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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


The Frog Jumping Festival of Valley City

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Ever since 1962, the small town of Valley City, Ohio has hosted one of the weirdest, most fun events in the world – the Frog Jumping Festival.

Over 2,000 fun-loving people take part in the Frog Jumping Festival of Ohio, every year, eager to watch the annual Frog Jump Contest, participate in a series of games, or simply spend some quality time with family and friends. Attending the festival is free, but those who want to enter the Frog Jump Contest have to pay a $3 fee.

The most important event in the Frog Jumping Festival is the Frog Jump Contest, where around 600 competitors, from toddlers to the elderly, try to get their frogs to jump as far as possible. No touching is permitted, though, the frog jockeys are only allowed to tap the ground behind their frogs, scream at them, or blow at them to make them jump. That doesn’t always work though, some frogs just don’t feel like jumping.

Competitors are allowed to bring their own frogs, or they can rent one for $5. Winners get trophies and bragging rights for the whole year. The 2010 Frog Jump Contest, held on August 15, was won by one year old Lindsey Jackson, who got her frog to jump a total distance of 14 feet.


Bee Beard Competition 2010 – A Truly Stinging Contest

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Bee beards have been around since the 1700s and up until a hundred years ago, honey vendors used them to attract customers, but now these organic disguises have their very own competition. Ever year, the world’s bravest apiarists gather in Aylmer, Ontario for the Clovermead Bees & Honey, Bee Beard Competition.

It’s not exactly the kind of contest people are dying to get into, for obvious reasons, but there are those who enjoy having tens of thousands of honey bees around their necks, or even covering their faces. The object of the Bee Beard Competition is to get as many bees on your body as possible. Contenders are weighed before and after they are covered in bees, and the heaviest one wins.



Italy Hosts Miss Chubby Beauty Contest

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31 overweight beauties of Italy competed for the title of “Miss Cicciona“, which translates as Miss Chubby, in the yearly contest of Forcoli.

The only entry condition for Miss Cicciona is related to the weight of the contestants. Women have to be at least 100 kilograms heavy, in order to be admitted. The lucky ones then try to impress the judges by parading in glamorous gowns, or undergarments. The bravest of the women even try striptease routines to gain an edge. The winner doesn’t get a prize, just a boost in self esteem and a huge cake to share with her competitors.

Miss Cicciona was founded to show the beauty of overweight women. Most of them are mocked and humiliated every time they go out in public, and this is a welcome opportunity to actually be proud and feel good about how they look.

This year’s winner of Miss Cicciona was 33-year old Angela Scognamiglio, from Naples. The 170 kilogram heavy beauty said she “felt like she had just won the lottery”.


The Wacky Wooden Tub Race of Ito City

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Every year, since 1956, the Japanese city of Ito has hosted the wooden tub race on Matsukawa River, a fun event that draws competitors and spectators from all around the world.

According to the story, the Japanese women of Ito used wooden tubs and wash boards to clean their laundry at Matsukawa River. When these tools became obsolete, and were about to be replaced by modern washing machines, the people of Ito decided to hang on to their tradition, by starting a tub race along the river. The first wooden tub race was held in 1956, and it’s been organized yearly since then.

Hundreds of people gather on the banks of Matsukawa River, for one of the wackiest competitions in the world. Contestants have to steer the 1 meter in diameter, 30 cm deep, oval-shaped tubs along the 400-meter course, using oars or giant wooden spoons. It sound easy enough, but out-paddling the other contestants without falling out of the tub, is harder that you think.

Another cool fact about the tub race of Ito City is the contestants usually dress up in themed costumes, mostly as geishas and samurai



Leaf Eaters Compete in Nettle Eating Championships

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Around 1,500 people showed up at the Bottle Inn pub, in Marshwood, Dorset, to see 61 contestants compete in the 2010 edition of the annual Nettle Eating World Championships.

The history of this bizarre eating competition can be traced back to the mid 1980s, when local farmers started the ‘Longest Stinging Nettle’ competition, to see who could grow the longest stem of nettles. Things went along just fine, until 1989, when Alex Williams presented a 15ft 6inches-long nettle, and claimed that if anyone could find a stem longer than his, he would it, As luck would have it, an American actually found a 16ft-long nettle, and Mr. Williams kept his word. From there on in, the competition evolved into the competitive eating challenge we now know as the Nettle Eating World Championships.

On June 19th, competitors were each served two-feet-long stinging nettle stalks, from which they had to pluck and eat the leaves. After an hour of eating, the bare stalks were measured and contestants who ate the most nettles, named winners.

In the men’s competition, first time participant Sam Cunningham managed to eat a whopping 74ft of stinging nettles, and claimed the title of king of the 2010 Nettle Eating World Championships. In the women’s contest, Laura Revell managed to consume 40ft of nettle, and win the title of champion.

Photos by REUTERS/Chris Helgren via Daylife


Walking on Water at Dixon High School

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The “Walk on Water” challenge of Dixon High School has reached its 8th edition. Just like every year, since this event was started, students had to walk on water, without falling in.

Over 120 physics students, in 27 groups, tried to cross a 50-meter-long pool, in the 2 minute time limit, without getting wet. To complete this task, they were required to build mechanical gear that would keep them afloat and moving, at the same time. From giant hamster wheels, to floating skis, the students tried everything.

A few of them actually succeed in walking on water, and thus won the big prize: the chance to skip a final exam. Now that’s worth getting a little wet, over.

Photos by Renee C. Byer/


The Annual World Custard Pie Championship

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Inspired by a Charlie Chaplin comedy, the World Custard Pie Championship is held every year, since 1967, in the village of Coxheath, Britain.

Teams came from as far as Germany and South Africa to compete in one of the wackiest events on the face of the Earth. Working in teams of five, contestants had to throw pies as accurately as possible, and hit opponents in certain parts of their bodies, to gather as many points as possible. Hitting an adversary in the face, earns the maximum of six points. Judges will also grant an extra five points for original and amusing styles of pie throwing.

Twelve teams took part in the World Custard Pie Championship 2010, and the champions were the High Pressure Cleaning team, who disposed of last’s year’s winners, Coxheath, in the final match. The pies used don’t actually contain custard, but they are made using a secret recipe.

The World Custard Pie Championship began as a charity event, in 1967, and as the years went by, it became more and more popular. Now bankers, and other people working in stressful environments welcome the opportunity to just let go and pummel someone with pies.

Photos by DAVID ROSE via


World Poutine Eating Championship

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The Poutine Eating Championship is a yearly food-eating competition where the contestants have to eat as much poutine as possible, in just 10 minutes.

I bet you’re still stuck on poutine, right? Many people outside Canada have never even heard of this delicacy, but they just eat it up there in the north. Poutine consists of french fries, cheese curds and brown gravy. Some say it sounds disgusting, but I wouldn’t mind trying some.

Anyway, during the World Poutine Eating Championship 2010, contestants had to gobble up as much poutine as possible, in 10 minutes time. The winner, 24-year-old Pat Bertoletti, churned 13 lbs of the stuff, and won himself a $750 prize and a cool trophy. Asked what he was going to do with his prize, Pat said he will spend it in a bar.

REUTERS photos by Mark Blinch via Daylife


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