Extreme Ironing


It was the usual Sunday morning – me and a whole stack of ironing.  I thought I’d tried everything to make it more exciting – taking an extension lead into the back yard to do my ironing there, watching re-runs of “Murder She Wrote” (and, much as I love J B Fletcher, there are only so many re-runs that a girl can watch), chatting to friends on the ’phone.  And then I heard about Extreme Ironing…

To Sport or Not to Sport

EI as it’s called by those who participate, is not considered by everyone to be a sport.  Some would say it’s a performance art.  Some would say it’s just plain stupid.  Does it matter?  Not to me.  EI is simply taking ones ironing and ironing board to somewhere remote and, preferably, at least for me, with a fabulous view, and ironing until your heart is content or the ironing is complete.

The sport grew in popularity after a UK television channel, Channel 4, showed a documentary called, “Extreme Ironing: Pressing for Victory.”  The show followed the efforts of the British Extreme Ironing Team in the first ever international Extreme Ironing contest held in Germany in 2002.  After the 2004 summer Olympics, Sir Steve Redgrave, the British five-time Olympic gold medallist, proposed EI for an Olympic sport.  It hasn’t been adopted yet, but who knows what will happen in the future?

Clearly it’s not always straightforward (there are not many mountains with mains electricity) and long extension leads have their limitations.  So nowadays, most of us are hiring a Portable Generator to take with us – an essential accessory if you’re going anywhere where you can’t plug in to the mains, although some people use battery operated irons.  I’ve got myself a light ironing board that’s easy to carry around, just to make life a bit easier.

Where on Earth?

It all started in Leicester, UK, during the summer of 1997.  Someone else with the same love of ironing as me decided that he wanted to combine his chore with his passion.  Phil Shaw loved rock climbing, and after a hard day’s work, he came home to a pile of ironing and decided to combine the two.  He went on an international tour to promote the new sport.  Eventually, Extreme Ironing International was formed, as is possible to do thanks to external generators  you can get in sites like Enstorageinc.com.

Novices are usually advised just to start in their yards or front porches (but honestly, who hasn’t already done that?) and then proceed to more varied locations.  Some people do it while they are canoeing, although personally, I find the water splashing up ruins the finish.  One man took advantage of the closure of the M1 Motorway in the UK to set up his ironing board and clear his laundry bin.  For me, I prefer hillsides and the foothills of mountains.  Somewhere I can be still and take in the whole scenery.  I love the feel of a gentle breeze on my cheeks on a sunny day while I’m looking out over a beautiful view.  There’s just nothing like it.  It’s quite funny when there are goats and sheep though, they are very curious and want to know exactly what is going on, and have a good root around in the laundry basket.

One of my most wonderful experiences was in the Grand Canyon, overlooking the Colorado River.  I’ve been there many times and just love it and it was just awesome to be able to do my ironing there, just taking in the view.  The colored strata in the rocks always fascinate me.  I went there early in the morning and stayed until late, watching the changing colours as the sun moved across the sky.  Of course, I wasn’t ironing all the time, even I can’t generate that much laundry.  But I had enough to be able to class it as an Extreme Ironing outing.

Other Ways to Do It

Ok, so maybe I’m a bit boring with my Extreme Ironing.  But other people are more adventurous.  In Japan, a man combined his ironing with mountain boarding – travelling down a grassy slope, iron in hand, catching the ironing board on the way down.  In Central Park, a man did it on a mountain bike.  In New Zealand, a group did their ironing on the top of a snow capped mountain.  In the UK, a couple of guys jumped out of an airplane with snowboards on their feet, which they used to do their ironing on.

Other people have done it jumping off of cliffs, on the top of bridges or in the street.  I’ve even heard about people doing it underwater, although I’m not quite sure how that works, how do you get the creases out when the clothes are still wet?  Others do it on the top of statues.  In the 2003 competition, a man was suspended between cliffs to do his ironing.  If you don’t fancy ironing on your own, there are lots of groups about, so you can join one and have company when you are taking part in your chosen sport, and actually, that can make it a lot more fun, and easier when carrying all your gear.

Whenever I go away now, I look for places where I can indulge myself.  It’s a great way of getting a suntan – I do it on the beach now.  Looking out over the ocean just makes the ironing go so much more quickly.  And the benefit of standing up when getting a suntan is that it’s quicker to get that all-over tan.  Ok, some people give me strange looks but lots of them come up to me and ask me what I’m doing, and when I tell them, they think it’s a really fun thing to do.

Every Sunday now, in the summer months, and in the winter, when it’s dry, I take all my ironing to my local park – it’s so beautiful there, with the trees and beautifully designed gardens.  People come up to me and have a chat, and I’ve made lots of new friends like this.  Who needs speed dating when you’ve got Extreme Ironing?