Did you promise to get active in 2011? If you have a taste for the offbeat — swamp soccer, anyone? — these one-of-a-kind sporting events can help you keep that promise and travel at the same time.
The World Bog Snorkeling Championship
If you love to snorkel, you can have a "bog-tastic" experience at the World Bog Snorkeling Championship in August in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, where snorkelers complete two lengths of a 60-yard water-filled trench cut through a peat bog. Competitors wear snorkels and flippers, but they don't use conventional strokes — just their flippers. This is known as "the dirtiest water sport of the year."
Other bog snorkeling events in Australia, Ireland and Wales include triathlons and mountain bike bog snorkeling (participants ride lead-filled mountain bikes).
World Toe Wrestling Championship
At this event, held at the Bentley Brook Inn in Derbyshire, England, contestants dressed in wrestling outfits sit opposite each other. Locking their big toes together, they place their feet on a small wooden frame called a Toesrack. At the cry of "toedown," contestants attempt to force their opponent's foot to the ground. The organizers had big hopes for the sport, and in 1997 applied for its inclusion in the Olympic Games. To the disappointment of the sport's fans, it was not accepted. The next World Toe Wrestling Championship will take place June 11. http://www.bentleybrookinn.co.uk/page13a.html
World Coal Carrying Contest
Held annually on Easter Monday in the village of Gawthorpe in West Yorkshire, England, the race involves men carrying 110 pounds of coal over a mile-long uphill course. Women compete carrying 44 pounds of coal. This contest dates to 1963, when a local coal merchant and the president of the Maypole Committee were enjoying a pint of beer together. A friend is said to have burst into the pub and bet that he could race the two with a bag of coal on their backs. Not wanting to waste a good idea, the secretary of the Maypole Committee decided to set the race for a day that's easy to remember — Easter Monday. http://www.gawthorpe.ndo.co.uk/coal.htm
International Jester competition
This competition takes place every June at Muncaster Castle in Cumbria, England, home of the original Tom Fool. After a weeklong celebration of "foolery," six "final" fools perform a 20-minute show for the judges.
Paul "Garbanzo" Hudert, 37, was the first American winner in 2007, thereby making him the first Yank to be an official jester of a European castle. "The winner is fool for one year," said Hudert. "You can only win once, but once you win, you are always a jester of Muncaster." http://www.muncaster.co.uk
The Swamp Soccer World Cup will take place June 25 and 26 in Edinburgh, Scotland. This fun, oh-so-messy event requires stamina and determination. Check out some of the hilarious team names: Sporting Abeergut, Unathletico Mudrid, Mudchesthair United, Real Mudrid. http://www.swampsoccer.co.uk
Every Jan. 1, a few hundred brave souls throw themselves into the freezing water of the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry, just outside Edinburgh. Some claim the shock to the system of the Loony Dook is the perfect hangover cure after the excesses of the night before. With the skirl of bagpipes urging them on, the crowd makes a mad dash into the water, and then (most of them) quickly retreat. Some stay in up to half an hour. No wetsuits or dry suits are allowed. http://www.theloonydook.co.uk
Ice Cross Downhill
This new sport is just as it sounds — a gritty downhill chute on which ice-hockey players duke it out four at a time. It's sort of American football meets downhill skiing, but on ice. This year the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championship will take place January through March in Germany, the Netherlands, Russia and Quebec, Canada. Each race attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators and is breathtaking to watch. http://www.redbull.com
If horse racing is the sport of kings, camel racing might be the sport of court jesters. The Camel Cup, held every July (this year, July 9) in Alice Springs, Australia, attracts visitors from all over the world. Although the breeders, owners and jockeys take their races seriously, their steeds add a comical touch to the event. It's not unusual for camels — known as strong-willed and highly unpredictable — to sit down mid-race or veer off the track if something other than the finish line captures their attention. http://www.australiasoutback.com/us/camelcup
Beer Can Regatta
The annual (this year, July 10) mock-serious Beer Can Regatta in Darwin, Australia, began as a creative way to clean up litter left by workers rebuilding the town after Cyclone Tracy in 1974. Today, the races are between boats, some as long as 40 feet, built out of beer and soft drink cans. http://www.australiasoutback.com/us/beercanregatta
Ladies and gentlemen, start your tortoises. The year's greatest spectacle in racing, the 30th annual running of the tortoises at the Indianapolis Zoo, will take place May 25. Its version of the Indy 500 traditionally takes place on the Wednesday before the big race. Past participants have included former Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. The event will feature Mike King, chief announcer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network. http://www.indianapoliszoo.com
The 16th annual Great Fruitcake Toss
This event takes place in early January in Manitou Springs, Colo. Entrants toss, hurl and launch fruitcakes. Distance is measured at the final resting spot. Registration begins at 9 a.m. with a 15-gun-salute honor guard. Bring your own fruitcake or if you don't have one, you can rent one. http://www.manitousprings.orgCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times