Over the weekend, the 30th annual World Championship Outhouse Races were held in Virginia City, Nev.
The two-day affair, consisting of 53 teams, sees teams race outhouses down C Street and cross the finish line made on toilet paper. The first 28 teams race on Saturday and the rest follow suit on Sunday.
The competition utilizes brackets, with teams facing off against each other until there are only two left. The third-place contest, where the losers get a second chance at redemption, is named the Crap Shoot.
Teams consist of three people—a driver and two pushers—who dress up in costumes relating to the theme of their outhouse. They go two at a time, running side by side along the road, covering a distance of 175 feet.
The day begins with the participants parading down the avenue, showing off their outhouses. Notable names from this year include, ‘Holy Crapper’, ‘Dung Fu Warriors’ and Star Wars themed ‘Storm Pooper’, who had the phrase “Sith Happens” emblazoned on their outhouse.
Visitors from Alaska, Florida, Texas and other states travel to Virginia City to watch the annual event.
Two teams were themed around Alice in Wonderland. They were appropriately named ‘The Mad Crapper’ and ‘Tea Potty’. Members from each team said that they had been racing for the last five years, and that it takes them about 3-4 months to build their outhouses.
High school students from the Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology in Reno entered the contest with their outhouse named ‘Apollo #2’.
Brian Buslon, 17, said that he got involved with the races when his engineering teacher introduced the concept to them his sophomore year, but waited until his senior year to do enter the race.
“Building this took roughly a week, but it was getting the sponsors that was the most difficult part,” Buslon said. “We did pretty well! I think we’ve won all our races.”
Virginia City’s Director of Tourism, Deny Dotson, explained the interesting history surrounding the event.
“The story says that county commissioners signed an ordinance that demanded that everybody here in town hooked up to the sewer system, thus making their outhouses unusable. So the people protested by leaving them in the street, a couple folks thought they should push them down the hill, and the races started. It just fits in with Virginia City,” Dotson said. “We’re all about history, we have a lot of U.S. history. We like to make it fun, we do that with special events that are different and unique, like we are.”
Virginia City is an important part of American history and is the reason Nevada is called the Silver State. The Comstock Lode was discovered in the town back in 1859 and helped to fund the Union during the Civil War. History can be felt throughout Virginia City, largely due to the creaky floorboards that line the sidewalks. These sidewalks see plenty of action during race time, a fact not lost on Dotson.
“Our turnout for most of our events ranges from 2,500 to up to 20,000,” Dotson said. “Between today and tomorrow may bring about 5,000 people, maybe up to 7,000 if the weather is nice.”
Virginia City survives on tourism, largely in part due to these types of events. According to the last U.S. census, less than 1,000 people live in the small mountain community.
“We use special events as a way to market Virginia City and give our businesses economic development,” Dotson said. “Part of tourism is to draw people here and to help benefit our merchants.”
Although Virginia City hosts the Outhouse World Championships, there are other competitions to race latrines around the U.S.
Other entertainment also was offered at the races for those looking to take a break from the action including a talent show, wheelbarrow races and a beer-chugging contest.
Madeleine Chinery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.