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story.lead_photo.caption The Quapaw Baths and Spas tub team is showered with water guns while racing down Central Ave. with their decorated bathtub at the 13 Annual World Championship Running of the Tubs. (The Sentinel-Record/Rebekah Hedges)

Visit Hot Springs is now accepting entries for the annual Stueart Pennington World Championship Running Of The Tubs, which will slosh down Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs starting at 9 a.m. June 1.

Sponsored by Visit Hot Springs with presenting sponsor The Bathhouse Soapery, entries are open to teams in both the Traditional Tubs Division and the Modified Tubs Division. Applications are available at the Hot Springs Convention Center, by calling 501-321-2027, or by emailing Bill Solleder, director of marketing for Visit Hot Springs, at

The 2018 winning racing teams included the following:

• Traditional Division -- Riser Ford, for the third year in a row.

• Modified Division -- Hot Springs Police Department.

• Battle of the Badge matching the Fire Department tub against the Police Department tub -- Hot Springs Fire Department.

• Most Original Tub -- Habitat for Humanity.

• Most Spirited Tub -- Window Mart.

• Overall Tub -- Peter's Paint & Flooring.

The event is a celebration of Hot Springs' historic slogan "We Bathe The World!" and is named in honor of late downtown businessman Stueart Pennington, who championed the cause of bathtub races for years to tie into the city's storied bathing past.

"The races were begun 14 years ago as the Stueart Pennington Running Of The Tubs, and Mr. Pennington will still be honored as the motivating force behind the event with the awarding of the Stueart Pennington Cup to the winning teams," Solleder said.

"Mr. Pennington was a longtime downtown merchant who pushed for the bathtub races to acknowledge Hot Springs' rich history as a world-renowned thermal-bathing destination."

Any authentic bathtub, old or new, may be entered, but must be at least 48 inches long and 24 inches wide. The wheels on the tub must be no larger than 30 inches diameter mounted on axles no more than 44 inches wide. Casters and rollers are not allowed.

Each team must have a captain, who must ride in the tub; a Bath Towel Attendant; a Bath Mat Attendant; a Soap Attendant; a Loofah Mitt Attendant. No motors or mechanical devices can be used to push the tub, only the four members of the team who are not in the tub.

There are other rules for this year's race, which the release describes as "incredibly arcane (and endlessly fluid)" and "subject to change at the whim of the judges." The rules include some of the following:

• Each team member must keep one hand on the tub at all times, and the attendants must hold a particular item with their other hand. For example, the Soap Attendant must keep one hand on the tub and hold a bar of soap in the other hand. The Loofah Mitt Attendant must wear the loofah mitt on one hand, and hold onto the tub with the other hand. If an item is dropped, the tub must stop until it is retrieved, and the team must then make one complete circle of the tub before it can restart. If any team member lets go of the tub for any reason, the tub must stop and all attendants must change positions before the tub restarts.

• Each team crossing the finish line must still possess the bar of soap, the bath mat, the loofah mitt and the bath towel, or face disqualification.

• The bathtub must be full of water at the start of the race and have at least 10 gallons of water left in the tub at the finish line. If the judges find less than 10 gallons of water left in the tub, that team will be disqualified.

"The judges will have the final say on how the volume of water is measured. Anyone who argues with a judge will never be allowed to bathe on Central Avenue again, or until another Arkansan is elected president of the United States of America, whichever comes first," the rules say.

• The four team members pushing the tubs must wear hats of some size and shape, and also some suspenders.

• No thongs.

• Extra points for bribes.

• "Head starts" may be given "according to the judges' mood at any given time."

The Downtown Association of Hot Springs will announce the names of the Running Of The Tubs judges at a later date, according to the release.

The winning team in each division will receive a traveling winner's trophy, The Pennington Cup -- the highest honor in bathtub racing, that they will get to display until next year's contest. Each individual team member will receive an individual prize. Three additional trophies will be given, one for the Most Original Tub, one for the Most Spirited Tub and one for the Best Overall Tub.

All teams must have their bathtub in place in the plaza area of Hill Wheatley Plaza by 6 p.m. Friday, June 1. The plaza area will have open access for each team all day on Friday, which will allow teams to put the finishing touches on their bathtubs.

There is a $25 entry fee for each bathtub team. Checks, made payable to Visit Hot Springs, must be submitted with the completed forms. Deadline for entries is noon, Friday, May 3.

"Anyone crazy enough to enter this contest must have their entry form, check and team waivers submitted by noon on May 26 -- NO EXCEPTIONS," according to the release.

Local on 04/14/2019

Print Headline: Entries open for annual World Championship Running Of The Tubs

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