If you thought Wimbledon was quirky with its all-white dress code and penchant for strawberries and cream, you haven’t seen anything yet. In Great Britain, we like to stretch the typical interpretation of “sport” and our #BritishFamous sporting activities are ones that you can’t experience anywhere else. From throwing large, tapered tree trunks (the caber toss) to knocking conkers off strings, we certainly know how to have a good time.
Race the Train, Tywyn, Mid-Wales (August 19, 2017)
This contest between man and machine takes place alongside, as far as practicable, the route taken by the Talyllyn Railway on its journey from Tywyn to Abergynolwyn and Nant Gwernol. The Talyllyn Railway, a classic steam train, travels through picturesque hills and meadows. Runners race the train on a course that encompasses a mixture of public roads, lanes, tracks, agricultural land and rough grazing pastures. If you’re running, you should know that the terrain varies all the time, can be very wet and muddy in places, and involves some steep hills. If you’re watching, sit back, relax on the train and look for the places when you’ll be able to shout encouragement out of the window.
Braemar Gathering, Aberdeenshire, Scotland (September 2, 2017)
The Braemar Gathering is the most famous and best-attended Highland Games in Scotland, with a rich history that dates back 900 years. The modern Braemar Gathering pays homage to Scottish heritage and traditions and, since 1848, has been regularly attended by the reigning monarch and members of the Royal family. Its famous “heavy” events include Throwing the Hammer, Putting the Stone and Tossing the Caber. With bagpipe displays, competitors wearing traditional Scottish kilts, and a tug of war between different military service groups, the Braemar Gathering is not to be missed.
World Black Pudding Throwing Championships, Lancashire, England (September 10, 2017)
Local legends claim that this competition dates back to the War of the Roses in the 15th century when opposing factions of the House of Lancaster and the House of York ran out of ammunition. Supposedly, they started throwing food at each other: black pudding from Lancaster and Yorkshire puddings from Yorkshire. Whether or not that’s true, there’s no denying the quirky nature of the modern day event (run since the 1980s) that sees competitors hurling black puddings at a pile of Yorkshire puddings atop a 20ft high plinth.
Egremont Crab Fair & World Gurning Championships, Cumbria, England (September 15, 2017)
The Egremont Crab Fair dates back to the 13th century when the local Lord of the Manor would wheel a cart of crab apples through the village of Egremont as a goodwill gesture to the poor. This year sees the 750th anniversary of the Fair which also hosts the World Gurning Championships. Gurning consists of contestants putting their heads through a horse collar and contorting their faces into the silliest expression possible. A totally normal sport. It’s said that the gurning competition originates from the faces the locals made when they bit into the sharp crab apples. Other events include concerts, wrestling, races, and pole climbing.
World Stone Skimming Championships, Argyll, Scotland (September 24, 2017)
Held on Easdale Island, the World Stone Skimming Championships attract competitors from all over the world. Due to demand, the number of contestants is limited to 350 but anyone can partake. Each competitor is allowed three skims using specially selected Easdale slate skimming stones. For a skim to qualify the stone must bounce at least three times; it is then judged on the distance achieved before it sinks.
World Conker Championships, Northamptonshire, England (October 8, 2017)
These championships have been held since 1965, celebrating the simple but popular game of conkers. The rules are simple. Each player is given a conker attached to a piece of string and takes turns trying to break their opponent’s nut using a swinging motion. Players compete to become the King or Queen of conkers and often wear fancy dress.
Posted in Sports
Cover photo: The Braemar Gathering