X

Toughest race in the world

That’s what the organizers say anyway.

Welcome to the world of lunatics and masochists – that’s what it says when you visit the “About” page on the official site of Le Marathon des Sables. And I don’t think they’re just saying that, I think they mean it. After all we are talking about 243 km of desert over a period of 6 days. That’s 5 and a half normal marathons of running through the sand, with a backpack on, in a temperature of over 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

You have to prepare your own food, so be careful what you bring with you as well as set up a tent to camp out over night in the unwelcoming Sahara desert. Food is rationed and handed out at specific checkpoints, so you have to reach them in order to get some water. Equipment is apparently very important as the rough terrain can do irreparable damage to your feet ( you’ll be running on uneven, rocky, stony ground as well as sand dunes).

Now comes the crazy part, if you’re crazy enough to register for Le Marathon, you’ll need to come up with $5000 to pay the entrance fee, not to mention all the money you have to spend on equipment, traveling and training. They should’ve said most expensive race too!

Read More »

Giant sandstorm in Iraq

Yeah these photos may date back to 2005, but a giant wall of sand moving at 60mph never gets old!

These amazing photos were taken by a civilian contractor who was supporting US troops in Iraq. he might be an amateur photographer but he did a pretty good job with these pictures, I must say. I wonder what was going on in the minds of the people in that camp, seeing something like that coming towards you at an incredible speed messes up your thinking completely.

I’ve never seen a sandstorm like this, maybe just in movies like The Mummy, but that doesn’t count, it was computer generated. Mother nature sure has some powerful weapons at her disposal…

Swamp Soccer

If you’re not one of those people who thinks soccer is for pussies, you’re going to love this.

Believe it or not, this sport really exists, there are even organized championships in European countries like Finland and the United Kingdom. It originates from Finland, where it was first played by cross-country skiers who were training in swamps in the summer time. Now annual tournaments take place in Finland, Sweden, Iceland and the UK. There are three types of teams in swamp soccer, man teams, women teams and mixed teams and all consist of 6 players.

Although you have to get down and dirty, I have a feeling this sport is extremely fun to play and there aren’t many teams that play it for the competition’s sake. That trophy would look pretty sweet in my personal collection though…

Read More »

Not your usual children’s camp

Welcome to Stavropol children’s military camp, where Russian kids lose…no not their virginity you pervert, their childhood!

As the title suggests, this is not your typical summer camp, where people play games, have fun and learn cool stuff, this is the army baby, the Russian army. About 40 children, between 12 and 17 years old go through a rough training here and learn the basics martial arts and weaponry. Just like the Ansan civilian camp in South Korea, Stavropol run by former Russian servicemen and I bet they’re pretty tough.

I may seem soft but I wouldn’t send my kid there no matter what he did, I really think places like these rob kids of their childhood much too soon…

Read More »

Argungu fishing festival

Argungu is am important Nigerian cultural event, to which thousands of fishermen take part.

Argungu takes place in the North-Western Nigerian state of Kebbi, where an army of fishermen gather with one goal in mind, to catch the largest fish. So at the sound of a gun they all plunge into the muddy waters of the Matan Fada stream, in teams of two, one armed with two calabash (used for flotation and fish storage) and the other with two giant fish nets.

The Matan Fada may not be very impressive but it’s full of fish, because people come here to fish only once a year. After the one our time limit is over, the team who caught the largest fish is escorted by the sultans’s guards to present their prize to him. The winners receive a brand new bus as a prize as well as one million Naira (around $7500).

Nigeria hopes the Argungu fishing festival will soon become an important tourist attraction.

Read More »

The Festival of Colors

Now you can see what human rainbows look like.

Holi or Phagwa is a Hindu spring festival that takes place every year in India and Nepal. On the first day of celebrations, bonfires are lit, signifying the burning of the demoness Holika. On the second day, the real Festival of Colors begins; spring and the change of weather are believed to bring illnesses like fever, flews and colds, so people throw colored powders, with medicinal significance, to chase away these illnesses. The powder can now be bought from marketplaces, but there are still those who make it in the comfort of their own homes, using various plants and flowers that give it a mesmerizing fragrance.

The Festival of Colors usually takes place at the end of February or the beginning of March, depending on when the full moon occurs.

Read More »

Dramatic weight loss

This girl wanted to be a ballerina a little too much.

This girl’s case should be proof enough that nothing is more important than a person’s health. She wanted to be a ballerina but she was to heavy for the job, so she decided to starve herself to death in order to fulfill her dream. Unfortunately she went “a little” to far as she managed to go from 72 kg to 32 kg in just one year. She now has several medical conditions and her body can’t yet process firm food. It’s not yet certain if she’ll ever be a normal person again.

Aurora Borealis

Aurora Borealis are natural colored light displays, which are usually observed in the night sky, particularly in the polar zone.

It often appears as a greenish glow (or sometimes a faint red), as if the sun were rising from an unusual direction. The aurora borealis is also called the northern polar lights, as it is only visible in the North sky from the Northern Hemisphere. The aurora borealis most often occurs from September to October and from March to April.

Auroras are produced by the collision of charged particles from Earth’s magnetosphere, mostly electrons but also protons and heavier particles, with atoms and molecules of Earth’s upper atmosphere. The collisions in the atmosphere electronically excite atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere. The excitation energy can be lost by light emission or collisions. Most aurorae are green and red emission from atomic oxygen. Molecular nitrogen and nitrogen ions produce some low level red and very high blue/violet aurorae.

Photo: Kristian Pikner/Wikimedia Commons

 

Photo: Sebastien Giguere/Wikimedia Commons

 

Tallest snowman ever

Come to think about it, snowman is not really the appropriate term, since it actually bears the name Olympia Snowe.

Olympia was “born” in the town of Bethel, Maine and at 122 feet and 1 inch in length managed to toppled the world record previously held by…Bethel, Maine. Her eyebrows are made of skies, her lips out of red-painted tires and she has 2 pine trees serving as arms.

Olympia Snowe, named after Maine’s senior senator, takes the title of world’s tallest snowman from Angus, King of the mountain, who brought the title to the US, from Japan, 9 years ago.

Read More »

Harbin Snow Sculpture Festival

I have to be honest and start by saying I’m a huge fan of winter and all that it implies, snow, ice, cold weather, the whole enchilada, so I guess I was a little subjective in picking this piece over others. But even you sun worshipers have to admit that these snow sculptures, especially the castles are simply amazing.

These were all sculpted in blocks of snow and ice, during the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, in China by the most talented sculptures in the world. The festival dates back to 1963 and is one of the four largest ice and snow festivals, along with along with Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival, Canada’s Quebec City Winter Carnival, and Norway’s Ski Festival.

harbin.jpg

Read More »

Japanese mud festival

Hundreds of Japanese grown-men wrestle each other in the mud water of Mimusubi shrine in Yotsukaido, a settlement near Tokyo. Every year on February 25 these men take part in this strange yet fun looking rite, believed to bring good harvest for the whole year and good health for babies.

Ivrea Orange Battle Carnival

Ivrea is a small town, about 40 minutes north of Turin, Italy. It isn’t a very animated settlement, but once a year, during the Orange Battle Carnival, Ivrea comes to life. the battle is an allegoric representation of the medieval insurrection of 1194, against the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick of Swabia. Masked, armored men throw oranges at the crowd who in turn throw them back at them, until the streets are covered by a carpet of squashed oranges that is sometimes even 30 cm thick…

As much fun as I’m sure this carnival is I have to wonder if those oranges, like the bananas in the banana wall, would have been more appreciated by some starving children in a third world country. But hey, that’s just me…

Read More »

Athens covered by snow

The cold wave that hit Greece these last few days really produced some incredible photos of places that use to bathe in the sunlight all year long. I never imagined I’d think of Greece and think snow dunes, icy streets and -15 degrees Celsius temperatures…no matter what anyone says, I blame this on global warming, it’s just not normal!

The Tough Guy race

Tough Guy is a traditional English challenge, in which the participants have to use every ounce of their energy just to get to the finish line. to give you an idea of how tough this event is, the promoters say that the US S.E.A.L.S. “GrinderAssault Course is the only thing that barely comes close in terms of difficulty.

Photo: A-punkt/Wikimedia Commons

 

Modern day Snow White

Sure she does not have ebony-black hair and she doesn’t have 7 dwarfs pampering her, but hey this is real life. The young lady in the photos is Nicola Roberts, member of the popular British pop group, Girls Aloud. Here she is with fellow band member Kimberley Walsh during their vacation in L.A. Somebody needs a tan!