Saturday, February 26, 2011

A different kind of winter racing

When I was a kid--maybe 10 or so, I don't really remember--my Dad went away to Alaska for a month and a half for work. He and a group of his colleagues from the Air Force geophysics lab at Hanscom traveled up to some place north of Fairbanks to launch rockets in the winter time. I remember he got all kinds of awesome winter gear like a huge down parka and pants, a big furry hat, some Sorrel boots, big mittens and all kinds of other stuff because they were going to be working outside at night.

While he was up there he and his buddies entered and won an outhouse race. They built a working outhouse from scratch, put skis on it and rigged it up so a couple guys could pull using ropes and harnesses, a couple guys could push from behind and one guy could sit in the outhouse (I think that was a requirement) and then they raced the thing some distance over snow-covered trails and roads, FTW.

I never forgot the name of it because in addition to a trophy with a guy panning for gold on top they got t-shirts. That yellow Chatanika Days Outhouse Race t-shirt later became mine. When I got older I wore it as a running shirt, eventually cutting the sleeves of to show off the guns. It stayed in my rotation for a long time until it was so full of holes that it just faded away and went to t-shirt heaven the way a good t-shirt does.

The Chatanika outhouse race totally exists to this day. For some reason while out on a run just now I thought of that outhouse race and so when I got home I Googled it (how awesome is the internet?) and what do you know, I found this video from the 2007 race. I love the cheesy soundtrack that gives it a sort of early Warren Miller ski movie quality. Enjoy.



If I can dig up a photo of me in that t-shirt, I'll post it here later.

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