The Welsh are known for their singing prowess, especially male voice choirs, their passion for Rugby and at times excessive beer drinking, however, they also have a great sense of humour. In 2012, in the smallest town in Wales, with a population in the region of 850, the World Alternative Games were born.
The town in question is Llanwrtyd Wells, situated on the banks of the River Irfon in the county of Powys in mid Wales, and whereas the official games are plagued with doping scandals, the predominant drug used in the World Alternative Games is probably alcohol, which I am sure is more of a hindrance than a benefit.
Llanwrtyd Wells, originally became popular as a spa town following the discovery of waters that were thought to have healing properties. The spa was known in Welsh as Ffynnon Ddrewllyd that translates into English as Stinking Well, due to the strong smell of hydrogen sulphide. The name reminds me of the town here in Colombia called Rio Sucio, or Dirty River in English—neither sounds that inviting or romantic.
Llanwrtyd Wells is no stranger to alternative and somewhat strange sporting events as in 1980 the first Man versus Horse Marathon took place there, with runners competing against riders on horseback over a 22 mile course. The annual event was first won by a runner rather than a rider in 2004 and this feat has since been repeated.
Bog Snorkelling entails completing two lengths of a trench filled with water cut through a peat bog. Competitors must wear a snorkel and flippers and are not allowed to use conventional swimming strokes. The total distance of the course is 120 yards (110 metres). The first World Bog Snorkelling Championship was held at the Waen Rhydd peat bog near the town in 1985 and is an annual event.
The competitive events include; wife carrying, bog snorkelling, stiletto heel race, worm charming, underwater hockey and rugby, office chair racing, Russian egg roulette and husband dragging. For a taster of the events you can watch this video on YouTube.
Also worth seeing while you are in Llanwrtyd Wells is the Cambrian Mill, an old woollen mill that dates back to 1820 when it was initially a corn mill, it opened as a woollen mill in 1852. The mill was partially destroyed by a fire in 1889 but was rebuilt in 1902 and has been operating continually since then. The mill makes blankets, ties, hats and fabric and also specialises in designing and making Welsh tartan. There is a tea and gift shop, a crafts studio and an exhibit of weaving in Wales through history.