Many communities have outhouse races, in both winter and summer, but the biggest is the Outhouse Races in Anchorage, Alaska, which took place in February. You can get a taste of the action in the three videos above. This tournament-style race was founded in 2006 by the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Architecture and Engineering Club. The club’s faculty advisor, Bob Maxwell, explains the finer points of outhouse construction.
“Everything in racing is about the power-to-weight ratio, so generally the lightest outhouse with the youngest pushers wins,” Maxwell says. “Teams will take into consideration aerodynamics while building their outhouses. You don’t want anything that’s too big and clunky. The lighter you can make it the better, but it still needs to be sturdy to do the job.”
Engineering is key, but since this is part of a winter festival, the teams get creative, too, both in their outhouse design and in their themed costumes. While quite a few of the teams were made up of engineering students, the winner was, strangely, the team from the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility, the folks who actually replaced Anchorage’s outhouses with indoor plumbing. Read more about the outhouse races at Smithsonian.