Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Where did you get the idea for this event?
In 2006 we borrowed it from some people in New York who had been doing it since 2003. They stole it from a group of people in San Francisco who have been doing it since 1994. Some call us the CHIditarod, or Chicago’s Urban Shopping Cart Race.

Why are you doing this?
We’re probably the world’s largest mobile food drive. Helping others and building community is sexy. And it’s important to fight cold and kill boredom. After all, it’s March in Chicago. Plus it will be absurdly fun. Seriously, we do this for charity. See our food and fundraising impact since our inception.

How long is the race?
Somewhere between 4 and 5 miles total, with the average leg between checkpoints being around 0.7 miles. You get 25 minutes to rest at each checkpoint – depending on what you find at each checkpoint, that is.

Where can I get more information?
Sign up for CHIditarod news. Join the announcement list, like our Mushbook (facebook) and follow us on ChiTwitterod (twitter). There will also be an extremely detailed email a week before the event that is sent to all registered participants.

Where can I learn more about the Iditarod®?
You should visit the Iditarod® website. CHIditarod is not affiliated with the Iditarod Trail Committee or the Iditarod® race in Alaska.

Will there be an after-party?
Of course! It’s located at the finish line. Starting new this year, the finish line will be separate from the awards ceremony. More details to come. There will be an awards ceremony, trophies and prizes for the winners. Learn More.

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I just want to watch. Can I do that?
Yes, you can. Here’s where you should go. Bring a couple cans of food for the food drive!!

This sounds funny. Can I bring my camera and document it?
Yes, but it would be cooler if you raced AND filmed at the same time, yeah? We think you’ll have more fun. But yeah, you can come cheer on the teams at the starting line or at any of the checkpoints. Feel free to bring your camera and document the race. Then send us a copy of the footage and post it on our Facebook page!

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Do you need any help organizing this?
Totally. If you want to be involved with the project but can’t run for some reason — like you just had ACL surgery and are still hobbling around on crutches — we could use you as a volunteer. We also need referees and entertainers for points along the route. Plus people to make banners, hand out oranges, make trophies. Please let us know if you would like to be involved in any way.

Kickass. I want to fundraise on my own for the charity ‘cuz I’m a badass. How?
You ARE a badass. We set up a fundraising page that has easy instructions for how to do this, including tax deductions.

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How do I sign up?
You are REQUIRED to register in advance. No race-day registrations allowed. This means you – yeah, you!

I want to race but my friends are lame. Is there a team I can join? Or, I need another dawg to complete my badass team!
Sure. Communicate with other racers via Twitter. Use #lostdawg and @chiditarod.

Does the Musher have to ride, or are they required to “push”?
Pushing is recommended. Highly recommended.

Are helmets required?
Helmets may be a good idea for some. Actually – WE RECOMMEND HELMETS!

Do all “dawgs” have to be tied to the carts?
All dawgs have to be attached to the carts in some way. If you don’t like the idea of being tied to a moving shopping cart, handling the ropes is fine.

Can a team sub in replacement dawgs mid-race along the route?
Not unless you want to be DISQUALIFIED.

After I register, can I change my team name?
Yes, but only up until 2 weeks before the race. You must go to the dogtag registration program and update your registration. You can only do this if its more than 2 weeks before race day. If it’s less than 2 weeks, your team can not be updated.

I registered and now one of my teammates had to bail. Can I swap dawgs?
Yes, but only up until 2 weeks before the race. You must go to the dogtag registration and update your dawgs there. You can only do this if its more than 2 weeks before race day. If it’s less than 2 weeks, your team information is cast in stone.

Can my team wear matching outfits?
Yes, knock yourself out. Creativity is highly encouraged, and there will be substantial prizes.

I have lots of friends. Can my team race alongside my buddy’s team on the same route?
Probably; indicate them on your registration form. No guarantees, but we will try. Know This – if you choose this option then you and your buddy’s team are not allowed to sabotage or win any of the time trial prizes.

Wait — teams are allowed to SABOTAGE in the CHIditarod?
Within very specific parameters. You must READ the Sabotage Rules CAREFULLY to see what kinds of shenanigans teams are allowed to commit. Failure to stay within these rules will get you DISQUALIFIED.

How do teams deal with the required food poundage during the race?

Teams don’t. All food is collected at the start of the race. Bring your required poundage of food to the starting line. Before you can enter into The Yard, your food will need to be weighed at the Greater Chicago Food Depository truck. No team is allowed to finish their check-in process without the required poundage of food, nor will they be allowed into The Yard where all the cool things happen. We aren’t joking. Friends who come to meet you or watch can bring food themselves to donate. There will be donation bins at the starting line and finish line, but not at the awards ceremony. Remember – CHIditarod is a charity event, and there are substantial prizes for the teams that collect the most food. And please – high-protein non-perishable foods are preferred.

We’ve collected a ton of food. Is there a way for us to drop it of before race day?
Yes! If you have collected more than 300 lbs. of food, you are welcome to drop off your food donations at the Greater Chicago Food Depository ahead of the race. In 2017, you may drop off food on Saturday, February 26, between 9am and 12pm OR any day of the week prior to the race (Monday February 27 – Friday March 3) between the hours of 7:30am and 3:30pm. When you arrive at GCFD, go to the north west entrance on the corner of Keeler Ave and Anne Laurie Pl. Look for a sign that says “Agency Mart” to know that you are in the right place. Please  email with any questions.

What’s a Bike Marshal?
The duty of the elite squadron of mobile Bike Marshals is to keep racers safe from each other, and from themselves. They also rule. They brave the cold and watch over you along the route. They’re there to help, keep people safe, judge the coveted “Bike Marshal’s Choice awards,” and ensure that there aren’t any egregious violations of the rules. We’re all about competitive spirit, but if we catch you loading your cart in the back of a pickup or taking off on a bike, don’t be surprised if you find yourself going home DISQUALIFIED. When they provide you with direction, please follow. Most likely it’s a reminder to race on the sidewalk.

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Does each team need to provide their own cart?
Yes. No exceptions.

Where do we get a cart?
There are many places where one can acquire the standard grocery-sized shopping cart that you will need to participate. Ask your local supermarket if they will lend you a cart for “probably the world’s largest mobile food drive.” They will be glad to participate in this unique event. Give it back to them as a work of art after the race.  You may also purchase a cart.  Try searching on google. Some companies sell used carts, too.

What is the cart deposit?
There is a $88 cart deposit, which you must pay during registration. Why? Because this is a LEAVE NO TRACE event and you must prove without a doubt that you took your cart home with you after the race. This means photographic evidence of your cart in it’s natural environment, at the minimum. At the starting line you will receive a “cartvixen card” in your racing packet that has directions. All crucial instructions for receiving your deposit back in full are on this card, so it’s worth $88 – you should keep track of it! All proof must be submitted within ONE week of the race day. Because Coreganizers have lots to do post-race (and we’re all volunteering our time), the cart refunds may take up to 2 weeks to process (more carts left behind = more delays in refunds). Please be assured that all refunds will happen if you send us the evidence we asked for. Any leftover cart deposit monies from teams not responding and/or deserving of being added to our wall of shame will be donated to the charity after covering race costs. We love volunteers who help clean up post-race, join us the day after – we love us some fresh reinforcements!

Does my cart deposit mean you will provide me a cart?
No. Never. You MUST provide your own cart. Since you’ve read the rules, you know that (a) every team needs to bring their own pimped-out cart, and (b) every team needs to pay the cart-deposit, which is fully refundable per the instructions below.

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Art Carts

What is an Art Cart?
An Art Cart is a unique creation that is radically stunning, and heavily modified from it’s original cart form, (usually) permanently. Art carts embody the creative spirit of their creators and the CHIditarod, and stretch the limits of cart-based art in dynamic, engaging, and safe ways.

Art Carts were introduced to Chiditarod in 2010.  Racing as an “Art Cart” is a more “free form” category for those teams wanting to stretch their creative muscles outside the parameters of racing. Some examples would be really big wheels, grill/food carts that don’t want to run everywhere, a multi-franken-cart mechanical extravaganza, etc. There are some differences between what’s allowed for Art Carts and regular shopping carts in the Chiditarod, so be sure to read The Rules in full before deciding if your team wants to do an Art Cart.

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Can I make a side bet?
Absolutely, but not with us.

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