Gravediggers, as the old saying goes, don't get no respect. That's partly why Iren Kari decided to organize a regional gravedigging race in Debrecen, Hungary, which kicked off early Friday morning. In addition to showcasing their skill and speed, he figured it might bring the profession—which is suffering due to the increasing popularity of cremations—a little recognition and respect.
"These men see death every day," Kari told the AP. "Sometimes people joke about them while they work, but gravediggers are human, too. We are having difficulties finding replacements for our retiring employees. Young people today don't like to dig and work."
That may change once these younguns get a whiff of what a professional gravedigger can do. At the Debrecen race, 18 two-man teams used shovels, rakes, axes, and pickaxes to dig graves two-feet-seven-inches wide, six-feet-six-inches long, and five-feet-three-inches deep, all while being judged for speed and how the resulting mounds of dirt looked. They used different techniques, too—some digging simultaneously, others leaving one man graveside to pack the dirt into neat piles.
The fastest grave was dug in 34 minutes, which sounds very fast indeed, though thanks to style points that team may not win. The winners of the Debrecen contest will go on to compete in a regional championship in Slovakia in November.
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