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Shopping cart racers ready for return

Those wacky shopping cart races are at it again. The 4th annual “Idiotarod” race – modeled after the famed Alaskan trek across the tundra – is slated for January 27 at a super-secret undisclosed location. This week, members of COBRA – Carts of Brooklyn Racing Association – marshaled their forces and staged a demonstration outside CBS headquarters protesting the storyline of an upcoming episode of CSI: NY which refers to the annual “Idiotarod” race. “This is yet another example of the lack of respect with which the media treats the craft of the speeding trolley,” said COBRA mastermind Oscar Owens. “For years, shopping cart racers have faced uniformed and distorted images of themselves. Now they want to paint us as thieves and murderers.” Special COBRA operative Christopher Scott of Prospect Heights called the action a “grand success.” “We brought them to their knees,” the 35-year-old freelance writer said. “They did call the police, but unlike CSI: NY, the people of the NYPD are wonderful, fine people.” Last year, urban mushers transformed more than 175 ordinary grocery store shopping carts into rolling vehicles of self-expression. There was the Barrel of Monkeys team, the Andy Warhol team and even a team from the “Mayo Clinic” – who of, course, tossed gobs of mayonnaise on their fellow competitors throughout the race. The “Idiotarod” regularly awards cash prizes for “best sabotage” and “best in show” as well as the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finishers. “Pirates are very overdone,” Scott warns prospective mushers. “At least make it like a robot pirate or a ninja pirate.” Participants will learn more about the secret start location after registering online at The fee is $25 and teams are limited to five members – four “dogs” and one musher. Organizers remain secretive about the start time and location because members of the NYPD have frowned upon the rattling road race in years past. “There are always issues,” Scott said. “But that’s due to miscommunication and overzealousness. Once the race starts moving, the cops keep a careful eye and are respectful. We love the NYPD.” Members of COBRA say they’d even look forward to welcoming an NYPD-sponsored cart in this year’s “Idiotarod” race. So far, this year’s unseasonably warm weather doesn’t seem to have adversely affected what has become a kind of cure-all for winter-weary shut-ins. “It’s not quite the “Idiotarod” without snow,” Scott confesses. “But I think the powers that be are starting to sense that we’re coming. Whatever happens, the spirit of winter will carry through.” This year there will even be some new wrinkles in the race, including a revamped point system and special challenges at select checkpoints along the route. While strictly top secret, this paper has learned that one of the challenges will be “the jump of death.” “I love watching the reaction of people on the street who have no idea what’s happening,” Scott said. “New York is a place where the unexpected happens – this is just a little more unexpected.” As for this week’s scheduled airing of the controversial CSI: NY episode, Scott had this to say: “We have not seen the episode. One person will be watching, and the rest of us will be boycotting.” CBS did not respond to requests for comments at press time.

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