Sep 7, 2010

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Unusual sporting events around the World

Harry LawranceWe’ve done some investigating and pulled together a collection of some of the most unique and in some cases frankly bizarre sporting events from around the UK and the rest of the World. We start close to home, with an Autumnal traditional event…

The World Conker Championships, Oundle – 10th October 2010

This one's been soaked in vinegar and then baked

This one's been soaked in vinegar and then baked

If you fancy a unique day out in October and, like Peter ‘remember space hoppers?’ Kay, you’re partial to a bit of childhood nostalgia, then you should head in the direction of Oundle, not far from Peterborough, in East Northamptonshire. Each year on the second Sunday in October, the small market town plays host to the World Conker Championships. The championships have been running since 1965 and this year up to 256 men and 64 women from 20 different countries as far afield as Sri Lanka and New Zealand, will take up their horse chestnuts on laces and compete for the crowning glory of the conker world. Last years victors were both locals, as Tam Gorley from Peterborough took the men’s title and Sue Howes of Northampton was crowned the Women’s champion. If you want to visit this years event on Sunday 10th October, entry for spectators costs £4 for adults and £2 for children and senior citizens. Full information is available at

The Vertical Marathon, Singapore – 21st November 2010

Swissotel, The Stamford, Singapore. It's pretty tall.

Swissotel, The Stamford in Singapore. It's pretty tall.

As if running on flat ground wasn’t difficult enough, some people like to test themselves a little further by competing in the Vertical Marathon, at The Stamford hotel in Singapore. As the name suggests, this is an upwards running race as athletes compete to scale the 73 stories and 1’336 steps of Southeast Asia’s tallest hotel. The fastest time recorded last year was a lightning quick 6 minutes and 46 seconds, by Thomas Dold of Germany. If you think you’re pretty good at climbing stairs and fancy testing yourself against the best of the best, registration costs S$50 (approx. £24) and flights to Singapore can be secured in November for around £550 per person including all taxes.

Frisbee Freestyle international tournament, Bologna – 25-26th September 2010
At the end of September, San Lazzaro just outside Bologna in Northern Italy, pays host to the Lazzaroni 2010 Frisbee Freestyle International Tournament, one of a number of freestyle Frisbee events held throughout the year all over the globe. Freestyle Frisbee takes the humble flying disc to a new level, as pairs of competitors fuse gymnastics, dance moves, athletics and ridiculously accurate throwing and catching skills to perform the most successful routine. This sounds intriguing, but the best way to appreciate what freestyle Frisbee involves is by watching the video below! Routines are judged and scored on difficulty, artistic expression and execution. If you want to make the trip to Bologna to watch the tournament, flights from the UK will cost approximately £150 including all taxes.

Marathon des Sables, Sahara Desert, Morocco, 31st March – 11th April 2011
If you visit the website for the Marathon des Sables’ you will see it described as “the toughest footrace on Earth” and for “lunatics and masochists”. And you can see their point. The Marathon des Sables (MdS) is run annually in the Sahara Desert in Morocco and is a 151 mile race over the course of 6 days. Athletes carry all their own food and medical supplies in a rucksack in the near 50°C heat, and run over rocky terrain and sand dunes. Registration for the 2010 event is now full but if you’re foolhardy enough to want to compete in 2011, you can find registration details at their website

Nathan’s Hot Dog eating Contest, Coney Island, Ney York – 4th July 2011

A hot dog eating contestant compete's whilst maintaining his dignity.

A hot dog eating contestant compete's whilst maintaining his dignity.

If you ever find yourself in New York City on 4th July, you will no doubt be witness to a multitude of firework displays, parades, barbeques, fairs and carnivals – as the American people celebrate Independence Day. However, if you navigate your way down to Coney Island in southernmost Brooklyn, you can spend the day watching grown men and women consuming as many hot dogs (including the buns) as they possibly can in the space of 10 minutes. 2010’s event was attended by 40’000 spectators and watched live on television by over 1 and half million people and the record number of hot dogs consumed currently stands at an astonishing 68, held by current champion Joey Chestnut. If you want to witness this fascinating (and slightly repulsive) display of human gluttony, you can currently book a flight to New York in July for approximately £350 from the UK including all taxes. For more information visit the official website.

Wife Carrying Contest, Sonkajärvi, Finland – July 2011

Carrying the wife as if she were a backpack seems to be the accepted best technique in the Wife Carrying World Championships

Carrying the wife as if she were a backpack seems to be the accepted best technique in the Wife Carrying World Championships

First introduced in Sonkajärvi, Finland, Wife Carrying is a sport that needs only a little more explanation than can be garnered from its title – contestants carry their wives around a 250 metre obstacle course, negotiating two dry obstacles and a metre deep water obstacle, in a bid to finish in the fastest time. There are specific rules set out by the International Wife Carrying Competition Rules Committee which include a minimum weight limit of the wife (49 kilograms or 7.71 Stones) and a minimum age limit of the wife of 17 years. The World Championships take place in the birthplace of the sport in central Finland each year, where Finnish couple Taisto Miettinen and Kristiina Haapanen successfully defended their title in 2010. If you want to witness this bizarre display of nuptial bliss, a flight to the nearest airport at Kuopio in early July 2011 can currently be booked for approximately £200 and tickets to the championships will set you back €20 (£16.72) for adults and €5 (£4.18) for children under 12 years old.

Toe Wrestling World Championships, Ashbourne, Derbyshire – 11th June 2011
Each year in June, a small corner of rural Derbyshire is transformed into the centre of the World for the Toe Wrestling community, as the Bentley Brook Inn in Ashbourne holds the annual Toe Wrestling World Championships. To sum up toe wrestling in one sentence, “it’s arm wrestling for the feet”. At the adjudicators cry of, “toes away” each competitor must interlock big toes and try to force their opponents foot over to the side and to touch the floor. Each match is decided over three legs (no pun intended) – right big toe, left big toe and then right big toe again if a decider is required. 2011’s event will take place on Saturday 11th June and currently you can still register to compete if you think you’ve got the strongest phalanges around. Entry information is available here

Bossaball, Gent Belgium – 19th September 2010
Bossaball looks like the sort of game invented by an exuberant child on a bouncy castle. Essentially volleyball on trampolines, Bossaball is a high energy, beach game that is growing in popularity in France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands. Two teams of 3-5 compete on a specially designed court consisting of 2 trampolines surrounded by inflatable’s, positioned either side of a net. Just like volleyball the aim is to ground the ball on your opponents side of the net, however the trampolines and inflatable’s lend themselves perfectly to competitors performing a wide range of acrobatic and gymnastic manoeuvres to keep the ball in the air. Bossaball is another sport that needs to be watched to be fully appreciated so take a look at the video below. If you want to take in a live event, Head to Fratersplein in Gent, Belgium on the 19th September – flights can currently be snapped up for £155, or keep an eye out for more events on

So what do you think? Would you watch or take part in any of these events? Have we missed any great sporting events from around the world in this list? Leave a comment to the right and let us know!

Prices and dates quoted are correct at 6th September 2010 but are liable to change. All images used under the creative commons license from the following authors on

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