I was really looking forward to the 2nd Annual New York Hot Dog Challenge. To see an idea come to light 13 years after its inception is quite a treat.
This year, we had raised $350 in prize money but had fewer competitors. The other rule change was that the prize money was to be split by the 1st Male and 1st Female instead of a ‘Winner Take All’ program like last year. I was hoping this would inspire some of our female athletes, but as of Friday only my friend Elizabeth was in.
After running the back half of the course to make sure all the hot dog carts were there (they were and THEN some) I made my way to the start giddy with excitement.
We met at the bottom of the Central Park Mall, the sight just one month earlier of Abbe and I’s engagement…
After explaining the rules the competitors each bought the first dog, a tradition, eating together. Once someone finished they could take off, and they did!
My goal the whole race was to stick with the leaders to keep track of a potential winner. From the Start to dog 1 of ‘7th Circle of Hell’ a 4 dog spree around Columbus Circle, was almost a mile. Matt6 hit the cart first followed by Bo, Neal, Elizabeth, Tony and our last years champ Dave Tao. This cart (it was said later) had the worst dogs. They were dubbed ‘The Brown Dogs’ by the competitors.
Bo and Matt6 took of first so I stuck with them as we made our way around the ‘7th Circle of Hell’. These hot dog vendors got really into the race and started cheering us on. It was here that Bo started to pull away from Matt6. By cart 5 he was almost a whole dog ahead of him meaning, in Hot Dog Challenge speak, by the time Matt6 was arriving at the cart, Bo was just finishing his dog. After a few quick exchanges, Bo was off.
I was really excited as we arrived at ‘Dollar Dogs’ because this is pretty cheap for a hot dog. I did my scouting during the weekday so there was a chance that this cart might be a no show on weekends. Matt and Tony were right on Bo’s ass. We found out that Elizabeth was out of the race, making things interesting as now the full $350 prize purse went to the overall winner. That’s a lot of cash.
Bo and I made our way back up to the Park across from the Plaza for dog 7. Some of Dave and Bo’s friends were here cheering them on. This would also be the cart where Matt6 finished the last true hot dog, therefore Tony had to eat a ‘spicy’ sausage! Props and dedication! Luckily they had restocked the cart before Neal and Dave made it to him.
By now everyone was in pretty rough shape. If the wall in a Marathon is the 18 mile mark, then dog 7 represents the wall in the Hot Dog Challenge. Bo was on the home stretch up 5th Avenue with 3 carts to go.
The ‘Zoopocalypse’ cart was at 67th street right by, you guessed it, the Zoo. Luckily, or not so lucky, the cart at 72nd Street was missing so they competitors had to run 67th Street all the way to 79th for the 9th dog. Bo set off at a pretty good pace with Matt6 off in the distance.
The tourist crowds were thick by now and it was getting difficult navigating through the streets. At the 79th Street cart Bo seemed to be in good shape for one last dog. By now we could just barely make out Matt6 about 5 blocks to the South and gaining. I really wanted a photo finish, but Bo had his mind set on a win.
I waited for Matt6 as Bo took off to the last cart to see how he was doing then sprinted on to the Met.
Bo finished his 10th dog in 3.1 miles for the win! Matt6 was just a few minutes behind him, followed by Tony (and his ref Steph) who chose to get a chili cheese dog for his final!
Soon Dave arrived followed by Neal. They had Rachel and Elizabeth reffing and guiding them. Reffing is a very respected job in the Hot Dog Challenge as competitors get pretty out of sorts towards the end and need guidance and support.
We all made our way over to Jack Russell’s for the after party and awards ceremony. Bo, the 2013 champ, went home with $350 in cold hard earned cash!
Congrats to everyone who came out! It’s not an easy race by any means, so just getting to the Start is bold. Thanks to all our volunteers who helped along the way too!