>Extreme Gutter Racing

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When you are a kid getting wet is just about as good as it gets. In the summer my son has always been a fool for the pool, the sprinkler, water balloons or any other vehicle for wetness. That love of wet isn’t seasonal for kids. Most kids will head out into the rain and splash and get dripped on until they are forced to come in and get dry.

Water appeals to our limbic senses; like fire, it fascinates. For a developing brain, so much is gleamed in play with water. Mix that with a good race and you’ve got a winning activity. A gutter race is a race in a gutter flowing with water, and can be run by anything that will float and be carried by the gutter’s current: Leafs, corks, paper boats, and even sticks can work well.

Extreme gutter racing however requires a small investment of time. First a premium course needs to be scouted out. This is a great activity, and can give a purpose to those walks through the neighborhood. You are seeking a nice down hill course uninterrupted by intersections (unless the water keeps flowing at the turn). The longer the course, the better. Ideally few parked cars and low traffic as well. Also, inside and outside bends, and even rapids as the water travels over cracks in the concrete or over drains (assuming they won’t eat the boats. So this can require some true scouting.

College campuses often have a section of road off limits to cars and perfect for the job. The best course I have found recently is an hour plane ride from my house. It was a long utility driveway from a public parking lot down to the beach. Because it was unplanned we had to use what was available to us. With some experimenting we found the best leaves we could and had at it. To keep the race fair, use the same item as your opponent for a boat. But in extreme gutter racing anything goes. Build obstacles with small collections of rocks.


The next required element for Extreme gutter racing is time invested in building a boat. Corks are great because they never stop. But the ante can be up’d by using something that could get loaded up with water and sink, like a bottle cap raft made out of a few caps glued together. Put a sail on it. Paint it. Name your ship, and head out to the races.


Find your spot. Make your boats. Wait for the right day. Race. With all the time invested we teach long term goals, and elements of planning larger projects. And, as always, the more invested, the more enjoyed.

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