Urban Iditarod heeds call of the wild

Published: Sunday, March 15 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Jody St. Joseph, left, and Becca Carlin participate in the second annual Urban Iditarod race in Salt Lake City Saturday.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

If you desired a standard, organized parade, there was the annual St. Paddy's Day Parade in Salt Lake Saturday morning. However, if you preferred a less organized, impromptu parade of an even zanier kind, then the second Salt Lake City Urban Iditarod was held some five hours later downtown.

Mix spring fever with a crazy idea, fit-for-Halloween outfits, parade-style decorated shopping carts, a mildly competitive team spirit and optional stops to six different bars and you've got the basic formula for this unusual event.

In the true Alaskan Iditarod each March, more than 60 sled-dog teams pull a human master in a 1,100-plus mile race across frozen tundra. Here the "dogs" are people, most dressed in fantasy style.

The human musher on the cart gets to push — or ride, when they can — along a four-mile sidewalk course between 200 West and 200 East and South Temple and 900 South.

There are no winners or losers here, according to Greg Morris of Park City, who organized the event. "We're just all having fun."

Morris' "Rum Runner" cart was all about pirates.

He said there were but five carts and teams in last year's first Salt Lake event. This year, thanks to extensive Internet publicity, 15 carts and teams showed up — many more than Morris had expected.

Besides several pirate entries, there was a "Big Love"-kind of pioneer covered-wagon cart, featuring a "polygamist" pulled along by his five "wives," two of whom were dressed in pioneer-style white dresses.

There was also a timely green cart with a basketball hoop inside, run by a Utah Jazz impersonation team; some ninjas; a jet plane cart; a cart titled, "The White Stuff"; and still another with a risque superhero theme.

Perhaps most noticeable was the "American Gladiators" cart, with U.S. flags on top, a loud boom box and working fog machine. The macho men pulling the cart looked ready to compete in a ring.

Where did the competitors get their carts? Some said they officially borrowed them from stores, like Costco. Others said they borrowed carts they found abandoned along the roadside.

Some other U.S. cities also have Urban Iditarods. Portland was first in 2002. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Brooklyn are others to field similar Iditarods.

Go to pubcrawlslc.com/Urbaniditarod for more information.

E-MAIL: lynn@desnews.com

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