Humans have a highly competitive nature. It’s just in our blood. Every year weirder and wilder sports are invented and new events get added to the Olympic games. But since there are so many people involved in the more common sports and games, competing in them at the highest level is extremely tough, making it next to impossible for the average Joe to be successful in any of the established sports.
So maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people keep coming up with ridiculously outrageous and sometimes just purely insane competitions to test our abilities. Though you might have heard of one or two of these, this list is a testament to how crazy the human race is when it comes to dreaming up fantastically bizarre competitions.
12. Worm Charming Championship
Sure, the ability to attract worms might sound like something that could be considered the worst superhero power of all time, but every year the Worm Charming Championship brings together hundreds of people of all ages to see whose powers are the strongest.
The competition lasts 30 minutes and contestants use whatever techniques they can think of, including poking the ground with pitchforks and playing the bongos, to raise as many worms as they can to surface of their designated section. The first Worm Charming Championship was held in 1980 but it’s since grown to become quite a celebrated sport in some parts. The current world record was set by a 10-year-old girl who managed to raise and incredible 567 worms in 2009.
11. Bee-Wearing Competition
As you might imagine, a challenge where you compete to see who can hold the most live bees on their body doesn’t attract too many contestants. In 2011, there were only two people who registered for the event that took place in Shaoyang City, China. Wearing nothing but shorts, goggles and nose plugs, 42-year-old Wang Dalin and 20-year-old Lc Kongjiang each stood on a scale and used a queen bee to attract as many regular bees on their bodies as possible in one hour. Within minutes, swarming bees pick up the scent of the queen and form a living full-body suit around the competitors. In the end, it was Dalin who managed to beat out Kongjiang by attracting 26 kilograms of bees to his body. But despite his courageous efforts, he wasn’t able to claim the bee-wearing world record which is currently set at 39.5 kilograms (approximately 350,000 bees) and is held by American Mark Biancaniello.
10. The Tunarama Festival
Held annually each January in Port Lincoln, Australia, the Tunarama Festival is a competition to determine just how far a person can chuck a frozen tuna. Amazingly, a full-fledged celebration is centered around the event, complete with a wide array of arts and cultural displays, other participation events, local market stalls, and some of the freshest seafood in the world. Fortunately for the dwindling tuna population, 2007 was the last year that real tunas were used in the competition. Since then people only throw artificially made fake tunas—which, oddly enough, might make the competition even more bizarre.
9. Chess Boxing
For anyone who’s ever been so frustrated by an opponent in chess that they wished they could leap across the board and beat the snot out of them, this just might be the ideal sport for you. Chess boxing is a hybrid fighting sport where opponents alternate between rounds spent playing chess and boxing. Though it was originally conceived by a Dutch artist who intended it to be piece of performance art, it quickly grew into a a full-fledged competitive sport complete with announcers, commentators, ring girls, and even an affiliation with major television sports networks like ESPN.
8. The Bubble Baba Challenge
In this bizarre sporting event dreamt up by Russian Dmitry Bulawinov, contestants paddle through the rapids of a Russian river using blow-up dolls as floatation devices. The event was first held in 2003, and by 2011 it was attracting close to 1000 competitors. Sadly, in 2012 it was banned by authorities due what they claim was public safety concern involving “dangerously high water levels.” However, organizers disputed the ban, claiming that it was merely an effort by the government to clamp down on mass gatherings.
According to Bulawinov, the idea of floating down the river in the embraces of a rubber woman was originally conceived as a joke at a party where the men got drunk. A very honest and unsurprising explanation.
You may think you’ve seen some people with crazy finger nails in your day, but you really haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen some Nailympia contestants. There are several different events that take place at the competition, but the one that really generates the most buzz is the fantasy nail category, where contestants are encouraged to be as imaginative and unusual as possible.
Participants have one hour to do their nails and put together the rest of their outfit to match their chosen theme. Many even build elaborate backdrops which they attach to their forearms to further emphasize their nails. In the past, there has been a huge variety of nail themes ranging from a World War I commemoration to an African safari that looks a whole lot closer to a diorama than a manicure.
6. The World Sauna Championships
Think you’ve got what it takes to be a world class schvitzer? Then you should book a trip to Heinola, Finland, where every summer competitors from various countries take part in an endurance contest to see who can sit the longest in a 230 degree sauna. Finland is home to over 1.7 million saunas so, needless to say, its citizens enjoy the heat a little more than in other parts of the world.
The competition lasts for two days, divided into five rounds for men and three rounds for women. Every 30 seconds a half-liter of water is added to sauna to keep the steam flowing and challengers must sit up straight with their thighs and buttocks on the seat. They cannot touch any surface with their hands and forearms have to be in an upright position and must stay on their knees. The person who sits longest and is able to walk out of the sauna under their own power is declared the winner.
Although a doctor’s note is required from all participants, one participant actually did die in the 2010 Championships, prompting organizers to discontinue the event.
5. The World Gurning Championship
Gurning contests are a long-standing tradition in rural England. The most notable competition by far is the World Gurning Championship held annually at the Ergemont Crab Fair, which dates back all the way to 1267 when King Henry III granted the fair a Royal Charter.
When it comes time to gurn (make an ugly face) contestants traditionally frame their faces through a horse collar—another tradition known as “gurning through a braffin.” The gurners who typically get the highest scores from judges are those with no teeth, as this permits them greater freedom of motion to contort their lips and jaws to make extremely wacky faces.
4. The Jungle Marathon
They call it the Jungle Marathon, and while it does indeed take place in the Amazon jungle, the word marathon doesn’t exactly do justice to this seven-day, 137-mile trek through some of the most hellish terrain Mother Nature has to offer.
Participants must face challenges like the infamous Jaguar Alley, a section of the race considered to be jaguar territory, where runners are advised not to stray too far away from each other and armed guards stand watch at night. Although there have yet to be any jaguar attacks, numerous competitors have spotted them and a few people have even reported being stalked by the stealthy feline hunters.
Although the people in charge of the race do a good job making sure things are relatively safe, the Jungle Marathon is still a hellish journey that requires runners to constantly be on guard if they want to avoid getting stung and bitten by venomous insects and reptiles. Hell, even the trees in the Amazon are poisonous and can cause numbness just from touching them. And of course there’s the unbearable heat and humidity which would probably be enough on it’s own to make your average jogger quit after the first mile. So, as you can imagine, the completion rates for the Jungle Marathon are pretty low. In 2012, only 11 contestants of the 60 who started were able to complete the race.
3. The Dakar Rally
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like Mad Max putting the pedal to the metal in a custom vehicle and tearing across an unforgiving desert landscape, then perhaps you should look into the Dakar Rally. The 3,000-mile race used to be between Paris and Dakar, but was moved to South America in 2009 due to the possible threat of terrorism.
Contestants are allowed to compete with pretty much any land vehicle of their choosing, including custom cars, trucks, motorcycles and quads. The off-road race lasts two weeks and although it’s open to anyone who has a sports license, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. Since its inception in 1978, the Dakar Rally has claimed more than 50 lives. People have died of dehydration, heat stroke, heart attacks, or a combination of all three, which is often the case if a contestant happens to get completely lost. Spectators aren’t exactly safe from harm either. At this year’s event 10 people were injured at the start of the race when an out-of-control car went careening into the stands. When even the people who are watching are getting sent to hospital, you know the competition is crazy.
2. Extreme Ironing
Part extreme sport, part performance art and part household chore, extreme ironing is an exciting and dangerous sport where willing participants demonstrate their ability to get rid of clothing creases in unusual and perilous environments. It was started in 1997 in Leicester, England, by Phil Shaw who, after coming home from a hard day’s work, decided he’d rather go rock climbing than complete his scheduled ironing. Whether it was a stroke of genius or just a regular stroke is unclear, but Shaw figured, what the heck? Why not just combine the two. A couple years later he embarked on an international tour to promote the activity and today extreme ironing enthusiasts from around the world are posting pictures online of them ironing their laundry on mountainsides, underwater, while skiing and even during free fall. And because it isn’t an official league, anyone can compete for top honors at any given time. You just need to combine the thrill of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.
1. The Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race
Most avid runners have tried their hand at running a half-marathon or full marathon, there are even ultra-marathons for people who really like to test their limits. But the Self-Transcendence Race is a super-ultra-mega-marathon that can only be described a torturous, mind-numbing, hamster wheel of a race.
Now, you might think that the world’s longest foot race would be across an epic course covering several countries, or at least a Forrest Gump-style coast-to-coast trek across America, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The 3,100 mile race is actually just a circuit around a single boring New York City block that contestants run around for what must feel like an eternity.
For the few dedicated runners that are crazy enough to take on the challenge, here’s what their life will consist of for the next seven weeks: get up at 6am, run for 18 hours on an unforgiving concrete surface while trying to fit in a couple of bland pre-made meals, sleep for a few hours, then get up and repeat that entire cycle for 51 more days. If you do the math, it basically works out to running two full marathons every day for almost two months straight. So unless the runners are willing to forgo their six-hour rest period, that means no TV, no video games, no socializing with friends, just relentless running around the same dull block day in and day out.
While some of the runners that take part in the race just like running, many of them are disciples of the Bengali Guru Sri Cinmoy and believe that part of spirituality is taking on seemingly impossible physical challenges. Regardless of their motivation, you’ve got to admire the sheer willpower and determination of anyone who can actually complete it.