Six obscure sporting events you didn’t know about

By Daniel Morgan, Editor

When you hear the word “sports,” events like baseball, golf, football, and even NASCAR come to mind. They’re the usual suspects found on ESPN because they are familiar. Well, there are plenty of additional “activities” that qualify as sports, and it’s very likely that you’ve never heard of them because they are just plain weird. We’re going far beyond makeshift playground activities as these six obscure sports have two things in common: randomness and an unexpected fan base.

Wife Carrying

Wife Carrying is based off of the 19th Century Finnish legend “Ronkainen the Robber,” who stole women from neighboring villages along with his band of thieves. It’s pretty straightforward: men try to run a course the fastest while carrying women on their backs. The woman’s legs sit on the man’s shoulders while she’s being carried upside down, and it turns out that partners don’t even need to be married. There’s a North American Wife Carrying Championship as well as the Wife Carrying World Championship, which just finished in Finland.

Man vs. Horse Marathon

Equestrian-related sports have a long worldwide history, but the Man vs. Horse Marathon was born in Wales in 1980. A pub owner was curious as to whether or not a human could out-run a horse, so he used it as a business lure. The rules are simple; horses and humans run a marathon that usually goes up and down a steep incline at 22 miles. Even though horses are significantly faster than humans, endurance is the deciding factor in this competition. 36 years later, and only two humans have beaten the fastest horse.

Bog Snorkeling

Nothing says fun competition more than freezing, mucky bog water. This one also originated in Wales after pub talk in 1976, and the first World Bog Snorkeling Championship was held in Waen Rhydd Peat bog in 1985. Basically, participants must complete two lengths of the thick 60-yard bog trench while wearing a mandatory snorkel and flippers. But here’s the kicker: you can’t use any swimming strokes. Kicking wildly is encouraged, and it’s even more fun when people dress up in crazy costumes.

Cheese Rolling

Dairy connoisseurs from around the world gather atop Cooper’s Hill in Gloucester, England to win an 8-pound wheel of cheese, but they have to catch it first. The announcer rolls the wheel of “Double Gloucester” down the steep and dangerous slope, and contestants hurl themselves down while tripping, falling and tumbling all over the place. The first person to reach the finish line wins the wheel. Thousands of spectators line the sides of the hill for the races, and the latest event was livestreamed on May 30.

Ferret Legging

Ferrets are somewhat weird and ferocious by nature, so why not see how long you can keep some in your pants? That’s the gist of ferret legging – men tie their pants at the ankles, insert two ferrets at the waist, and tightly secure with a belt so they can’t escape. Oh, and you’re not allowed to wear any kind of underwear or “protective gear.” Whoever lasts the longest in this dangerously weird event is the winner; the current record is five hours and 26 minutes. There’s also a women’s version of the sport aptly named “ferret busting,” in which ladies drop ferrets down their blouses.

Extreme Ironing

We’ve all tried our hands at ironing at some point, but have you ever tried it while, say, rock climbing or skydiving? According to the official Extreme Ironing Bureau, the sport “combines the thrill of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.” It was created by Phil Shaw in 1997 in Leicester (UK), and Germany hosted the first Extreme Ironing World Championship in 2002. “Ironists” can score a possible 120 points; 60 for the pressing quality, 40 for style and 20 for speed.

Next time you get bored, consider chasing a wheel of cheese down a nearby hill, or maybe grab an ironing board next time you go surfing. Better yet, use the ironing board as your surfboard; that counts extra for style points. Just leave the ferrets alone, though; that’s just too weird.

Photo credits: NBC News, Reuters and The Fact Site