Somewhere in a SOMA parking lot, the challengers crouch tensely. Clad in doggy costumes, clown noses, Elvis jumpsuits, or just sweat pants and running shoes, lashed to shopping carts "borrowed" from Safeway before dawn, the teams wait at the starting line for their signal. And they're off! Weaving, stumbling, barking madly, they race headlong to their first stop: a bar. Did you really think it could be anything other than booze that would prompt such madness?
Each year since 1994, the Urban Iditarod has careened its way through San Francisco, an all-human tribute to the grueling Alaskan Iditarod race in which dog squads dash across 1,150 miles of harsh tundra. Of course, here participants merely scurry from one watering hole to another through the Wharf and Chinatown until they reach the Fort Mason finish, howling at tourists all the way. But we'll take our thrills where we can find them. Join in starting at 9 a.m. on Minna between Fourth and Fifth streets, S.F. Admission is free; visit www.urbaniditarod.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
Frisbee is so California: Nothing says "beach attitude" like the goofy game dogs can play. The Freestyle Frisbee Wintershred is led by freestyle pros. Fling your cares away at 2 p.m. at Ocean Beach, Great Highway near Fulton, S.F. Admission is free.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Though Westerners tend to downplay the distinctions among martial arts styles, there's a world of difference between, say, tai chi (flowing, gentle, yogalike) and kendo (torqued-up sword fighting). With its lightning-fast, spinning high kicks and fierce punches, Korean tae kwon do is one of the most ass-kicking of all. Get your fill of the sport's powerful clashes at the UC Open Taekwondo Championship, a daylong series of competitions, demonstrations of proper form, and Olympic-style sparring between masters and students as young as 6. The battles begin at 8:30 a.m. at Haas Pavilion, Bancroft & Telegraph, on the UC Berkeley campus. Admission is free-$7; call (510) 642-3268 or visit www.ucmap.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
Lost and Found
Having trouble navigating the urban jungle? Check out "Survival Skills 101." At this workshop the whole family enjoys a day outdoors with a sublime view of the Golden Gate Bridge while learning to navigate by compass, build a shelter, and light a fire sans matches. Then dig into lunch around the campfire and trade tall tales about enduring in the city's wilderness. Hone your handiness at 9:30 a.m. at the Crissy Field Center, 603 Mason (at Halleck), S.F. Admission is $15; call 561-7752 or visit www.crissyfield.org.
-- Jack Karp