Why a downtown Phoenix bar race will have people racing with decorated shopping carts

KiMi Robinson
Arizona Republic

Plans are in motion for more than 100 people of various states of inebriation to race dozens of embellished shopping carts through downtown Phoenix in February.

That can only mean one thing: The Phoenix Idiotarod is back this year.

For the uninitiated, the Idiotarod is "a charitable shopping cart race in which teams of five 'idiots' group themselves with a modified grocery store shopping cart and run through the streets of Phoenix," according to its website.

Racers typically arrive in costume, roll their themed floats to checkpoints at downtown bars, imbibe some alcohol and eventually cross the finish line.

The Phoenix Idiotarod will take place sometime around noon on Saturday, Feb. 26.

What is the Phoenix Idiotarod?

Up to 36 teams will race their shopping carts around downtown — without breaking any laws or injuring anyone, of course — and stop at each checkpoint for at least 20 minutes. Drinking is optional, though organizers encourage participants to support these local businesses, which will be giving special discounts.

The catch? Four people must be "attached to and running with the cart" at all times, and volunteers will be watching.

Teams from previous years have included the Mystery Machine from "Scooby-Doo," a hot dog cart and a cruise ship.

Depending on the routes teams choose, the race could be 3 to 5 miles long, with "sabotage, costume and presentation" rewarded along the way. To learn more about the event's extensive rules, go to https://www.azcacophony.org/idiotarod/rules.php.

Participants are not encouraged to steal shopping carts. Organizers ask that you find a stray empty cart around town, then return it to the store after the race.

Or, as the website states, "Find one that isn't at the supermarket and bring it back to them. On the way, enter this race with it."

The first team to cross the finish line will be crowned the winners during the afterparty. There will be other awards given out, such as best cart, best costumes, best sabotage and rookies of the year.

How to join the 2022 Phoenix Idiotarod

This year's race is limited to 36 teams of five people. Solo racers looking for a team to join can subscribe to the email list.

Participants must be at least 21, as the race's checkpoints are at bars.

Registration costs $50 and must be done via PayPal at https://www.azcacophony.org. The funds pay for event expenses and some are donated to a charitable organization that has not yet been announced.

Those who want to watch and support the Idiotarod racers can volunteer for the event; contact idiotarod@azcacophony.org to volunteer and visit  https://www.azcacophony.org/idiotarod to learn more.

This Scooby-Doo team was brilliant at the Phoenix Idiotarod at Margaret T. Hance Park on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018.

Phoenix Idiotarod 2022

When: Approximately noon Saturday, Feb. 26.

Where: Downtown Phoenix. The starting point will be emailed to participants one day ahead of the race.

Admission: $50 per team.

Details: https://www.azcacophony.org.

Reach the reporter at kimi.robinson@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @kimirobin and Instagram @ReporterKiMi.

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