One is a 1,000-mile trek across the frozen rivers and tundra of Alaska. The other is a 3.5-mile jaunt between the pubs of Boston.
But just to erase any confusion, organizers of The Last Great Race have given due warning: The costume-clad teams of mostly twentysomethings who race shopping carts for charity can no longer call themselves the Boston Urban Iditarod.
Last week, the Alaska-based Iditarod Trail Committee sent a cease-and-desist letter asking that its trademarked moniker be removed from the Boston race. Henceforth, local organizers say it will be called the Boston Urban Idiotorama.
But cofounder Tim Jones said he does not understand how anyone could mix up the two.
“It’s totally ridiculous,” Jones said. “There’s no chance anyone could confuse the idea of a real dog sled race happening in Alaska with people dressed up in costumes with shopping carts going around to bars in Boston.”
Founded by Jones and Kevin Doran in 2010, the group invites teams to decorate shopping carts, fill them with food, and race from bar to bar to complete challenges with the intent of delivering as much food as possible to the Boston Medical Center Food Pantry.
The race is set to take place on March 1, the same day the actual Iditarod will begin the journey from Anchorage to Nome.
Jon S. Dawson, the Iditarod Trail Committee’s lawyer, confirmed that cease-and-desist letters were sent, but declined to comment. Stan Hooley, the organization’s executive director, could not be reached for comment.
But the letter’s message to the Boston organization was clear: “Your use of ‘Iditarod’ in connection with your race and on your website is likely to confuse your race participants and website users as to whether your race is somehow affiliated or connected with, or approved by, ITC. At minimum, such use is likely to impair the distinctiveness of Iditarod or harm its reputation.”
Idiotarod NYC, another shopping cart race in New York City, posted on its Facebook page a similar cease-and-desist letter and has changed its name to “Idiotarodorama NYC” or “The Desistarod.”
Jones hopes that even though the events must change their names, they can still continue to leave their legacy across the country.
“We’d love for all the urban Iditarods to rename to something similar because it’s nice to have that cohesiveness,” Jones said.
“I love the idea of somehow being able to still connect with all the urban whatever-we’re-allowed-to-call-them-now’s,” he said.
Despite the distraction, Jones said he’s excited to see the Boston Urban Idiotorama set out as planned from The Lansdowne Pub on March 1.
“It’s a slightly different name, but the same great race,” he said. “We’re still here to support the Boston Medical Center Food Pantry.”
But as for calling it an Iditarod? No mush.