Fizzy drinks banned by organisers of World Puddle Jumping Championships Wicksteed Park after ‘unfair advantage’ concerns

The World Puddle Jumping Championships take place at Wicksteed Park on Wednesday
The World Puddle Jumping Championships take place at Wicksteed Park on Wednesday

Organisers of the World Puddle Jumping Championships at Wicksteed Park have asked competitors not to consume fizzy pop and energy drinks before taking part because they may give them an unfair advantage.

The annual event attracts entrants from across the UK and has been won by competitors aged nine and seven in the last two years, although there is no suggestion that previous winners had consumed the drinks being referred to.

The park is known as the home of children’s play after being founded by Charles Wicksteed, the inventor of the modern day slide and swing, to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle and get out into the fresh air.

Organisers said that they are making the request because of fears sugar and additives in the drinks made children more excitable and hyperactive and could enable them to jump higher and make bigger splashes than competitors who had consumed healthier drinks.

The event – part of a free Playday on Wednesday October 28 – is part of the park’s drive to encourage children – and adults – to get out into the fresh air and have fun.

A special series of championship-standard puddles are being created at the park and competitors of all ages will be encouraged to jump in and make a splash, with the competition starting at 11am.

Judges will give scores based on things such as height of jump, enthusiasm, distance of splash and stickability (the amount of mud which clings to each competitor).

But the majority of marks will be given for the size of a competitor’s splash!

The Playday will also include other free activities such as a straw mountain, a farm obstacle course, a leaf pile, den building, ugly veg, leaf rubbings, welly wanging and arts and crafts.

The Playday will also have a harvest festival feel, with people asked to bring along a ‘Tin and a Toy’, with the food given to local food banks and the toys to aid the Syrian refugee crisis.

Wicksteed Park Managing Director Alasdair McNee said: “Playday is all about free, healthy fun and to promote that we are asking competitors to stay away from certain drinks before they jump.

“We understand that some children see these items as treats so maybe parents can allow their children to consume them after they have enjoyed the fresh air and exercise of taking part.

“We also thought it would be great to give people the chance to contribute to good causes during the day, given the charitable nature of the park, so we will be collecting tinned goods and toys during the day.”

Wicksteed Park was founded in 1921 by Charles Wicksteed, who invented the modern day slide and swing, as part of his vision to inspire and encourage play as part of families’ health and well-being.