The Welsh hamlet of Llanwrtyd Wells (population 700) hosts three
of the least significant events in adventure sports: the Man
versus Horse Marathon, the Bog Snorkeling World Championships
and the Mountain Bike Bog Snorkeling World Championships. Next
up is the marathon (Oct. 13), in which hundreds of two-legged
runners test their stamina against mounted four-legged opponents
on a 22-mile mountain circuit. SI corralled Gordon Green, 66,
organizer of all three events, to gain a bit of insight.
SI: How long have the people of Wales been snorkeling in bogs?
Green: Not long. We started the competition 16 years ago. The
plan was to introduce something wacky to the world, and I think
SI: And how does one bog snorkel?
Green: Snorkelers don wet suits, masks and fins and swim two laps
through a 60-yard peat bog.
SI: Do snorkelers and cyclists share the same bog?
Green: It's the same farm, but the snorkeling bog is about four
feet across and four feet deep, while the cycling bog is six feet
deep and some 40 feet wide. We dig trenches in the peat, and the
bog fills itself with dirty, gooey liquid.
SI: What do the snorkelers see through their masks?
Green: They can't see anything! It's completely black! You're
allowed to pop your head up for a quick look, but generally
you're allowed no more than four pops.
SI: How do the bikes stay submerged?
Green: We fill the frames with lead and put water in the tires.
Competitors wear leaded belts to check their buoyancy.
SI: How fast do the cyclists go?
Green: Very fast, considering. The best can complete 120 yards in
under two minutes.
SI: How often do bog bikers drown?
Green: We haven't lost anyone yet. There are some dangerous
things in the bog, though: water scorpions, newts....
SI: Are newts dangerous?
Green: Not especially.
SI: Is the human-equine gap narrowing any in the Man versus
Green: It's getting closer and closer every year. In 2000 it was
down to about a minute and a half. Not bad for a two-hour race.
SI: Any celebrities on hand?
Green: Ben and Jerry. Well, they never actually come to the
events, but they do sponsor them. And they give free Phish Food