[Image above] Credit: MercerReport; YouTube

February sure seems to have zipped by! For most of the month, we were glued to the TV watching awe-inspiring performances from the best athletes in the world at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Some of us were more interested in the materials science side of the Olympics. And how cool were those glass snowboards? So on the heels of National Engineers Week and the 2018 Winter Olympics, we bring you the concrete toboggan race.

While a multitude of preparations were being made for the Olympics in PyeongChang, hundreds of engineering students from Canadian universities (and one U.S. university) were participating in their own Olympics of sorts: The Great Northern Concrete Toboggan Race (GNCTR).

And this just isn’t a fly-by-night event. The GNCTR dates back to 1975, with more than 450 engineering students from various Canadian universities participating each year. According to the website, students use their design and engineering skills to construct a five-passenger toboggan that must weigh less than 350 pounds—including the concrete ski runners on which the toboggan glides.

The toboggan also must incorporate a structural frame, steering, and braking system. Student teams spend nearly a year designing and building their toboggans.

“It’s the fastest 10 seconds of your life,” civil engineering student Mary Jo David says excitedly in this video, “and you don’t want it to stop.”

Teams compete in three race challenges for awards such as Best Theoretical Toboggan Design, Best Concrete Mix Design, Best Technical Report, Best Overall Performance, and Fastest Run Time. And in the spirit of fun, teams can also win awards for Best Overall Team Spirit and Best Theme Costumes. You can read about the rest of awards here.

This year the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, hosted the 44th race in Kitchener, Ontario. While weather conditions weren’t the most favorable, everyone seemed to have had a good time.

They’re already preparing for next year’s 45th competition, taking place in Edmonton, Alberta. You don’t have to be an engineering student from a Canadian university—they welcome international universities, too!

Watch the video below to see these toboggans in action.

Credit: uwaterloo, YouTube

And watch this hilarious video from 2011, where CBC reporter Rick Mercer joins in the fun while reporting the event.

Credit: MercerReport; YouTube

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