When you are looking for something to do that’s a little ‘out of the ordinary’ its often an easy first port of call to check out whats going on in Llanwrtyd Wells. As towns and villages go, my home town/village of Llanwrtyd really knows how to pack a punch on the eccentricity scale. The last two weeks have been the dollop of cream on the wobbly jelly! Starting on 8th with the Green Events run Summer Cider Cycle and ending on Bank Holiday monday with the Boat tug of War; there has been a superabundance of quirky fun and challenging activities on offer for all the family.
Green Events Ltd have been going since the eighties. They are a collaboration of Llanwrtyd residents and wider community supporters, all working as volunteers to deliver a calendar of events to attract tourists into the town. Some of the most famous are the Man v Horse Marathon, World Bog Snorkelling Championship and the Real ale Wobble.
The Man v Horse Marathon (annually in June) has been running for 35 years and attracts around 1200 participants to the town for its 23 mile multi-terrain straight race pitting horse and rider against man. Twice, the fastest person on foot has beaten the fastest horse and rider. Every year lots of runners beat lots of riders over the finish line. The event annually attracts TV crews and participants from around the world and for the last 4 years has been sponsored by the fabulous Whole Earth Foods who provide a surfeit of peanut butter and high energy treats for the delighted spectators, volunteers and participants as well as being bloody lovely people. It is the largest horse race in Europe if not the world, capping horse entries at 65 (Grand National is 45), although there is usually a waiting list with nearer 100 applying.
The Real Ale Wobble (annually in November) is at the beginning of our nine-day Mid Wales Beer Festival and basically is a mountain bike ride with the option of beer at the water stops and generally a large consumption of real ales and raucous dancing and laughter at the post event party the evening of the event. It has,at its peak attracted around 750 cyclists, predominantly men and stag groups (I guess that’s the presence of 150 real ales for you).
Anyway, I digress but its events like those that have put Llanwrtyd on the map but its the penultimate event of the August fortnight that really gives Llanwrtyd its name, Home of Bog Snorkelling. The World Bog Snorkelling has been running for 33 years and takes place in LW annually on August Bank Holiday Sunday, preceded by its baby sister events, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling and the Bog Triathlon.
Since 2012, when the UK had the Olympics, LW, thanks to the energy and foresight of an enthusiastic group of residents, we have bi-annually run the World Alternative Games. Using the Corinthian ethos of “taking part is more important than winning”, the events (some small and run in the style of a school fete others larger and attracting international competitors) are put on for all age groups and to the enjoyment of locals and tourists alike. Everyone who takes part gets a medal and you really do have the opportunity to become a bronze, silver or gold medalist.
Their existence arose when London ‘borrowed’ back funding promised to Welsh arts and sports projects in order to fund the Olympics. Gordon Green MBE, who previously founded Green Events Ltd, came up with the idea of a fortnight of ‘alternative’ sports to run between the Olympics and Paralympics. They received such positive support and funding from the Welsh Assembly Government and so much media interest that the group decided they would run the events every single Olympic Year. So bi-annually here in LW we now have two weeks of ‘crazy’ starting with Green Events’ Summer Cider Cycle (basically like the Real Ale Wobble only with cider and better weather).
Throughout the fortnight participants could try their hand at all sorts from Pea Shooting to Husband Dragging, from Stiletto Racing to Stone Skimming, from Worm Charming to Office Chair Racing and so much more in between.
The highlight of the fortnight is undoubtedly the World Bog Snorkelling Championships. This event attracts more media attention than any other event we have here. This year we had media crews and participants from Iran, South Korea, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, USA, Canada, Australia, England, Ireland and Wales. The day of the event could not have been more wet. There was more water in the air than air!!! The crowd (and yes there was one) was fantastic, fabulous, energetic, loud and enthusiastic. There were 125 participants (that’s a lot, even on a sunny year we’ve only peaked at 135) and a new world record was set.
As ever, presumably because I have the loudest voice in the village, I was invited to commentate the day so out came my alter-ego, Lady Lily Pink and away I did talk. I think I was talking solidly from 9am til 4pm. Hubby always says his fave day of the year is August Bank Holiday Monday, because without a doubt I will have lost my voice by Sunday evening. This year he was disappointed. I’d obviously been in training. My voice , whilst a tad croaky, held out and no silence was had the following day. I can only apologise.
Anyway, if you want to know more about any of the events mentioned follow the hyperlinks or search YouTube or Google, there are loads of fantastic bits of video. Meanwhile to save you the bother, here are a few of the pictures I took whilst Lady Lil was hanging out and filming with the 5 gorgeous guys from an Italian TV company (poor me, it’s a tough life) and from my day commentating at the bog..
Photo credits – the shit ones are mine the good ones are by Peter Barnett…