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Crazy Competitions from Around the World

Getting ready for the tube-a-thon.
Getting ready for the tube-a-thon.

Extreme sports competitions have become increasingly popular over the last 20 years. There's a 135-mile foot race through Death Valley, mud runs that shock you with 10,000 volts of electricity and triathlons that take 20 hours to complete.

I'm all for challenging sports, but what about having a little fun? So I went on a search for extreme competitions that didn't take themselves too seriously.

One of the oldest is the sport of Wife Carrying. The first world championships were held in Sonkajärvi, Finland in 1992. Since then wife carrying competitions have sprung up around the world.

The rules are simple. The "wife" you carry must weigh at least 49 kilograms (about 108 pounds), she must be over 17 years of age, you must go over two dry obstacles, a water obstacle and the race is over a distance of 253.5 meters. That's about the length of three football fields.

It's a contest that world champions have won in under 60 seconds, so it might be a little difficult if you're not in good shape. For couples where she's more fit than he, you might check out the husband dragging contest held in Singleton, Australia.

Maybe golf is your game, but you want something a little more than your local course can offer. Enter the Pillar Mountain Golf Classic in Kodiak, Alaska. It's the toughest one-hole golf course in America, possibly the world.

The "Classic" is held as a charitable fundraiser over two days. The single hole is a par 70 up Kodiak's Pillar Mountain, approximately 1,400 feet high. The hole isn't even a traditional hole, it's a bucket buried in lime green Jell-O dyed snow at the top. PGA (Professional Golfers' Association) rules apply, with a few additions. My favorite is:

Don't wake up the bears (5 stroke penalty... unless you get away, then we'll subtract 10 strokes!)

Contest organizers also point out that many parts, sometimes all, of the course are snow-covered. You may also experience glacier conditions and the winds at the top are strong.

If the thought of golfing around bear hazards and potential blizzard conditions is a bit much, perhaps a few rounds of chessboxing would be more entertaining. Each match starts with a 3-minute round of chess, followed by a 3-minute round of boxing. This continues with the same two opponents until someone wins by checkmate or in the ring. The LA Chessboxing Club goes by the motto, "Take the king or win in the ring."

Perhaps you don't want to beat up someone else, but don't mind doing it to yourself. In Cooper's Hill, England you can enter the annual Cheese-Rolling competition. No, you don't roll cheese, the cheese is rolled. Specifically, a round of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled from the top of a very rough hill. Contestants run, roll and tumble down the hill to grab the cheese. The first person to reach the bottom wins the round.

Finally, there's an event right here in Key West. It's called the tube-a-thon. Imagine a triathlon, but shorter and with an inner tube. Contestants start by blowing an inner tube up, then running with it a mile, swimming out around a buoy and finally carrying and rolling the tube across the finish line. If you're in shape, you can enter as an individual and run the entire race. If not, create a team of up to four people to handle each leg of the event.

This is a race where one of the team members doesn't even have to run, just be on the first leg and start by blowing up the tube and hand it off. If you can't swim, that's no problem either. Float on top of the tube as you go out and around the buoy.

(Unfortunately, the tube-a-thon is no longer run. But you can find other crazy runs and events at ThemeRuns.com.)

There are plenty of "normal" sports you can enter, but the competition is fierce. Enter one of these crazy competitions and even if you don't win, it'll be an experience you won't soon forget.

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Updated 10/10/2020