Race events don’t always need to be a serious business. Sometimes, people just want to have fun while they’re getting fit. Luckily, where there’s demand, there’s supply, so whether you’re joining in the fun or simply supporting from the side lines, here’s our pick of Europe’s quirkiest, silliest and most alternative races.
The London Pantomime Horse Race, England
Races don’t get sillier than this. Launched in 2009, the London pantomime horse race sees race teams wearing two-person pantomime horse costumes battle it out through the streets of Greenwich. They’ll tackle surprise obstacles along the way, picking up points at several pub stops. Right at the end,the hilarity climaxes in a final five space-hopper race, and there are also panto horse dance-offs and parades to enjoy. Don’t miss it – register here.
Le Marathon du Medoc,
You’ve heard of pairing wine with food, but how about pairing it with fitness? At the Marathon du Medoc in Pauillac, runners race through a total of 59 vineyards, sampling some of France’s finest gastronomic delights at more than 20 food stands alongside (of course) – wine. Fancy dress is encouraged with many participants donning Roman togas and laurels, or dressing as bunches of grapes to stumble towards the finish line. Register here.
Pumpkin Canoe Regatta,
A celebration of the Autumn season, the Pumpkin Canoe Regatta is just one part of the annual Ludwigsburg pumpkin festival which also includes pumpkin growing competitions, pumpkin carving and Germany’s biggest pumpkin soup. It’s a hilarious undertaking for both participants and observers as racers board giant hollowed-out pumpkins and attempt to paddle them across the lake. You can either grow your own vessel, or use a provided pumpkin canoe. Find out more here.
The World Bog-Snorkelling Championships, Wales
Take your wild swimming to new depths with the World Bog-Snorkelling Championships. Taking place in the small town of Llanwrtyd Wells, participants must brave the mud (and the stench) as they compete for the fastest time through a 60 metre water-filled trench. There’s also a fancy dress section (previous entrants include a pantomime horse and a man wearing an ironing board) alongside a ‘bog triathlon’ event. Find out more here.
Wife Carrying Competition,
Want to find an alternative way to keep the romance alive? Each year, hopeful couples from around the world converge on the small Finnish town of Sonkajärvi to compete in the Wife Carrying Competition. The race requires husbands to carry their spouse along a 250 metre sandy track, which includes obstacles and water traps. There are many prizes on offer including ones for ‘most entertaining’ and ‘best costumes’ and the winner will take home the wife’s weight in beer. Find out more here.
The World Naked Bike Ride,
This one’s not a competition but a peaceful protest. Aiming to promote a healthy environment alongside a healthy body image, the World Naked Bike Ride invites participants to don their birthday suits and their favourite form of ‘human-powered’ transport to cycle nude through cities in the name of the planet. It’s become a huge global phenomenon with events taking place all over the world and is organised entirely by volunteers. Find a full list of events here.