Would you pay 30€ to watch two men compete with axes and then run around a stadium? In the Basque country they do. Rural sports – carrying milk churns, picking up corn cobs, stone lifting – are big here. In the competition I went to see, along with 700 aficionados, the two young men had bet 6,000€ on which of them could chop ten 43cm-diameter logs in half and then run 9km.
The takings of the show – 21,000€ minus expenses – are paid to the aizkolari (axemen) so that even the looser drives home with a tidy sum. During the summer months various places in the Pyrenees, particularly the Basque Pyrenees, have village festivals where Basque sports are one of the highlights in the cultural programme. More Information.