Gumboot Throw

It’s high noon, and a crowd has gathered around you. Staring down the arena you see your mark. It’s time settle the score, it is time to come out on top. You lift your size 43 boot off the ground, draw it behind you, and forcing your entire weight behind it, you hurl it down the field.

The Gumboot Throw (also known as Wellington Throw in the UK) is a popular sport in many rural areas of the Commonwealth. It is popular in England with many towns hosting local competitions, throughout New Zealand particularly in the town of Taihape, which is considered the world’s Gumboot throwing capital.

History and Culture

The origins of the sport are vague and hard to spot on the map. A humourous but poorly cited article on Wikipedia claims that the sport was invented in the Yorkshire town of Upperthong after a spat between two farmers at the pub. When one farmer ran from the pub, the other threw his Wellington boot to hit him, and thus the sport was created. Upperthong’s Welly Wanging festival has been held annually since. The sport of gumboot throwing has grown in popularity in faming intensive nations, i.e. countries with lots of gumboots.

Taihape's Giant Gumboot
Credit: Charlie Brewer via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

The Gumboot Throw is now popular at community events, fundraisers and as a school activity. However, with its strong agricultural background, the gumboot culture is almost synonymous with rural New Zealand. New Zealand even gave the world the hit single “The Gumboot Song” by Fred Dagg. Rural town Taihape is know as the World Gumboot Throw capital; its most famous landmark is a giant gumboot made of corrugated iron, and has what is probably the world’s only gumboot themed restaurant, the Gumboot Manor.

Taihape’s annual Gumboot Day attracts many punters hoping to appear in that year’s Guinness Book of Records, and regularly has local celebrities competing such as youtube sensation Jordan Watson of HowToDad in 2017. The 2017 event also saw two-time Olympic champion, four-time world champion and three-time Commonwealth champion shot-putter Valarie Adams. Valarie is now the national champion and has qualified for the World Gumboot Throw Championships in Estonia.

Valarie is currently at the Gold Coast games competing for her 4th consecutive gold medal, GO VAL!

Basic Rules

The basic aim of the game is to throw the rubber missile as far as possible within boundary lines, similar to many Track and Field events. The sport’s governing body, the International Boot Throwing Association (IBTA) has set specific rules in place to ensure a fair competitive environment internationally, such as ensuring all boots thrown are of similar height and weight. IBTA recommends size 43 for men and 38 for women. Most competitions have specific categories around the style of throw, such as one vs two handed, or whether run ups are allowed. Valarie Adams noted the basic one handed style was much more like the discus rather than her natural shot put style.

Wellie Wanging. One handed forward throw method
Credit: Russ Hamer via Wikimedia CC BY-SA 4.0

How to Experience the Gumboot Throw

If you have a gumboot, and an open space, you can try this sport. Best places to try this sport however would be in rural competitions. The sport has official competitions around the world and has become extremely popular in places such as Finland, Australia and Germany (as well as the aforementioned UK and NZ). Taihape’s gumboot day is held just after Easter weekend, but if you’re in town an other time of year, you can test your toss at the gumboot range behind the shopping centre.

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