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Grasmere Sports, Cumbria

Since 1852 the Lakeland village of Grasmere has held an annual sports-day and show to celebrate certain local pastimes. The gathering now takes place during the August Bank Holiday, and is a significant social and community event for the settlement and surrounding area.
The competition which is perhaps the most noteworthy and ‘local’ is the Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling: the wrestlers stand together, chest to chest, each with a hold around the other’s back; a win is achieved by knocking over your opponent, or by making him (or her – there are girls’ and ladies’ sections) loose his or her hold. At Grasmere there is a twist on the wrestling, with parallel ‘best-dressed’ competitions for the contestants.
In 1868 a fell-running race – The Grasmere Guides Race – was introduced, the course a gruelling one to the top of Silver Howe. In the same year a third sporting strand was brought in – Hound Trails, like drag-hunting. An offshoot of this is the Dog Show held at the same time.
Mountain Biking (where other cycling races previously held sway) is now included, as are sprint races for children.
It is not uncommon for holidaymakers to be involved in the races, and especially in the children’s sprints for some to come just for the competition. But the custom is above all a link with the ancient culture and history of the region, and a celebration of local character.

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