The World Alternative Games


So what are you doing next month in mid-August? How about a little Gemau Byd Arallddweisol in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales?

For years I’ve wanted to host an absolutely ridiculous annual event compromised of guests in random costumes competing in contests of our own creation. Fastest Slip N’Slider covered in Crisco, perhaps, or blindfolded adult tricycle racing. The possibilities are endless and the best part is knowing wild and crazy people who’d have no problem abandoning themselves to such a day of glee.

It turns out that some of my intrepid Welsh brethren have beat me to the punch and created the World Alternative Games, held every August in a small town near the Irfon Forest called Llanwrtyd Wells. The idea for the Games was sparked after learning the Olympics would be held in London in 2012; WAG held its first official games that same year. The WAG website says:

And so, with this in mind, a small group of people came up with an idea – what about holding Llanwrtyd’s very own version of the Olympic Games, but with all the normal events thrown out of the window and replaced with an array of unrecognised and different events that are not part of the official Olympic calendar. These events have competitors who are just as dedicated to their unusual sports as their Olympian counterparts, and what better time to promote as many of these exciting and imaginative events as possible…


The origins of some of the Games’ events go back much farther according to one of WAG’s fun-loving, charismatic organizers, Gordon Green. Gordon told me that it was 1980 when Llanwrtyd Wells, the smallest town in Britain at 700 residents, held their first Man versus Horse Marathon. This is exactly what it sounds like; human runners square off against riders on horseback. And yes, humans have actually won the race once or twice, an amazing feat considering the 22-mile route.

Green says new events began to be added every year. One night in a pub he owned he and his compatriots were discussing how to raise money for a new community center. Someone said they had a bog in their garden, and someone else said, “let’s snorkel in it!” Llanwrtyd Wells now hosts the World Bog Snorkelling Championships as part of the Games. These intense races through peat bogs using flipper power only have blossomed into two related events, the World Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling Championships, and the World Human Underwater Bog Dredging Championship.

Here’s a listing of other events at the World Alternative Games. There’s something for everyone, whether you want to test your mental or physical prowess or simply stand there with a beverage and cheer on everyone else.

August 9th 

Red Kite Cycling Festival Road Sportive

MTB Challenge

Observed Trials

Downhill Course (these are cycling events)

Kids Skills Day

Mountain Bunny Hop

Penny Farthing Race

Round 4 World Bathtubbing Championships (in Llanelli) – be sure to check out the Facebook page for more info. on this sport, including some great photos

Universal Translators

The World Alternative Games at the Seaside (at Pendine Sands on beautiful Carmarthen Bay— you might know Pendine Sands by another name, the Sands of Speed)

August 10th

Worm Charming

Food Fayre

Space Hopper Race (most of you had something like this as a kid and have already raced them)


World of Grip

Egg Throwing

Porta Putt

Finger Jousting

Hide N Seek

Red Kite Cycling Festival Sportive Route 2

MTB Route 2

Downhill Race

Unicycle Race

Micro Bike Race

Slow Bicycle Race

Fun in the Sun Sup Races (in Llanelli)

Bog snorkelling. From Wales Online.

August 11th

Young Children’s Day at Ysgol Dolafon school

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Pooh Sticks

Zombie Race

August 12th

Scooter Slalom

Snail Racing

August 13th

Guided walks

Guided cycling

Geo Cashing

Golf Cross (played with an oval golf ball)


August 14th

Pea Shooting

Water Slide

Belly Flopping

Russian Egg Roulette

Crempog Race (Crempogs are thick Welsh pancakes. Never had one? Here ‘s the Crempog Traddodiadol recipe.)


Conker Championships (Conkers is a game played using horse chestnuts on strings as weapons.)

Multi Sport Time Trial

Pole Dancing

Barrel Rolling

August 16th

Hay Bale Tossing

Woolsack Carrying

Tug of War

Team Nail Run

Scarletts Inflatable

Whitefern Mountain String Band

August 17th

Wife Carrying

Husband Dragging

August 18th

Soap Box Derby

Ping Pongo

Bathtubbing. From Wacky Nation.

August 19th

Hula Hooping

Horseshoe Throwing

August 20th

Underwater Hockey U16, U 19 (at Newport International Sports Village)

Guided walks

Geo Cashing

Golf Cross

Music Quiz

August 21st

Gravy Wrestling (oh YEAH!)

Backward Running

Bouncy Castle Wrapping

Wheelbarrow Racing

Toe Wrestling

Underwater Hockey U16, U 19 (at Newport International Sports Village)

August 22nd

Stilletto Race

Mad Shopper

Office Chair Racing

Twinning Day

Sack Fighting

Keep Wales Tidy Triathlon

Underwater Hockey U16, U 19 (at Newport International Sports Village)

Underwater Rugby Demonstration match (at Newport International Sports Village)

Woolsack carrying. From The Telegraph.
Woolsack carrying. From The Telegraph.

August 23rd

Bog Triathlon

World Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling Championships

World Human Underwater Bog Dredging Championship

The Manors Children’s Day (at Manor Adventure)

Corinthian Stone Skimming

MTB Chariot Racing (yes with mountain bikes)

Underwater Hockey U16, U 19 (at Newport International Sports Village)

Underwater Rugby Demonstration match (at Newport International Sports Village)

Sean Saye

August 24th

Dyke Jumping

Bog Snorkelling

Ditch Racing

Floyd Earl

August 25th


5 Km Run

Cani Cross

Closing Ceremony

Mountain bike chariot racing. From The Telegraph.

So, my fellow Washingtonians, these daring Welsh folk seem to enjoy a lot of the same activities that we do– mountain biking, playing in the mud, running, swimming, zombies, racing our office chairs, and doing all manner of things underwater. Clearly many of us from the Puget Sound area in particular would feel right at home competing in many of these events. We need to bring some Evergreen State pride to this former Victorian spa town and give them a run for the money.

Personally I have my eye on the Worm Charming, Gravy Wrestling, Space Hopper Race, and Bouncy Castle Wrapping events. I don’t even know what the latter is but just last week I was complaining to an acquaintance that I’m tired of going to parties where the bouncy castles are only for kids. Adults need bouncy castles too. And I really wouldn’t mind attempting to bog snorkel. Any kid who’s grown up near Seattle knows that about mid-November, that’s basically what you’re doing when you play outside anyway. It’s old hat.

Attending the World Alternative Games should be considered a must-do by any serious lover of fun. Or any serious athlete as well. I’m thankful to Karen Perkins and Gordon Green for providing some history on the Games and look forward to hanging out with this brilliantly outlandish group at the Games as soon as possible. As the Welsh proverb says, adar o’r unlliw, ehedant i’r unlle– birds of a feather flock together.

Thank you, Gordon, Karen, and friends, for dreaming up this marvelous menagerie of colorful contests. You’ve put Llanwrtyd Wells on the map as the Games get international coverage and visitors from all over. I appreciate how you encourage participants to raise money for charity and the number of sponsors you’ve secured. This year’s games are guaranteed to be a riot, and they’re only going to get better with time. Lechyd da!

Man versus horse. From the World Alternative Games website.
Man versus horse. From the World Alternative Games website.


Fun is good. -Dr. Seuss


©2014 H. Hiatt/ All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/


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