Outhouse races in Virginia is full of fun

You are on a journey To the usual laid-back Virginia, a gold-rushing town that grew up in western Nevada thanks to the massive discovery of silver – AKA the Comstock Lode. Perhaps you’ve been hoping to visit an abandoned mine, sip a sip in a haunted tavern, climb the boardwalks flanked by charming 19th-century facades, or stop at the Mark Twain Museum, housed in the former newspaper office where the writer cut his teeth. Sure, that would be nice.

But all of a sudden, you look at C Street and you see them coming. With a dusty Sierra Nevadas as a backdrop, outdoor toilets take root and splash your way, scurrying forward on giant wheels. They are shaped like sharks, castles, and decorated with bull horns, cowboy hats, and boas. They are operated by teams of three and decorated with names such as “Storm Pooper”, “Flapper Crapper” and “Comstock Load”. Their goal is the finish line made of – what next? – From toilet paper. So get out of the way, pick your favorite (Comstock Load, of course), and start cheering. You don’t want to be a party spoiler. Or wait, maybe here, you do.

This town is not big enough for two outbuildings. | Courtesy of Visiting Virginia

Well, the annual World Outdoor Racing Championship probably won’t surprise you if you’re on a trip to Nevada’s western corner. There are a lot of warning signs. The event takes place the first weekend of October – this year it runs October 1-2 – and the event attracts over 3,000 raucous spectators annually to Virginia, lining up along Main Street in search of some great action. 2022 marks the 33rd batch of competition.

And it’s not the only outdoor race, of course. Jackson, North Carolina, Trinary, Michigan, Anchorage, Alaska, Nemo, South Dakota, Inlet, New York, and more all have their own property (Anchorage claims to be the largest, and possibly the coldest, as their homes move on skis). But Virginia City may be the only one that started as a political protest.

Race to the toilet paper finish line. | Courtesy of Visiting Virginia

This race dates back to the time when outdoor toilets were banned by city ordinance in favor of indoor plumbing. So the toilet-loving citizens did the only logical thing: they walked into the courtroom to express their displeasure, and dragged their homes behind them (voices… chaotic). Tradition is reinforced.

Today, outbuildings races are more festive – and some would say fun-filled – featuring games and music including “Banjo Man”. Parade Outhouses kick-off event. Outdoor races, where costumed teams compete head-to-head inside entertaining homemade contraptions, are the centerpiece, while the “Fun with Runs Undie Relay,” where alcohol-drinking runners and complete toilet-themed challenges around landmarks in town, add to the madness. (If you’re looking for a new way to get to know a city, here’s a new option.)

There is a lot going on here. | Courtesy of Visiting Virginia

If you want to compete, bathroom humor is a must, and specs for outdoor homes are available upon request. You can also rent one – but act fast, as these are limited. After that, all you have to do is squat, and fly like the wind.

It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

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Vanita Salisbury is Thrillist’s Senior Travel Writer. She may have been calling their overseas headquarters Doodie Calls.

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