5 Boro Pizza Challenge marries NYC love of slices and mass transit

A pizza  contest, done
A pizza contest, done “Amazing Race”-style, will see participants racing around NYC. Photo Credit: Kristine Paulus via Flickr (CC BY-SA)

Grab a slice and a swipe—the 5 Boro Pizza Challenge will take place this Saturday in what might be the most perfect New York union of Italian food and public transportation.

This new, “Amazing Race”-type contest will time participants as they scour the city to eat a slice of pizza in each borough. The caveat? They can only take mass transit to the restaurants. The first place finishers that can stretch their stomachs while navigate the city’s network of subways, ferries and bike sharing the fastest will be crowned the 5 Boro Pizza Challenge Champion.

“I want to sort of drive home that our multi-modal transportation options deserve to be celebrated,” said challenge creator Joe Cutrufo, of Washington Heights. “It’s celebrating the fact you can get around the city without the need to drive. You can still see so much and, well, eat so much pizza in one day.”

It costs $25 to join, which covers the cost of your challenge t-shirt. Cutrufo, 33, said that proceeds will go to Transportation Alternatives. He’ll be running in the New York City Marathon as a team member of the advocacy group and is using the challenge as his fundraising effort.

“Cars kill a lot of people in this city,” said Cutrufo, the communications director at the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “I bike to work; my wife bikes to work. I have a two-year-old son who I want to grow up in neighborhood where it’s safe for him to walk to school or ride a bike.”

Restaurants involved will be announced the day of the competition. All will be accessible by mass transit; it’s up to participants to decide their routes. Cutrufo estimates that it will take anywhere from four to seven hours to complete.

“They’ll get the addresses and have to figure out, ‘Where do we go first? Wait, will a train get us there the fastest? Or should I take Citi Bike?’” said Cutrufo, who hasn’t yet decided if the challenge will become an annual tradition.

The use of taxis or e-hail aps is strictly prohibited. Cutrufo admits that he can’t prove cheating, but with the amount of congestion on city streets, “We’ll know, because it will take you so long.”