4 Crazy Outdoor Competitions

Themed adven­ture runs are all the rage these days. You can run through mud, an elec­tric light show, a high­lighter par­ty, or even a zom­bie-infest­ed park. Var­i­ous painful takes on the infa­mous “Polar Plunge” event seem to be crop­ping up all over the place, as well. Par­tic­i­pants in these com­pe­ti­tions need to be fit, strong, ded­i­cat­ed, and—in some cases—just down­right crazy. Here’s a roundup of some of the most inter­est­ing out­door com­pe­ti­tions you prob­a­bly haven’t heard about.

Amoray Dive Resort Under­wa­ter Pump­kin Carv­ing Con­test
Held off Key Largo for the past 16 years, this is a fall favorite with a ocean­ic twist. Divers take their pump­kins to depths of around 25ft below the water to show off their artis­tic gourd skills. Many par­tic­i­pants are younger folks who are still work­ing on their dive certification.

While still a rel­a­tive­ly small com­pe­ti­tion (last year gar­nered 14 entries), the Under­wa­ter Pump­kin Carv­ing Con­test made nation­al head­lines dur­ing the Obama/Romney cam­paign sea­son in 2012 for entries fash­ioned to look like the politi­cians. Orga­niz­ers stress that they are very care­ful to make sure that native fish do not feed on any pump­kin bits, as that would alter their nor­mal diet, and all par­tic­i­pants are close­ly mon­i­tored to ensure safety.

Barkley Marathons
One of if not the most mys­te­ri­ous and quirky run­ning events in the world (seri­ous­ly, I could be flogged for this) is the Barkley Marathons. Report­ed on by the New York Times’ Dave Sem­i­nara in ear­ly 2013, the Barkley Marathon is ran every year in a secret-until-the-last-sec­ond venue. Span­ning 100 miles (some report­ed­ly say it ends some­where clos­er to 130, but no one is for sure), each race has a time lim­it of 60 hours. Most folks do not know how to enter (includ­ing myself…so if you’re inter­est­ed, you have to know the right peo­ple), and the grand major­i­ty do not finish.

Sup­pos­ed­ly, only 12 men have ever com­plet­ed the race out of an esti­mat­ed 800 run­ners. Know as the “Race That Eats Its Young,” this whole thing just reeks of utter insan­i­ty. Appli­cants must sub­mit an essay as to why they should be allowed to par­tic­i­pate and must fill out an appli­ca­tion form with off-the-wall ques­tions. Each year, the field is made up of pre­vi­ous fin­ish­ers, vet­er­ans who have yet to win the race, and one new­com­er (described as a “sac­ri­fi­cial vir­gin”), whom the race orga­niz­er believes has zero chance of actu­al­ly fin­ish­ing the ordeal.

Run­ners who pre­vi­ous­ly failed, but are grant­ed a return entry are required to offer up a spe­cif­ic piece of cloth­ing (on top of the whop­ping $1.60 entry fee), and par­tic­i­pants are pre­vent­ed from cheat­ing in a par­tic­u­lar­ly sadis­tic tra­di­tion of hav­ing to tear pages from apt­ly named books along the way that cor­re­spond with their bib num­ber. The quirks in this race are entire­ly too many to prop­er­ly put in print here, but it makes for some incred­i­bly enter­tain­ing research. Check it out at your own risk, but be fore­warned, they prob­a­bly don’t want you there.

Wis­con­sin State Cow Chip Throw
Ah, Wis­con­sin. Famous for its kind, hos­pitable folks, cheese, beer, and rav­en­ous foot­ball fans, the state is also home to a 40yr old tra­di­tion of throw­ing cow chips (dried manure) in Prairie du Sac in the name of sport. The main event dur­ing a fes­ti­val that includes all the sta­ples like enter­tain­ments, food, arts and crafts, the Cow Chip Throw is just what it sounds like. Their web­site states that while they per­mit “no gloves, lick­ing your hands is allowed to get a bet­ter grip.” The record cur­rent­ly sits at a throw of 248 feet. Won­der if that per­son went with the licked hands approach?

Lum­ber­jack World Cham­pi­onships
This is where real men come to show their stuff. Held in Hay­ward, Wis­con­sin, the Lum­ber­jack World Cham­pi­onships is prob­a­bly the most well-known event on this list. Now a part of ESPN’s Great Out­door Games, the LWC began in 1960. Events include the Axe Throw, Logrolling, 90ft Climb, Boom Runs includ­ing a mul­ti­tude of oth­ers. Par­tic­i­pants range any­where from pro­fes­sion­al to novice, and hefty cash prizes are award­ed to the win­ners. Spon­sor­ships have surged over the past few years, and the event only stands to get big­ger, bad­der, and more flannel-er.