There are some pretty wild competitions out there that tourists flock to see: from wanging (Wellington-boot tossing) in Upperthong, England to Z Burger eating in Tenleytown, United States of America.
It would be remiss of us to omit such events as La Tomatina at Bunol in Spain and the Pamplona bull run, also in Spain.
But the one that takes the biscuit, cake or any other flour-based sweet snack is the annual Gravel Spit™ in Lima, Peru.
When the ancient Incas first began constructing their magnificent capital in Cusco in the 15th Century their biggest headache was figuring out how to shift the massive stones from sea level up to the heady heights of their fledgling military fortresses.
Eventually, one bright spark by the name of Juan Toby a-Milonar, suggested waiting till winter and then firing the volcanic-black basalt uphill by canon, with the icy surface helping the massive carved angular stones on their way.
While nothing is left of this civilization, descendants of a-Milonar – now the owners of the largest TV channel in Peru – decided to keep this practice alive by instituting a once-a-year gameshow in which contestants pop a rectangular piece of gravel in their mouth, take a swig of Inca Water™ from the wells of Machu Picchu and then spit the gravel as far as possible.
Frank Weltermeyer is not only world champion, with a whopping spit range of 12 foot 4 and a third inches, but also the only manufacturer of the Gravelong™, which is available in mint and regular gravel flavors.
“It’s all about the trajectory,” says Weltermeyer. “Too low and you’ll never pass the start line. Too high and you risk blowback.”
Which is exactly what happened to Myrtle Spencer in 1998. A total novice, Spencer thought height would be her friend. However, a strong gust created a boomerang effect on her Gravelong™, resulting in a trip to the local emergency clinic where the gravel was removed from her right nostril.
The next Gravel Spit™ takes place on the last Saturday in August. Tickets are free and readily available from the TV channel booking office.