On Saturday, March 4, 2006, the Bay Area community took part in the twelfth annual Urban Iditarod. The event is a lampoon celebration of the annual Alaskan iditarod, which also began on this day, where huskies and sleds are replaced by canine getups and shopping carts. Approximately twenty-five teams entered in to compete in an expedition across the San Francisco streets.

Nearly 1,000 people assembled in the Minna Street Alley some time after 10 a.m. Teams began rallying their spirits around shopping carts filled with beer, rum, vodka, and radios. Contingents distinguished themselves with creative canine identities. Other squads included the Brown Hornets, Jamaican Bobsled Team, and ESPN 8 Yocho. Shopping carts were led by a musher and powered by four pack animals. Racers utilized this vital preparation time to socialize and liquify their courage because, according to Ben Stein, a member of the Dog the Bounty Hunter Team, “There’s no ice in paradise.”

The event attracted a diverse crowd of international proportions. John Maris, a member of Dr. Hwang’s Korean National Dog Cloning Team, disembarked from Auckland, New Zealand to partake in the race. Other athletes came in from various parts of California from Sacramento to San Diego.

Hype and excitement brewed until high noon, when the Alpha Dog unleashed the teams onto Market Street’s jagged asphalt terrain. Competitors traversed perilous high-traffic intersections packed with confused shoppers and impatient drivers. Sidewalk bystanders cheered as the mob of turbulent challengers hurdled over trolley tracks and insidious potholes.

Through the eyes of the press however, the event was similar to the running of the Bulls in Pamplona.
After pausing in a back alley to recoup, the horde barreled through the China Town Gate heading north, howling along Grant Avenue until they reached Washington Square Park.
The course extended onto Powel Street in the North Beach area. Racers crossed the finish line at Fishermen’s Wharf, where all were treated to the open courtyard at Jack’s Cannery bar for parlay and praise. Amidst upscale floral arrangements in the quaint cafes along the perimeter, associates of the Iditarod raged until the spirits had been exercised.

Andrew Hodgdon

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