The messengers showed up in Bushwick, Brooklyn, on Sunday, laying their bicycles flat in the middle of Waterbury Street, then stepping back as someone distributed photocopied manifests, the term used for a list of pickups and deliveries.
At 2:23 p.m., a man shouted “Go!” and they were off, about 70 men and women charging back to their bicycles, grabbing them, then speeding away to start the North American Cycle Courier Championship, a contest designed to test abilities honed over years of messenger runs.
There are about 5,000 bike messengers in New York City, more than any place else in the country, and the city has been the site of countless unsanctioned races, called alley cats, with names like Cranksgiving and Rumble Thru Da Bronx. But this was the first time the continental championship, which dates to 1998, was held in New York.
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