UK Naked Sport Event Guide

It seems that naked sport is on the up so if you’re looking for a new challenge to keep your pecker up here are a few events that might do more than just raise your eyebrow.

Running

Since 2014 ZSL’s London zoo has put on an annual Streak for Tigers run where participants run around the animal enclosures in nothing but trainers and optional tiger body paint. The event has raised an amazing £135,000 for the wildlife fund but unfortunately is taking a break in 2018.

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On May 13th 2018 the Naturist Foundation are putting on the Naked 5k Run. This run is open to anyone and you can enter via the link we’re provided where all information (other than the location) can be found. Our guess is that they are keeping the venue on the down low to reduce media attention which was justified by the fact that our Facebook post about the run received over 1,500 comments in 48 hours!
https://www.naturistfoundation.org/5k-run-2017/

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British Naturism are also hosting a 5k and 10k at the NudeFest 2018 in Somerset on Saturday 14th July. All details can be found here: https://www.bn.org.uk/calendar/event/4111-5k10k-run-at-nudefest/

If you like the idea of running around with your Willy out but don’t want to get completely naked then The Great Willy Waddle could well be the event for you. 3k around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic park dressed in a giant inflatable penis was certainly one of the most fun (and serial) runs we’ve ever done. Check out our review of the 2015 event here: https://quirkyraces.com/2016/11/15/where-is-willy-run/

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If the want to support Orchid – Male Cancer Charity and act like a massive knob for a night then this year’s event takes place in September: https://www.facebook.com/events/158240891558473??ti=ia

Swimming

We’ve all thrown off our clothes and ran in the sea after a few too many drinks on holiday right? Well now you can do it as an organised (and safer) event as The Great British Skinny Dip are aiming to put on nude swims, that are accessible to anyone, all over the UK with 12 venues already set up. You can find out where here: http://greatbritishskinnydip.co.uk/events/

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If you want to swim with nothing but your goggles on in slightly more private surrounding while still embracing the great outdoors then check out Red Bulls’ 10 top UK skinny dipping spots:
https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.redbull.com/gb-en/wild-swimming-uk-ten-places-to-skinny-dip

Cycling

In June the World Naked Bike Ride is returning to the UK and more specifically Folkestone. This is a global ride where cyclists bare all to promote awareness of safety on the roads. Kent Live sum this event up here: https://www.kentlive.news/whats-on/whats-on-news/world-naked-bike-ride-2018-1463743

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Before saddling up be sure to read Active’s ‘7 things to know before joining a naked bike ride’ which includes such wisdom as ‘Just be sure you bring socially acceptable clothing for post-ride activities. Nude is cool during the ride, but not always at the bar after.’ You’ll do well to remember that one in general life as well as naked cycling!
https://www.active.com/cycling/articles/7-things-to-know-before-joining-a-naked-bike-ride

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UK Wife Carrying Race 2018

Always the Bridesmaid at the Wife Carrying Race.

On Sunday 8th April 2018 for the THIRD consecutive year my wife and I made the 200 mile round trip from Northampton to Dorking to finish runners up at the UK Wife Carrying Race.

This year however didn’t pass without controversy both in our own personal race and that of another even more unfortunate couple as the eleventh edition of the event took place.

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On what was a wetter than usual 380 meter course conditions were slippery. I can’t however blame the weather for affecting my own performance on the day as my trail shoes did the job in keeping me on my feet (and my wife on my back!) This couldn’t be said for two couples in particular though as one stumbled then crawled over the finish line for victory and the other slipped and fell in discomfort for a trip to hospital. Unfortunately it was the latter that the large media presence (and all the vultures who picked up on it) focused on.

This race is fun. It’s silly, it’s crazy and it’s the pure definition of quirky. It can also be dangerous though. You’re racing at high speed up and down a steep hill, jumping over hay bales and having water thrown at you at great force all while carrying another human being over your shoulders. Of course it’s not 100% safe and this is clearly pointed out on the event’s website homepage (as well as in the pre race email and briefing). In fact it really couldn’t be any clearer:

‘Wife carrying can be a dangerous activity, which can lead to any one or more of the following injuries: slipped disk, broken legs and arms, spinal damage, facial injury, skull fracture, hernias, and other sundry injuries and illnesses, and potentially including death.’

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‘Grippy’ trail shoes were advised in addition to all of the above but disappointingly that didn’t mean an accident was avoided as a quick google search or a flick through the following morning’s newspapers will tell you and although we were bitterly frustrated to have not won (again) and obviously concerned for the couple involved it was perhaps not the worse year to have missed out on the title as the outcome of the race became a minor footnote where as in the previous few years the winners have been the highlight of media attention.

We’d put the training in, learnt from previous mistakes, adopted a new and improved holding technique and come aiming to win. This may sound very over the top to outsiders but anyone who has been to this event before will know just how competitive it gets forwards the front with a national title at stake and a winning prize of £250 towards costs for the World Championships in Finland.

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In the last two years we had let a couple get a big early lead and although we closed it down dramatically we’d not managed to overturn it so this time round the plan was to get out faster and not let anyone get away. This plan was however scuppered within seconds as a Lithuania pair absolutely flew off and a husband and wife from America followed them with us in third. This order remained all the way up the hill of ever increasing elevation.

Once the summit is reached that marks the halfway point in which you turn back on yourself and head back down. My feeling was that the Americans were catchable but it was going to take a momentous effort to even get close to the Lithuanias. Little did I know that, from nowhere, another team were about to steamroller passed all of us as we got to the bottom of the hill and tackled the hay bales for a second time.

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All I could do now was push with all I had left. Amazingly the couple that had lead all the way had now come to a grinding holt and we moved into third. As the water from the ‘splash zone’ blasted me straight in the face I continued to pick up pace and with only moments remaining we moved into our familiar position of second place.

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All eyes were on the finish now and just as I approached it I saw the leaders stumbling. With every step they got closer to the ground and just before the line both husband and wife hit the deck with a thud. The wife’s momentum had taken her passed the two huge blue flags that signified the finish but the husband, who was sprawled out across the grass, clearly only had half his body over the line so I crossed it with my arms spread to signify that I was in fact the first person to finish while actually carrying my wife. This somehow seemed to be ignored though as all the camera crews and news reporters started to crowd around the floored couple.

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Stumbling even before the blue finishing flags are in sight.

My wife and I got our breaths back and deliberated what to do. Although the rules state ‘If you drop the ‘wife’ you must both take three steps backwards before remounting’, I knew there was no instant playback technology available, the race director was running the race himself so still out on course and it seemed the media at least had already made their minds up so we just waited for the presentation. Although pretty sure, without a reply we couldn’t be 100% positive that they didn’t cross the finish before impact with the ground so there wasn’t really anything we could do at the time so we just, somewhat reluctantly, applauded the announcement out their victory (after all they didn’t fall on purpose) and went home with another runners up finish to our names.

A few hours later footage from the race started to emerge online and one video from Britclip confirmed our suspicions to be true. Watch the whole video as it’s a great insight to the event, then forward to 4.20 in where their fall and our finish can be seen: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rhVGUPvpzzI

This still is also pretty conclusive:

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This was an unfortunate end to what has, is and hopefully will continue to be a truly unique occasion of sport. A race that is everything one should be – fun yet challenging, enjoyable yet competitive.

We certainly don’t want the situations from this day to bring negativity on what is one of the world’s most unique running events. We write this review in hope that we can all take something positive from it weather that be to train even harder, to properly mark the finish line with an actual line or to wear more suitable shoes.

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The wife who fell and was hospitalised sustained bruising and ligament damage. We wish her all the very best in recovery and good luck to the winners Chris and Tanisha in the World Wife Carrying Championship in July and we look forwards to a rematch next year.

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Matthew Balding AKA Mental Bear

The Man Beneath The Bear

Matthew Balding’s achievement of completing SEVEN Spartan Race Trifecta’s in one year is almost unprecedented and that’s before you even consider that he did it all while wearing a huge bear costume. We caught up with ‘Mental Bear’ to find out all about it.

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(Quirky Races) What’s your running/ racing background before you donned the bear costume?

(Matthew Balding) Being military I try to keep as fit as possible, I’ve done some ultras and about 80-100 trail runs /obstacle course races all together from 2015-2016 then I started the Spartan mentalbear challenge.

(QR) I understand that you wear the bear suit as an extra challenge to raise money for your chosen charity but why a bear and what made you chose such an elaborate costume?

(MB) A couple of things. The charity I picked – Zoe’s Place Coventry, had a picture of a bear as their logo and after my 2016 season ended badly with my hernia worsening, I couldn’t run to fast so mentalbear was born.

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(QR) When did you first wear the costume to race in and did you train in it at all beforehand? If so where?

(MB) My first race as Mental Bear was Spartan St. Claire at the start of the 2017 season which was so hot. I trained as the bear running in rivers around Coventry to get used to carrying the extra weigh as it is nearly 30kg’s when wet.

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(QR) I know you’ve done lots of obstacle course races (OCR) in the outfit, partially Spartan Race, but do you know how many you’ve done in total?

(MB) 22 in all. 21 Spartans (a total of 7 trifectas) and then mud7.

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(QR) Wow! Have you done any runs outside of OCR as the bear?

(MB) Not yet, I did plan to but the Coventry half marathon 2018 was cancelled due to the snow.

(QR) What’s the biggest challenges you face while in the costume. You’ve said it gets very heavy when muddy and wet, which I can imagine, and judging by your photos you certainly don’t avoid the mud!

(MB) Overheating is the worse, I had to carry an icepack to cool my core temperate down. I went to France for Spartan Race Morzine which was so hard as it was wet and so hilly.

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(QR) You’ve told me that you’re having a break from racing as Mental Bear this year. What are your goals for 2018?

(MB) None, I’m having some family time then I plan to be back to the charity work for a couple of runs in 2019 starting with winter Nuts Challenge.

(QR) Will the bear be making a comeback and if so do you have any future ideas to challenge yourself further and raise even more money for charity?

(MB) Yes just not sure what races and charity yet.

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(QR) How much have you raised so far?

(MB) So far £2094

If you would like to keep up to date with Mental Bear’s challenges and give him a sponsor his fundraising page is below:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/matthew-balding3

Good luck Matthew!

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Where’s Wally? Fun Run 2018

The Where’s Wally Fun Run is an annual event put on by National Literacy Trust with a children’s run and an adults 5km and 10km. Our guest review Nicola Stokes headed to Clapham Common to check it out.

As the weekend approached I was concerned that the race would be cancelled due to the weather as other events all over the country were being called off but with the good news that it was on I braved the elements of Elsa – Beast from the East 2.0 and made my way to the location.

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I turned up at 8:25AM and collected my Where’s Wally costume. Putting it on I did feel rather silly as I was one of the first there but the race village soon filled up with a sea of red and white stripes.

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The kids 1KM run was first off at 9:30AM and watching the mini Wallys was entertaining and gave much encouragement for me.

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Although the official ‘warm up’ was energising by the time we started at 10AM the cold weather meant I could no longer feel my fingers or toes.

With the course being slippery and muddy and my first marathon fast approaching I didn’t want to risk injury (Maranoia is a real condition!) so I walked most of the route.

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As I progressed my way through the snowy ground the sight of over 300 others all dressed as the same children’s puzzle book character was quite surreal.

There was a bitter wind but I made it to the end and collected my goody bag and medal. The weather had done its best to spoil this run but it didn’t succeed. The smile of all the participants faces proved that.

Secret London Run’s Sex In The City tour

***Warning – this review contains sexual references*** (but is quite tame compared to the run itself!)

Review by Catherine Harker.

Well, what can I say. Secret London Run’s Sex In The City tour is the only 10k to leave you buzzing, quite literally, thanks to their saucy sex toy goody bag!

Our fabulous frolic through the smutty streets of London under the reign of randy Charles II is quite simply one of the most bizarre, hilarious and memorable runs.

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Our guide Vanessa met us in the aptly named Cock Lane wearing a bright orange bobble hat which made her easy to follow as she led our group through the fruity adventure.

During the next hour and a half we skipped through the streets as Vanessa regaled us with smutty stories from the 17th century. The bed-hopping nobles and their affairs of the hearts……and other parts of their bodies.
We found the blue plaque dedicated to London’s second best prostitute (yes really, what a back handed compliment) and discovered her saucy sex game/circus trick which earned her a small fortune.

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Vanessa, who’s impressive historical knowledge is only matched by her dirty laugh, introduced us to Colonel Condom who made it his mission to protect men from VD.
We found out about the dead Bishop who had his penis pinched and who the prime suspect was.

A good sprinkling of bawdy poetry kept us giggling as we notched up the miles until we reached the climax in Soho – so to speak.

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After getting all hot and sweaty we were treated to a glass of Prosecco in a bar where we were presented with our reward – a sex toy from
Love Honey!

Drinkers struggled to hear themselves think over the buzzing as a dozen, slightly squiffy, giggly runners tried out the settings of their race(y) ‘medals’ by rubbing them on their noses!

Bizarre but brilliant. I had such a great day and I’d highly recommend this as a pressie for a friend or an alternative hen-do.

The next Sex and The City tours are in September http://www.secretlondonruns.com/sex-in-the-city and Secret London Runs have a whole host of other events. Check out their website or Facebook page for more info.

https://www.secretlondonruns.com/
https://www.facebook.com/secretlondonruns/

Michelle Frost- Sky’s The Limit

Ten years ago Michelle Frost became the first person in history to complete the famous 26.2 mile distance on stilts when finishing the London marathon in a time of 8 hours 25 minutes. A decade on she’s going back for more, still on stilts but this time aiming to break the current world record time of 6 hours 50 minutes. After witnessing her exploits in person at The Big Half (marathon) last Sunday Quirky Races’ Chris caught up with her for a chat ahead of the big day on April 22nd.

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(Chris Lamb) How did aiming to complete a marathon on stilts come about?

(Michelle Frost) I am part of a team that teach stilt walking on Scout Camps, we get young people to learn to walk on stilts as big as 6ft tall. When we’re done teaching, we put the stilts back on along with costumes and entertain around the campsites. We always cover a good distance so I often thought that perhaps a marathon would be possible.

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(CL) How many races have you done on the stilts?

(MF) The Big Half is now the 4th race I have done on stilts along with the London Marathon, the Silverstone Half Marathon and I have also done the Sports Relief Mile on bouncy stilts.

(CL) What are the biggest challenges of covering long distances on stilts and how often do you have to stop for breaks?

(MF) The main issue I’ve found in training is finding places to go where there’s a good distance with not too many low trees! Generally I’ve been found in some of the country parks and walks of Bedfordshire, hopefully not confusing too many dog walkers! So far I’ve done well by not stopping, but if I needed to I have to find something secure to hold on to as you can’t stand still on the stilts, if not its finding something big to sit on.

(CL) What’s your running/ sporting background, do you run races regularly or is this all for the challenge of completing London on stilts?

(MF) I’m not a runner, although I did run/walk the London Marathon the year after I did it on stilts to see if I could. It’s certainly just for the challenge and to raise awareness for Motor Neurone Disease by sporting my #TeamMND vest during the race.

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(CL) Have you done any other runs/races in a quirky way?

(MF) I think other than my exploits on stilts, the closest I’ve got to anything quite so quirky was doing ‘The Dog Jog’. A 5k run accompanied by my sister’s dog Bailey.

(CL) What’s next after the marathon if anything?

(MF) Continuing to teach and perform on stilts with my Scout group – Stiff and Stilted and attending the Norfolk Jamboree this summer.

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Michelle is raising money to help those affected by Motor Neurone Disease (MND). This dreadful disease is rapidly progressing and affects the brain and the spinal cord. It can leave people locked in a failing body, unable to move, talk, swallow and eventually breathe. Up to 5,000 adults are living with MND at any one time in the UK. If anyone would like to donate to her challenge they can do so via her JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michelle-frost5

Good luck Michelle and we hope to catch up with you again after the London marathon with an update on how it all went.

* We caught up with Michelle again after the London marathon. Find out how it went here: https://quirkyraces.com/2018/04/30/breaking-world-records-with-michelle-frost/

Quirky Races review of 2017

In 2017 we’ve put on 4 of our own events and attended/ reviewed 26 other events, 17 of which I’ve attended myself, taking part in 14 of them so I thought I’d look over some of my personal highlights from the year.

Host Races

Our first event of the year came in June on a scorching hot Father’s Day where we put on what we think was the UK’s first ever run exclusively for people running pushing their children in buggies at THE NORTHAMPTON BUGGY RUN. We held a competitive wave and a fun run at what was a new venue for us in Billing Aquadrome holiday park. In all honestly we didn’t get the participation numbers we had hoped for but those that did attend all seemed to go home happy and called for us to put it on again in 2018. We even had a few suggestions to name it ‘The Buggy running UK Championships’.

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Next up in October we held a Halloween/ alcohol themed night run called THE HALLOWINE RUN. We set the entry limit at 50 for this one for a number of reasons and almost sold out. I find whenever you add alcohol into the equation people tend to have more fun and that certainly was the case here. That added to several other elements including our marshals that doubled up as zombies hiding in the woods ready to scare the slightly tipsy runners at any moment! Again we used a new venue for this run at the Obelisk Centre in Northampton. Personally this was my favourite of all the events we’ve put on so far and it’s definitely one I want to hold again.

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Finally to end the year, for the second time, we held the QUIRKY CHRISTMAS MINCE PIE RUN. After the success of last year’s run (which was our first ever host event) we were very keen to put this one on again. We moved it away from Salcey Forest to Billing Aquadrome where we had a brilliant (and warm) indoor facility for registration before heading outside for 5k and 5 mince pies! We opened up entry early for this one and the sign ups flew in. It may have been a Christmas event but we’d passed last year’s participant numbers by the end of the autumn and were really happy with how things went on the day. This is an event we aim to build on year on year and look forwards to our third successive run in 2018.

We ran the event in partnership with local charity The Lewis Foundation and after hearing so of the stories from some of their guys who took part we wanted to do more so set up our first virtual run where we set people the challenge of running 5k while doing anything quirky along the way. All 100% of the entry fee for this when straight to the charity.

Featured Races

Firstly I’d like to thank all those who have covered and reviewed races for us throughout the last 12 months. Without them we wouldn’t have been able to bring you anywhere near as much content and also to all the event organisers who have kindly invited us along to their events.

I’ve had the pleasure of attending so many races which have brought a mix of fun and excitement and also many that have really challenged me both physically and mentally. That combination was never more apparent than in the first event we covered in 2017 Tough Guy- The original.

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We have some close links to obstacle course races so it was important to me to be at the race where it all started, especially when they were billing this as their last ever event. Having now done Tough Guy 6 times it will always be up there with my all time favourite events and I was very sad to see it end. Although they’ve now decided to keep it going in a much more watered down version January 2017 was were the true Tough Guy race ended in my eyes but who knows what the future will hold.

In February I had the pleasure of attending the famous Olney Pancake Race. This one is only open to the village residents so I was there, along with media from all over the world, to film and report on an event which goes way back in history.

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In March I returned to Dorking, Surrey for the UK Wife Carrying race. Personally I left slightly disappointed as for the second year running my wife and I finished second in a race we really want to win but that didn’t take anything away from what is a truly unique event which this year featured not only on our website but in almost all of the national newspapers and many television broadcasts. This one just has to be the ‘Quirky Races quirkiest race’. We’ll be back in a few months time looking to go one better and bring the title to Quirky Races!

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May saw me make the long trip to the Tetbury Woolsack Races. Another event steeped in history and one I was very excited to take part in. Again although this was fun it was very physically challenging and the pouring rain that came down throughout the day made the sacks even heavier to carry but didn’t dampen the spirits of what was a great day.

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Next up in June was the first running of Beat the Boat, an event I would say was my pick for ‘best new quirky race’ as it had so many elements to it that made it unique. There were three boats for the runners to race alone the river Themes, with the backdrop of Windsor castle, all going at different paces, spectators could travel on the boats and there were even two beer and Prosecco stops along the 10k route.

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In July it was another first, this time for obstacle course racing as Ram Run put on the UK’s first outdoor short course elimination race called Iron Ram. On a personal note this one stood out for me as the event really suited me and I managed to pick up the overall win. It brought a different dynamic to OCR and it’s a format I really hope continues.

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If one month in particular stands out throughout 2017 it was most definitely August which started with an epic double event day both of which involved plenty of alcohol consumption and ended with my most challenging event of the year.

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First up it was The Great British Beerathon which required the running of 5 one mile laps each ending in the drinking of a great British pint and the eating of some great British food. The atmosphere of this event made it feel a lot more like a night out with your mates than a running race and for that reason it gets my vote for ‘quirky race of the year’. From here I headed straight across London to the Beer Mile World Classic. This time I had to consume a can of beer before each 4 x 400m lap of the running track. I loved the mix of participants at this race from those who couldn’t run very fast to those who couldn’t drink very fast, some couldn’t do either yet there were other who excelled in both and had flew in from all over the world to compete for the world title and were aiming to set the world record.

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Later in the month I travelled to South Wales for one of the experiences of my sporting lifetime at Breca Swim Run Gower. 40km of running over 1,800 meters of elevation and 6.5km of swimming in the sea with 16 transitions meant this one definitely gets the title of ‘most challenging quirky race’ as it put me out of my comfort zone more than any event ever has done. The course was epic, the views were breathtaking and the sense of accomplishment at the finish was monumental.

In October I went back to the Gherkin Challenge for the third time. Although stair running is becoming more popular there is still a very limited number of opportunities to do it and this is one I really enjoy. Like many quirky races, it’s for a great cause and offers a unique challenge and what better finish line than the top of one of our capital city’s tallest buildings?

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The last quirky race of the year for me was the Tunnel Vision Dawn Run. Getting up super early in freezing cold conditions wasn’t enjoyable but running from darkness into light as dawn broke was something pretty special as was going through the 412 meter tunnel in both directions.

For full reviews on all of the above mentioned events and many others click here: https://quirkyraces.com/featured-races/

Happy New Year everyone. Keep an eye out on our Facebook page for all our upcoming events and news: https://m.facebook.com/Quirkyraces/