BMX, BASE jumping, skiing and surfing, bungee guys jumping, and skateboard kids skating: these are a few of our favorite things (as you well know if you read The Adrenalist). Less often do we cover those pastimes that are more, well, out there – extreme in their own right, but a few clicks left of our typical extreme sports.
All that changes today. So, sit back, enjoy and marvel at some of the lesser-known examples of life on the edge.
1. Volcano Diving
Your eyes don’t deceive you. Volcano diving is a real thing. If wingsuiting isn’t quite enough to get your heart beating through your chest, this sport is practiced by adventurers whose relationship with fate reaches far past temptation and lands deep inside the mound of antagonism; volcanic mound, that is. Watch as Russian BASE jumper Valery Rozov freefalls into the mouth of the Mutnovsky Volcano (yep, it’s active), and feel free to wonder why you’ll never have the wherewithal to accomplish anything near as insane. One can only imagine what went through Rozov’s mind as he plowed through the steaming mouth of a lava-filled mountain that last blew its lid just 12 years ago. There’s so much we want to know.
2. Catfish Grabbing
Picture yourself on a lake. It’s your family vacation: a full week of rest that you’ve waited for all year. But, something’s not right. It’s only day 3 of 7 and you’re downright bored. “How much longer can I possibly lie in the sun?” you wonder. Your mind wanders further, frantically searching for feasible pastimes more exciting than towel-sitting. Your thirst for adventure needs to be quenched, but how? Skipping rocks? Wakeboarding? No boat, or board. Flying? You don’t have wings. Then, a patch of bubbling water catches your eye. Just beneath the surface, a thick hunk of brown shimmers and then vanishes deep below. Before you have a moment to process what’s happening, you’re waist-deep in water, thrashing and clawing at the whiskered answer to your mundane life. After a minute or two, you pull up a big, juicy catfish and, suddenly, you realize your vacation just got a whole lot better.
Just like polo, only played with a headless goat carcass instead of a ball, Buzkashi is the national sport of Afghanistan, practiced in many locales across Eastern Europe and South Central Asia. The game involves hoards of men on horseback knocking the carcass up a field, toward a goal. Unlike polo, where game times are limited to about an hour, Buzkashi matches can sometimes go on for days. Bouts are refereed and riders can be subbed out for others during the exhausting course of play. The average Buzkashi player, referred to as a “Chapandaz,” is in his forties and in peak physical condition. Highly skilled players are often sponsored by wealthy Afghan families. Deemed immoral by the Taliban, Buzkashi was suspended for a considerable length of time and is just now, post-Taliban rule, making its reappearance in the region’s zeitgeist. Sometimes, calf carcasses are used in place of goats and both are occasionally packed with sand for a little extra weight.
4. Wife Carrying
Founded in Sonkajarvi, Finland, wife-carrying requires competing men to race through a series of obstacles, all while carrying their significant others on their backs. Carrying methods range from the “piggyback,” to the “fireman’s carry,” to the good ol’ “Estonian-style grab,” where the wife puts her legs around her husband’s neck, grabbing his waist for stability. Each race consists of two couples. Tracks are 253.5 meters long and include two dry obstacles and one wet, traditionally one meter deep. The most prominent wife-carrying competitions occur in Sonkajarvi, Finland, Monona, Wisconsin, Minocqua, Wisconsin and Marquette, Michigan. The inspiration for the sport is believed to have been Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen, an 1800s-era Finnish thief who pillaged towns with his gang members and reportedly stole women away by carrying them on his back.
5. Mobile Phone Throwing
Have you ever wanted to throw your malfunctioning cell phone across the room? How about across a field? If you answered yes, then we have got the perfect game for you. In another shining example of kooky Finish-born “sport,” we give you mobile phone throwing (MPT). MPT competitions involve exactly what the name implies — whipping phones. Players vie for the farthest field toss, using a variety of techniques from the “original” over the shoulder throw to the totally creative “freestyle” to the “junior,” reserved for tossers aged 12 and under. Any phone that weighs over 220 grams is acceptable, so mobile devices often differ amongst competitors. Interested? The Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships are held every year in Savonlinna, Finland. All you need to do is book a plane ticket and grab your cell and… oh, wait… did you already toss it?