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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World’s First Amphibious Ice-Cream Truck Sails the Thames

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HMS Flake 99, the world’s first floating ice-cream truck, was seen sailing the river Thames, yesterday, trying to attract attention to the decreasing number of land ice-cream trucks in the UK.

The mobile ice-cream business in England has definitely seen better days, as the number of ice-cream trucks has dropped from 20,000 to around 5,000, in the last 50 years. They have been banned in areas like housing estates, parks and outside schools due to concerns regarding childhood obesity and noise pollution, and the rising prices of ingredients and fuel don’t help much either. The bizarre HMS Flake 99 was created by Fredericks, the company who makes Cadbury’s ice-cream, hoping it will attract attention to the problem of ice-cream trucks in Britain.

The world’s first amphibious ice-cream truck has sailed past the British Parliament, in London, yesterday, and after a tour of Britain’s beaches, it will embark on a voyage across the English Channel and on to the canals of Venince, next year. It has a top speed of just five knots so you’ll have no problem catching up to it in pretty much any motorized boat, and asking for a refreshing treat, wherever you are.

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New York Hosts Rat Fashion Show

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I thought rats were the most hated creatures in New York City, but it seems now it’s become fashionable to actually have them as pets.

On Sunday, dozens of rat lovers gathered in Manhattan to attend the world’s first Fancy Rat Convention, where pet fashion designer Ada Nieves showed off her rodent clothing collection, featuring rat tuxedos, wedding dressed, bridesmaids gowns and other exclusive designs. Her creations come complete with crystals or feathers and sell for about $80 each. ‘The rats look very cute and seem to like wearing them. Rats are very popular these days and the owners love to dress them up,’ the pet fashionista said.

According to rat owners present at the Fancy Rat Convention, despite the negative stereotype people have about rats, these creatures have amazing personalities which make them much more suitable pets than cats, dogs or ferrets. They are very sociable, intelligent, loving, and can be trained to do all kinds of tricks, from dancing to fetching stuff.

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This Is What I Call a Smoking Car

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In celebration of the World Anti-Tobacco Day, campaigners in Mumbai, India, have created an impressive life-size car model from 200,000 cigarettes. The smokable installation was placed on display in a Mumbai shopping mall, where it attracted the attention of everyone who passed by. But it was the message in the background that really caught my eye; apparently an average smoker will make short work of the 200,000 cigarettes in just a few years…

India is currently the second largest producer and consumer of tobacco, after China. At least one fifth of India’s population (roughly 241 million people) consume tobacco in some form.

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Thai Temple Offers the Ultimate Chance at Rebirth

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Wat Prommanee, a Buddhist temple, 66 miles northeast of Bangkok, offers believers the chance to lay in a coffin for a few moments, then rise up and feel reborn…

I for one find coffins to be really creepy and I wouldn’t dream of lying down in one if someone paid me all the money in the world, but at Wat Prommanee people actually wait in line and pay a fee for a chance to do just that. It’s one of the strangest ceremonies in the world, but one that has been rising in popularity ever since the temple started practicing it, over six years ago. Nine colorful coffins dominate the main hall of Wat Prommanee Temple, and hundreds of people lie down in them every day, playing dead for about a minute and a half, listening to religious chants, and rise up at command feeling cleansed and relaxed.

Wat Prommanee basically offers a daily resurrection service that many Thais believe washes away bad luck and helps prolong their life. It makes sense that people wish for a second chance in life, especially when confronted with serious issues, but lying down in a decorated coffin hardly seems like a solution. I mean, what if it doesn’t change anything, right? Well, they just go back and do it again. The ceremony apparently relaxes them and gives them positive thoughts, so many people come back to Wat Prommanee Temple for the chance to be reborn several times over a few years. All they have to do is pay a small fee.

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French Artists Create World’s Largest Comic Strip

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On Saturday, May 28th, a team of 11 writers and 111 designers have created the world’s largest comic strip, stretching 1 kilometer along the banks of the Rhone River, in Lyon, France.

Work on the world’s largest comic strip began Friday night, when students from the Emile Cohl Drawing School, in Lyon, were tasked with drawing up the simple but interesting script of the comic on 1-meter-long sheets of paper. They were coordinated by their teachers, while another 50 students handled the logistics of the project. It all had to be done in 24 hours to count as a valid Guinness Record and everyone involved gave it their all. “Initially everybody thought the idea a little crazy, but we did it!” said Mathieu Diez, director of the Lyon Comic Festival.

The black and white comic didn’t contain any words, but the script and graphics were simple and eloquent enough that everyone who saw it understood the story. It tells the tale of a shaggy Tarzan-like character, with a passion for drawing, who discovers the ways humanity has invented to represent itself (painting, sketching, etc.). 1,000 meter-long sheets of paper, weighing 800 kilograms, and 250 markers were used to create the 1-km-long comic strip. It was installed on the banks of the Rhone River, and passers-by reactions were very positive: “It’s nice to walk while reading. We could go on like this ten kilometers!” a young woman said while her six-year-old daughter was busy checking out the artwork.

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Austria Hosts Motorized Toilet Bowl Race

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In an attempt to raise awareness to the seriousness of chronic inflammatory bowel disease, an Austrian association asked various celebrities to participate in a toilet bowl race, in Vienna.

Usually it’s always about the fastest way to the toilet, but yesterday, people were more concerned about being the fastest on the toilet. No, I’m not talking about a pooping contest, but a motorized toilet bowl race held in Michaelerplatz Square, Vienna. Musicians, cabaret artists, comedians and other sorts of celebrities agreed to participate in the wacky race in order to attract attention to chronic inflamatory bowel disease, a condition that affects around 80,000 Austrians.

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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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Dutch Students Create World’s Largest NES Controller

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Remember the 80′s? Man, those were the days, right? Actually I don’t remember, I was born in 1984, so pretty much everything before 1990 is a big blur. But one thing I do recall is how popular the original NES video-game console was back then. If you remember you’re first Super Mario playing days I’m sure you’re going to love the tribute a group of Dutch students prepared for Nintendo’s legendary machine.

Electrical Engineering students from TU Delft, in the Netherlands, have created an impressive replica of the NES controller, 30 times larger than the original. The overgrown Nintendo Entertainment System controller was assembled in the town square and attracted a lot of young Super Mario fans eager to test the  unique gadget, with their feet. Since the controller was 3.6 by 1.6 meters in size the only way to properly operate it was with your feet. So players just jumped on them and played Nintendo Classics like Tetris or Super Mario on a big six meter wide LED screen.

Unfortunately, the largest functioning NES controller hasn’t gained a spot in the Guinness Book of Records, because there was no official delegation on the scene.

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Don Gorske – The Mac Daddy of Big Macs

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57-year-old Don Gorske ate his first Big Mac 39 years ago, to celebrate buying a new car. He was hooked and on that same day he went back and ate eight more before the McDonalds restaurant closed. On May 17 2011, he ate his 25,000th Big Mac.

The retired prison guard planned to eat his 25,000 Big Mac in the same restaurant, in the same day and at the xact same hour he ate his first heart-stopping burger. The McDonald’s in his home town of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, celebrated the event by organizing a ceremony for their most loyal customer, and posted a sign beneath the logo’s golden arches that said “Congrats Don Gorske 25000 Big Macs.” Before biting into the burger, he said “It’s been seven years since 20,000. Same thing goes this year folks. You can’t have the carton and it probably still takes 16 bites for me to finish a Big Mac.”

Gorske fell in love with the Big Mac in 1972, when he walked into the local McDonald’s and bought three burgers to celebrate buying a car. He loved them so much that he came back to the restaurant twice that day, and ate a total of nine before it closed down. “I plan on eating Big Macs until I die,” he said. “I have no intentions of changing. It’s still my favorite food. Nothing has changed in 39 years. I look forward to it every day.” Throughout the nearly four decades since he started eating Big Macs, he’s only gone eight days without his favorite meal. One of the reasons he skipped a day was to grant his mother a dying wish, and the last day without a Big Mac was on Thanksgiving 2000, when he forgot to stock up and McDonald’s was closed for the holiday.

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New York Hosts First Pillow Fight World Cup

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Most people think of pillow fighting as a fun childhood game or some scantly clad women putting on a show, but for the women participating in the Pillow Fight World Cup it’s a real sporting competition.

Eight women armed with fluffy pillows and dressed like athletes could be seen stepping into the ring during this first edition of the Pillow Fight World Cup, which took place on May 17, at The Warsaw Polish National Home, in Brooklyn, NY. Competitors were all girls and came from countries like Austria, Japan, Sweden and of course, the USA. “It’s less brutal than boxing, but you still need technique,” said Maylin Kretzschmar, 26, one of the three Austrians engaged in the tournament. “It’s a fun sport. I don’t want to punch someone in the face, but you can still get rid of your aggression.” The Austrians were the most experienced competitors seeing they have a pillow fighting league back home, and train constantly.

The man behind the Pillow Fight World Cup is Andrew Thompson, creator of Punk Rock Pillow Fight, a sporadic event where pillow-fighting men and women wack each other senseless with pillows. He was approached by the Austrians about a serious all-girl World Cup tournament, and he was happy to organize it. Everyone involved sees this event as an opportunity to raise the profile of a so-called sport most people probably haven’t played since childhood.

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Canada Makes World’s Largest Ice-Cream Cake

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Yesterday, Canadian company Dairy Queen has set a new world record by making the world’s largest ice-cream cake in Yonge and Dundas Square, Toronto.

It took 100 people over a year to plan the event, but after 30 years and 52 million ice-cream cakes sold, this was the perfect way to celebrate, according to Denise Hutton, vice-president of marketing at Dairy Queen Canada. Dozens of chefs worked around the clock using over 9,000 kg of ice-cream, 91 kg of sponge cake, around 136 kg of icing and Oreo crumbles, to beat the former world record, a nearly 8,000 kg ice-cream cake made by China, in 2006.

After the cake was completed and acknowledged by the Guinness Book of Records, pieces of it were served to the crowd gathered in Yonge and Dundas Square, with 100% of suggested donations going to Children’s Miracle Network. “When else can eating ice cream cake help to fund medical care, research and educational programs so that Canadian kids have access to world-class care? It’s the best of all worlds – a delicious treat and a great cause.” said the charity’s Paul Lethbridge.

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Modern Tower of Babel Made of Books Appears in Buenos Aires

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Popular Argentine artist Marta Minujin has created a 25-meter-high spiraling Tower of Babel made from 30,000 books written in various languages.

This modern version of the Tower of Babel was designed in celebration of Buenos Aires’ designation as World Book Capital 2011, by UNESCO, and local authorities say it represents the ideas of pluralism and diversity which also characterize the Argentine capital city. This isn’t Minujin’s first experience with book installations; in 1983, when democracy was restored in Argentina, she built a replica of the Parthenon from books banned by the former military dictatorship.

The tower consists of a spiraling metal frame and around 30,000 books written in most of the world’s languages and dialects. You can find all kinds of books, from dictionaries and encyclopedias to software manuals and classic novels, arranged on six levels. The bottom level features a collection of books from around the world, the first and second levels are for American books, the third and fourth are reserved for Europe, the fifth for Africa and the sixth for Asia. 16,000 of the books were donated by 52 embassies in Buenos Aires, while the rest were provided by Argentine readers.

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Indoor Swimming Pool Hosts Underwater Opera Show

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Aquaria Palaoa is a different kind of opera performance, where the protagonists sing in, out and under the water of a swimming pool, in Berlin, Germany.

Claudia Herr, a former swimming champion before turning to a music career, is the mastermind behind the unique Aquaria Palaoa project. In an interview with news agency AFP, Herr said she first got the idea for hosting an opera show at an indoor swimming pool the first time she visited the art nouveau Stadtbad Neukölln pool, in Berlin, 10 years ago. The large hall, complete with neo-classical pillars made her feel like she was at the opera.

Playing the lead role in Aquaria Palaoa, the former swimmer turned opera performer dives into the pool in a green evening dress, telling the story of a woman looking for the elixir of eternal youth. She sings both above and under the clear water of Stadtbad Neukölln, with the help of oxygen tanks. Special microphones transmit underwater sounds to speakers set up around the hall. Claudia’s voice, and those of other singers also singing underwater (but without oxygen tanks) are mixed with sounds recorded 100 meters under an ice shelf, in Antarctica. Meanwhile, the orchestra stays dry and accompanies them from the side of the pool.

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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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