CLIFTON PARK -- When it comes to winter outhouse races, innovation can mean the difference between who takes home the coveted golden throne and who ends up with the second-place two-ply toilet paper trophy.
The Redneck Fish-R-Men, a scrappy five-member team out of Cambridge, Washington County, went undefeated Saturday, winning first place out of six teams at the Shenendehowa Rotary Club's 4th Annual Winter Outhouse Races. They took home a $300 check that they will donate to help Nola Marotta, a Shenendehowa Central School District student who is battling cancer.
Competitive outhouse racing requires a regulation-size outhouse mounted on skis with a five-member team -- two pushers, two pullers, and one passenger -- racing the outhouses on parallel courses around a traffic cone and back to the finish line.
While most teams had two members pulling their outhouse using ropes, Redneck Fish-R-Men member Stephen Robertson and his son Ethan Robertson had the ropes strapped around their midsections instead, allowing them to act like sled dogs. Members of the other teams struggled, with some of the pullers falling while making the awkward turn around the cone.
"It was my idea; it allows me to use my arms when I'm running," Stephen Robertson said.
Ray Anthony, who acted as the announcer and master of ceremonies for the event using a wireless microphone, said the victory for the Redneck Fish-R-Men was all the more remarkable considering they lost every race the prior year. The Redneck Fish-R-Men also won best-themed outhouse, which included a plastic fish trophy drilled above its entrance.
Winning second place was the team from the Southern Saratoga YMCA, which took home a $200 prize, plus a double-layer toilet paper trophy. The Southern Saratoga YMCA hosted the race, which was held behind its Clifton Park facility.
YMCA team member Joe Moore said the Redneck Fish-R-Men's harness strategy was decisive.
"That's definitely why they won. We're going to have to check the rule book on that one," he said.
Anthony said the rules allow for the Redneck Fish-R-Men's strategy.
Kianna Gutenmann, who said she does "child care stuff" for the Southern Saratoga YMCA, acted in the unsung role of dead weight riding in her team's outhouse. Wearing a bike helmet, she held on tight to the inside of the outhouse as her teammates moved it as fast as they could. During one of the race heats, her teammates did lose control of their outhouse and it did crash through the finish line.
"My helmet unbuckled, so I still hit my head when it tipped over, but I didn't care if I got hurt. I just wanted to win," she said.
Anthony said his Rotary Club and the charitable activities it supports were the biggest winners Saturday, raking in approximately $2,000 from the event, which included 50/50 raffles and Outhouse Chili Dogs among the concessions sold to spectators and participants.