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Ironing is simply not fun. Ok, yes, some people do enjoy it. Some people find that doing some ironing is a good way to switch off and relax, but on the whole ironing is something that most people find to be a little bit boring and is something they’d rather not do.
To remedy this, in 1997 Leicestershire man Phil Shaw decided that, although he needed to do some ironing, he’d like to go out rock climbing. He did both. At the same time. And thus the sport of extreme ironing was born. To spread the word Shaw took his ironing antics on an international tour, taking in locations in the U.S., New Zealand, South Africa and Fiji on his travels.
The idea soon really caught on. As well as a host of videos on YouTube and Facebook and other social media platforms of people ironing their shirts in impossible situations, soon there were even Extreme Ironing World Championships.
The first Extreme Ironing World Championships were held in 2002 near Munich and twelve teams from ten different countries took part. The categories involved were urban ironing (ironing in/on/around a broken down car), water ironing (think surf boards and lilos), forest ironing (climbing a tree before beginning the ironing task), rocky ironing (scaling a climbing wall and ironing a t-shirt), and freestyle ironing (which could be whatever the teams felt most drawn to do). Prizes included a holiday in Hawaii and, rather appropriately, a washing machine.
It’s getting on for twenty years since Shaw’s first ventures into the sport, and sadly the buzz around extreme ironing has somewhat subsided. Having said that, soon there may be a reemergence in popularity. For one thing, students from De Montfort University recognised extreme ironing as an official sport as the DMU Extreme Ironing Club was established this year. For another, the videos are still being made and uploaded even though Shaw (whose extreme ironing stage name is Steam) has been in retirement since he ran the 2012 Hastings Half Marathon for charity with an ironing board strapped to his back and a pile of ironing to do along the course.
So, if ironing is a necessity for you but a bit too mundane then maybe you should give the extreme version a try. For the competitive ironers out there, the world altitude record for extreme ironing is supposed to be 5,440 metres above sea level – set by John Roberts and Ben Gibbons who ironed a Union Jack just above Everest Base Camp in 2003. For those who just want to have a bit of fun with it, past videos have had people ironing in trees, on scaffolding, mid-bungee jump, on trampolines. The list goes on and is, quite frankly, incredible.
Maybe it’s time to get a bit more adventurous with your laundry…?