Thursday, 4 November 2010

Be remarkable – or be invisible

“Be remarkable, or be invisible.” Seth Godin of Purple Cow fame throws down the gauntlet to the ordinary everywhere. Being remarkable sounds great in theory, but in practice it involves risk.

I was chatting to the Over 60's World Champion of Bog Snorkelling last night, which in itself is pretty remarkable. I suppose he carried his share of risk by taking part, but not quite much risk as the bright sparks who thought up this unlikely sport. The story goes something like this …

Locals in the pub were chatting about how to attract more tourists to the pretty Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells. Having decided that consonants were not necessarily a selling point, someone had the great idea of digging a ditch in a field and hosting the Bog Snorkelling World Championship. I think they must have had a few pints ….

As remarkable (in every respect) as this sounds, the idea was and is a great success. Over 200 entrants take part in the annual event held every August bank holiday, and the sport has spread to Australia and Ireland. Contestants wear snorkels and flippers and are not allowed to swim. Wet suits are usually worn but I believe the current Over 60 World Champion ruined a beautiful white T-shirt during his attempt.

Tourism is not an easy business to promote. Yes, you have beautiful hills, sandy beaches and friendly locals, but so does Scotland, Spain and France. And at least two of those places has a lot less rain. It is easy to be ordinary, safe and ineffective.

No doubt a great many people scoffed at the idea of bog snorkelling. But by being remarkable, the people of Llanwrtyd Wells got themselves on the world map, got an entry in Wikipedia and the Over 60’s champion has been on TV in Brazil. None of those things would have happened if they had carried on promoting beaches. Or consonants. Or the fact that the pubs close on a Sunday.


  1. Great post Caroline, the challenge to be remarkable is an exciting one. We (FunSwimShop) certainly witnessed some outstanding bravery, insanity and downright fun as sponsors of this year's World Bog Snorkelling Championships.

    We saw Llanwrtyd Wells transformed into a 48 hour party town for the weekend of 'the bog' and that's just one of many wacky events they have up their sleeves for generating 'traffic'.

  2. Great post Caroline. Well done to the remarkable people of Llanwrtyd Wells for their creativity and ingenuity!

    Sponsors deserve a pat on the back too for investing in the fun and insanity of ensuring that wacky new traditions are kept alive and well!

  3. Yes, its one of the liveliest examples I've seen of getting noticed. Not one I'll be rushing to enter myself, but it appears there are many people out there who like an unusual challenge!

    Thanks to both of you for snorkelling by!