How to Win, Place, or Show at Chiditarod 

Categories: Blog

Experienced Chiditarod Master Judges and members of the COREganizer Corps provide some tips for those hoping to win big on race day. 
Okay, what’s the magic formula for winning big? 
There isn’t one way to do it right, but there are lots of things that can go wrong, so let’s start with what *not* to do, shall we?
1. Don’t forget the mission of the race. Have fun and do good for those in need. Bad behavior doesn’t belong here.
2. Don’t be offensive. When it comes to costumes and makeup there is a point where clever ends and questionable begins. General rule of thumb: if you have to ask, don’t do it. If you still think it’s a good idea, double check the Core Philosophypage first.
3. Don’t be a Douchebag… You all know what a D-bag is, right?
4. …And don’t let your teammate be a Chucklehead. Every year there is a cart that is well done, with good costumes, fun bribes, great engagement, and ONE team member who ruins it for the rest. Watch your buddies; don’t let them drink too much and destroy your day and your chances for the title.
Got it. Now, what is the *to do* list if we wanna win? 
1. Build it and they will come. Carts take time to build well, so plan ahead and don’t take shortcuts. You want it to look as good at the end of the race as at the start, and you want good functionality.
2. Dress for success. Costumes matter – even when you are away from your cart, you want your story to come through.
3. Play the part. Successful carts have teams that look good and stay in character. (If your character is a jerk, mind your audience – always joke with the Judges; never piss them off)
4. Grease the palms. We have another post all about bribes – don’t forget yours! Big prize winners have a great, on-theme bribe and a great presentation of it. Don’t be afraid to explain it if needed.
5. Get in the game. Checkpoint teams put as much effort into their activities as you do your carts – participate! Judges *do* find out who played well with others…
6. Share the love. Chiditarod is a great day, with big fun and immense creativity, all in the name of a good cause. Have fun! Treat the Yard Crew, Bike Marshals, Cart Wranglers, Checkpoint Leads, CheckIn/CheckOut folks, Master Judges, and fellow racers with respect. We all talk, and you want us all equally impressed.
7. Tip your bartenders. This doesn’t actually count towards the win, but bar proceeds come back to Chiditarod and those folks are working hard to keep you lubricated.
That all makes sense, but what really puts a team over the top? 
Having a hook. Big prize winners usually have an element that brings their theme to life and engages Judges, Checkpoint Volunteers, and other teams alike. Memorable hooks have included: a used car lot that performed a live “commercial”; a Jeopardy cart that had flip-screen questions and answers; a Disney cart with movie karaoke with videos later posted to YouTube; a Pac Man cart with a working version of the game inside.
Wow. Sounds like some teams really know their stuff.
They do. And a few of the legends shared some hints via this blog post, which you might want to check out, too.
It looks like it’s a lot of work to win Best of Show or a big award
It is. It’s the whole package, from the moment you arrive at Check In until the moment you return to The Yard. All details are noted, big and small, and the more you are committed to your cart and the Mission, the greater your chances of winning. Does that mean that only huge carts and experienced racers can get a top prize? Nope. Like we said, it’s about the whole package – size doesn’t matter as much as spirit and enthusiasm from start to finish (yep, we said it).