A note from your humble Editor:
GET READY TO RACE! GET READY TO GIVE!
I am proud to announce the Fourth Annual SuperMarket Street Sweep Race!
Start: Bow and Arrow, 12noon, December 5th.
Format: Race to supermarkets listed on manifest and purchase food items listed on manifest.
Categories: Speed (for those that want to go fast) and Cargo (for those that want to haul)
A short history on this race, since it is one that is close to my own heart both as an organizer and as a hippy.
Four or more years ago, while discussing potential ideas for holiday themed races, Jenny Oh related to me the idea of some races she had heard/seen that were charity-based. This perked my interest, having not seen one in San Francisco before. Jenny, a true and dedicated “go-getter” got the ball rolling and the momentum built up. I am an admittedly lazy person, so when I envisioned a race all I could see were problems: finding checkpoint workers, organizing the workers, sponsors, getting permission from the stores we planned to use, and many more potential headaches that were all looming on the horizon. Then, like a shock of pure excitement, I remembered a terrible old television game show that I used to watch with my sister when we were bored 10 and 11 year olds one summer: Supermarket Sweep. Mainly what I recall of the show was how fun it must have been to run through a grocery store and grab whatever you could and try to make it out with the most money in your basket. I would try this exact situation a few times, and even ran clear through the cashiers line without paying – it was exciting. But how to share that excitement with others, and also combine it with some good old fashioned “giving back”? Our format quickly became apparent to us!
By having the “checkpoints” as grocery stores, we would not need to employ friends/workers at those checkpoints since the racers would be purchasing food and getting a receipt, which would verify that they completed that checkpoint. Wonderful how that worked out. Also, by *not* asking the permission of the grocery stores we were creating a bit of planned, and quite fun, chaos for the racers to enjoy.
Then we came down to the problem of hauling: the race’s true meaning. We’ve all been used to races where speed is the main importance, so designing the race around a route that goes to grocery stores allowed us to tailor the route in two ways: Hard to reach stores for the Speed Category and Easier to reach stores for the Cargo Category. From the very start, we always wished this race to be on the easier side so that we would attract a huge group of participants, and since the race is for charity and not about testing bravado we were happy to make it even more accomodating. How happy we all were at the first year’s Starting Event when we saw not one, but two families on bicycle where even the 6 or 7 year old children were ready to race, with their helmets and their bags. The explicit goal has always been to gather the largest group, and send that group out to collect as much food as they can handle safely – and looking at the statistics of the past races one can see such a huge, huge spike in the donations.
2006: 80 racers brought in 1,172 lbs of food!
2007: 110 racers brought in 1,595 lbs of food!
2008: 150 racers brought in 5,266 lbs of food!
Just to point out the obvious: we only had 40 more people in 2008, however the total weight of the donated food is almost FIVE TIMES as much as the prior year. This is due, in part, to the big upsurge in cargo bikes on the street these days. In fact, an entire team (Team Project-Rawanda) showed up in fully spandexed kits, each with their own cargo bike and gigantic burlap sack to carry.
So, what are the predictions for this year’s race? I’ve got my money on some favorites, and word is getting out that a few heavy-handers are joining in. My guess, if I may be bold enough to proclaim it: 10,000 pounds of food. I doubt we will break 200 racers, but I think breaking 10,000 pounds is do-able this year. Thanks in part to the heavy population of cargo bikes on the roads today (between last year and this year, we are seeing at least 300% more!) as well as the momentum of three prior races propelling this one forward – I can see it all now.
For more information on the race, for information on the sponsors, for information on the past races, and for all other details: