The Mountain Biking Bog Snorkelling World Championship sees competitors riding through a trench in a mask and snorkel. It’s, arguably, the highlight of the World Alternative Games—a two-week celebration of bizarre sports, hosted by the mid-Wales town of Llanwrtyd Wells.
Alongside the main event, the annual games host a variety of crazy competitions, including African snail racing, stiletto and office-chair racing, and husband-dragging.
The Event is a Spinoff of the Bog Snorkelling Championship
The tiny Welsh town held the first World Mountain Biking Bog Snorkelling Championship, 10 years ago, as a spinoff from the longer-running Bog Snorkelling Championship, which began in 1985. The original event saw competitors use flippers and masks to swim along two trenches as fast as possible.
Cycling at full pelt into a deep, murky bog on a bike laden with lead wearing a diving mask and snorkel isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. However, the unusual extreme sport soon developed a cult following and, this year, there was even a junior race—in a shallower, shorter bog.
World Alternative Games co-organiser Karen Perkins told the Telegraph:
You’d be surprised how competitive it gets…Some even go with nothing on…It’s a bit like survival of the fittest.
So, how did Llanwrtyd Wells become the centre of the nation’s quirkiest sporting event? Karen Perkins explains that:
It was in reaction to the Olympic Games. London got all the sports. So we came up with these.
Riders compete to see how far they can ride in the 30-yard, water-filled trench. In order to stop themselves and their bikes from floating, they are laden with lead weights and their bikes are weighed down with lead and water-filled tyres—which also helps to grip the bottom of the slimy Waen Rhydd bog.
Safety is paramount; after the riders’ heads become submerged below the surface, they rely on their mask and snorkel—visibility is just a few inches. Two divers stand either side ready to hoist the cyclist to the surface should things go wrong.
Former world mountain biking bog-snorkelling champion, Danny Bent, says that the best technique is to pedal like mad. On his blog, he writes:
These bogs are deep and dark and filled with eels. Water scorpions scurry over the surface. I’m told a dead sheep was [even] found in there.
So, if you’re looking for a new adventure experience, maybe the World Alternative Games are for you.