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Planning to race? Know the rules. Bending them could get you DISQUALIFIED.

— Disgraced Racer

CHIditarod Core Philosophy

The primary mission of the CHIditarod is to harness the love and energy of Chicagoans to forge positive relationships and social good across our communities. The annual CHIditarod race aims to accomplish this goal by fostering a culture of mutual care and creative community engagement.

Flagrant violation of these core philosophies will result in exclusion from the event; violations include, but are not limited to, disrespecting others or the property of others, displaying inappropriate racial or cultural stereotypes, participating in or promoting hate speech, enacting sabotage that borders on assault, and wasting food for sabotage or other ill-conceived purposes. Such behaviors bring harm to members of our community and are therefore harmful to all of us.

All participants and volunteers are required to read and agree to uphold the core philosophy before participating in the event.

General Rules

Who can race?

Anyone and everyone should race, provided you are at least 21 years old. Spread the word by forwarding this web site to anyone you know.

Does weather affect the race?

Absolutely not. The race goes off rain or shine, blizzard, breeze or tornado. In 2006 it was 50 degrees and sunny. In 2007 and 2008 it was snowing. In 2014 it was in the teens and snowing. What does this mean? Two words: Be prepared! There is no bad weather, just poor wardrobe choices.

Registration Rules

In many areas you will see our new rule, “One Team = One Cart, Five Racers” in place. What does it mean? Glad you asked:

  • Each Team (One Cart/Five Racers) must be registered and paid for separately, Including Cart deposit.
  • Each Team (One Cart/Five Racers) is responsible for bringing 69 lbs of food.
  • Each Team is a single Cart with five Racers attached to it. If you have more than five Racers participating with your team, you must register an additional Team for every five Racers.
  • You will be assigned the number of bracelets to match the number of Racers registered. No more no less.


  • You have 1 Team, 1 Cart, and 5 Racers: One Cart registration, 5 Racers each, 69 lbs of food
  • You have 2 Teams, 2 Carts and 10 Racers: Two Cart registrations, 5 Racers each, 138 lbs of food
  • But what if you have 2 Teams, 2 Carts and 12 Racers?
    Either find three more Racers for a third Team, or drop two Racers.
    The rules are “One Team = One Cart, Five Racers”…
    Racers must always be in denominations of five.


  • Team = 5 Racers with their cart
  • Cart = Physical shopping cart to be taken home and returned after the race
  • Racer = a human being who is participating and registered to race, also known as Dawgs and Mushers

What’s the race route?

That’s up to you. Each team receives a timecard & map of checkpoints they must go to in the order listed and not skip any checkpoints. Check in on race day starts at 9:45am and closes at 11:45am. The epic start to the race is at 12:30 pm SHARP. Each team chooses its own path between the start, each of the checkpoints, and the finish. Your team will stay at each checkpoint for 25 minutes before continuing on your journey.

Should we also wear costumes?

Absolutely. Definitely. Creativity is a huge part of this event. Wild costumes and insane themes are not required per se, but wholly encouraged. The most important rule of CHIditarod is… fun is mandatory. 95% of all teams have costumed themes. It’s epic. Pure street theater. Google around for past photos and inspiration! Please be tasteful with your costumes, it’s super lame if your costume could be construed as offensive. If so, you will probably be sent home. You have been warned.

Something at the event has made me feel unsafe or unwelcome. What should I do?

The CHIditarod shopping cart race is guided by a Core Philosophy of mutual respect, and we expect all participants to abide by that philosophy. If you see something that looks out of place or if someone at this event makes you feel unsafe or unwelcome, please report it as soon as possible.

Reports can be made in person to any CHIditarod Core Organizer (“Coreganizer”). Coreganizers can be identified by their ARM BANDS printed with the CHIditarod patch emblem. If you have trouble locating one, you may approach any CHIditarod volunteer (like a checkpoint manager or a bike marshal) and ask for help finding a Coreganizer. Anyone wishing to make a report is welcomed to bring a friend for support if they would like to do so. You may also let the Coreganizer you speak with know if you feel that the report should be shared with an emergency contact or law enforcement.

If you wish to make an anonymous report during or after the event, you may do so online by clicking HERE. We can’t follow up on anonymous reports directly, but we will do our best to investigate and take whatever actions may be needed to prevent reoccurrence.

Anyone who violates our Core Philosophy and makes others feel unsafe or unwelcome reduces the value of this event for all who participate. We really, really, really want you to have fun at the CHIditarod. People like you make this day awesome. We’re glad you’re here.

Food Drive Rules

The CHIditarod is a food drive:
69 pounds per cart is required!

In addition to being an outstandingly fun time, the CHIditarod is first and foremost a food drive. Your team must show up with 69 pounds of food or more to race in the CHIditarod!

What is good food to donate?

The Greater Chicago Food Depository requests that you please do not bring items in glass jars or any kind of candy or toiletries. GCFD’s most needed foods are: peanut butter, canned tuna, canned chili, canned beans, canned soup, canned fruit, canned vegetables, canned stew, and canned fish. All items need to be non-perishable and shelf stable.

Please do not bring anything in glass, cookies, muffins, cupcakes, chips, candy, dairy, fruit cups, anything breakable, or perishable goods. 


  • Peanut Butter
  • Canned Beans
  • Canned Chili
  • Canned Soup
  • Canned Stew
  • Canned Fish
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Canned Fruit

Do we have to race a cart full of heavy food donations?

Hush now puppies, we wouldn’t make you do that! ALL FOOD IS COLLECTED AT THE START OF THE RACE. Bring your required minimum 69 pounds 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 watch can bring food themselves to donate. SuperFans will also be required to bring food. 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 off before race day?

Perhaps! We consider a TON to be more than one shopping cart or about 300 lbs. Details are currently being finalized. Check back here for details on how to schedule a drop-off in advance, or send an email to

Racing Rules

General Team Rules

  • Teams consist of exactly 5 people. The carts must be pulled doggie-sled style: four people in front with ropes pulling the cart (the dawgs), and one person running behind the cart steering (the musher). This configuration represents the theoretically ideal power-to-steerage ratio of 4:1, and must be observed at all times.
    • Team = 5 Racers with their cart
    • Cart = Physical shopping cart to be taken home and returned after the race
    • Racer = a human being who is participating and registered to race, also known as Dawgs and Mushers
  • Dawgs and mushers are free to trade off at the checkpoints. All team members must finish together – no stray dawgs! (Of course dawgs and musher may run free while they’re being watered at the checkpoints.) There will be Bike Marshals along the route to ensure proper form, function, and of course, safety.
  • No facemasks at the starting line, checkpoints, or finish line.
  • No assisted movement other than your own feet (sorry roller derby girls – we still love you).
  • You must respect all local, state, and federal laws and ordinances, including those governing traffic, littering, dumping, alcohol consumption, cannabis use, and theft, for example.

Can we use public transportation?

No. That is cheating. Cheating is not allowed.

Can we use private transportation?

No. This occurred in 2007 by the Bunnies (there are hilarious photos). Be assured that this will result in immediate disqualification and public flogging (j/k, but you’ll still be disqualified)

Carts & Art Carts

Yes, you need a shopping cart, and you need to rock it. Start with the Cart Rules to learn the basic requirements.

What is an Art Cart?

See our Art Cart page for all the details.


Yes, you read that right… bribes. CHIditarod volunteers love being bribed for numerous amounts of things. No one at CHIditarod, volunteers, bike marshals included, can require a team to bribe them, BUT! bribes do help grease the wheels of the volunteers, provide an outlet for creativity, and could help you land some sweet prizes.


Can we try to prevent other teams from winning? i.e. SABOTAGE?
Yes, with limitations though. You MUST READ the Sabotage Rules for the full schtick.

Can I SABOTAGE other teams?
This bears repeating…you MUST READ the Sabotage Rules. And if you are still curious follow the How Not to Suck at Sabotage.


As you have done in years past, please plan accordingly to water your dawgs over the course of a long, cold day. Reduce waste by bringing reusable cups, preferably with built-in carabiners, and our friends at Cobra Lounge will be serving drinks and food all day.

Can I bring my real dogs?
No…please, no.

Checkpoint Rules

Each team must complete the race in the order specified on their route map (received the morning-of at registration). When you arrive at your checkpoint, 4 team members must be there to checkin. Check in with the cart wrangler who has a bright yellow/green safety vest on. They will have something for you. You will need this something to finish your checkin at the bar. Once you receive this special something, go inside and hand this special something along with your race card and give it to the checkin person (look for laptops).


At every bar there are fun contests for you and your teammates. These are not required but a large piece of the fun and excitement about CHIditarod. We HIGHLY recommend you participate.

Who has the final say?

The judges have final say over all prizes and winners. This is complete and final. Judges have sole discretion over all points awarded or deducted, prizes awarded, which prizes are being awarded, race rules, all laws of physics, what time it is, and what happened in the past, all of which are subject to change without notice.