Traveling through Europe you’ll notice that many things are just a little bit different from the United States. Like the Royale with Cheese (actually the Cheese Royal, Tarantino got it wrong), Europe has many slightly different takes on American icons.
Demolition derby, for example is huge in the United Kingdom, but it’s called banger racing. Cars race around a track while smashing into each other. Nobody cares much about who wins the race since the crashes and flips are far more fun.
The most popular car to use for these races is the Reliant Robin. These three-wheeled vehicles were popular in the 1970s and ’80s because legally they were considered motorcycles and weren’t subject to high automobile taxes. Lightly built of fiberglass and equipped with surprisingly powerful engines, they’re fast but top heavy, and liable to flip on sharp turns. This, of course, makes them perfect for banger racing. Check out this video to see what I mean.
In the spirit of journeying during periods less traveled, I’ve embarked to Alaska this winter. Follow the adventures here, and prepare to have your preconceived notions destroyed along the way.
Bert the Conqueror joins the madness in the 2011 Fur Rondy Outhouse Races
I need only say the name to pique your interest. Outhouse Races. “Is this event what I think it is?” That’s the question I asked about ten minutes prior to arriving at the starting line. “Oh, yeah — it’s exactly what you think it is.” That’s the quip I received in return. This is the world’s largest Outhouse Race, and it’s held annually at Alaska‘s own Fur Rondy Festival. This year marked the 76th anniversary of the event, and it just seems to get better and better. Not only did 2011 mark the addition of Yukigassen to the agenda, but it also brought in The Travel Channel’s own Bert the Conqueror. Bert arrived in Anchorage in order to shoot an upcoming episode of his show, and in addition to participating in a Yukigassen match, he also put together a team of friendlies to race an outhouse with him.
We won’t spoil the fun for you, but suffice it to say we caught him on tape recoding an introduction for the episode-to-be as well as making a lap around the bend. We all know Bert’s quite the competitor, and he definitely put his best foot forward here in Alaska’s snow. Be sure to DVR his show, too — no telling when this episode will air, but hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later.
Psst… missed our interview with Bert at Fur Rondy? Catch up here!
My trip was sponsored by Alaska Travel Industry Association, but I was free to report as I saw fit. The opinions expressed in this article are 100% my own.
Ever watched “The Amazing Race” and longed to run around the world, racing through airports, darting in and out of countries and competing challenges? Well, if you’ve got about $10,000 to spare, you can, as a competitor in the 2010 Global Scavenger Hunt.
The event, which is described as being “like Survivor, The Amazing Race and the Eco-Challenge all rolled into one except with much more cultural interaction” is limited to 25 teams and takes place over three weeks in April. The teams will visit ten countries while traveling west around the world from Los Angeles to New York and competing in challenges in order to win the title of “World’s Greatest Traveler”.
Contestants must apply and go through a screening process and pay an entry fee of $9,900 per person, which covers accommodations, all flights, and 40% of meals. The event kicks off on April 9, 2010.
The event isn’t all airport mad-dashes and physical feats though. According to the website, the goal isn’t to race through each country as fast as you can, performing outlandish stunts as you go, but to connect with each culture (though with only 2-3 days in the country, that may be difficult) through the challenges. Each team is also asked to raise $1 per kilometer (which equals the daunting figure of $40,000 per couple) for a total of $1 million raised per event for the Great Escape Foundation, a nonprofit that funds long-term projects and micro-loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries.
One of my all time running highlights was winning second place for my age category in a 4th of July run in Middletown, Ohio. I ran almost a minute faster a mile than I normally did. (And yes, there were more than two people in my category.) When the first mile came and the time-keeper called out the time, I almost turned back to ask, “What did you say?” Instead, I ran like heck to the next mile marker for a confirmation. I was on fire. I think it had to do with: living in Albuquerque at the time, running a lot with a guy I was dating who taught me some running tips, and buzzing a bit from the two days drive to get to Middletown. Besides the fun of doing so well, being a part of a community event pulled me right into the milieu of Middletown. Man, was it glorious.
If you’re a running type, here are some running events listed on the Web site Active.com to consider when thinking about where to travel for your running highs. My run in Middletown was impromptu. I didn’t know the run existed until I showed up at my friend’s friends’ house. This list goes through March 2008.
Danger – it is your middle name. You’re the type that likes big vehicles, fast motorcycles and gnarly tricked out cars sliding the thru desert sand in the race of a lifetime across two continents. Are you going to be there? The Lisboa-Dakar Rally kicks off this year on January 6, 2007-January 21, 2007. For the second time in history the race will start off in Portugal and run through Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Mali and Senegal.
While trying to catch sight of death-defying feats during my travels hasn’t been high on my personal list of activities I can see how others might enjoy the action and suspense. I’d love to go if only to check out the African backdrop (villages, forests, and Sahara) these crazy men and women will be torpedoing by in their efforts to be victorious.