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Welsh couple's quirky quest

By ERIC SHACKLE, in Sydney, Australia

Photos 2007 Mark Rye

Emma Hagerty, 27, and her boyfriend, Mark Rye, 28

For years, we've been intrigued by bizarre pastimes such as worm charming and egg throwing, and have written about world championships held every year in remote parts of the world.

Now, to our delight, we've found two kindred spirits - a Welsh couple who take part in as many world championships as they can, if the events are held in the UK. And let's face it, the Brits have long had a reputation for such offbeat activities.

Emma HagertyWe first heard about the couple when we read an interesting story by Katie Norman in the South Wales Echo. Here's how it began:

Emma Hagerty, 27, and her boyfriend, Mark Rye, 28, have made it their mission to enter as many unusual world championships as possible.

The couple, of Whitchurch Road, Gabalfa, Cardiff, entered 30 weird and wonderful international standard events last year.

As well as competing in many crazy golf competitions, they have entered a conker tournament, a dry foam throwing contest and a tin bath race all at world championship level.

We emailed Mark Rye for more details of their strange pursuit of world titles. He replied:

i am guessing you know what we have been doing over the last year and a bit, but here is a summary. me, the girlfriend and my mate tom spent last year travelling the length of the UK entering as many world championhships as we could

this led us to northern ireland, scotland, wales, england and even the isle of man. at the end of the year we had entered 30 world championships. however i have not been able to leave it at that, so it is now my hobby entering world championships.

drop me a line back with anything you want to know, as if it is a world championships in the uk i probably know about it.

Emma Hagerty and her boyfriend, Mark RyeOf course we were eager for more, so we asked Mark if he had managed to win any world titles. He told us:

i did manage to become the dry foam throwing world champion and world record holder, also i defend my title this year.

i don't know if i said before but there were 3 of us travelling around last year me, emma and my childhood mate tom. we have entered both the conkers and the worm charming. although it does have to be said that our worm charming skills do need to be work on, as we only managed 5 worms in our half hour. tom did manage to go one further and get 6 of them out of the ground.

as for the most fun, it is hard to say. but dock leaf pudding cooking is up there. there are a few pictures of the event here: (photo 11 is me)

in this event you have to cook a dock leaf pudding 'live' on stage while the local brass band plays, i think the word surreal was invented to describe this.

Searching the internet, we discovered that Emma-Jayne Hagerty, 27, is a health worker and her partner, Mark Rye, 28, an administrator.

World Circular Chess ChampionshipA World Circular Chess Championship website reported: "Organisers welcomed four new entrants from Cardiff and Edinburgh, Ian Lewis, Mark Rye, Tom Maxwell and Emma-Jayne Hagerty, who have embarked on a mission to enter a series of world championship events staged across the country, including cheese-rolling, wellington-boot throwing, worm-charming and pooh-sticks."

Pooh sticks aren't what you might imagine. The annual championship, held in Oxfordshire, is "based on A.A. Milne's tales about Winnie the Pooh and friends," according to a 2003 BBC report.

We were gratified to read that "In keeping with recent sporting events, the Australians beat the English to first place in the team competition."

This story has been published by OhmyNewsInternational.

Story first posted November 2007

Copyright 2007

Eric Shackle

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