HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — Coming off a great 2023 edition that saw a record number of out-of-state competitors, entries for the 2024 World Championship Running of the Tubs bathtub races are now being accepted.
The bathtub races will be held on Saturday, June 1, along World Famous Bathhouse Row in downtown Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas.
“Last year we saw more out-of-state teams than ever before,” Visit Hot Springs Special Events Manager Alexis Hampo said. “They included teams from Memphis, Austin, Texas, Texarkana, Texas, and Carrollton, Texas. We’re hoping those entries opened the gates for even more participants from outside Arkansas to come to Hot Springs and join the fun alongside our great Arkansas competitors.”
The weekend of hilarious fun starts Friday evening, May 31, with the Judging of the Tubs in Hill Wheatley Plaza at the southern end of Bathhouse Row. The races will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 1, 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 races have drawn national attention as teams dress in costumes to push regulation-sized bathtubs full of water and a driver through the historic downtown district of America’s Spa, which once had as its slogan “We Bathe The World.”
The bathtub races, which began in 2005, were canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Next year’s event will be the 18th running of the event.
The Running of the Tubs is named in honor of the late Hot Springs businessman Stueart Pennington, who advocated tirelessly for the establishment of bathtub races to emphasize Hot Springs’ reputation as a thermal bathing mecca.
“The Running of the Tubs is another of the great family-friendly celebrations that are so popular with our residents and visitors,” Visit Hot Springs Marketing Director Bill Solleder said. “The crowds lining Bathhouse Row and joining in the fun by shooting Super Soakers at the racers have been growing every year as word spreads about this super free event.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing all the exciting costumes, themes, and tub designs,” Hampo said. “They just seem to get better each year.”
Prizes are awarded in six categories: Traditional, Modified, Stock, Most Spirited, Most Original, and Best Overall. The Traditional division is open to cast iron bathtubs. The Modified division is open to plastic or fiberglass tubs. The Stock division is open to nonprofits, and religious and governmental organizations. Visit Hot Springs provides free tubs to those entrants.
There is also the traditional Battle of the Badge, which pits teams from the Hot Springs Fire Department and the Hot Springs Police Department against each other in a “grudge match.”
All teams consist of five members, with four pushing the tub and one member steering. Tubs must be at least 48 inches long and 24 inches wide. The wheels on the tub cannot exceed 30 inches in diameter mounted on axles, and may not exceed 44 inches wide. Costumes are required.
“While there is a long list of rules, these rules change slightly every year based on the judges’ whim, which makes the outcome of every race surprising and exciting,” Hampo said. “You never know who is going to win The World Championship Running of the Tubs.”
The 2024 entry deadline is Friday, May 10. The entry fee is $25. The sign-up link and a full list of rules are at: https://www.hotsprings.org/events/world-championship-running-of-the-tubs/
The Judging of the Tubs and the Running of the Tubs is free for spectators.
The winners in 2023 were:
Traditional Division World Champion – Twisted Fork Bar & Grill
Modified Division World Champion – Hot Springs Fire Department
Stock Division World Champion – Spa Pacers
Most Spirited Team – Lake Ouachita Rangers
Best Overall Tub – Austin Weirdos
Most Original Tub – Hot Springs National Park Rangers
Battle of the Badge – Hot Springs Fire Department