Britain’s weirdest sporting events

From chasing horses to snorkelling in bogs and chasing a cheese down a rather steep hill, here is our pick of the best eccentric contests from around the UK in 2020.

Runners racing down a hill

Each year the UK plays hosts to a variety of bizarre – and occasionally dangerous – wacky sporting events such as Man V Horse, bog-snorkelling and cheese-rolling. Here is our guide to weird sporting events to take part in or spectate in 2020.

Wife carrying championships

Dorking, Surrey – 29 February 2020

Man running carrying a women during the annual 'wife carrying championshios'
A global event, competitors take part in a wife-carrying championship during Viva Braslaw festival in the town of Braslaw/Credit Getty

Wife carrying in the UK, say the organisers of this Dorking event, began with the Vikings at Lindisfarne in 793AD, and they resurrected the tradition with the Wife Carrying Champs in 2008. The rules stipulate that males or females must carry a ‘wife’ (it doesn’t need to be the carrier’s wife but must be ‘human, alive and over 18’) over hay bale hurdles and water hazards for 380m. Prizes include a pound of sausages for whoever carries the heaviest ‘wife’. trionium.com/wife

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The Mighty Deerstalker

Peebles, Scottish Borders – 14 March 2020

For those with more of an active persuasion, Rat Race Events host some of the most epic events the UK has to offer, from 70 miles running races along Hadrian’s Wall to 100km treks via the Pilgrim’s Route to Canterbury. More achievable (but still tough) is the Mighty Deerstalker, where entrants are faced with five, 10 or 20 miles of running trails over mountains and through rivers, and all in the dark. Deerstalker hats optional. mightydeerstalker.co.uk


Cheese rolling

Brockworth, Gloucestershire – 25 May 2020

Cheese rolling Gloucestershire
Contestants in the men’s race chase a Double Gloucester Cheese down the steep gradient of Cooper’s Hill during the annual Bank Holiday tradition of cheese-rolling in Brockworth, Gloucestershire/Credit:  Matt Cardy/Getty 

A highlight of the BBC’s Points West news every Spring Bank Holiday weekend is footage of the Cheese Rolling event. The race finds participants chase a cheese (once a Double Gloucester but now made of foam due to safety concerns) down the 3:1 mound that is Cooper’s Hill, in what the Sydney Morning Herald labels as the ‘world’s most dangerous foot race’. Evidence of cheese rolling dates back to 1826 and it’s since been namechecked in ER and Gilmore Girls. officialcheeserolling.com


Man V Horse

Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys – 13 June 2020

Man V Horse began, as all great events should, following a debate in a pub over the merits of humans and horses over mountainous terrain. Cue the first Man V Horse in 1980, which now sees athletes racing horses over a 22-mile course each June. The runners have a 15min advantage over the horses (and riders), but the equine contestants have long dominated the hoof-friendly podium, losing only twice in the event’s history and not since 2007. Green Events also put on the Welsh Open Stone Skimming, the Bog Championships and a Walking Festival, among others.  green-events.co.uk

Posted by Man versus Horse on Saturday, June 8, 2019


The World Egg Throwing Championships

Swaton, Lincolnshire – 28 June 2020

Ignoring the hog roast, the World Egg Throwing Champs is surely the highlight of the annual Swaton Vintage Day. After target practise at a moving object (a man named Joel Hicks) and Russian Egg Roulettes, the main World Champs decider finds teams of two (a catcher and a tosser) going for broke (or yoke) standing 10m apart and moving further away after each successful catch. If an egg is dropped or broken, then that pair’s championship dreams are cracked for another year. swatonvintageday.com


World Stinging Nettle Eating Championships

The Bottle Inn, Marshwood, Dorset – TBC July 2020

Another event that started life in a pub is this annual stinging nettle-eating challenge. While nettle soup is a dark green bowl of warming joy, this event sees participants chewing their way through the leaves of as many two foot-long raw nettle stalks as possible, which can cause the tongue to swell and blacken. Thankfully, there’s nettle-flavoured beer on tap for post-contest refreshment. facebook.com/events/the-bottle-inn/live-at-the-bottle-inn-marshwood


World Bog Snorkelling Championships

Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales – 30 August 2020

Held for the 35th time at the Waen Rhydd bog on the outskirts of Llanwrtyd Wells this summer, the World Bog Snorkelling Champs finds athletes snorkelling to complete the bog in the swiftest time, with Neil Rutter the current course champion in a time of 1:18mins. There’s also a bog swimming triathlon on the same weekend. green-events.co.uk

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World Stone Skimming Championships

Easdale Island, nr Oban, Scotland – 27 September 2020

Without wanting to sound too Alan Partridge, we’re sure you’ll agree that there are few things more satisfying in life than a well-executed stone skim. The World Stone Skimming Championships have been drawing participants to beautiful Easdale Island on Scotland’s western coast since 1983. Each stone must be from naturally-formed Easdale slate and no more than three inches in diameter, and must bounce on the water more than twice to be a valid skim. Entry is a welcome £5. stoneskimming.com