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.”



Disco Shopping in Amsterdam – Dutch Group Turns Supermarkets into Discos

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Shopping for groceries can be dreary, but a group of Dutch entrepreneurs is trying to change that. They’ve come up with a unique concept called ‘Disco Boodschappen’ (Disco Shopping) which basically involves throwing a disco dance party at an otherwise boring supermarket.

The organisers said they came up with the plan after they saw a tweet with a similar idea. “A friend of mine posted a tweet with a picture of a note from a supermarket where a student is proposing an hour of disco shopping,” said entrepreneur Joost Aarsten. “I thought, ‘Wow, we gotta do that!’”

So he got together with a few friends to formulate a simple event that would make shopping for food seem like a celebration. With a high quality sound system, a few decorations, and a DJ, they plan to convert the most mundane supermarkets into a hip place for a few hours.



Canadian Hot Springs Resort Holds Awesome Hair Freezing Contest

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Canada’s Yukon territory is well-known for its wide range of cultural and sporting events that attract tourists from all over the world. Perhaps the most bizarre of these events is the International Hair Freezing contest, held at Takhini Hot Springs every year, in February. As the name suggests, the contest has people enter the springs and just wait for the cold air to freeze their wet hair!

In order to win the $150 prize, all contestants need to do is sink their heads in the hot springs that are at 40 C, and then wait  for the freezing outside air to fix their crazy hairdos in place. At temperatures of under -30 C, hair can freeze in under 60 seconds, creating a stunning effect.



Buying Love at Bulgaria’s Roma Bridal Market

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The Romani people, who constitute one of Bulgaria’s largest ethnic minorities, have a unique marriage tradition – a ‘bride market’. Held four times a year on various religious holidays, the market is a chance for poor families in the community to arrange financially beneficial marriages for their children.

The families that gather in the city of Stara Zagora for the festival are part of a gypsy community of 18,000 Roma known as Kalaidzhi. They are traditionally coppersmiths, and among the most poverty-stricken people in the nation. The bride market is a chance for these families to get together, catch up on gossip, and arrange matches for their adolescent children. The event is a colorful one, with grannies dressed in traditional Kalaydzhii long skirts, and children running about and eating candyfloss.

The prospective brides are usually dressed provocatively in mini skirts, with gobs of mascara, flashy jewellery and towering heels. They dance alongside their male suitors on car hoods, which is quite rare in a community that generally does not allow youths to mingle with the opposite sex. In fact, the Kalaidzhi, who are devout Christians, take girls out of school at age 15 to keep them away from temptation.

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Beware the Shadows, Ninja Day Is Coming!

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If you happen to be in Japan this Sunday, chances are you’ll be seeing a lot more ninjas than usual. That’s because February 22nd is National Ninja Day in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Although not yet an official holiday, Ninja Day has been getting a lot of media attention in Japan, ever since the cities of Iga and Koka started organizing ninja-themed events to boost tourism. Both historical ninja strongholds, they feature a variety of themed attractions, like ninja villages and schools, but authorities go all out on Ninja Day, to really bring out the spirit of the skilled assassins that once thrived there.



Humane Bullfighting in Costa Rica – No one Can Hurt the Bull but the Bull Can Kill Anyone

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While the bullfights of Spain and Mexico generally don’t end well for the bull, Costa Ricans prefer to do things differently. Since cattle are revered as a source of income for thousands of farming families in the nation, they don’t consider it practical to kill bulls for sport. Although bullfights are a main event at Zapote – the annual Costa Rican bull festival – the bulls always leave the arena unscathed.

Corridas de toros (bullfights) are held all through the year in Costa Rica, but Zapote’s is considered to be the country’s grandest event. At the end of each year, cattle farmers from all over the nation haul their bulls and gather at the capital, for the much-awaited celebration. And instead of glorifying man’s power over the beast, the bullfights during Zapote celebrate bulls. The animals are never to be killed, only dodged.

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This College of Wizardry in Poland is as Close to Hogwarts as You’ll Ever Get

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The College of Wizardry, a recent event organised by Denmark’s Rollespils Fabrikken and Poland’s LARPing communities, gave Potterheads the opportunity to experience the world of Harry Potter by actually being a part of it. This, they claimed, was a whole lot more fulfilling and exciting than visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, in Orlando.

Through the event, they brought Potterheads from 11 different countries together to celebrate their love of the wizarding world. Close to 200 live-action role players (LARPers) participated in the first session of the fictional Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry – it was the largest and most intricate J.K. Rowling-themed LARP adventure in history. The LARPers played the role of teachers, students and other characters from Hogwarts.

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Rototiller Racing – A Rural Motorsport Like No Other

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Tilling a field is hard work, so it’s hard to believe that there are people who actually do it for sport. However, rototiller racing is actually a thing!  The world championship is held every year during the PurpleHull Pea festival in Emerson, Arkansas, where the world’s fastest garden tillers get together to compete for the highly coveted $500 prize.

“There is simply no other event like it,” the PurpleHull website declares. “Unique among motorsports, we like to say it is the highlight of the tiller racing season. ‘Course, to the best of our knowledge, our one-day event is the tiller racing season. Souped-up garden tillers from near and far come to compete in the world’s premier tiller racing event.”

The race begins with one competitor (a.k.a tiller pilot) per lane (200-feet-long), with the referees waiting at the finish line with their eyes on stopwatches. When the starter waves the flag, the racers are off, kicking up a huge cloud of dirt as they go. The fastest tiller is declared the winner.



This Artist Is Literally Looking for a Needle in a Haystack

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Italian performance artist Sven Sachsalber is basing his latest work on an age old figure of speech. He’s going spend two whole days looking for a needle in a haystack. Well, people have been talking about it for so long, I say it’s about time someone actually gave it a try!

For two days this week – Thursday and Friday – 27-year-old Sven will be combing a stack of hay in search of that elusive pre-inserted needle, at Palais de Tokyo, a contemporary art gallery in Paris.



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.



Man Trains for 14 Years to Set World Record for Most Consecutive Pinky Pull-Ups

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Indian weightlifting champion Maibam Itomba Meitei probably has the strongest pinky fingers in the world. The 26-year-old from Imphal city in the state of Manipur recently set the Guinness World Record for the most number of ‘pinky pull ups’ – he used his little fingers to pull his chin above the bar 16 consecutive times in 30 seconds.

Maibam broke the world record previously set by an American weight lifter, who was able to do only 16 pull ups in one minute. He completed the stunning feat quite comfortably during an event organised at the Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Academy. The audience, consisting of several local politicians, was left speechless by Maibam’s display of sheer strength.

A specially designed iron bar was used for the performance – it had two small hooks for Maibam to insert his two little fingers. Once he laced his pinkies through the hooks, he was able to lift his body (weighing 51 kilograms) up with tremendous ease, bringing his chin all the way over to the bar.



Theatrical Groups Serve Shakespeare with a Twist – The Stage is a Bar and All the Actors Are Drunk

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Alcohol-fueled productions of Shakespeare’s plays are the latest trend among theater circles in New York and other American cities. Several theatrical groups are experimenting with boozy versions of some of the brilliant playwright’s greatest works – with amazing results! Audiences seem to love watching drunk actors bungling lines at their favorite bars and pubs.

The Drunk Shakespeare Society is one of the groups at the forefront of the movement. Founded by Scott Griffin in New York, the team of actors perform Shakespeare’s plays while drunk, weaving improv comedy into the text. They proudly describe themselves as a ‘company of professional drinkers with a serious Shakespeare problem’. They routinely perform at various bars across the city, and they’re currently putting on a limited engagement at Quinn’s Bar & Grill near Times Square. Anarchy rules at these performances, as they invite the audience to drink along with them.

Griffin believes that audiences are drawn to the spontaneity of the act – these are anything-can-happen performances that simply cannot be replicated. “You can see so many amazing things YouTube and digital entertainment. What’s the point of going out to see live performance?” he asked. “You have to do things people can’t get at home.”



Hundreds of Treasure Hunters Hit English Beach After Artist Claims to Have Buried Gold Bars in the Sand

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Late last month, German artist Michael Sailstorfer made a surprising announcement –  he said that he had buried 24-carat gold bars on the Outer Harbor beach in the town of Folkestone, in South East England, and that it was ‘finders-keepers’. In the wake of this unusual news, hundreds of people have been thronging the beach, hoping to uncover at least a small portion of the hidden fortune.

The eccentric artist said that the project was his contribution to the town’s art festival, The Folkestone Triennial, which began last Saturday. He named the installation ‘Folkestone Digs’, and described it as a unique project to get people involved in art. The event was funded by Bristol-based designers ‘Situations’.

As a part of the installation, Sailstorfer hid 30 gold bars of varying sizes – 10g and 20g – in the sands of Outer Harbor. It might not sound like much, but each bar could be worth hundreds of dollars, and people get to keep everything they find. Sailstorfer encouraged people to start their search a couple of days before the festival actually started. As expected, hundreds of diggers turned up at the beach with buckets and spades, hoping to strike gold.



Try Before You Die – Macabre Festival Lets Japanese Try Out Coffins and Funeral Makeup

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Trying out a coffin while you’re still alive can be a rather unnerving experience. But the Japanese seem to love it!  They even have a creepy ‘try-before-you-die’ festival where people can lay down in coffins, try out funeral garments and even get a morbid makeover.

Called ‘Shukatsu Festa’, the unique event has become very popular in recent years. In fact the whole ‘shukatsu’ trend, which translates as preparing for one’s end, has become really big in Japan. Apparently, people no longer think it’s bad luck to prepare for their death. Participants can choose their funeral outfit, put it on, slip into the flower-filled casket they like and have a picture taken. That way, they get to know exactly what they’ll look like on the day of their funeral. They can even have funeral make-up applied on their faces for a deathly pallor. They can also choose to be covered with white blankets have have the attendants softly close the lid.



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