The Ancient Sport of Camel Jumping in the Deserts of Yemen

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The men of the Zaraniq tribe, on the west coast of Yemen, have a truly unique tradition – they jump over a row of camels just like modern daredevils jump over cars.

Famous throughout Yemen for their speed, strength and courage, the members of the Zaraniq tribe are the world’s only professional camel jumpers. Taking running starts, jumpers try to sail over as many camels as possible, before tumbling to the ground. During camel jumping events, the one who leaps over the highest number of camels is considered the winner. “This is what we do,” says Bhayder Mohammed Yusef Qubaisi, one of the champions of the the Tihama-al-Yemen, a desert plain, on the coast of the Red Sea.

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Tough Mudder – Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet

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“The Tough Mudder is not a race, it’s a challenge,” say the organizers. And it most certainly is, given the grueling nature of what is perhaps the toughest event in the world. Consisting of 10 to 12 mile ‘hardcore’ obstacle courses, the event designed by British Special Forces is meant to test stamina, strength, grit, and camaraderie. Tough Mudder is the brainchild of former counter-terrorism agent Will Dean. During his MBA course at Harvard, he was frustrated with the monotony of marathons, triathlons and mud runs. Wanting to participate in an event that truly challenged the core of his personality, he came up with the idea of Tough Mudder.

According to their official website, Tough Mudder is much more than just a race because it gives participants the opportunity to a personal challenge. Simply completing the course is an achievement in itself. The participants are not timed, and there are no winners as this is no contest. In fact, one of the rules of the event is to help your fellow mudders whenever they seem to be struggling with themselves. Men and women are strongly encouraged to participate, but the event is open only to those above 18 years of age. So far, over half a million people have participated worldwide. And 25% of them have been women. The events are currently being held in USA, Canada, Europe, Japan, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

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Finally, a Watching Paint Dry Championship

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Contests and competitions have been used for a very long time now as a marketing tool. Some of these competitions have been quite unusual. But it doesn’t get more unusual than this – a championship for paint-watchers!

The paint-watching championship is being organized by Localtraders.com, an online resource for finding reliable local tradespeople in the UK. Normally, the website works by having people submit details of a job they need done, and several tradespeople bid over the project. Now, they’ve come up with this innovative idea to attract new customers. The “Watching Paint Dry Championships”  is truly a test of patience, mental strength and physical endurance. The way it works is that interested participants should send in a photograph of themselves watching paint dry, along with the longest time they’ve stared at the wall of paint without looking away. They’re also asking for a short write-up about your favorite paint color and why you like it.

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Yukigassen – Competitive Snowball Fighting from Japan

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If you grew up in a place where it snowed, you probably would have mastered the art of throwing snowballs. Bet no one thought much of your talent back then. Too bad you never heard of Yukigassen, a snowball fighting competition that is held in Japan every year, and now in other parts of the world as well.

Yukigassen, literally meaning “snow battle”, originated around 20 years ago as a marketing scheme. The Mount Showa-Shinzan resort wanted to attract more tourists in the winter, so they devised this game, which certainly sounds like it could be a lot of fun. It is being described as a combination of chess, paintball and backyard brawling. The objective of the game is pretty simple. Players of the opposing team need to be knocked out with snowballs. But of course, there are more technicalities involved. For instance, the field on which Yukigassen is played is a 44 X 12 yard rectangle divided by red and blue lines, similar to the layout of a hockey rink. Three periods, three minutes in duration each, constitute the match. The team that wins two out of three is ultimately the winner of the match. A period could either be won by having more standing players than the team at the opposite end, or by capturing the other team’s flag without getting hit by their snowballs.

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Run For Your Lives – A Zombie-Infested Obstacle Race

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If you’re a big fan of zombie movies and video games, and always wanted to experience a zombie apocalypse in real life, this is your big chance. Run For Your Lives is a unique 5k obstacle course race where contenders have to get passed man-made and natural obstacles while chased by brain-eating zombies.

This sounds like one of my biggest nightmares, and after seeing the presentation video, I’m definitely not signing up. But then again, I’m too scared to even participate in one of those harmless zombie parades, so…But anyway, back to the race. Unlike in a regular running competition, you’re not just running against the clock, but also against an army of bloody, virus infested zombies that want to kill you. Don’t worry though, they’re not really going to kill anyone, just steal all their flags, which represent life points. At the beginning of the race, runners will be equipped with a flag belt, representing their health. If they lose all their flags during the race, they “die” and the zombies win. Runners will still be able to complete the race if they so desire, but they will not be eligible for awards.

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Daredevils Compete in Annual Bee-Wearing Competition

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Two brave Chinese beekeepers competed in the annual bee-wearing contest, yesterday, trying to attract as many bees on their bodies, in just 60 minutes.

42-year-old Wang Dalin and 20-year-old Lc Kongjiang were the only contestants registered for the event that took place in Shaoyang City, China. Wearing only shorts, goggles and nose plugs, the two bee enthusiasts competed by each standing on a scale and using queen bees to attract as many regular buzzers on their bodies, in one hour. The queen bees were locked in small cages and tied around their bodies, and it was only a matter of time until the swarming bees picked up their scent and formed living suits around the competitors.

In the end, Wang Dalin won the bee-wearing competition, by attracting 26 kilograms of bees onto his body, while his younger fellow beekeeper only manged to attract 22.9 kilograms of live bees. Despite their valiant efforts, the two weren’t able to break the world bee-wearing record, of 39.5 kg (350,000 bees), set by American Mark Biancaniello.

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German Village Hosts Weird Tobacco Sniffing Championship

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Around 220 man and women gathered in the small Bavarian village of Kucha to fill their nostrils with tobacco, last weekend, during the German Tobacco Sniffing Championship.

The origins of this offbeat competition are unclear, but one thing is for sure: Bavarians take it very seriously. For competitors outside the region it’s mostly just a fun way to spend a summer weekend, but locals actually train for it, and come with all kinds of techniques to help them sniff as much tobacco as possible. During the German Tobacco Sniffing Championship, competitors are given a small box with five grams of tobacco called Smalzer, and they have to get as much of it in their nose.

Sounds easy enough, especially if you have a big nose, but seasoned veterans claim it’s all about skill and technique. Competitors are allowed to blow their noses, sniff and push the tobacco up their nose, but whoever sneezes is disqualified.  Tobacco sniffing is a big deal in Bavaria, and 90 % of tobacco-sniffing clubs are established in this region, so it’s no surprise Bavarians always win the competition.

This year, the contest was won by 43-year-old Christian Knauer, who managed to stick 4.993 grams of tobacco in his nose, and score a maximum score of 20, for cleanliness. Knauer, who also won last year’s competition, says his secret lies in the special plastic nails he uses to pick up the tobacco from the small wooden box. Picking as much Smalzer in only one minute can be tough, because the box has corners and angles, so he uses these custom nails.

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90 Teams Take Part in the Annual Bed Race of Knaresborough

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The Great Knaresborough Bed Race of 2011 attracted a crowd of about 25,000 people eager to see one of the wackiest races in the world.

When the popular bed race was first organized, in 1965, it was considered so difficult that only members of the Army, Navy and American Marines were allowed to take part, but nowadays everyone is allowed to compete, as long as they pay an entrance fee and have a bed decorated according to the annual theme. This year, 90 teams from as far as Germany and the USA came to Knaresborough to compete in one of the strangest, most fun races on Earth.

Teams participating in the Great Knaresborough Bed Race are made up of six runners, a decorated bed and one member brave enough to sit on the bed. The runners have to carry the bed through the 3-km-long countryside course, while the seventh member tries to hold on for dear life. The race starts easily enough, along the banks of the River Nidd, but turns into a nightmare halfway through, as teams face five difficult hill climbs to Castle Fort. Going downhill is no picnic either, especially for the guy sitting on the bed, but if they manage to reach the bottom, they’re faced with the final hurdle, crossing the river.

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Man and Horse Compete in Wacky Marathon

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It might seem like horses have a clear physical advantage in a race, but hundreds of people show up to compete against them, every year, in the traditional Man vs. Horse Marathon.

The history of this wacky competition dates back to a night in November 1979, when Gordon Green, a pub owner from Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, was arguing with local Glyn Jones about the physical capabilities of men and horses. Green was absolutely sure a man could win over a single horse in a race over a long distance, while Jones argued the exact opposite. In the end, the two agreed a real race was the best way to decide their argument, so the very next year, 50 runners and 15 horses competed in a 22-miles-long race through the hills and marshes of the rural Welsh town. Glyn Jones, riding the fastest steed in Llanwrtyd Wells, won easily, but the race proved so popular that Green organized it again, the following year.

Cyclists were allowed to join the Man Versus Horse Marathon, between 1985 and 1992, and in 1989 a man (on a bicycle) crossed the finish line first. The Welsh government finally banned cyclists in 1992, arguing that bike wheels damaged forest paths and man were back to competing against horses, on their own two feet. Believe it or not, we actually managed to beat the horses, twice even. The first was in 2004, when Huw Lobb, a British marathon runner, came first, and the second was in 2007. There (kind of) was a third human success in 2009, when runner Martin Cox claimed victory, but judges decided to give the title to a horse named “Duke’s Touch of Fun”, after discontinuing the time in which the mare was checked by a vet, during the race. Cox threw away the trophy and vowed never to race again.

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Zoopolis 500 – Probably the World’s Slowest Race

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While the Indianapolis 500 is the undisputed main event in America’s Circle City, it’s probably not as fun as the Zoopolis 500, a turtle race preceding the big motor race.

Kids and their families look forward to the Zoopolis 500 race, every year, because even though it lacks the speed of the Indianapolis 500, racers give it their all to put on a good show. Yesterday, the Indianapolis Zoo hosted the 30th annual Zoopolis 500, featuring five radiated turtles competing for the best prize they could wish for – a big plate of delicious fruit. Competitors were named after IndyCar drivers Dan Wheldon, Simona De Silvestro, Alex Tagliani, Ed Carpenter and Scott Dixon.

The race flag went down at 11.30, and as you can imagine, the turtles were off to a pretty slow start, ignoring the excitement and cheering that went on around them. They even went the wrong way a few times, but managed to get back on track with the help of zoo keepers. IndyCar legend Tony Kanaan, who acted as Grand Marshall for the event, tried to give Simona an edge by placing some fruit in front of her, but the tortoise just stopped for a bite.

In the end, it was Dan who crossed the finish line first and got to feast on the fruit, and many said it was an omen that Dan Wheldon will win this year’s Indianapolis 500.

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Germany Hosts Big Nose World Championship

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Ever since 1961, the German town of Langenbruck has hosted the Big Nose World Championship, a competition where “nosy” people from around the world compete for the title of world’s biggest nose.

The history of this wacky contest dates back 40 years, when a group of hops growers and the town minister sat down at the Lagenbruck pub and started making fun of each other’s big noses. “We could actually create a big nose club and you with your nose, could make the board” one of them said, while another replied “If I should be on the board then you would have to be nose king!” It was all in the spirit of fun, but Max Reichart and Wilhelm Höfler actually began thinking about establishing an “Association of Big Noses”, and a few weeks later they had actually done.

Everyone could join, as long as their nose was at least 60-mm-long or 40-mm-wide, and it numbered 40 members in the first hour since sits official inauguration. The Big Nose Club currently has 330 registered members and uses a modern nose gauge to measure the nose size of contestants during the Big Nose World Championship, held every five years. The judges measure the length and width of the noses, and contestants are allowed to frown or make faces in order to enlarge their noses, but they aren’t allowed to use any illegal substances.

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Germany Holds Quirky Deer Calling Championship

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Nine of the best deer call imitators in Germany gathered in the city of Dortmund for the 13th edition of the traditional Deer Calling Championship.

Using specially designed instruments, ox horns, snail shells and even glass lamps, competitors tried their best to imitate the mating call of a red deer as naturally as possible, for a chance to advance to the European Deer Calling Championship, in Slovenia. “It’s important to imitate the deer call as closely as possible, taking into account the fact that a mating deer gives away a different call than an old deer” Konrad Esterl, one of the jury members, said.

For the first time in the history of the championship, a woman tried to best imitate the mating calls of a deer. She did not win, but said “it was a joy” that brought her a bit closer to nature. Which is exactly what this competition is all about – although it is mostly regarded in relation with deer hunting, the mating call itself is considered a nature spectacle that allows some people to get within just a few meters of a deer without the intention of killing it.

This year, the title went to Andreas Toepfer, who used a series of instruments to imitate a deer and impress the judges.

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Japan Holds National Hole Digging Competition

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Japanese are known across the globe for their quirky contests, and the All-National Hole-Digging Contest is right up there with the wackiest.

This yearly event takes place at the beginning of February, at the Narita Dream Dairy Farm, just east of Tokyo. This year, over a thousand people from all over Japan showed up for a chance to win the coveted Golden Shovel award. There are a lot of families and groups of friends, but the most numerous are those who are ‘professionals’, who dig for a living, such as gas company workers or those who deal with the water supply.” says a public relation official of the offbeat competition.

Participants grouped in around 200 teams had 30 minutes to dig as deep as possible, without throwing dirt in their competitors’ holes. But while depth is important in such an event, contenders are also judged on the creativity of their hole, and the originality of their digging suites. So while some tried to dig as fast as they could, others preferred a different approach. For example, one of the teams used the dirt they dug up to build a small pyramid next to the hole.

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The Bikini Track Sprint – A Horse Race for Women

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An Australian horse race arena has caused great controversy when it announced it will be hosting an annual horse  race for women dressed only in bikinis.

When they came up with the idea of a women’s horse race, the guys at The Gold Coast Turf Club in Queensland, Australia probably thought something like “if guys come to the race track to see horses run, just imagine how many of them will come to see beautiful women dressed in skimpy bikinis  do the exact same thing.” The Bikini Track Sprint is scheduled to take place on December 4, with over 150 girls racing for the prize of 5,000 Australian dollars.

Believe it or not, in a poll conducted by a local tourism website, just 27% percent of voter said they find his kind of event degrading for women, while the other 73% were perfectly alright with it. Even the members of Women in Racing, a Gold-Coast group that promotes racing, said they can think of better ways of marketing races, but they’ll back anything that has something to do with racing.

The chairman of The Gold Coast Turf Club agrees there will be a few raised eyebrows at the event, but that the club will do everything in its power to attract really competitive girls and give the audience a real race.

The Bikini Track Sprint isn’t really an original idea. The American horse track Hollywood Park, in California has been organizing similar events for quite some time, and their success probably inspired the Australian race track to come up with their very own horse race for beautiful women in bikinis.

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Pumpkin Lovers Compete in Giant Pumpkin Boat Race

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The Pumpkin Boat Race of Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival has people racing each other in hollowed out pumpkins, across Ludwigsburg Lake.

Known as the biggest pumpkin related event in the world, the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival draws in pumpkin enthusiasts from all around the globe, every year. They travel to the small German town to see over 500,000 pumpkins, from 450 different varieties, arranged in all kinds of different shapes, from animals to abstract sculptures.

One of the most eagerly awaited events of the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival is the pumpkin boat race. Giant pumpkins, some of them over 90 kg heavy, are hollowed out and launched onto Ludwigsburg Lake, and contestants have to paddle their way to the finish line, in the cheers of onlookers. I’m not sure what the prize is for winning such a bizarre boat race, but I could swear it’s something related to pumpkins.

If you’re a pumpkin lover yourself, you’ll be happy to know the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival continues until early November.

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