Most of us will never know the stomach churning effort it takes to hurtle down an Olympic Bobsled run at breakneck speeds. Well, fear not because there’s an even better way to risk life and limb in the form of this cult winter sport. Riding modified Chinese woks on the legendary run at Innsbruck is the stuff dreams are made of and the best bit is that anyone can enter and take part in the World Championships.
The thing is about team sports is that you’re usually up against a load of well drilled, talented individuals who despite protestations, take the whole thing far too seriously. Ice Cricket changes all of this and not only allows you and your team to play a sport in which few have any experience but also provides the real opportunity to become World Champions. The World Cup takes place on March 2nd and matches are held on frozen lakes or inside a disused missile factory.
This shouldn’t really require any explanation but for the uninitiated, it’s a game where you throw sticks into a river hoping that yours is the first one under the bridge and out the other side. Unlike wok racing which requires courage and Ice Cricket which demands a modicum of application, pooh sticks is very much the People’s sport. Complete no hopers in all other facets of life can stand an equal chance of winning the World Championships which takes place in Sussex, where the sport was born.
Rock Paper Scissors
Unlike pooh sticks this may look like child’s play but dismiss it as such at your peril. This is a centuries old game that has settled conflicts and arguments almost since time began. With its roots firmly embedded in Chinese culture it may come as a surprise that the Official World Championship is in London. Beware of ultra professional spoiling tactics and people over refreshed and unable to control their arms.
An event so British it ranks right up there with the Battle of Waterloo, Agincourt and Last Night of the Proms. Blissfully straightforward all you have to do is spend the weekend in the pub stringing conkers and bashing your way to victory. Bring your own conkers but they’re all handed in at the beginning and dished out randomly to competitors to avoid any unfair advantage that might be gained by baking/soaking/filling with Superglue.
Office Chair Racing
The first of our off shore events that’s held in a place called Germany every year. Our thoroughly practical and sensible Teutonic cousins show their lighter side with this bonkers event held in the town of Laichingen. All you have to do is rock up with your very own, preferably customised steed, and get racing. Racers are placed at the top of a plywood ramp and then launch themselves down a closed street to the rapture of the thronging masses, just like the Monaco Grand Prix.
Tucked away in the New Mexico resort of Angel Fire, this cult World Championship isn’t going to be accessible for the majority but if you can make the effort you’ll be rewarded with one of the most spectacular sporting events this planet has to offer. Riding a snow shovel at speeds of over 70mph down a ski run is not for the feint hearted but to have a shot at becoming the Shovel World Champion is something so sacred you’ll be dining out on it for the rest of your life.
Competitive snowball fighting in teams is an event that will make any well balanced adult male go weak at the knees. Yep, this is something so bonkers you’d think it was made up but, no, it’s a very competitive sport and one that sees teams from all over the world compete for the ultimate title in Norway each year. There’s no bar to entry so if you can muster a team of friends who like throwing snowballs and don’t mind the schlep to the middle of nowhere, you’re in with a chance of Gold.
A gritty Northern challenge if ever there was one and an event guaranteed to sort the men from the boys. A brutally straightforward race that involves men carrying a 50kg sack of coal on their back over a one mile course. The women have to undertake the same route but with a 20kg payload. This, however, is not just something to do in the middle of Easter Monday, it’s fiercely competitive and if you want to stand any chance of gaining the honours you’ll need to get training.
One of the best loved cult World Championships and always hotly contested. It simply involves carrying your wife, or similar around a set obstacle course in the fastest time possible. Your load must be at least 49kg and weighted rucksacks are given to those with an unfair payload advantage. Contestants are usually of the physically robust type and the record for the 235.5m course is a gut wrenching 55 seconds. Estonians built like outhouses tend to dominate.
Another World Championship that favours those of us not so blessed with athletic prowess. Basically the fatter you are, the less grace and style you have, the better the chance you have of walking away with the title. Bombing shouldn’t really need any explanation but if you haven’t experienced a fully formed British childhood, Bombing is the art of launching yourself into the water ball shape in an attempt to make as big a splash as possible. Complimentary meat pies are available for competitors
Golf is a serious business and anyone thinking that the Mini variety is any different is in for a bit of a shock. It takes place of an entire weekend in Hastings, East Sussex and whilst being an all round fun event you’re going to need pretty decent club skills to prosper. It’s not just the thrill of becoming World Champion you’ll be playing for either, there’s a cool cash prize for the winner too.
Another World Championship that favours the totally inept. Surfing is notoriously difficult to pick up and usually takes many years to master so if you haven’t the time or the inclination to get it sussed then why not go for the other end of the scale and just try to be as bad as you can at it? It’s actually a bit trickier than it sounds as there are legions of wannabe surfers who are so pathetically bad at the sport, you’ll have to be really going some to surpass their crapness.
This has quite depressingly been described as an English martial art. Asia is ten a penny with mind bendingly cunning and clever combat sports that can see you wither an opponent simply by wobbling your ears. In England we seem to have invented one where you hang on to another bloke and try to whack their shins as hard as you can. That being said it is a sport the welcomes all comers and you can protect your shins with a nice bit of straw.
Not to be confused with Crap Surfing, Belly Boarding is an altogether different discipline and one that plays straight into the hands of a nation that loves to lie down. You pretty much grab an old school board paddle out and ride the ripples back to shore in the prone position. It’s an altogether wholesome celebration of a gentle time gone by with cucumber sandwiches and pots of tea for refreshment but with a shot at a global accolade don’t be fooled by the niceness.
Most sane people wouldn’t have anything to do with other peoples’ feet even if their own lives depended on it but it’s amazing what a world title and some real ale can do. Originally devised in the Seventies as a sport that Britain might have a shot at Gold, dreams were shattered when Canada won the inaugural event. Held in Ashbourne Derbyshire, there are separate competitions for ladies and gents and a nice big cup.
Another one for Derbyshire and a great day out for humans and chickens alike. Anyone can head to the Barley Mow pub in Bonsall, Derbyshire, hire a hen and race for glory. The World Hen Racing Championships has been going for over 100 years so you’re buying into some legitimate sporting legacy here and one that the locals take pretty seriously. However, the main aim of the day is hen based fun and with optional camping you don’t have to cluck off home at the end of the day either.
Only a hard hearted cynic would deny the unbridled joy of thrashing your way around a room handling a nonexistent guitar and the fact that we live in a world daft enough to create a world championship around it is life affirming stuff indeed. It’s hosted in bonkers Finland and the competition allows each competitor two attempts where they’ll be judged on artistic merit and ‘airness’. A real hoot and a global chance of glory all rolled into one.
Normally the preserve of young boys and adolescent men trying to collect their thoughts after getting dumped, it’s a skill based pastime that’s now made it to the big time. Held every summer since 1983 on Easedale Island in Scotland, there are several different categories you can enter. Winners are judged by the total distance their skimming stone travels rather than the number of bounces and entry is a Eurozone Crisis friendly £4.