Idiotarod 2009: Flavorpill’s Brent Van Dyke Reports from the Scene

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It was late Friday night and as my phone rang, I could almost hear the Chariots of Fire anthem drifting in the night air. It was Rome calling, the New Roman Empire that is. Formerly known as Team Danger Zone, last year’s Idiotarod champions, Team Remus and Romulus needed one more Roman soldier to stand as one for the glory — because twenty-nine fearless cart-wielding foot soldiers weren’t enough.

As Flavorpill’s resident try-anything-once-guy, if it involves a costume, public drunkenness and hanging out in the street, I’m there.

firstUpon arrival at the secret and highly-guarded Greenpoint HQ of this overly enthusiastic and well-lubed team, I was adorned with a proper homespun Roman solider uniform, helmet, shield and instructions to push, protect and party. This year Team Remus and Romulus ran not only one cart but two. The intricate carts were designed as chariots, blue and red, each representing one of the founding brothers of Rome. Each chariot weighed in at about 250 lbs., and came equipped with a beautiful Roman warrior goddess, a gas generator, a pair of bolt cutters, a 1450 watt amplifier, a PA speaker, an illegally powerful radio transmitter, a specially-crafted soundtrack, six horses, eight shielded guards, and a follow truck decorated as a Roman temple.

Damn, these guys are serious!

This was my first time at the Idiotarod and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I found myself in the middle of egg throwing, paint splattering, espionage, sabotage, judge bribing, cart demolishing, and all out warfare! It was both horrific and wonderful. Hands down, there was no competition on the field, making us the sitting duck for sabotage and hate crimes. Upon our grand entrance, eggs battered our shields, bags of flour were dumped on our goddesses, blue and green paint flew at us from all directions and that was all before the race had begun.

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Yet, Rome stood.

The Roman team takes a different approach to this type of warfare: No weapons, no hate. Simply defend and move forward with honor. Our shield formation was infallible and our sound system was deafening to other teams, allowing us to press on. After we round our first corner, I noticed someone in a chicken suit had made it into our formation. Once they were torn away I realized they had chained a cinder block to the wheels of our cart. Sabotage! Luckily, we came prepared. That’s what the bolt cutters were for.

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Nothing stopped Team Remus and Romulus, but pushing those carts over the Queensboro Bridge at a jog just about killed me! This is not an event for the weak at heart or physically challenged. It was 26 degrees out; we were drinking; people were throwing things at us; and we were running at a nice clip. No wonder it leads to multiple arrests, bruises, disputes and asthma attacks.

None the less, Rome stood!

The race was well over four miles and ended in a park in Greenpoint. Here participants prepared for a final battle to end all battles, involving chocolate pudding and bananas. Finally I broke down and got a little rowdy. “Enough with the shields!” I cried, “Take their carts!” And so I did. Fifteen of them in all, right out of the hands of those snarky little wussies throwing, barking, pushing and shoving at us all day long.

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After a long day and a messy battlefield, this war was over. Team Remus and Romulus had endured, stood as one, for the people and glory of Rome and… we won bitches!!! The Idiotarod is not a timed event; winners are based on craft of cart, theme and sense of community. Team Remus and Romulus excelled in all of these. Not only were we crowned as 2009 Champions, but the event has been handed off gracefully from former champions and event organizers, Team Cobra, to Team Remus and Romulus.

We look forward to what 2010 brings.

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