The map: You deserve a medal

Wife-carrying, gut-barging, melon-seed spitting: 10 world championships you won't see in the sports pages. Illustration by Nigel Robinson

Canada bathtub racing Only 47 "tubbers" out of 200 completed the inaugural 36-mile bathtub race around the islands of Departure Bay, Nanaimo, British Columbia, in 1967. The Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Society now lays down strict competition and design rules for this annual summer event, and any vessel not immediately recognisable as an old-style roll-edged bathtub will be disqualified. If you are in any doubt, you can always attend the "How to Build a Bathtub" seminar held in April.

Finland mosquito-killing Every year in the town of

Pelkosenniemi, up to 40 brave

contestants attempt to purge the swarms

of mosquitoes that plague the area by swatting as many as possible in five minutes using only their hands. Competitors bare their chests, arms

and legs to lure the prey, but are hampered by the

body heat of the spectators which also draws the

mosquitoes. The youngest ever winner was Harri Pellonpaa aged 17 with a record 21 swats in 1995.

Finland wife-carrying Not to be outdone by the mosquito-swatters, the town of Sonkajarvi invites contestants to carry wives across a 253.5 metre track of sand, grass and asphalt, and a water obstacle. This all dates back to when stealing women from neighbouring villages was still common practice. The wife today need not be your own, but she must wear a crash helmet in case you drop her (which incurs a 15-second time penalty). The prize is a loaf of rye bread, a statuette and the woman's weight in beer.

France melon-seed spitting Every August in Le Frechou in Gascony around 50 competitors line up for this traditional country contest. Entrants chew the seeds to get them to just the right consistency before each of their allotted three spits. Serious contenders, such as world-record-holder Bernard Ricard, use the "frisbee technique" to make the seed glide distances of over 30ft. A campaign to have melon-seed spitting included in the 2004 Olympics is currently being planned.

US hot-dog eating After 80 years' supremacy, Americans were dismayed in 1996 when 5ft 6in Hirofumi Nakajima of Japan beat reigning native champion 6ft 7in Ed Krachie. Nakajima has now successfully defended his title two years in a row, setting a new record of 241/2 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes. The contest has been held at Nathan's restaurant on Coney Island since 1916 on every Fourth of July - except 1971 when it was cancelled as a protest against civil unrest and free love.

US cow-pat throwing This old redneck contest is held every April in the town of Beaver, Oklahoma, as part of the Cimarron Territory Celebration Festival. Known locally as "chips", the cow pats must be non-spherical and 100 per cent organic to comply with the rules. Competitors have recorded some impressive distances - the world record currently stands at 266ft. Sadly, however, it appears that the world hog-calling championships, a feature of the Festival for over a decade, has howled its last.

Spain calcot-eating For anyone who has never been to the Catalonia region, a calcot is a type of spring onion which was discovered by a peasant in the 14th century. Anyone over the age of 18 can enter this competition, staged during the annual Calcotada Festival in Valls. Contestants have 45 minutes to eat as many Calcots dipped in sauce as they can. Each calcot has to be completely eaten or it will not count. In 1996, three-time winner Josep Garcia Milan ate a record 275.

Australia dwarf-throwing In defiance of political correctness, and its many critics, this century-old sport still survives. But the championship has apparently cleaned up its act since the early days when drunkenness was rife among both contestants and fans, and under rules laid down by the World Dwarf Throwing Authority, nobody may be thrown without prior written consent, although this has not stopped protestors in recent years threatening to blow up the contest venue in Sydney.

England gut-barging A kind of sumo-wrestling for beer-bellies, gut-bargers must dislodge opponents

from a small mat using only their stomachs. Driven underground in the last century, this

ancient British sport has enjoyed a recent

resurgence, with last year's finals staged in the

Royal Albert Hall. In an attempt to make "The

Brawl in the Hall" appear more international, Brit

Gary Biggs entered for France as The Trifle Tower and another entered for Germany as Sour Kraut.

Wales bog-snorkelling Entrants must complete two lengths of a 60-yard trench cut through the Waen Rhydd peat bog in Llanwrtyd Wells, wearing snorkel and flippers, but without using conventional swimming strokes. There is a small entry fee, but this includes "hosing down". Now in its 14th year, the championship is a truly international event, although the previous record of two minutes 11 seconds set by an Australian was slashed to one minute 53 seconds in 1998 by local Craig Napper.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Recruitment Genius: Head of Content and PR

    £35000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Mid / Senior

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing digital agenc...

    Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Partnerships Manager

    £50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a newly-created partne...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor