Bar Hopping for the Boston Medical Center

The Boston Urban Iditarod

Urban Iditerod Pub Crawl
Jabulani R. Barber

Competitors sport helmets in case benevolent boozing goes bad.

Teams of four bedecked in tutus, pink onesies, and lab goggles hurtled down Mass. Ave. last Saturday afternoon, dragging shopping carts behind them and stopping bemused passers-by in their tracks.

“Is this some kind of fraternity stunt?” wondered an elderly woman forced off the sidewalk by determined racers.

In fact, it was the inaugural Boston Urban Iditarod, inspired by the renowned Alaskan dogsled race—but with a slightly different spin. Replacing sleds with shopping carts and dogs with teams of friends, the event had participants race between five different Cambridge bars and perform challenges at each, racking up points in an effort to win prizes and support the Boston Medical Center’s food pantry.

After throwing back shots at Middle East in Central Square, teams with names like Birthday Bitches and Latinas Locas took turns completing an increasingly seductive pole dance before rushing off to the Asgard, the last stop.

“This way! This way! Hustle!” shouted Tim W. Jones, one of the event’s organizers, through a loudspeaker as he directed racers to the final bar.

Jones and a friend were inspired by urban iditarods that have been taking place in cities across the country since San Francisco started the trend in 1994.

“But we added our own unique flair,” he said, referring to the charity element of the event. “It’s not a total drinking event—I didn’t want to run a big drunk fest.”

That seemed questionable by the end of the race, as some participants staggered into the Asgard for one last celebratory drink.

Reflecting on their third-place finish over drafts, the Bearded Clams—hailing all the way from Connecticut—were still hoping to make up for lost time through their performance in the challenges.

“We got a lot of points along the way—eating contest points, pole dancing points,” said team member Matt S. Cantner.

Cantner and other participants agreed: this year’s Urban Iditarod would be the start of a new beloved Boston tradition.

“Mark my words, this is going to get way bigger in the years ahead,” said Cantner. “These little Cambridge bars won’t be able to handle the number of people.”

“We’ll do it again next year,” added teammate Ricardo D. Morant. “But they’re going to have to have it end in the Harvard colosseum or something.”