In 1997, Phil Shaw had an interesting idea. He wanted to go rock climbing but he needed to iron his clothes. He decided to do both activities at the same time. He trekked up a mountain and when he reached the summit, he pressed his shirts. Phil told his climbing friends about what he had done and they soon began doing it. What started out as a joke became an international sport known as “extreme ironing”.
Some of the athletes (who call themselves “ironists”) in Extreme Ironing prefer to do their ironing while bungee jumping (called ‘bungee ironing’). Other athletes like to go to strange places such as the top of tall mountains, in the middle of busy highways, underwater, or in a rainforest. They always bring their ironing boards and clothes with them.
In 2008, for example, a team of 72 divers set a new world record for the number of people ironing underwater at the same time. The next year, 86 divers broke this record. They went underwater and ironed in a lake near Chepstow, UK. Phil Shaw came out of retirement to iron his clothes while running the Hastings Half Marathon in March, 2012.
Extreme Ironing has inspired others to make up new unusual sports. For example, “urban housework” is a new sport where people vacuum in the outdoors. “Extreme Cello Playing”, which began around 2003, is a sport where cello players (“cellists”) play their musical instruments in unusual places such as caves and mountain peaks.