The annual Kingdom Days celebration in Breckenridge draws people from all over the state for its marquee event, the Outhouse Races. Groups of up to five push, pull and drag their constructions up the 100 and 200 blocks of South Main Street, with one member of the team holding on for dear life on a seat within the outhouse.
If it all sounds crazy and wonderful, it is, and it’s become a tradition eight years running in Breck to help honor the town’s mining history.
“How could you not be drawn to it?” said Zach Kincaid, of Denver, a member of The Dreaded Runs, the winning outhouse team at last year’s Kingdom Days. Kincaid’s teams have been victorious four years straight, often claiming the coveted People’s Choice award in the process.
“Our friend, Andrew, who was on our team the first year, had seen the inaugural races in Breckenridge when he was vacationing up there,” Kincaid said, explaining how he got involved in the sport. “The next year, he came down and said we have to do it. So we got a team together, and we’ve been back ever since.”
The rules of outhouse racing have very few requirements for the structure of the thing: Outhouses can be constructed of any solid material and must have four sides and a doorway; any kind of wheels, including bicycle parts but not entire bikes, can be used; the house has to be at least 4 feet tall, have a seat with a hole in it for the rider and be human-powered. With a few additional caveats, that’s about it. Within those constraints, there’s a lot of room for creativity and feats of engineering.
“The first year, we made kind of a boxy design and we also tried using mismatched bike tires,” Kincaid said. “That proved to go horribly wrong, and we crashed it. After that, we decided to make a sleeker outside and we had all the parts welded on and now it runs very smoothly.
“We also added a technique where we tie backpacks on the front where we can run straight forward instead of pulling to the side. The real secret is having kids who ran track in high school on our team.”
Grant Humphryes, of Denver, has been running on Kincaid’s team since the beginning, through teams with monikers such as the Party Poopers, Harry Porta-Potters, The Constipation Proclamation and last year’s The Dreaded Runs. He recommended recruiting outhouse builders with some engineering experience.
“So, not using heavy materials like plywood or sheets of metal, which I’ve seen, and make sure you have a strong base, where some people just put them on two wheels and try to hope that the physics that operate a bike work the same,” he said. “Think logically about how a structure designed to go up a hill would move, and use as much cardboard possible.”
Kincaid agreed on the cardboard and the wheelbase.
“I would say our outhouse was just built out of wood and cardboard, wood supports on the sides and cardboard walls, and that’s proved to be very effective,” he said. “Some people will put the outhouse on skateboards. Building a sturdy base so it won’t fall or tip over is important. But it all comes down to having people who can run straight and fast.”
Looking to five-peat
The fan interaction at the event has been a big draw for Kincaid and his teammates.
“The give and take we get from the entire audience there when we’re lobbying for the People’s Choice award and, while we’re running, hearing people yell and scream,” Humphryes said. “It’s a good excuse to get out in the town and see all the different things about Breckenridge. I’ve talked to people who have winter houses in Breck, and they never go up there in the summer and have never heard of Kingdom Days and it’s a good excuse to see Breckenridge in the summer, rather than the winter.”
Humphryes said he always sees lists of unique competitions online and hopes that one day the Breckenridge Outhouse Races will be featured on such a list and get more notoriety — and draw tougher competitors.
“Our career is going to be going for a while, so I don’t see any chance that we’ll stop competing any time soon,” Kincaid said. “You’ll probably see us up there for many years. We’re hoping to get some competition since we won it the past four years. We’re hoping we’ll get a team that will give us a run for our money soon.”
One possible challenger could be the Breckenridge Dental Group, which will be running with the famous “Zeekers Leaker” outhouse, a staple of many Outhouse Races.
“I hear it’s kind of heavy and bulky. I talked to Sandy Metzger and they said they had an extra one at GoBreck, so we’re using that one,” said Jenny Anderson, a dental assistant and member of the team. “Our team name is called the Potty Mouths, and we made a huge paper mache tooth that’s going to be on our outhouse somewhere, and then we’re going to wear scrubs and John Warner might be dressing up as the Tooth Fairy. And we have those funny Billy Bob teeth, so we’re going to wear scrubs with those and be the Potty Mouths.”
People’s Choice award
Anderson said she’s watched the races before but she’s never participated, and rather than doing calisthenics or running sprints to get in shape for the event, her team has been focusing on getting their costumes ready. Humphryes said his team is still looking for one more ringer to complete its roster, but the real glory comes with the People’s Choice award.
“The competition, we realized, is just an additional perk,” he said. “We all like the People’s Choice voting, and being able to be crazy and fun in front of the hundreds of people who are there is what we keep coming back for.”
The last-minute scramble for teammates and lack of a solid theme for the outhouse might hinder Humphryes and Kincaid’s chances for a win this year, but they’re still confident about adding to the trophy collection.
“At our house, we have two Golden Thrones and the People’s Choice toilet seat from last year and two People’s Choice plungers,” Humphryes said. “They’re hanging on the wall behind our couch, they are definitely on display, and we definitely talk about the race every time we have an opportunity to.”
Kincaid is psyched for another first-place win and the local celebrity status, the $500 prize and especially the case of expired beer that’s awarded to the winners.
Anderson said she’s looking forward to dressing up and seeing who shows up to get a look at the dental group’s outhouse.
“It’s just unique and kind of a funny, quirky event that Breckenridge always puts on,” Anderson said. “I hope people show up and see what it looks like.”