As the European Summer winds down – and so too does the European Bazaar project – One Small World has their eyes set on Gold as we return to the mecca of strange festivals for the ‘mad Olympics’, the World Alternative Games! In 2012 London hosted the 30th modern Olympic Games, an event couched in Ancient Greek ideals of humanist endeavour and excellence. Meanwhile, Wales was home to the inaugural World Alternative Games (WAG), an event inspired by the modern principles of fun, laughter and fancy dress.
Whereas the Olympics pit super-human athletes against one another in the cauldron of competition, the WAG pits super-normal plebs like you and me against one another across a blow-up pool of fake gravy.
So successful were the first World Alternative Games in 2012 that they are now held every 2 years in the little Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells (which, like most Welsh town names, looks like you’ve sneezed while typing but is in fact pronounced, in my best approximation, as ‘Clan-er-tid Wells’)
And did you know that there were only 26 different sports at the London Olympics? Well, in 2014 the WAG hosted almost 70 different events from Zombie Racing to Husband-Dragging to Belly Flopping to, of course, Gravy Wrestling.
The town of Llanwrtyd Wells is no stranger to mind-boggling events. Back in 1980 the town began the Man versus Horse race, a marathon over the Welsh countryside pitting runners against riders. Only twice have the humans beaten the horses and now the event brings in people from all over the world after the glory (and the prize money) attached to beating out a horse and rider over 23.6 miles.
Since then, ‘Britain’s smallest town’ has become home to Mountain Bike Chariot Races, bicycle pub crawls, an ancient Roman beer festival and, probably the most famous, its annual Bog Snorkelling competition.
Boasting a population of only 601 people, Llanwrtyd Wells is a glorious example of what a small, remote town can do with a little bit of inspiration and a big dose of hard work. Every year the town attracts tens of thousands of visitors (and numerous international film crews) to its wacky events. This year even bought actor Warwick Davis, star of Willow and Life’s Too Short, to film at the Games for a new TV series.
Over the course of almost 3 weeks in August, the WAG sported events all over town, handing out Gold, Silver and Bronze to deserving winners and equally-valued participation medals. The back-side of the medals proudly expound ‘Taking part is more important than winning’. And here, the sentiment is justified.
Set in the rolling green fields of Wales, far away from the overcrowded bustle of England and only accessible by winding country roads, Llanwrtyd Wells is like discovering a new favourite pub, one with an off-beat sense of humour, full of friendly people eager to welcome you into the fold.
The One Small World Guide to The World Alternative Sports!
With almost 70 Events, it’s impossible to appraise them all, but here are a few select insights:
– Husband Dragging: The gender equivalence of the infamous Wife-Carrying. The wife has to extract her husband from a makeshift bar, drag him bodily up a slippery slope and get him doing chores.
– Gravy Wrestling: Pretty self explanatory except that this year the judges swapped real gravy for a gravy-coloured substitute after gravy-basted contestants in the original 2012 event spent 3 days trying to get the smell of gravy off themselves…
– Toe Wrestling: A new and ingenious way to inflict a surprising amount of pain on oneself. Just like arm wrestling but using only your feet. One Small World picked up a hard-fought Silver in this event!!
– Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling: When faced with a ridiculous challenge, one should approach it with a ridiculous air. And so I mounted the lead-weighted bike dressed as a blonde female badminton player (resurrected from my World Waterbombing endeavour). But looking the part is only half the challenge, trying to pedal a bike underwater along the bottom of a frigid, muddy Welsh pond is also surprisingly difficult. Even so it is perhaps the world’s greatest hangover cure – freezing water, manic peddling on a bike without actually getting anywhere and an ingested dose of bog sludge. One Small World received an admirable 4th place!
– Office Chair Racing: Anyone who has worked in an office has acted out this event in their minds more than once. And it’s as fun as you imagine! Frantic and dizzying, stretch up your thighs and coast your way to victory!
So no matter who you are, or what shape you’re in, there is a sport for you and a swag of medals to be won. So start training (or not) for the next edition of the World Alternative Games in 2016. See the website for info and news: http://www.worldalternativegames.co.uk/
Wales is often maligned as a holiday destination but with a good deal of quality accommodation as well as generous camping options, hiking and adventure-sport possibilities, Llanwrtyd Wells is a unique place to visit. Check out their calendar of events at : http://www.green-events.co.uk/events.html
What: The World Alternative Games
When: Happens every 2 years, around August. Next outing 2016
Where: Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, UK
How Much: Event Entry varies from £1 – £15 depending on event
Why: The chance to be the best in the world at a sport no one else has heard of!
More info: http://www.worldalternativegames.co.uk/
Click on any of the images below to see the full gallery!
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