Absurd Athletics

Outhouse racing: the athletic event of the future?

Nick Porisch

More stories from Nick Porisch

The Highlight Reel
May 10, 2023


Two racers try not to “wipe” out in Jackson County, North Carolina.

The great, porcelain throne. The powder room. The water closet. The John. Whatever you may call it, no one can deny that toilets are a fundamental part of everyday life. They have a humble, vital role, and they serve that role well.

However, a collective of extreme athletes across the United States have taken the toilet’s backyard sibling, the outhouse, and invented a whole new purpose for this noble piece of plumbing.

Luckily, it’s not nearly as gross as it could be.

Outhouse racing is an equally astonishing and amazing athletic field blowing up in parts of Michigan, North Carolina and beyond. 

The competition is half bobsled race and half engineering challenge. 

According to one competition, the Trenary Outhouse Classic’s webpage, competitors construct their outhouses out of materials ranging from cardboard to grand piano crates. The completed outhouse is then attached to a pair of skis.

Discover Jackson NC also lists a seat with at least one hole and a roll of toilet paper or “alternative wiping source” as being necessary for race eligibility.

In the case of the Trenary Outhouse Classic, the race is conducted by three bold athletes. One mounts the throne, while two others push the outhouse through a relatively flat course running through Trenary, Michigan.

This is the standard race set up for outhouse competitions across the country. However, courses vary based on location, and many include zones where the outhouses are carried downhill by gravity alone.

According to ESPN, outhouse racing originated in Mackinaw City, Michigan, founded by Greg Yoder, a local who billed the competition as “The Best Case of the Runs You’ll Ever Have.”

A blogger named Jim Forman posits a different story

He claims the sport began in Black Forest, Colorado, after then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt commissioned the massive production of outhouses as part of the efforts to provide work for unemployed American citizens during the Great Depression.

According to Forman, this led to spare outhouses being unnecessarily over-available in the small community of Black Forest, eventually leading to a peculiar community event and the inception of the strange competition.

Forman goes into somewhat bizarre detail in his blogpost, which you can find at jimforman.com, and I recommend taking a look at it to get his full story.

Whatever the sport’s mysterious origins may be, outhouse racing seems to only be growing in popularity as it spreads across the country, in many different forms. There are downhill and cross country styles, snow-based and dryland.

In many ways, whether or not it’s accurate, Forman’s version of the sport’s origins may ring most true to the core ethos of this odd sport.

Across many locations and just as many variations, one aspect of outhouse racing is always consistent (besides requiring four walls and a toilet seat), and that’s the goal of bringing together a community to have meaningless, silly fun.

Communities everywhere are struggling to bring themselves together and reconnect in the wake of all those world events we know too well. 

So, it’s pretty heartwarming to see groups of people across the country gather together for something as harmlessly fun as pushing an outhouse on wheels down a hill.

On that note, I’m calling this article done. I’m pooped.

Porisch can be reached at [email protected].