Game Changer: 12th annual Sapphire Valley Outhouse Races

Two outhouses leave the starting line. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Sapphire Valley's hills and slopes are filled with skis during February, even as unseasonably warm weather settles over Western North Carolina. For the last 12 years, however, a few pairs of skis have carried some unique cargo down the slopes. The annual Outhouse Races took over the small resort just outside Cashiers again Saturday. More than a dozen teams selected drivers and then pushed them down a snow-covered hill while sitting on a porcelain throne.

"People have outhouse races across the country, but, typically, they're just pushing the outhouses along flat ground," explained Steve Martell, amenities director at Sapphire Valley. "We actually go down a slope in them and make it a little more exciting."

Some rigs were more decorated than others. The "Polynesian Potty," owned and operated by Tom Thomason, was made out of bamboo shoots and thatch roofing.

"This is our third year here at Sapphire Valley. We've had some tumultuous and exciting runs but have failed to win because of poor planning and probably some driver error," Thomason smiled.

He explained the previous year's entry came to a halt when he crashed the outhouse into a snow mound. He blamed the size disparity between the two pushers, one being around 130 pounds and the other more than 300.

"I rolled three times and was knocked unconscious," he said. "And I lost my Elvis wig."

Other outhouses included "Who Cut the Cheese?" (a Green Bay Packers themed entry), the "K-9 Urination Station", "Butt Buster" and "Party Pooper."

The winning entry came from the Knight of Columbus, piloted by Luis Aparicio. They narrowly edged out Scott Connor's SPM entry, but he doesn't think his dream has gone down the drain.

"Keep calm and potty on," he smiled.

Every year, Sapphire Valley chooses a local charity to donate the proceeds from the Outhouse Races. The 2018 recipient was the Cashiers-Glenville Volunteer Fire Department.

"It's good for the charity. That and it's unique," said Conrad Murcure, a local participant in the contest. "It gives you a chance to build something and see it go down a hill and, hopefully, not wreck," he added with a laugh.

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