Anna Luebke - Jun 28, 2010

Nettle eating, gravy wrestling or even lying – all these activities may be taken very seriously. Just travel to the UK and get ready for a number of silly world championships. James Bamber and Sally Raynes collected the UK’s 50 most bizarre sporting events and competitions in their book ‘Wacky Nation’. Check their Top 10 of the oddest events published by Times Online and now brought to you by


Location: Bridge Inn, Santon Village, Cumbria

Are you good at lying? Maybe you should think of participating in this special contest then! The championship of liars takes place in Santon Bridge, and to win the first prize (£100,000 and a lifetime supply of beer) you have to be the best liar. You have 2-5 minutes to convince a panel of judges that your lie is the most credible one. Lawyers and politicians are banned from the competition though. If you think of applying don’t forget that the topic should be of local interest. Tales of a flatulent sheep, giant cod and mermaid farms are the most favorite topics, so try to be original!


Location: Market Hall, Egremont, Cumbria

To be successful in this competition you must have a wide repertoire of grotesque grins to show the panel of judges and hope you will be the best! Those who are naturally ugly have better chance of course because they can easily turn their face from the mundane to monstrous which is a great advantage. Grunting and performing ape like postures score extra points by the way. One former champion even removed some of his teeth to guarantee the victory. The championship is not only for adults though so even children can show the audience how ugly and grotesque they can be!


Location: Hastings, Sussex

Since the first prize is £1,000 you must take this wacky event very seriously. Semi-professionals and no hopers all mingle over a hectic weekend playing three rounds of crazy golf and mini golf. The latter includes a teasing range of holes, which might look harmless at first, but when you look at the bumps and grooves more closely, you soon realize that this competition will not be as easy as you thought. The player has a maximum of seven shots a hole. After the six rounds the top 18 players play a final round of croquet style crazy golf to determine the overall winner!


Location: Westleton, Suffolk

First thing you need to win this 60 year-old competition is to have strong arms and legs and dexterity. Armed with a six-foot oak stick your task is to prod the metal barrel down the village green and up again covering 50 meters. Ideally, the barrel should go straight down the hill, but you will soon realize that this is quite impossible since even one wrong touch rolls the barrel towards the spectators. The fair opens with a team race between two rival pubs. Then locals and outsiders compete in separate individual competitions.


Location: Middle of The Solent

A game of cricket is a serious thing. Never joke about cricket in England! Owing to a quirk of nature, this particular event can’t be described as dull though. In The Solent, which is a strait separating the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England, every year a sandbank appears and two local yacht clubs always take advantage of this to play the world’s quickest game of cricket. They sail to the venue at sunrise and the players do not waste time in setting up the wicket once the water reveals first grains of sand. The first opening balls are full of politeness and etiquette but the game inevitably ends in a comic farce or rugby. 30 minutes later the sea rolls back ending the game. Spectators on boats are welcome!


Location: Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, Wales

Mask, snorkel and flippers is the equipment you need to take part in this competition. The participants must take their way up and down a 60 yard bog. The bog lies in the middle of a field in Wales. Looking for a snag? No recognized swimming stroke permitted, so doggy paddle and belly flop crawl are the most favorite styles you can see here. The record is 1 minute and 35 seconds to overcome the distance. This is a time the majority of competitors is never able to manage. The bog is also the place of yet another crazy competition – the World Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling Championship.


Location: Bottle Inn, Marshwood, Dorset

Nettles? Don’t they sting? Of course they do. But after you have eaten more than thirty feet of them in an hour this is the least of your worries. Nettles are also a very efficient laxative. So, if you have eaten so much of them you can easily imagine the side effects. Each year about 50 competitors volunteer to participate. Many of them bravely begin but soon learn the harsh reality of nettle eating. Leaving your seat means an immediate disqualification. Thankfully for some! The record is 76 feet of nettles. The spectators can look forward not only to the grimaces of the participants but also live music, guest ales, and hog roast.


Location: Totnes, Devon

Running down a steep street chasing an orange – that is what it is all about! This competition takes place during the Elizabethan celebration in Totnes. The idea is to be first to cross the finishing line at the bottom of the town’s steep high street, still possessing your own orange. You can only kick or throw the orange and no holding is allowed.  Naturally, not many oranges reach the finishing line in one piece. Toddlers also have chance to participate but on a flatter part of the street.


Location: Willaston, near Crewe, Cheshire

Worms are leading quite a happy life for 364 days a year under a school field in Cheshire. But the 365th afternoon in June is a disaster for them! 144 teams of two spend 30 minutes trying to lure as many worms as possible! All this without digging or using water. Experienced worm hunters use a fork, rock the ground, while the partner chases after them. Newcomers look more ridiculous bashing the ground with mallets. Playing music also belongs to practices used quite often. However officials would frown upon people caught chopping their worms to win!


Location: Rose and Crown, Bacup, Lancashire

You need a paddling pool in a pub garden alongside a bowling green and the Gravy Wrestling Championship may start. Of course the aim is to wrestle your opponent into submission, but the judges often award points for humor and penalize competitors for force-feeding. The funniest thing is watching the competitors struggle to remain on their feet. It is definitely unforgettable feeling when you find your face down in the brown slop. You will never order extra gravy to your roast for lunch after taking part in this competition!

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