Sports are a part of our lives and it would be hard to imagine a world where there were no sports to watch on television or at our local venues, but not all sports are well known. There are some sports that few of us have ever heard of because they are just too weird to become mainstream spectator or participant sports. If horse racing is the sport of kings, some of these sports are definitely the sports of the peasants.
The Cheese Rolling Race This is where people from the Cotswold’s in the UK, are joined by people from all over the world, to race cheese down a hillside. The event takes place at Cooper’s Hill and around Cheese is launched down the very steep hill closely followed by the competitors. The cheese can reach very high speeds and although the winner was supposed to catch the cheese to win it, the prize is awarded to the first person to cross the finish line.
The event is fraught with danger because of the steepness of the hill and there are always injuries to the competitors. Injured competitors need carrying to the bottom of the hill by volunteer spectators who have little, or no basic first aid training. There are usually people with sprains and breakages who need to be transported to the waiting ambulance.
Hamster Racing In this wacky race, hamsters are in adapted vehicles powered by a hamster wheel. In some races, the hamsters use a regular hamster’s ball and they line up in track lanes to compete. There are many rumors about the origins of hamster racing. Some people suggest it was used to satisfy the need for racing when the UK suffered from foot and mouth disease and countryside events like horse racing were postponed.
This is highly unlikely, but they do provide a lot of fun. There have been reports of bookmakers taking bets on some big names in the hamster world, but I do not think horseracing has to worry about being replaced just yet.
There has been some media attention with hamster racing when MTV ran a show about the sport and it has even attracted sponsorship in the past when the United States based pet store, Petco announced it was holding bi-annual races on more than a thousand locations.
Snail Racing Snail racing is not a joke; in fact, there are world championships that take place every year in Norfolk, England and they have had competitors take part since the 1960s. The first time that there was an ‘official’ competitive race was in 1999, London.
Although it is doubtful, there was the prestige that we saw with the Olympics, there were official sponsors Guinness, who founded the 1999 event prizes and even used the racing snail’s idea in their advertising campaigns the following year.
The Santa Speedo Run, Boston Probably the most anticipated event in the US sporting calendar is the Santa Speedo Run where all the competitors don speedos or skimpy Santa themed underwear to race through the streets of Boston, Massachusetts. The event is a charity event where many of the competitors raise thousands of dollars for needy causes. Each year a particular charity from the local area is supported so people are running to benefit their own community. As you would expect, there is usually plenty of press coverage for the run and this has boosted the sponsorship of the event as a whole and not just the runners.
Man versus Horse Marathon in the Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells, United Kingdom, there is a race that takes place between man and horse over the phenomenal distance of 22 miles. The winners are usually horses, but in 2004, a human competitor took the £25,000 prize.
There were big losses for many punters at the bookmaker’s that day, but anyone who backed How Lob to win would have won more than sixteen times their original stake. If you want some horse racing tips, you would never expect to be told to back a man, but there were many winners in Wales on that day.
The Londoner was an experienced marathon runner and the first to claim the prize for winning the race without a mount.