You’ve got to love the British. Their rich national history, a love of so many sports, and their undoubted sense of humour combine on occasions to create events the like of which can rarely be found anywhere else in the world. Here are a few examples for you to consider taking in next time you’re touring around this “green and pleasant land”.
Wife Carrying Race
At Dorking in Surrey in the south of England the annual wife carrying race takes place. This contest is not exclusively staged in Britain. Indeed, annual world championships are staged every year in Finland, where the idea started. But the Brits have embraced with typical gusto the concept of a man hauling his ‘better half’ over a 250 metre course as fast as he can. The concept is perfectly simple. Husbands and wives arrive at the starting line then, by whatever means is most comfortable – a fireman’s lift, sitting on his shoulders, carried in front etc. – the pair charge as fast as they can to the finishing line.
There aren’t too many rules, but the wife must way no less than 49 kilos. If she does, weights are added to the husband’s burden – not that his wife could in anyway be described as a burden, you understand. It goes without saying that a man carrying a 50 kilos wife has a greater chance of winning then one carrying a 100 kilos wife.
Cheese Rolling Race
by mike warren
At Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire every spring Bank Holiday there is the annual Cheese Rolling race. This sees a crazy group of people chase a very large cheese down an incredibly steep hill in front of a crowd that these days numbers many thousands. The tradition apparently dates back as far as the 15th Century and the race is not without its dangers due to the particularly steep descent. The contestants chase a four kilo Double Gloucester cheese and the first person to get to the bottom of the hill wins the race. A number of different races take place on the big day and there have been some serious injuries over the years, so this contest is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
When it comes to crazy British sporting challenges, the annual bog snorkelling race takes some beating. It takes place every August Bank Holiday at Waen Rhydd peat bog, near Llanwrtyd Wells in mid-Wales.
The championships officially began in 1985 and evolved out of a drunken conversation between two men in a local pub. They wondered how fast someone could swim through the water-filled trenches of the peat bogs that are numerous in this beautiful area of Wales. They decided to add a few rules, such as having to wear flippers and a snorkel, and that no conventional swimming strokes are allowed. These days, there is even a world record for time.
The competitors need to snorkel the 55-metre trench and then return to the starting line. The winner’s time is usually about 85 seconds. As is often the case in the numerous eccentric British sporting contests, money raised for entries into the event are donated to local charities and good causes.