Marguerite typically does the talking for the CHS Crow Q&As. She tried to take the Taco Challenge this weekend in Volunteer Park. All we’re going to say is somebody got tacos, MK — check out Alex’s pictures. — jseattle
Last week, my jaw dropped a little bit when I read the CHS article about the “The Fiesta 5K Ole and Taco Truck Challenge,” scheduled to take place in Volunteer Park in celebration of Cinco de Mayo (that’s “the sink of mayonnaise,” for all you non-Spanish speakers).
Usually, when the words “taco truck” are followed by “run,” the next words are “to the bathroom,” so the concept struck me as a bit … off. Don’t get me wrong—I love a good Fun Run as much as the next person. And I think we can all agree that tacos are inherently better when they’re served out of a truck. However, I kind of feel like 5Ks and taco trucks are circles on a Venn Diagram that should never, ever overlap.
Nonetheless, the siren call of multiple food trucks drew me out to the event. Most of all, I wanted to find out what constituted the “challenge” in the titular Taco Truck Challenge. Even on the website of the event, they’re very cagey about this detail. Would the taco trucks face off in a Fast and the Furious-style street race? Or maybe an interpretive dance contest? A cage fight to the death?
By the time I arrived, several hundred people were clamoring around the six taco trucks parked on between the Asian Art Museum and the Conservatory. Based on the ridiculously long lines, you’d think these restaurants-on-wheels contained the very last tacos ever to be served on Earth. People were lined up in front of the trucks as if they were the last airplane (or the last taco truck, as it were) out of Tehran in1979. In one case, the line was literally more than 40 people deep. I stood in it for about fifteen minutes before realizing that the line wasn’t getting any shorter.
ABOVE: After waiting so long, I hope they at least got some Radiohead tickets thrown in with their meal…
It occurred to me that, in the time it would’ve taken for me to get a taco, I could—without hyperbole—run a 5K. And I wasn’t any closer to uncovering the secret behind the Taco Truck Challenge. Looking at the people in the standstill line, I wished for a moment that I’d ever wanted anything as much as these people wanted a taco, to wait in line for an hour for it.
I asked the guy in front of me, a 25-year-old waiter named Jordan, if he knew what the “challenge” was.
He thought for a second. “Not starving to death while you wait in line?”
“Maybe there’s a taco eating contest?” suggested Jordan’s buddy, a scruffy, affable fellow named Doug.
My face lit up, like an 11-year-old girl hearing that Justin Bieber was going to show up and ask her out on her very first date. For a moment, my hopes were high. If anything is more disgusting and riveting than drag-racing taco trucks, it’s the all-American sport of Competitive Eating. But alas, this was not to be.
As it turned out, the biggest challenge was to stay sane while listening to a staggeringly mediocre cover band sing slightly off-key renditions of various 80s pop songs. I did not rise to the challenge, and fled the park at a healthy clip, turning it into my own private version of a (running from a…) taco truck fun run.