Humans require a few things to survive: food for nourishment; liquid to quench our never ending thirst; rest to recover our bodies; and a place to secrete our waste. The latter has always been a cause for much anguish when away from a bathroom for a long time. Thus the outhouse was invented: a small building with a hole dug below it that acts as a bathroom anywhere it’s needed. It’s really a brilliant invention, arguably rivaling the aqueducts of Rome, but in the true modern tradition, men and woman alike looked at an object and said, “What else could I use this for?”
The noble sport of outhouse racing has been around for many decades, but it is uncertain where it originated. The city of Conconully, Washington, has celebrated its annual outhouse race for 25 years. Being one of the city’s main attractions, next to dog sledding, the Conconully Chamber of Commerce even features the sport with all related information on the city website. Dozens of teams participate every year, and they have successfully turned a local event into a tourist attraction. Trenary, Michigan, is another city that has turned the sport into a large-scale event. In the first year of the outhouse race in Trenary, there were 20 outhouses in contention, and the event has only grown from there. Last year they had nearly 60 – an impressive number considering each race has three participants. With thousands of people coming out to attend yearly, they began to advertise and now have corporate sponsors. They have also begun selling paraphernalia and memorabilia for the event, including miniature outhouses and collector’s pins.
Officials have constructed a guideline to outhouse racing to ensure that everyone has a fair chance and to minimize injuries, which are uncommon. The outhouse itself must be made of wood or a wood byproduct according to the Conconully Chamber of Commerce website. It must be minimum five feet tall, have a peaked roof, be a 2.5’ by 2.5’ square, contain a toilet, and must also feature an attached roll of toilet paper. For the actual movement, the outhouse must have a pair of non-metallic skis to allow it to glide across the snow. Finally, the outhouse is inspected by officials to ensure structural integrity. Despite similar guidelines, there is more variety in the Trenary races, including a spaceship-shaped outhouse called the U.S.S. Ur-Anus and an outhouse fashioned like a train engine called The Old Number Two: The Poo-Poo Choo-Choo.
Of the three members that make up each team, two are “pushers” who are required to be in control and contact with the outhouse when it crosses the finish line for the victory to count. A third member sits inside the outhouse on the toilet seat. Races vary depending on the area the race is being staged. Conconully has had the race downhill, down the snow-covered main street, and even across ski trails. Trenary has done it down their main street every year since the sport began.
Feeling brave? Ever wanted to fly down a hill in a wooden box praying to a higher power that your buddies outside are able to keep control of the wooden contraption? If so, outhouse racing might be an adventure worth exploring. Mountain cities have made this sport an annual event with lots of prizes and celebration involved. So next time it snows, scrap the toboggan and bring out your toilet; remember, there is no better time to go than when you’re on the go!