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Last Updated: Monday, 29 August 2005, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
New champion for bog snorkellers
Bog snorkelling
Julia Galvin of Limerick, Ireland, was the first competitor this year
A firefighter from Bristol has won one of the UK's strangest sporting events in mid Wales.

Iain Hawkes, originally from Llandrindod Wells, triumphed in the world bog snorkelling championships in Llanwrtyd Wells in Powys on Monday.

He took over from reigning champion Philip John, who had won for the previous three years.

Competitors must swim two lengths of the 60-yard Waen Rhydd peat bog without using conventional swimming strokes.

The contest began after a pub conversation when a local charity was searching for fundraising ideas.

This year's contest is the 20th annual event, and organisers dug a second trench in expectation of a record number of competitors.

Bog snorkelling

After beating more than 150 entrants, Mr Hawkes, 26, said that the reigning champion's absence helped him take the title.

"The lad who has been winning it for the last few years - he is a real flier - he wasn't here this year," he said.

"I think this is about my fifth time - I have got to be good at something - I was useless on my GCSEs, never went to uni, but I am champion of the bog snorkelling."

He said conditions had been tough, but mostly for those watching.

"I felt sorry for the spectators - they must have been freezing - it chucked it down for most of the day."

The prize for the slowest competitor went to Angela Glendenny, a 70-year-old from Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Speaking before the race, organiser Gordon Green said the event appeared to be "more popular than ever".

"We've dug two channels for the first time this year to cope with the amount of entrants and we're expecting people from around to take part."

Man vs horse

In previous years competitors from South Africa, Zambia, Australia and New Zealand have braved the muddy bog.

Bog snorkelling is not the only bizarre annual tradition in the small town of Llanwrtyd Wells.

In June last year, runner Huw Lobb became the first man to win the Man versus Horse race around the town, which is now in its 25th year.

A record 500 runners and more than 40 horses and riders compete over the 22-mile course, which takes competitors across farm tracks, footpaths, open moor land and tarmac.


SEE ALSO:
Bog snorkellers take the plunge
29 Jul 05 |  Northern Ireland
In Pictures: bog snorkelling
26 Aug 03 |  Photo Gallery
Swimmers aim for bog standard
25 Aug 03 |  Wales


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