Hungarian Gravediggers Compete in National Grave Digging Competition

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In an attempt to increase respect for grave digging and attract more people to the job, three dozens of the best gravediggers in Hungary competed in a unique grave digging competition, last Friday.

The bizarre competition took place at a graveyard in the city of Debrecen. 18 two-man teams were assigned their plots arbitrarily by pulling numbers out of a hat, and supplied with regulation-size shovels, rakes, axes and pickaxes to use in digging the best grave in the shortest amount of time. Contestants were judged on speed, grave neatness and whether they complied with the regulation size: 200 cm long, 80 cm wide and 160 cm deep (7 feet by 2 feet 7 inches by 5 feet). Enjoying the home advantage, the local team came out victorious, digging their grave in less than half an hour. That’s pretty impressive considering some of the other teams took almost an hour to complete theirs.

Each team had their own technique. Some preferred to dig simultaneously and clean up after the hole was finished, while others had one man digging and the other arranging the dirt into neat piles around the grave site. They all agreed that the conditions were just right on the big day, with the earth being “quite soft and humid.”

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Team Fighting Championship – Team Version of UFC Is Probably the Most Brutal Sport on Earth

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Team Fighting Championship (TFC) is a new, rather brutal sport that originated in Latvia and is gaining popularity in other European countries as well. Two four or five-member teams face each other in a ring, beating the living daylights out of each other until all the members of a team are down.

The fights are held in a 40×40 ring set up in an empty 30,000-sq.ft. warehouse, in an undisclosed location in Latvia, with no audience present. Five referees stationed inside the ring supervise the fight, but the rules are so relaxed that the refs can’t really stop fighters from inflicting serious damage. Players use moves from various fighting styles, they get kicked when they’re down, and at times two or more men gang up against one opponent. The fights are so vicious that they only last a few minutes, with most participants leaving the ring bleeding or unconscious.

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Lose to Win – California City Motivates Locals to Lose Weight with $3,500 Cash Prize

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In a bid to get residents interested in a healthy lifestyle, municipal officials in Lynwood, California, have a yearly program in place called ‘Cash for Chunkers’. Participants are divided into teams of four, and for 12 weeks they compete to see who can lose the most weight. This year, the winning team gets to take home a cash prize of $3,500.

Lynwood has a serious weight problem – one in five adults here are obese – but instead of taking restrictive measures like banning sodas or raising taxes on fast food, local authorities decided to motivate people to shed some pounds by offering them cash prizes.

Cash for Chunkers is self-funded, with a $25 entry fee per participant, and a $1-fine per pound gained during the 12-week period. The program is meant to get the people of Lynwood to eat healthy and exercise regularly. To help participants do better, it includes motivational discussions and classes on nutrition, cooking, and exercise. The teams also meet up every Saturday for a weighing session. “If they fail, they later return because they know we’re going to help them here and we’re going to work as a community,” said Mark Flores, director of Lynwood’s Recreation and Community Services Department.

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Quirky ‘Arse Bombing’ Sport Is All About Making a Splash

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A cannonball splash is the easiest (and most fun) way to dive, but did you know it’s a legitimate sport as well? It’s officially called ‘splashdiving’, but fans lovingly refer to it as ‘arse bombing’!

While regular divers are judged on how smoothly they land in the water, in splashdiving it’s the exact opposite that counts – points are awarded for the size of the splash created on impact. That sounds painful, but leading competitors say it doesn’t really hurt as much as you’d think. “The pain is minimal,” according to the reigning arse-bombing world champion Rainhard Riede from Bavaria.  And in the words of arse-bomber Lukas Eglseder, “You get used to it.”

Splashdiving has its own set of rules, and believe it or not, competitors can choose from 13 different styles of diving. The classic ‘arse bomb’ involves landing bum first with the knees tucked into the stomach. Other techniques include ‘the cat’, ‘the chair’, and ‘the plank’. Contestants are required to announce their moves in advance, and are given four chances to make a big impression.

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Irish Town Holds Sheep Dung Spitting Competition

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Visitors at the 37th annual Lady of the Lake Festival in Irvinestown, Northern Ireland’s Fermanagh county, were in for a stinky surprise – a sheep dung spitting competition that literally left participants with a bad taste in their mouth.

The bizarre contest, organised by local hotelier Joe Mahon, had participants take mouthfuls of sheep dung and spit it out with gusto to see who could spit the farthest. For some reason, Mahon appeared top be the most excited of the lot, even allowing sheep to poop on his face. Ugh!

Mahon is apparently well known in the town for his quirky event ideas during the festival. This year, inspired by an emu dung-spitting competition from Africa, he decided to replicate it with sheep. Festival organisers took to Facebook to find volunteers to take part in the bizarre contest. The winner was promised £100($155). 44 people finally signed up, joining Mahon on a dung spitting spree.

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Guy Wins French-Language Scrabble Championship, Doesn’t Even Speak French

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Nigel Richards is a beast when it comes to the game of Scrabble. He’s so good that he recently won the French Language Scrabble Championship without even speaking the language. ‘

“He doesn’t speak any French at all – he just learned the words,” Nigel’s friend Liz Fagerlund told the media. “He won’t know what they mean, wouldn’t be able to carry out a conversation in French, I wouldn’t think.” No wonder they call him the ‘Tiger Woods of Scrabble’.

French journalist and self-confessed Scrabble lover Jean-Baptiste Morel wrote: “He doesn’t speak French, but he learned to play in our language by reading the words of the ODS (Official Scrabble Book) as if it were a sequence of letters to learn. The man, as well as having a perfect command of the vocabulary, possesses an impressive game tactic that allows him to leapfrog the competition.” Morel added that Richard had managed to win in spite of a “pretty rotten” draw of letters.

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The Endurance Race So Hard That Only 14 People Have Completed It in 30 Years

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The Barkley 100-Mile Marathon, held annually in Frozen Head State Park near Wartburg, Tennessee, is considered to be one of most challenging ultra-marathons in the world. So tough, in fact, that only 14 people out of about 1,100 participants have ever managed to complete it since its inauguration in 1986! That’s just two more than the number of people who have walked on the moon.

The 100-mile run, which some claim is actually 130 miles or more, has a cumulative elevation gain of more than 60,000 feet – the equivalent of climbing mount Everest twice, from sea level. It consists of a 20-mile loop around a mountainous course that participants need to complete five times. Loops three and four need to be run in the opposite direction, with the direction for loop five being the runner’s choice. Experienced runners looking for something less extreme can opt for the 60-mile ‘fun run’, where they have to run the 20-mile loop just three times.

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Teapot Racing – The New Favorite Sport of New Zealand’s Steampunk Community

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Last weekend, New Zealand’s capital hosted its first ever teapot racing event at CubaDupa – Wellington’s vibrant new street festival modeled on the lines of Cuba Street. The sport, a new favorite among Steampunk enthusiasts, involves navigating radio-controlled teapots through an obstacle course with tunnels, ramps and jumps.

Organised by Capital! Steampunk, a Steampunk events community in New Zealand, Splendid Teapot Racing saw radio-controlled cars carry teapots through the indoor obstacle course in under two minutes. Steampunk enthusiasts interested in participating had to register in advance, and according to festival co-ordinator Helen Jansen, the level of interest and curiosity in the race was quite high. “This event has pre-sold more tickets than any other so far,” she said. “This is a first in the steampunk world and a great addition to the Southern hemisphere’s premier steampunk event.”

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Woodkopf – The Wacky Czech Sport You’ve Probably Never Heard of Before

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Woodkopf is a crazy new sport invented in the Czech Republic that’s been gaining quite a lot of national media attention lately. The popular sport involves a pair of opponents wearing two-meter wooden boards on their heads and trying to knock the other’s board down without dropping their own. As strange as it sounds, a rousing match of Woodkopf can be quite exciting to watch.

The wacky sport can be traced back to July of 1992, when it was practiced during a cultural festival of art school graduates in Prague. Woodkopf (which literally translates to ‘wooden head’) is popular partly due to the fact that the game is simple, inexpensive and requires no complex equipment, but also because it never fails to supply a good dose of humor.

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Running Up 11,674 Steps in the World’s Longest Single-Staircase Race

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The world’s longest staircase is located on the face of Mt. Niesen in Switzerland, nicknamed the ‘Swiss Pyramid’ for its triangular shape. The 3.4 km staircase goes up the side of the mountain with 11,674 steps, ranging from an altitude of 700 m at the bottom (from the side of the Kander river in Mülenen) to 2363 m at the top (the terminus near the summit of the mountain). Its average gradient is a monumental 55%, with a maximum of 65%.

For safety reasons, the staircase is normally closed to the general public. But one day a year, in June, it is opened up for the world’s longest single-staircase race – the ‘Niesen Treppenlauf’, otherwise known as the ‘Niesenlauf’. During the course of this race, up to 500 participants get to climb the monster staircase at record-breaking speeds. The record for the event is 1 hour and 2 minutes for men, and 1 hour and 9 minutes for women – which is really quite remarkable, considering that reaching the top is the equivalent of climbing the Empire State Building more than 7 times.

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Chinese Contestants Stand on One Leg for Hours on End to Win Brand New BMW

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Wu Deqi is the proud owner of a brand new swanky BMW. Nothing special so far, I know, but that’s because you don’t yet know how he got it. Instead of money, he had to pay for it with a lot of pain. In a promotional contest held last Sunday in the Shapingba District of Southwest China, Wu stood on one leg with one hand touching the coveted car alongside 20 other participants. After a grueling 7 hours and 26 minutes, Wu was the last man standing – automatically winning possession of the 300,000 yuan BMW X1.

Of course, Wu’s feat is nowhere near the Guinness World Record for standing on one leg. That distinction belongs to Suresh Joachim, who balanced himself on one foot for a whopping 76 hours and 40 minutes. But you have to hand it to Wu for his extraordinary effort. I mean, I couldn’t do it for over 5 minutes even if they offered me two BMWs.

The actual event began on 1 March and attracted hundreds of participants. About 140 people entered into three elimination rounds, and 20 shortlisted candidates made it to the final competition on Sunday. This last round was the toughest; some of the contestants actually dropped to the ground in agony. The competition began at 9:30 am and by 1:30 pm, the going got really tough. That’s when the organizers asked participants to stand on tip of their support foot. Flour was spread under each person’s foot to make sure they didn’t cheat and rest their heels.

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The Baikal Ice Marathon – The Ultimate Winter Endurance Race

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The Baikal Ice Marathon is one of the world’s toughest endurance challenges. Over the years, the one-of-a-kind event has seen participants from over 50 countries. These are athletes with a heart of steel – they race across a 42 kilometer course across the completely frozen surface of Baikal, the oldest and deepest freshwater lake on Earth. Every year, the Baikal Ice Marathon is held for a noble cause – the Preservation of Clean Water. This year its 10th edition took place on March 1.

Although the terrain for the marathon is predominantly flat, it is still considered to be one of the world’s 10 most challenging competitions because of the freezing Siberian weather. The cold northern winds and harsh, unpredictable climate is, in fact, the biggest challenge faced by runners. In past marathons conditions have varied in severity – from high winds and biting cold, to a sunny sky with almost no chills. The lake’s surface is another problem; at times it can be hard and uneven, covered in small hills of ice rubble. Geometric springs and seismic activity beneath the ice may weaken it to form holes.

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X-Alps – The World’s Most Amazing Adventure Race

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For most people, the route from Salzburg to Monaco is by road. But who wants to go on a boring road trip, when you could climb mountains and paraglide across the Alps instead? Of course, to do that you’ve got to have a real taste for adventure. If you do, then the Red Bull X-Alps annual race is just the thing for you.

It is said to be one of the toughest challenges in the world, demanding not only expert paragliding skills but extreme endurance. Participating athletes need to hike or fly over a distance of about 1,000 kilometers between Salzburg and Monaco, through one of the world’s most unforgiving environments. For adventurers, this is the ‘ultimate’ race.

Each team entering the race consists of one athlete and up to two supporters to help with logistics, food and motivation. The contestants race between 5:00 am and 10:30 pm, hiking over 100 kilometers a day. A paraglider, harness, rescue parachute, helmet, emergency signal rocket, reflector belt and tracking device must be carried at all times.

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Japanese 88-Member Pop Group Selects Lead Singers in Rock-Paper-Scissors Tournament

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Japanese music group AKB48 currently holds the Guinness record for the world’s largest pop group, with an impressive 88 female members split into various teams. But fitting all the girls on a single stage is tricky, so every time they launch a new single, AKB48 members hold a knockout rock-paper-scissors tournament to select a limited number of singers.

AKB48 is the brainchild of producer Yasushi Akimoto, who wanted to create a girl band that, unlike other pop groups who are mostly seen on TV and hold concerts sporadically, could perform for its fans live, every day, at their own theater. The band debuted in 2005 with 20 members chosen from almost 8,000 girls. In April of 2006, another group of 18 girls were chosen to form Team B of AKB48, and there are currently four different teams making up the 88-strong all-female idol group, as well as various sister groups Japan and various Asian countries. The team concept of AKB48 was meant to take load off of its members, since daily concerts at the group’s theater in Akibahara, Tokyo, are performed by only one of the teams, and also allow the others to make appearances at different locations around the world. In the eight years since its inception, AKB48 has become a social phenomenon, with record sales of $226 million in Japan alone. The girls have become so popular that tickets for their daily performances are not even sold anymore, but distributed by lottery. Even their unique rock-paper-scissors tournament to select lead singers for each new single is a sold-out event held at the giant Nippon Budokan arena.

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Pucker Up and Sing – The World Whistling Championship

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Every year, the world’s most passionate whistlers gather in Louisburg, North Carolina, to compete in the annual World Whistling Championship. Whistlers, young and old, are judged on resonance, intonation and stage presence as they interpret some of the most famous concertos and sonatas.

In 1970, Allen De Hart, director of public affairs at Louisburg College, founded the Franklin County and Louisburg College Festival, which focused on traditional music and dance from the southern states. Three years later, Darrel Williams, a contestant from Durham, North Carolina, requested he whistle his original composition rather than sing it. The judges accepted it and they were so impressed with his performance that the annual event soon became the National Whistlers Convention. For the last 40 years, talented whistlers from all around the world have been coming to Louisburg to show off their skills and claim the coveted title of World Whistling Champion. It might sound like a wacky contest to a lot of people, but for the dozens of participants who take part in it every it’s serious business. They spend a lot of time practicing both their whistling and their stage performance, and take special care of their “instruments”, making sure they are in perfect condition on the big day. Kissing apparently makes the lips mushy so some of them adopt a “24-hour no kissing” policy to keep their lips crisp, while others sip ice water right before the performance. The ice constricts the lip tissue, making it nice an smooth and allowing the air to flow properly.

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