Olympic sports are a serious business, which is definitely not the case with the many alternative games that are taking place across England starting next month. Pack a sense of humour and be prepared for the outlandish at some of these kooky sporting events.
-- Shin-Kicking is one of the odder events at the annual Cotswold Olimpicks. The two contestants first fill their trouser legs with straw -- to minimize injury -- before holding one another's arms and kicking each other wearing steel-toe-capped boots. The loser is the competitor who gives into the pain and bruising first. June 1, Dover's Hill, near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire.
-- Egg Throwing -- In the annual World Egg Throwing Championships, contestants must construct a gravity-powered egg-hurling device to launch an egg to a waiting team member who must either catch the egg unbroken (tricky) or get struck by the egg (at speeds up to 190 k/ph, painful), to achieve points. June 24 between Helpringham and Swaton, Lincolnshire. Check eggthrowing.com.
-- At the World Pea Shooting competition, accuracy, not distance, is the aim as contestants shoot a pea through a 30.48 tube some 3.65 metres towards a 30.48 cm target. Challengers come from as far as New Zealand to take part. July 14 in Witcham, Cambridgeshire. Check eastcambs.gov.uk/tourism.
-- Toe Wrestling -- Conceived in a pub in Wetton in 1976, this interesting sport sees competitors lock their big toes together, and attempt to force their opponent's foot to the ground. The Bentley Brook Inn in Derbyshire hosts the Ben & Jerry's World Toe Wrestling Championship. Aug. 25, Fenny Bentley, Ashbourne. Check bentleybrookinn.co.uk.
-- Gravy Wrestling is part of the Pennine Lancashire Festival of Food & Culture and involves teams sliding around in lukewarm gravy while attempting to wrestle an opponent to the ground. Aug. 27, the Rose & Bowl Inn, Bacup, Rossendale. Check worldgravywrestling.com.
-- The Black Pudding Throwing Championships happen in Lancashire, which is famous for the production of this regional delicacy known to some as blood pudding. The aim is to throw a black pudding, which has been wrapped in a pair of ladies tights, at a collection of Yorkshire puddings set on a plinth 6.96 metres above the ground on a tower built in the middle of the main street of Ramsbottom. Whoever knocks down the most Yorkshire puddings, wins! Sept. 9, Royal Oak, Bridge St., Ramsbottom, Lancashire. Check ramsbottomonline.com.