Travel

5 absurd food-based sports you couldn't even make up

There are plenty of weird sports in the world -- who knows how jai alai works or what a wicket is? No matter how weird the sport, though, the spectators are likely to be eating. Sports and food practically go hand in hand. 

But food doesn't just stay on the sidelines -- in fact, there are a handful of next-level weird sports out there that require the use of edible equipment. And we're not even talking about competitive eating.

From haggis hurling to cheese chasing, here are five food-themed challenges that’ll leave you amazed at how inventive/insane people can be when they're bored and have too many leftovers in the fridge.

Pea Shooting Championships

Every year, literally tens of people gather in the little English village of Witcham to compete in the World Pea Shooting Championships. Competitors stand 12ft away from a circular target made of putty, and fire pea beans as strongly and accurately as their lungs and eyes will allow. Not to be confused with firing pee streams at a sporting event, which is pretty much a given after six $12 beers.

Some competitors have developed specialized, laser-sighted pea shooters, much to the dismay of their more traditional counterparts, who prefer to do things the old fashioned way. Picture an arms race, only less deadly and more silly.

The best shot at Witcham gets crowned Pea Shooting Champion for that year, and enjoys all the perks that go along with it; mainly just bragging rights of being the best pea-shooter in Witcham.

Haggis Hurling

Haggis, if you didn’t know, is a traditional Scottish pudding made from a sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, which is then stuffed into the sheep’s stomach and boiled for several hours. Sounds delicious, right?

Surprisingly, this sport involves literally hurling a haggis, not just vomiting one up. Competitors attempt to throw the foodstuff as far as possible. While power is key to getting good distance, a gentle throw is just as important; any haggis that bursts upon impact is deemed inedible, resulting in a disqualification. 

To be honest, though, this thing borders on inedible from the get-go, and everybody should just be disqualified anyway for thinking otherwise.

Pancake Races

Pancakes are universally considered delicious, and there's even a holiday devoted to consuming the things -- so it shouldn't come as a surprise that many towns in the U.K. hold annual pancake races. On second thought, it actually should. Why spoil all the syrupy goodness with exercise?

Competitors here are given a pan and a cake, and must run down the street as fast as possible while flipping (without dropping) their fluffy breakfast discs. It's like getting a running start on brunch or something.

If you have difficulty walking, talking, and chewing bubble gum at the same time, this is definitely not the food sport for you.

Apple & Salmon Racing

If you ever find yourself in the Tasmanian town of Huonville (unlikely), you might catch a glimpse of the locals tossing numbered fish and fruit into the river, watching with excitement as the current carries them downstream to the finish line. It's just a step above the International Watching Paint Dry competition held in Chula Vista, California (we made that one up).

The event's organized by the Rotary Club of Huon Valley, and is held annually to raise funds for local initiatives. 

Before you ask, the salmon are fake. Throwing real fish into a river? Sounds like a real upstream battle against lawsuits.

Cheese Rolling

Every year, hundreds of people gather at Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire, U.K., attempting to catch a 9lb wheel of Double Gloucester cheese as it races down the hill. Whoever reaches the bottom first without dying, or catches up to the cheese, wins the ultimate prize.

That prize? Yup, the aforementioned wheel of cheese.

The hill's steepness, combined with the inherent danger of chasing a 9lb object rolling at high speed, means injuries are inevitable. But, as any professional athlete knows (PUN ALERT), any gouda thing is worth suffering for.


Gianni Jaccoma is an editorial assistant for Thrillist Travel, and was set to claim the Haggis Hurling championship until a tragic rotator cuff injury took him out of the running. Follow his cheese-rolling updates on Twitter @gjaccoma.