Travel Picks: Top 10 wacky sports around the world

Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:43am EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - All eyes will be on London this summer for the 2012 Olympic Games. But while waiting for the world's elite athletes to take the stage, online travel adviser Cheapflights has come up with a top 10 list of no-frills, high-adrenaline and wacky sports which might be entertaining. Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1. Camel Racing

Forget horse racing at Ascot. Camel racing in the United Arab Emirates is now the place to be seen. Popular throughout the Middle East as well as Mongolia and Australia, the sport takes place every year from late October to early April. In the dusty desert, camels race along a sand track up to 10 miles long while their owners drive alongside shouting and honking their horns to urge the camels forward. The louder the shouting, the faster they run. But be careful not to get in their way: anywhere from 15 to 70 camels race at a time and onlookers will want to avoid the stampede! Unlike horse racing, there's no betting in camel racing, but, if the sport tickles your fancy, owning a winning camel can be a lucrative investment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The races usually take place on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and, while the morning races tend to be reserved mostly for sheikhs, the afternoon races are open to all.

2. Tuna Tossing

The Tuna Tossing World Championship occurs annually at the Tunarama Festival in Port Lincoln, Australia. Men and women 16 years and older fight it out to toss their tuna the farthest, hoping to win a share of AU$3,000. Contestants can toss the 10 kg frozen tuna in any way they want, so twirl, throw, fling and chuck that tuna to victory. But be warned: the record for the longest tuna toss of all time stretches for an enormous 25 meters, so competition is fierce. For younger tossing hopefuls between the ages of five and 10, the Tunarama Festival also holds an annual prawn toss.

3. Greasy Pole Climbing

This messy and challenging sport is a crowd favorite in a number of corners of the world, including Indonesia, Brazil, the UK and the Caribbean. Depending on the local tradition, competitors try either to shimmy up a vertical pole laden in grease or to reach the end of a slickened horizontal pole without first splashing onto the sea. While grease-pole climbing made a one-time-only appearance in the 1904 Olympics, the biggest stage now for the sport is the Greasy Pole Competition, which takes place every year during St. Peter's Fiesta in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Forty to 50 men aged between 18 and 60 test the slipperiness and attempt to be the first to reach the end of the pole and grab the red flag at the end. The pole is 45 feet long and can be anywhere from 10 to 25 feet from the sea at Gloucester Harbor. The pole is heavily greased with biodegradable axle grease and, to make it extra slippery, anything from Tabasco sauce to banana peels are added. Due to the popularity of the contest, there are strict rules regarding who is eligible to walk on the pole. The event is currently held on Friday, June 29, Saturday, June 30 and Sunday, July 1 - always at 4:45pm.

4. Cheese Rolling

If you've never heard of cheese rolling before, you might assume it's a civilized event. Alas, cheese rolling is anything but civilized. It's a bone-crushing race where people run, stumble and slide down a steep hill to catch massive rolls of cheese. The most famous event is Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, held in Gloucestershire, UK, where competitors vie with 8 lb Double Gloucester cheese rounds. The first person to grab the cheese wins and gets to take it home. Hundreds of participants, spectators and media flock to Gloucestershire from around the world for this unusual event.   Continued...

A contestant climbs a greasy pole in an attempt to reach for prizes hung at the top during a game to celebrate Indonesia's independence day in Jakarta August 17, 2011. REUTERS/Supri