each shop, but eating all that pizza.

“Slice four up in the Bronx was just a really heavy, doughy dollar pizza slice,” he said. “That was sort of my dark night of the soul.”

Chamberlin rebounded with slice number five on the Upper West Side, a thin crust basil and mozzarella slice from Sal & Carmine Pizza, then hopped on a southbound 2 train to the after party near Washington Square Park. It was only then that he realized he might actually win.

“I was looking at Twitter and I was like, huh, I don’t see anyone else has posted four or five slices yet.”

In preparation for this year’s challenge, Chamberlin reports he ate half a pizza at Patsy’s last Monday, and that he’s been practicing carrying his Brompton up and down stairs.

This year, competitors will meet at the Red Cube at 140 Broadway in lower Manhattan at 11 a.m. sharp on Sept. 28. Organizers will distribute a list of five pizzerias, one in each borough, and the challenge will begin.

To ensure the integrity of the race, participants must post photos at each pizzeria with the tag #5boropizzachallenge. The photo evidence will be verified at the finish-line after party, location to be announced. Finishers will receive a medal and a t-shirt.

“Just be hungry and get out there,” Chamberlin said. “It’s honestly the most fun event.”

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