Nowadays, most people run away from the idea of using an outhouse. The Klondike Visitors Association (KVA) in Dawson City would rather you put that running to good use and join them in this year’s Great Klondike Outhouse Race, taking place Saturday, August 20.
A Dawson tradition since the 1970s, all ages and running abilities are invited to participate.
The race involves picking a theme, decorating an outhouse and wearing costumes centred on the chosen theme, then running with and pushing the outhouse through the streets of Dawson City.
Themes from past years have included: “Farts Canada” (a Parks Canada team), “The Smell of the Yukon” (a play on the popular Robert Service poem), and “Dumped at the Altar” (a team of crying wedding clad runners).
Teams are invited to bring their own outhouse, however the KVA has some available to rent out. These outhouses are wheeled metal structures that resemble outdoor latrines. They are outfitted with rickshaw-like bars to help with pushing through the streets.
There are five participants per team, four to push the outhouse, and one to sit on the throne.
Dany Jette, visitor centre receptionist for the Yukon government, is in his fifth season running the race. His team usually consists of the other receptionists at the visitor centre and occasionally the boss
“We have no idea yet this year what we’ll do. It’s hard to find a theme after a few years that’s never been done before,” says Jette. In the past few years, the team has come up with The Queen on her Throne with Bodyguards, Birds of a Turd and The Old Farts.
A week before the event and after some serious brainstorming, his team brings the outhouse frame into the visitor centre and starts decorating it in between doing their job of answering questions from tourists.
“The visitors usually laugh – they love it,” says Jette.
In fact, if the team is short a runner, what better place to recruit than at the visitor centre.
“A couple of years ago, we pulled in two journalists from New York,” he says.
On the day of the race, all teams will gather at Minto Park near the south end of town at 1 p.m. for the Show and Shine. This is their chance to impress the audience with their creativity and style.
A panel of judges assesses each team based on their design, theme and team spirit. Although everyone wins a prize of some kind, there are some grand prizes to be had, such as the fastest outhouse, overall theme and costume, and the bathroom wall limerick or cheer contest, where teams must either have limericks painted on the outhouse walls, or have the most rousing and inspiring cheer.
After judging is completed, everyone lines up at the start line, and the race is on. Teams follow a pre-determined route through the centre of town, ending up back at Minto Park.
For the past several years, the race started and ended at Diamond Tooth Gerties gambling hall, in the centre of town.
This year, however, the KVA has decided to return the race to its roots at Minto Park and expand the event, offering a fundraiser barbecue after the race, open to all, as well as a toonie swim at the swimming pool, and games, including the great KVA water balloon toss.
Last year, the visitor centre team won the outhouse trophy for participat Saturday, ion. Jette is excited to see what his team will come up with this year.
“We have a few ideas, but we’re not sure yet,” he says. “Whatever we come up with, though, I have to say this is one of the craziest events I’ve ever participated in.”
For more information on the Great Klondike Outhouse Race, contact the Klondike Visitors Association at 867-993-5575, or email: KVA@Dawson.net