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Utahns take local style to Alaska for annual outhouse race

By Jamie Lampros - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Mar 12, 2023
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Runners pose with the Dunny Runners from HEL outhouse used in the World's Largest Outhouse Race in Anchorage, Alaska. Pictured in green, from left, are Austin Dutton, Wendy Toliver, Heather Marvell, Leigh Chessler, Matt Toliver, Brendan Marshall, Collin Toliver, Miller Toliver and Joely Lackey.
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Wendy Toliver and Matt Toliver pose for a photo with the Dunny Runners from HEL outhouse used in the World's Largest Outhouse Race in Anchorage, Alaska.
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The Dunny Runners from HEL outhouse used in the World's Largest Outhouse Race in Anchorage, Alaska, is shown in this undated photo.
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Competitors take off in the World's Largest Outhouse Race in Anchorage, Alaska. The Dunny Runners from HEL, center, represented Huntsville, Eden and Liberty.

HUNTSVILLE — They went to Alaska and came back with an outhouse trophy.

Matt and Wendy Toliver, of Huntsville, were planning to go visit their son Collin in Alaska last month, but when they told a group of friends about their trip, those friends asked if they could tag along. A big festival called the Fur Rondy was going to take place in Anchorage, and the group thought it would be fun to enter one of the contests.

“We decided to enter the World’s Largest Outhouse Race,” Toliver said. “We went to Home Depot and got all the supplies to build it and got it ready and gave ourselves the name Dunny Runners from HEL which stands for Huntsville, Eden and Liberty.”

Professional artist Ashley Stoddard did the lime green painting and Leigh Chessler, of Eden Design, added wallpaper and other finishing touches.

“We attached the outhouse to a pair of cross-country skis and got a real toilet seat and drilled it down,” Chessler said. “Then we thought, why not add some wallpaper to jazz it up? We were going to make a chandelier out of beer cans but that didn’t quite work, so we strung them on the front as swag. It was a riot.”

The hard work paid off — the group ended up winning the People’s Choice Award.

“The competition was crazy,” Toliver said. “We were going up against active military guys. We didn’t win the race, but we were the first team from Utah to enter and win the People’s Choice Award. It was so much fun.”

In order to compete, the group had to pay a $100 entry fee. Each outhouse was required to have a hole for a toilet, toilet paper, toilet paper holder, a helmet and reading material for the rider.

“If you bumped into any of the pylons in the middle of the course, you had to pay a $10 fine,” Toliver said. “The competition was funny, but it was also serious because it was also a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity.”

The Fur Rendezvous, or Fur Rondy as it’s known to locals, is a 3-day winter festival held annually in Anchorage since 1935, according to furrondy.net. The event is held on Fourth Avenue and features children’s sled dog racing, outhouse racing, auctions, tribal dances, parades, running of the reindeer in the week before the Iditarod Race.

“I have some grand ideas for decorating if we ever go back,” Chessler said. “It was just so much fun and so wonderful because we got to participate in this famous event and an added bonus was that we got to see the Northern Lights and that was absolutely amazing. I would love to go back and do it again.”


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