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5 Obscure Contests and Sports That Could Use a Classic Rivalry

World Bog Snorkelling Championship
Who will be this man’s nemesis? (Photo: Rud-gr on Wikipedia)

Hulk Hogan and Macho Man. Lakers and Celtics. Potter and Malfoy. There is virtually no end to the classic rivalries that have existed across sports of all kinds. However there are a handful of odd regional “sports” and contests that could use the drama of a heated clash of egos. Be it swimming laps in bogs or rolling oranges down a hill, it would be a riot to see these five strange competitions get their own set of frenemies.


WORLD WORM CHARMING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Yun Huang Yong on Flickr

Earthworms
Charming, right? (Photo: Yun Huang Yong on Flickr)

Worm-charming, as odd as it seems, is not only a kind of sport, it is even an occupation in some places. The basic idea behind the squirming pastime is to stick a fork in the ground and strike it to create vibrations that drive worms to the surface. Also known as worm-fiddling or worm-grunting, each charmer seems to have their own exacting method of creating the most enticing vibrations. There are variations in the size of the rods, the rhythm in which they are struck, and the tools or materials used. No matter the minutia of the method, the contestants in the world championship are given a 3x3 foot plot of damp soil and told to go to town. The current world record holder created a siren song that lured out 567 worms in the allotted time. Salieri and Mozart it is not, but a little of that spirit couldn’t hurt.     


All these people are making sweet, sweet earth music. (Photo: Graham Shaw on Wikipedia)


THE GREAT SONOMA COUNTY HANDCAR RACES
Santa Rosa, California


Someone certainly needs to have a beef with these guys. (Photo: David Berry on Flickr)

Santa Rosa, California’s yearly Handcar Regatta is not so much a race, but it is still a competition to see who can create the weirdest and wildest railway handcar on X-number of wheels. Sort of a cross between Burning Man and the Mermaid Parade, participants in the festival build all sorts of contraptions, usually with a heavy theme be it, Italy, pinball, or space. The Handcar Regatta stopped in 2011 only to return as the The Great Sonoma County Handcar Race in 2013. There does not yet seem to be a date for the 2015 race, but when and if it returns lets hope we can see the kind of inventive Victorian rivalry that made Edison and Tesla such charming enemies.   


Owl bet that car can’t fly. (Photo: David Berry on Flickr)


STILTON CHEESE ROLLING CHAMPIONSHIP
Stilton, England


I think these guys are supposed to be wizards. (Photo: Property of stilton.org)

Strangely, cheese-rolling competitions take place in a few places around the world, but none is better known that the one that takes place in the English village famous for it’s veiny fromage. No one is quite sure how old the tradition is or who exactly began it, but each year people show up in droves to see teams of costumed cheese rollers guide a wooden block of replica cheese down a public street. Each member of the team has to come in contact with the proxy cheese before it hits the finish line, and the team to guide it across wins. While there are undoubtedly competitive feelings on the day of the competition, what the cheese-rolling festival needs is a privileged winning team for everyone else to compete against. Think of the New York Yankees.     


I’m starting a rivalry with ethnic-inspired costumes. (Photo: property of stilton.org)


TOTNES ORANGE RACES
Totnes, Devon 


No one has been this serious about oranges since scurvy was a thing. (Photo: Derek Harper on Geograph.org)

Speaking of contests where you roll weird food down a hill, the orange races in Devon are primed to create competition between runners. This citrus-y race sees contestants roll, throw, and kick ripe fruit down a modern street, in honor of a legend involving Sir Francis Drake coarsely upending an orange cart, sending oranges cascading down the street. Whoever can get a complete orange across the finish line, whether or not it was the one they started with, wins! Given how many of the rolling fruit are smashed or crushed during the trip this is no easy feat. The ability to use an opponents fruit makes this contest perfect for some classic heel turns.  


Prefontaine this is not. (Photo: Derek Harper on Geograph.org)


WORLD BOG SNORKELING CHAMPIONSHIP
Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales

World Bog Snorkelling Championship
The bog itself is a sort of nemesis. (Photo: Rud-gr on Wikipedia)

Ah yes, the fine art of bog snorkeling. Each year, would-be-bog-monsters flock to the small Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells to take a dip in the local bog. A 180-foot trench is dug in the stinking peat and competitors dive in to see who can swim down the lane the fastest. Like many relatively silly competitions (this one is said to have been started by a bar bet in the 1970s, a number of the participants come dressed in costume to cheer on the swimmers. There has yet to be a Michael Phelps of the bog snorkeling championship for everyone to rally behind or compete with, but it seems like a ripe opportunity for some (literally) dirty tricks.    

 
Bog snorkeling fans seem to be somewhat subdued. (Photo: Ethreon on Flickr)