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Costumes, Shopping Carts, Pubs: Racing In The Boston Urban Iditarod

The start of the Boston Urban Iditarod. (Greg Cook)

experiences

BOSTON — “We’re all about running,” Jessica Downey said, “and drinking and looking ridiculous.”

“It’s like volunteer Halloween,” added Amanda Estano, her teammate on the “Fitness Fiesta” crew, which had arrived at Whiskey’s Steakhouse on Boylston Street after completing the first leg of the Boston Urban Iditarod this morning.

The madcap race is inspired by the famous annual Iditarod sled dog race in Alaska. Except instead dogs and sleds, it’s teams of four to six costumed competitors pushing a decorated shopping cart on a 3 ½ mile course around downtown Boston, beginning at Lansdowne Pub in the shadow of Fenway Park on Lansdowne Street and heading as far east as the Hynes Convention Center, as they make a circuit of four other bars—An Tua Nua, Jerry Remy’s, Kings, Whisky’s Steakhouse.

Tim Jones and Kevin Doran founded the gonzo competition three years ago, after participating in local urban scavenger hunts.

The "Fitness Fiesta" team races down Beacon Street. (Greg Cook)

The “Fitness Fiesta” team races down Beacon Street. (Greg Cook)

“We wanted something more,” Jones said. “We started kicking around ideas. We saw these urban iditarods in other cities and it was a great idea and there wasn’t one in Boston.” So they combined costumes, a bar crawl and a food drive (this year supporting the Boston Medical Center Food Pantry) to launch their own Urban Iditarod.

Hundreds participated today dressed as pirates and Scooby-Doo (the most popular getups), as cowboys, monks and astronauts, as Charlie’s Angels, squids, Mario Bros., and military pilots. The average age of those registered to compete was 28, Jones said, and 80 percent of those signed up were women. The “Fitness Fiesta” team—which also included Meg Randall, sisters Danielle and Diana Lattari, and an inflatable Richard Simmons doll—had a Day-Glo, 1980s, Richard Simmons exercise theme going.

“We love Richard Simmons because he’s pretty adorable,” Downey said. “He knows how to work it. He loves to work out and so do we.”

“He’s our fitness idol,” Estano said.

What might Simmons’s advice be for Boston Urban Iditarod racers? “Just have fun gang,” Downey said. “Sweat out the pounds.”

Tim Jones, who founded the Boston Urban Iditarod with Kevin Doran, alerts competitors that the race is about to start. (Greg Cook)

Tim Jones, who founded the Boston Urban Iditarod with Kevin Doran, alerts competitors that the race is about to start. (Greg Cook)

The start of the Boston Urban Iditarod. (Greg Cook)

The start of the Boston Urban Iditarod. (Greg Cook)

Boston Urban Iditarod racers. (Greg Cook)

Boston Urban Iditarod racers. (Greg Cook)

Boston Urban Iditarod racers on Brookline Avenue. (Greg Cook)

Boston Urban Iditarod racers on Brookline Avenue. (Greg Cook)

Jessica Downey (left) and Amanda Estano compete in a game during a stop at Whiskey’s Steakhouse. (Greg Cook)

Jessica Downey (left) and Amanda Estano of the “Fitness Fiesta” team compete in a game during a stop at Whiskey’s Steakhouse. (Greg Cook)

Boston Urban Iditarod racers. (Greg Cook)

Boston Urban Iditarod racers. (Greg Cook)

Boston Urban Iditarod racers on Lansdowne Street. (Greg Cook)

Boston Urban Iditarod racers on Lansdowne Street. (Greg Cook)

Boston Urban Iditarod racers on Beacon Street. (Greg Cook)

Boston Urban Iditarod racers on Beacon Street. (Greg Cook)

Boston Urban Iditarod racers on Lansdowne Street. (Greg Cook)

Boston Urban Iditarod racers on Lansdowne Street. (Greg Cook)

The "USS Boozeliner" parked outside a Beacon Street pub. (Greg Cook)

The “USS Boozeliner” parked outside a Beacon Street pub. (Greg Cook)

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Welcome to the ARTery. The ARTery offers the best of Art news, reviews and features in sounds, words, sights, stages, screens and experiences in and of Boston. The ARTery, presented by WBUR, Boston’s NPR News Station, is powered by critic-at-large Ed Siegel and reporter and critic Greg Cook.

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