The Lode

Unusual sports around the world

Some participants of Zorbing rolling down a hill in the giant plastic ball.

Some participants of Zorbing rolling down a hill in the giant plastic ball.


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Far removed from the spotlight that traditional sports such as baseball and tennis occupy, there exists a world of obscure and unique sports enjoyed by a happy few.

Cheese Rolling

Forgoing the traditional ball or puck, participants in this sport game after a 9-pound wheel of Gloucester cheese. The annual championship takes place in England, at Cooper’s Hill. The event begins with the object of the chase being sent rolling down from the summit of the hill. After a one-second head start, the competitors give chase, attempting to catch the cheese as it hurtles towards the finish line at the bottom of the hill. While it is unlikely that the cheese is actually caught (it can accelerate up to highway speeds), whoever crosses the finish line gets to keep it, taking home bragging rights and a delicious prize.

Competitive Hobbyhorsing

This is the perfect sport for someone wishing to participate in dressage but without the funds for an actual horse. Popular in Finland, competitive hobbyhorsing involves traversing a course of hurdles or obstacles using not a live horse, but the beloved toy with a stick for a body. While the idea may be initially met with laughter, the feats of athleticism performed are certainly not- walking a balance beam and jumping hurdles are difficult enough without carrying a fake horse between one’s legs. Last year’s championship, held in the city of Vantaa, drew around 200 participants, mostly young women.

Chess Boxing

Chess boxing is the perfect marriage of physical and intellectual competition. It consists of a boxing match and a game of chess played out in brief, alternating rounds between the same two opponents. There are eleven 3-minute rounds, beginning and ending with the chess game, making for 6 rounds of chess and 5 of boxing. Either a TKO or a checkmate can win the entire game. The sport is popular in several large countries and has official events held, with the first world championship being held in Amsterdam in 2003.

Zorbing

This casual, fun sport involves rolling around in a large plastic ball like a hamster. A Zorb consists of one plastic sphere suspended inside another by a network of threads. Its lack of popularity likely comes from its inaccessibility- not many have the money, space, or time required for it. However, if you do, expect the time of your life as you tumble, roll, and run through fields or down hills inside the giant orb.

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Unusual sports around the world