HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — The tubs are nearing the post.
The final lineup of competitors was announced today (May 23) for the 2021 Stueart Pennington World Championship Running of the Tubs bathtub races on World Famous Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs.
The races will begin at 9 a.m. from the starting line in front of the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa at the north end of the famed bathhouses along Central Avenue. The presenting sponsor of the races is Bathhouse Soapery.
To respect and protect the National Park and waterways, throwing of water balloons by spectators is discouraged and the use of Super Soakers to spray the contestants is encouraged.
Laura Miller, Hot Springs National Park Superintendent stated, “We know tossing water balloons at participants - and other spectators - has long been part of the experience. However, a single balloon ingested by a fish, turtle, or bird can kill them. This is why they are not allowed in the national park. The Running of the Tubs takes place right over Hot Springs Creek, and all that balloon debris goes from the street to the creek (which is filled with fish, turtles, and birds), and ends up in Lake Hamilton, a popular fishing spot for many. We hope spectators will join us in using refillable Super Soakers or other water - soaking devices to save our wildlife and also to have better aim and distance when soaking Tub Race contestants”.
ESPN Radio and PBS Television will have crews on hand to cover the races.
The bathtub races, which began in 2005, were canceled in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic. This year’s event will be the 15th running of the event.
Key matchups in the final 2021 lineup:
• The reigning champions of the Traditional Division (cast iron tubs), Bathhouse Soapery, will try to defend their title. The Riser Ford team, whose quest for a fourth title was drained in 2019 by the Bathhouse Soapery team, looks to reclaim the title.
• The Austin Weirdos from Austin, Texas, are returning to Hot Springs to defend the Modified Division (fiberglass or plastic tubs) World Championship. They will face fierce competition from the Hale Entertainment team who pirated their way to an impressive debut in 2019. New this year will be a team of rangers from Hot Springs National Park, who will be competing to help celebrate the park’s 100th birthday.
• The Stock Tub Division (for teams from nonprofit organizations) pits Cyclists against Runners. The Trail Advocacy Coalition of the Ouachitas (TACO) defend their world title against The Spa Pacers.
• The Hot Springs Fire Department and the Hot Springs Police Department will renew their no-holds-barred rivalry in the Battle of the Badge. The Fire Department was victorious in this fierce rivalry in 2019.
The complete lineup:
• Modified (Fiberglass/Plastic Tubs) — 5 Guys One Tub (The Tub Thumpers); Austin Weirdos (Troop 512); Hale Entertainment; Hot Springs Police Department (The Hot Springs SWAT Team); Hot Springs Fire Department; Level Up Appliances (Level UP); Hot Springs National Park (Bathers of the Lost Park); Oaklawn Rotary.
• Traditional (Cast Iron)— Visit Hot Springs (Hogwarts Express); Window Mart (Gangsters); O'Reilly; Riser Ford; Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium; Healthstar Physicians of Hot Springs; The Waters Hotel.
• Stock — Spa Pacers, Trail Advocacy Coalition of the Ouachitas (Team TACO).
The family of the late Stueart Pennington will once again lead the Parade of the Tubs from Hill Wheatley Plaza to the starting line at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, June 5. The Running of the Tubs is named in honor of Pennington, a downtown merchant who advocated tirelessly for the establishment of bathtub races to emphasize Hot Springs’ reputation as a thermal bathing mecca whose motto for many decades was “We Bathe The World.”
The annual Judging of the Tubs will be held Friday, June 4, at, 6 p.m. at Hill Wheatley Plaza.
“We missed the 2020 Running of the Tubs Championships because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Visit Hot Springs Marketing Director Bill Solleder said. “But all the winners from 2019 are going to be back for the resumption of this fun-filled celebration on June 5.”
“The added attraction is that this year’s Running of the Tubs will help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Hot Springs National Park,” Solleder said. “The Park is doing a year-long centennial celebration, and we’re proud to be able to contribute an element of fun to the Centennial. What could be more fun than crazily costumed teams pushing regulation bathtubs down Central Avenue in front of Bathhouse Row?”
“The Running of the Tubs is another of the great family-friendly celebrations that are so popular with our residents and visitors,” Solleder said. “The crowds lining Bathhouse Row and joining in the wacky fun by shooting Super Soakers at the racers have been growing every year as word spreads about this super free event.”
The incredibly arcane (and endlessly fluid) rules for the races include:
• The Running of the Tubs will be held in front of Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, on Saturday, June 5, 2021. The event consists of teams pushing their bathtubs — on wheels of course — down Central Avenue, in front of Bathhouse Row, in Historic Downtown Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.
• The guidelines and rules, which are subject to change at the whim of the judges, include:
“The races began 16 years ago as the Steuart Pennington Running of the Tubs, and Mr. Pennington will still be honored as the motivating force behind the event with the awarding of the Steuart Pennington Cup to the winning teams,” Solleder said. “Mr. Pennington was a long-time downtown merchant who pushed for the bathtub races to acknowledge Hot Springs’ rich history as a world-renowned thermal-bathing destination.”
“Arkansas hosts many unique, colorful and wacky events — a Turkey Drop in Yellville, Goat Fest, the World Championship Rotary Tiller Races, World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, cardboard boat races — but there is no event that is soaked in more fun than the Stueart Pennington World Championship Running of the Tubs in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas,” he said.
For information contact Bill Solleder at 501-321-2027.