Excerpt from the book Sports the Olympics Forgot This book describes 40 sports that ought to be played but aren’t, because I made them up.
The third event combines pole vaulting skills and accuracy. Starting on the Scottish side vaulters have to run up to the wall, plant their vaulting implement, and try and knock down as many life-size Roman soldier cutouts as possible that have been placed on top of the wall. This event commemorates the days when Roman soldiers patrolled Hadrian’s Wall in order to stop the Picts from entering the Roman Empire.
In the professional Pole Vaulting contest the vaulters have a special 30-yard sprinting track laid down for them, at the end of which is a box where the pole is planted before the vaulter flies over the wall. This event is the complete opposite of the Olympic event where the height is the most important consideration; at Hadrian’s Wall the distance in a forwards direction is critical. Some professional Pole Vaulters have done themselves an injury here as they have cleared the wall by 10 feet but have little forward momentum so they land on the wall itself and don’t win a prize. The best technique is to use a half-length pole and ensure that the legs point out in front as the athlete heads over the wall. Some people have vaulted straight into the wall and hurt themselves quite badly. The record is 47 feet 7 inches by the Scot Rabbie Menzies in 1932; the distance is measured from the base of the wall on the Scottish side to the point where the athlete first makes contact with the ground.