Sauna World Championships

It was a sad day for the Sauna World Championship yesterday when Russian competitor, Vladimir Ladyzhenskiy, collapsed with severe burns, and later died. The contest, held each year in Heinola, Finland measures how long people can stay in a sauna, where temperatures can exceed 230 degrees Fahrenheit (110 degrees Celsius). This year, saw more than 130 competitors from 15 countries. “I know this is very hard to understand to people outside Finland who are not familiar with the sauna habit,” said Ossi Arvela, spokesman for the contest. The competition, which started in 1999, will never be held again, Arvela said.

Hot Dog Eating

Ah, America. Land of indulgence. And hot dogs. What better way to celebrate America than by jamming 50+ processed meat products in your face? Each year on Independence Day, Nathan’s Famous hosts hot dog eating competition on Coney Island. The rules are simple: Stuff your face with as many hot dogs (and buns) as you can in 10 minutes. This year, Joey Chestnut took the $10,000 prize for eating 54.

Bun Scramble

It’s man vs. bun! Each spring, on the tiny fishing island of Cheung Chau in Hong Kong participants scurry up a 60-ft.-tall (18 m) tower of steamed, sweet and blessed buns. The contest, aid to ease the spirits of those who died when a plague struck the island in the 19th century, was cancelled for 27 years after the bamboo towers collapsed in the 1978 scramble, injuring more than 100 people. It was restarted in 2005 after stronger metal towers were constructed.

Baby Jumping

Each year to mark the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi, the Spanish village, Castrillo de Murcia, hosts the Baby-Jumping Festival. Just as it sounds, the contest has all the makings of a disaster. Men, dressed as the devil, make a running leap over mattresses packed with babies. The daring act is said to protect the children from illness and guard them from evil spirits, but makes no mention of what happens to the babies if the “devil” trips and lands on the tiny babes.

Wife-Carrying World Championship

Grab your wife, and head down to Finland’s 253-meter sand, grass, gravel, and water track in the remote village of Sonkajarvi! Only don’t put her down when you get there. That is, if you want a shot at the Wife-Carrying World Championship title.

But good luck trying to beat the two-year reigning champs, Taisto Miettinen and Kristiina Haapanen, who out-carried over 50 other couples from 15 countries this past July. Forget diamonds—nothing says forever like a one-minute and five-second sprint. Especially when it includes something only elusively described as a one-meter deep “water obstacle.”

Redneck Games

Every July, 10,000 Southerners get down and dirty at the Redneck Games, held in East Dublin, Georgia. It was started in 1995 as a spoof of the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, and has been going strong ever since. The events are as stereotypical as you can get. You can bob for pigs' feet, spit seeds, Dumpster dive, belly flop into a mud pit and toss toilet seats, all in the name of good Southern fun. And don't think the Games lack ceremony — there's a beer-can torch, accompaniment by armpit serenade, and trophies topped with, yes, beer cans.

Air Guitar World Championships

Love wearing tight leather pants, but lack rock-star talent? On August 27, strap on your invisible Flying V and rock on over to Oulu, Finland, where the World Air Guitar Championships are held every year. Twenty-six countries will face off in a battle of flashy costumes, outlandish dance moves and semi-convincing guitar-playing pantomime. The prize for last year's winner? Oddly enough, an actual, physical guitar.

Pumpkin Regattas

If you were trapped on a sinking ship, a pumpkin probably wouldn't be your first choice for an escape vessel: they are heavy, unwieldy and they kind of smell bad. But at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, paddling around in an aquatic pumpkin is the perfect way to spend an autumn Saturday. Since 2005, UW horticultural professors have organized an annual Giant Pumpkin Regatta, a ridiculous spectacle in which students race hollowed-out pumkpins around nearby Lake Medota. (An inner tube provides additional bouyancy for the vegetables.) Why do they do it? Because it's fun, and -- perhaps! -- educational. The pumpkins are a special hybrid bred for the occasion; Professor James Nienhuis calls them "sleek sailing pumpkins."

Other pumpkin regattas are held all over North America, most notably in Oregon and Nova Scotia, but UW's is by far the most dangerous: The first pumpkin regatta was marred by a tragic pier collapse that left spectators shivering in waist-high water. (There were no major injuries.)

Ostrich Racing

Were you aware that the area around Chandler, Arizona was once the home to a thriving ostrich ranching industry that provided the nation with extravagant ostrich plumes? The Chandler Chamber of Commerce hopes so; since 1989 it has organized the Ostrich Festival, a three-day-long celebration of the town's intimate history with the large ornery bird.

The festival includes carnival rides and live music, but the highlight is undoubtedly the Ostrich Race, where brave jockeys hop upon the backs of the beasts to see which bird reigns supreme. (If YouTube videos are to be believed, ostrich races are the only kind of race where mounts routinely throw off their riders and finish solo.) The festival's web site also advertises the ready availability of delicious ostrich meat, which seems slightly cruel to NewsFeed. Is that any way to celebrate your fine feathered friend?

LG National Texting Championship

R u ready 4 this yr?

If you answered “ys” to that, then probably not. A cardinal rule of the LG National Texting Championship: no abbreviations, no typos. (How did Fight Club miss that one…?)

The 2010 event, LG’s fourth annual episode, will be held between September 15 and 17 in New York City. Thirty-eight qualifying participants will vie for the title of National Texting Champion. Oh, and a grand prize award of $50,000.

Needless to say, stakes will be high. A CNN article describes that during last year’s competition, calculated distractions like “actors dressed as emoticons” were present in an attempt to thwart contestants’ best efforts. We can only hope that this year, for the sake of the texters, LG leaves out the frowny face.

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Funny cartoon of the day

Funny cartoon of the day