When Lynne Delesky entered Caroga Lake’s annual outhouse race, she didn’t envision the event would involve her chasing down the team’s entry in the middle of a rural highway with a tractor-trailer truck bearing down quickly.
But such was the case for Caroga Lake woman, who found herself running down the middle of Route 29A with arms flailing in a desperate attempt to protect the “Methane Blaster,” her team’s 4-foot-by-8-foot mock outhouse entry that a cross wind plucked from the back of a pickup en route to the competition. Fortunately for the team, the truck driver spotted the errant outhouse and slowed to a stop as it was loaded back into the bed.
“It got a little beat up,” she said of the creation, which came complete with a pink toilet seat, toilet paper roll and safety bar to hold its occupant secure. “We had to find some duct tape, but we got it put back together and running good.”
Good enough to cruise to third place, just behind the “Royal Sharts.” Of course, there were only four entries in this year’s competition, but that didn’t diminish their pride in the finish.
“We won the bronze,” she proudly proclaimed.
Though the bizarre race on the frozen surface of the lake didn’t draw many competitors, the spectacle of dueling outhouses was enough to pull in a crowd of nearly 100 spectators. Now in its second year, the races are part of a host of weekend events on the lake, ranging from car races to ice fishing competitions.
Rules for the outhouse races are pretty basic: All the entries must be roughly the same dimensions, with two people to pull the structure and two to push it; a fifth person must be seated inside on a toilet seat with proper reading material in hand.
The outhouse races were a staple of winters on the lake for years. They went defunct for a while until the Caroga Lake Chamber of Commerce decided to revive them. “Hopefully, it’ll get bigger and bigger as the years progress,” said Caroga Supervisor Ralph Ottuso.
Ottuso, the owner of Pine Lake Stoves, had his own entry in the competition, a posh mock-log cabin outhouse complete with stovepipe on its roof. Only Ottuso’s sturdy outhouse construction made it easily outweigh the others, meaning that it was at a competitive disadvantage when it came to the race.
“He’s all about style, not speed,” quipped Bret Fielding, who entered the competition’s lightest outhouse on behalf of his family business, Canada Lake Store & Marine.
Fielding’s outhouse had the same wood frame. Instead of siding, however, it utilized the same blue shrink wrap his business uses to cover boats for the winter.
And to top it off, Fielding threw in a pair of racing skis as runners. The package was enough to narrowly beat out “Royal Sharts” for bragging rights.
“That was probably part of our advantage,” he speculated of the sleek skis.