Colleen Slattery, Sports Editor
A popular form of racing these days is the “Tough Mudder,” in which one has to race through a five- or 10-kilometer obstacle course in knee-deep mud and complete intense physical tasks, such as climbing walls and carrying tires. These races are labeled “extreme,” but the Indonesians seem to have surpassed this trend long ago with their centuries-old Sumatran cow races, in which competitors race bulls around a muddy rice field.
The sport is formally known as Pacu Jawi. Buyers and sellers come together yearly to race and trade bulls in West Sumatra, in the town of Padang, Indonesia. The race is held after the harvest season in an old, muddied rice field, and the bulls used are those that have been used throughout the year to harvest the rice crop gathered from the fields.
The cow “jockeys” drive the bulls around the field, resting their feet upon the lightweight wooden plow frames that harness the bulls together and holding on to the animals by their tails. The race is notoriously dangerous, as one might imagine. The main goal is to perform well in order to showcase the bulls so that they will fetch a high price.
After the race, the bulls are cleaned, penned and sold to the highest bidder.
This odd tradition is a key part of Indonesian culture and can easily be called the “toughest mudder” in the world.