MAPLE PARK – Before the start of the 10th Annual Toilet Bowl Challenge on Saturday, Jon Ausbury made sure that his team completed a practice run on the race course.
Ausbury said he wanted to make sure his partners, daughter Bridgett, 19, and fellow Maple Park resident Hazis Azemi, could make turns on the team's toilet bowl on wheels without tipping or falling over. The strategy worked because the team, aptly named The Turdles, won the event on Saturday.
The Toilet Bowl Challenge was held on Main Street during the first day of the annual Maple Park Fun Fest. The Turdles raced five times in multiple heats to win the championship, which included a $100 prize. The two other entries in the challenge were named Minecraft and Dr. Poo and the Turdis.
Spectators filled the sidewalks on Main Street between Kennebec and Pleasant streets where the challenge's race course was located. Each team has one person sit on the toilet while the two other members push the entire creation around several cones. Teams are required to switch drivers at the halfway point of the course.
Brenna Miller, 9, of Maple Park said her nervousness before the event was replaced by excitement as the races continued. She participated in the race this year for the first time to compete against her brother Jack, 11.
The Millers each rounded out their teams with two other sister-brother pairs; Madeline, 14, and Owen Bogathy, 12, of Cedar Lake, Indiana, and Delilah, 8, and Carter Askew, 11, of Maple Park.
The sibling rivalry ended on a good note for both teams. The all-boy Minecraft team won second place and $50, and the all-girl Dr. Poo team won $100 for most original racing commode.
"We definitely have more bragging rights than when we just had third place," said Madeline Bogathy, whose team also took home $25 for the number-three finish.
All three toilets used in the race have made appearances at previous races. The Turdles were sponsored by the Maple Park Lions Club, of which Ausbury is a member. The Lions Club keeps the toilet and changes the theme every year, Ausbury said.
The Dr. Poo team toilet used to be entered under different themes in years past by Chuck Miller, Brenna and Jack's father. Their mother, Beth, one of the Fun Fest's organizers, used to race with the toilet from the Minecraft team entry.
"They've been passed down through the generations," Madeline Bogathy said of the toilets, with a smile.