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If you’ve got some free time this August and fancy attending one of the world’s oddest sporting events, consider heading to the town of Llanwrtyd Wells in Wales for the 35th Annual World Bog Snorkelling Championship. Just don't forget to pack a snorkel, mask, and flippers.
Once described by Lonely Planet as a “Must-Do” activity, the event attracts participants and spectators from all over the world. The race has taken place at the Waen Rhydd bog annually since the mid-1980s, though it was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19. The goal is to traverse two lengths of a water-filled trench measuring 60 yards (55 m) as quickly as possible. Cut into a peat bog, the trench is about three feet deep and the muddy water is pretty much opaque. Competitors can’t use traditional swimming strokes – the power must come from their flippers.
Participants of any age and skill level (there's a category for teenagers and one for over-50's) are invited to take part in the championship. Many participants dress up, appearing as superheroes, Ninja Turtles, sharks, mermaids, and more, and prizes are awarded for the best costumes alongside the fastest finishers. With entertainment and food and drink stalls set up for the event, it's a quirky and welcoming atmosphere that embraces the spirit of breaking out of your comfort zone to try something new – however strange that thing may be.
Take the plunge:
- Neil Rutter holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest men’s bog snorkelling time (1 minute 18.81 seconds, set in 2018) and is a four-time champion in Llanwrtyd Wells. The women’s world record of 1 minute 22.56 seconds was set in 2014 by Kirsty Johnson.
- If you’d like to combine bog snorkelling with other, more conventional, sports, you could register for the Bog Triathlon, which always occurs the day before the Bog Snorkelling Championship. Also held near Llanwrtyd Wells, it involves an 8-mile run and a 12-mile mountain bike ride in addition to the 60-yard bog snorkel.
- All proceeds from the event are donated to a different charity every year, such as the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the Motor Neurone Association.