The Most Bizarre Competitions Held Around The World
Competitions have been a means of survival and entertainment since, well, the beginning of time. Back in the prehistoric day, it might have been simple races, mock fights, and hunting competitions. Since then, however, it has grown into a bewildering array of competitions that range from scary to silly.
On the scary front, there’s a long race through one of the most dangerous jungles on earth. On the silly front, there’s a risky downhill race after a block of cheese. Sometimes the winners earn a sizable financial prize. Other times, all they win is a bit of glory and bragging rights. Although the prizes may vary, the bizarreness stays the same. Let’s take a look at some such competitions.
Finland’s Carry Your Partner Race
If you’re ever in Finland with $57 and a wife (or partner), consider entering the Wife Carrying World Championships. This odd race is meant to revive an old tradition – the tradition of giving people their own weight in gold if they perform certain good deeds.
In this case, the “good deed” is carrying your wife or partner (of 108.27 pounds or more) across a 250-yard course. To determine the prize, the partner who was carried is placed on a scale. Whatever their weight is, they get that in beer.
Brazil’s Jungle Marathon
This next race is a bit more intense than a 250-yard dash on a relatively clear track. Instead, it’s a 26.2-mile, 79-mile, or 158-mile competition through the wild terrain of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. The price is $3,140.
The race is an enormous test of endurance and courage. Alongside 100-degree days in some of the most unforgiving jungles on earth, it includes the possibility of being stalked by jaguars and panthers. Nowadays, however, they have armed guards to try and prevent that. The prize is a Finisher’s medal.
Finland’s Cell Phone Throwing Contest
Way back in the dark days before smartphones (aka the year 2000), Finland started a national phenomenon: throwing your cell phone. It wasn’t simply to let out some anger. Instead, it was to take part in a competition: the infamous Cell Phone Throwing World Championships.
It works a little like this: you bring your (hopefully old) cell phone to Savonlinna, Finland, take a spot in line and throw it as far as possible. Judges measure throwing technique and distance. The winner gets a new cell phone.
America’s Air Guitar Championship
Some people take years learning how to play an acoustic or electric guitar – others prefer the air guitar. If you’re in the second group, then the Air Guitar Championships is perfect. For an affordable $10, you can try out your air guitar skills in front of a live audience.
Those who rank highest on technical merit, stage presence, and “airness” get sent to Finland for the ultimate championship. The prize is a custom-made actual guitar – which is much better than the air version.
England’s Cheese Rolling Championship
If you’re hankering for cheese but don’t have the cash for a nice chunk of mozzarella, parmesan, or brie, then consider entering the Cheese Rolling Championship. It’s free to enter and it involves rolling cheese down a hill and chasing it.
It takes place every year at Cooper’s Hill outside Gloucester in the UK. Moments after the cheese is rolled, competitors rush down the hill in a 200-yard dash to the finish line. The winner gets some cheese.
England’s Gurning Championships
In 1267, the annual Egremont Crab Fair was established in England. It has continued ever since and includes the so-called “gurning” competition. Gurning involves distorting your face – bulging out your eyes, flaring out your nostrils, stretching out your mouth and more.
Some even add snarls, yaps, barks, and more to improve their odds of winning. Speaking of which, the prize is fairly modest, but the entry fee is non-existent – unless you count the cost of looking silly in front of hundreds of strangers.
England’s Nettle Eating Competition
Stinging nettles – as you might have guessed from the fact that “stinging” is in the name – are not pleasant to eat. The thin green plants have tons of prickly needles attached. Despite that unpleasantness, Marshwood holds an annual competition to see who could eat the most.
It began over 30 years ago and continues to this day. The nettles are provided by the competition organizers and the only drinks allowed are water and beer. In 2018, Philip Thorne won by eating nettles measuring 104 feet.
Russia’s World Slapping Championships
Most people are familiar with arm wrestling as a competition, but how many are familiar with slapping? Although it may sound strange, competitive slapping has taken off in Russia and, through the internet, gained fans all over the world.
Although the cost of entry is unknown, it does require the ability to tolerate a strong slap. Standing at opposite ends of a table without gloves or helmets, two competitors take turns slapping each other a total of 5 times. Whoever passes out or falls over loses. The winner gets $700.
Norway’s Death Diving Championships
It’s a fair guess to assume something’s going to hurt when it’s called a “death dive.” Despite that, hundreds of competitors line up for Norway’s annual “World Championship of Death Diving.” If you’re unfamiliar with the term, it involves landing in the water in a fetal position.
Prior to that painful landing, you’re free to do whatever – fake cannonballs, belly flops and more – so long as it’s off a 45-foot diving platform. The winner gets bragging rights, and the losers get red bellies.
China’s Bee Wearing Competition
For many (alright, most) people, bees are something to be avoided. Sure, their honey is delicious when sprinkled atop treats, but their stings are far from pleasurable. Despite that, contestants in Shaoyang, China brave the stings as they coat their body in bees.
Contestants wear shorts, goggles, and nose plugs before standing on a scale for one hour. At the end, the amount of bees attracted is weighed. In 2011, the winner had an astonishing 52 pounds of bees – hopefully, without too many stings.