Good Clean Fun Germans Get Down and Dirty in Mud Olympics

About 500 people came to a mud flat near Hamburg on Sunday for the fourth annual "Mud Olympics." Among the events were soccer, handball -- and a mud-eel race.

The weather cooperated this year. Several days of rain, followed by sunshine over the event itself, made the 2007 "Wattolympiade" ("Mud Olympics") in Brunsbüttel near Hamburg perhaps the muddiest sporting event in the world on Sunday.

Some of the sports, like soccer and handball, were barely recognizable in the mud, while others were mud-specific, like a mud-eel race or a long-distance rubber boot toss.

But there was no lack of the sticky stuff as 500 athletes gathered for the benefit tournament, which took place on mud flats along the Elbe River to raise money for cancer research.

Since 2004 the event organizers have held an annual Mud Olympics -- alongside a series of concerts on the same weekend for local bands, called "Mudstock" -- to benefit the Schleswig-Holstein Cancer Society. This year's tournament and concert raised €50,000 for cancer research, twice as much as the 2006 event.

The mud-sport tradition goes back a long way in Brunsbüttel; local athletes first organized a Mud Olympics near the river in 1978.

msm/dpa