The World’s Strangest Endurance Contests


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In the 1920’s and 1930’s, “dancethons” were extremely popular.  A danceathon is a contest to see which couple could dance the longest. The rules were, as long as one partner is purposely dancing with the other then they were still in the contest. One partner falling asleep while the other danced with their limp body was pretty common in these contests. Though danceathons were meant to be fun, one man died after he danced for 87 hours straight. They also had danceathons for solo dancers. The record holder for a solo danceathon was a man named Bandana Nepal, who dance for 126 hours straight. Dancethons do take place today, usually held as fundraisers. 


Longest Kiss Contest

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Believe it or not, there is actually a world record for the longest continuous kiss. There’s also events for couples trying to break that record. The rules for this kissing contest are the couple’s lips must always remain touching, neither one of the partners can fall asleep, and a judge must accompany the couple when one has to go to the bathroom to make sure they don’t stop kissing. Also, diapers are not allowed. The current record is held by Ekkachai and Laksana Tiranarat from Thailand. They remained locked at the lips for 58 hours, 35 minutes, and 58 seconds on Valentine’s Day in 2013.


Hold Your Wee

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In 2007, a radio station in California held an endurance contest called “Hold your wee for a Wii.” Basically, the contestants were not allowed to go to the bathroom and the last one standing would win a Nintendo Wii. To make matters worst, every 15 minutes the contestants had to drink water. Jennifer Strange entered the contest because she really wanted to win the Wii for her kids. She ended up finishing in second place. Unfortunately, later at home she died from water intoxication because of the amount of water she drank in the contest. She drank around two gallons of water in just three hours. Even during the contest listeners called in and complained that what they were doing was dangerous. The station was sued for “wrongful death” and the Strange family was awarded 16 million dollars. 


Cold Endurance

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The things humans will do to become world record holders is truly astonishing. In 2014, man named Jin Songhao set the world record for the longest time a body has been in direct contact with ice. He sat in ice for 1 hour, 53 minutes and 10 seconds. Songhao also holds the world record for standing barefoot on ice. However, in 2019, his ice submerged record was broken by Josef Koeberl, who spent 2 hours, 8 minutes and 47 seconds sitting in ice. 

There’s another cold champion named Wim Hof, who holds the world record for the longest swim under ice. Using just his mind, Hof can actually raise his body temperature to help withstand the freezing conditions. He has also climbed mountains just wearing shorts and ran a half-marathon in the arctic circle with no shoes. 


Sauna Contests 

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Enjoying a nice relaxing sauna is good for the human body. The health benefits include; relieving stress, flushing out toxins, cleansing of the skin, it even helps fight away illnesses. In Finland, saunas are a big part of their culture because of how cold it gets. Finland is also the birthplace of the sauna championships.

Starting in 1999, every year a sauna contest was held. Contestants would simply stay in the sauna for as long as they could take it. A normal sauna is heated to 176 degrees Fahrenheit but the saunas in this contest were heated to 230 degrees Fahrenheit. That is past the boiling point of water. In 2009, the men’s winner lasted 3 minutes and 46 seconds. In 2010, two men were in the sauna for around 6 minutes when the judges knew something was wrong and pulled him out. One of the men was Timo Kaukonen, who was the 2009 winner. He suffered from severe burns to his body. The other man wasn’t so lucky. His name was Vladimir Ladyzhenskiy and he did not survive. The contest was banned after this. 


Noun And Verb Rodeo

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In 1928, a man who made a living hosting danceathons thought of a new endurance contest. He called it the Noun and Verb Rodeo, and the rules were whoever could talk for four days straight (without using profanity) would win $1,000. Thirty-five people signed up and the contest began. But it turns out that people don’t want to watch other people blabber incoherent nonsense for four days, so the event was a complete flop. The man who hosted the contest ended up losing $10,000 of his own money. Two of the contestants were just fifteen minutes away from making the four day mark when the host stopped the contest and declared it a draw, so no one would win the money.  That was the first and last Noun And Verb Rodeo. 


Slow Pipe Smoking Contest

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There are contests still held to this day where the object is to smoke pipe tobacco the slowest. This involves the pipe smoker to have extremely good pipe-smoking technique. This might sound silly to someone who doesn’t know anything about pipe smoking but there is a special technique involved. Everyone in the contest gets the same amount of tobacco, usually 3-5 grams, and only two matches to light their pipes. The object is to make the tobacco burn as slow as possible. 

There have been speed pipe smoking contests but they aren’t as popular. People smoke pipe tobacco to relax them and they enjoy the flavor of the tobacco. Smoking a pipe fast usually makes the person sick. 


Flagpole Sitting

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Flagpole Sitting became a fad in the mid to late 1920’s in America. It’s exactly as it sounds, someone climbs a flagpole and remains there as long as they can. It started in 1924, when a former sailor/stuntman named Alvin “Shipwreck” Kelley climbed a flagpole and sat there for 13 hours and 13 minutes. The stunt drew a very large crowd of people. It was rumored that the theater right next to the flagpole paid him to do it. After that, flagpole sitting became a fad with various flagpole sitters setting records of 12, 17 and 21 days. In 1929, Shipwreck Kelley sat on a flagpole for 49 days in Atlanta City. The following year a man named Bill Penfield broke his record and sat for 51 days and 20 hours. Flagpole Sitting eventually died out when The Great Depression began.


Ferret Legging

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The sport of Ferret Legging has been around for centuries but is now a dying sport. The rules are as follows; two fully grown ferrets are trapped inside a contestant’s pants while he’s still wearing them. The contestant can’t be drunk or on any drugs, neither can the ferrets. The ferrets must have all their claws and teeth 100% intact and the contestant cannot wear underwear. Whoever can last the longest wins. The world record stands at 5 hours and 30 minutes. 

The origins of the sport is unclear. Some people claim it started inside pubs as a betting game to see who could keep a ferret in their pants the longest. Others say it came from the time when only the wealthy in England were allowed to own ferrets used for hunting. So, the animal poachers of this time had to walk around with their hunting ferrets in their pants to not get caught. The sport had a brief resurgence in the 1970’s but then faded. It came back from 2003 to 2009, when there was a national ferret-legging event held yearly in Richmond, Virginia.