The objective of the Running of the Balls was to collect the most points between 8 p.m. and midnight on Saturday. Points were awarded for each inaugural ball a contestant attended. Certain balls were worth more than others. The contestant could move on to the next ball only if:
1. The contestant consumed a food item or beverage with a political name (a “Yes We Canape,” for example).
2. The contestant cornered any elected official, a person wearing a tiara or a celebrity of passable renown.
3. The contestant participated in a group dance (“The Electric Slide,” for example).
4. A song by Stevie Wonder was played.
5. An attendee delivered a speech.
6. The contestant photographed an attendee wearing paraphernalia supporting a politician other than Barack Obama.
7. The contestant spotted the other contestant and snapped a surreptitious photo of him or her. The spotter could then exit; the spotted had to remain in the exact location at which he or she was spotted for 15 minutes and write a self-critical diary entry.
If, after 45 minutes, none of these seven exit cues presented themselves, the contestant could leave the ball — but had to travel to the next on foot. Contestants were to meet on the front steps of The Washington Post by midnight.