England kick off their 2006 World Cup challenge against Paraguay today - but I don't fancy their odds of getting their hands (sorry, feet) on this little beauty, the gold Adidas Teamgeist World Cup football, which is to be used only once during the tournament: in the final. But that doesn't stop the players - or you - getting hold of your own Teamgeist ball for those park friendlies. Tests at Loughborough University have found that this ball is more round (no, really) than its competitors. It's also super water-repellent, so it doesn't get heavier no matter how soggy the pitch, and the 14-panel configuration makes for fewer seams and a more consistent performance. Here's hoping for a seamless and consistent performance from the boys, too. Adidas Teamgeist World Cup ball, £75; 0870 240 4204 for stockists (adidas.com/football).
Out on the town
Getting out of the office is generally a good thing, but next weekend's Rat Race Urban Adventure in Bristol takes the idea to extremes, with competitors abseiling across roads, scaling landmarks, kayaking waterways, climbing buildings, vaulting benches and mountain-biking down stairways. You don't need experience - there are Rookie and Adventure categories - but you do need wits and stamina (and mates: teams consist of three people). The event begins with a three-hour 'Mean Streets' prologue on Saturday night, in which teams have three hours to reach as many checkpoints as possible. For the Adventure class, the battle continues on Sunday with a six-hour 80km course around the city revealed only that morning. Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough. The Rat Race Urban Adventure also takes place in Edinburgh on July 15-16 and Manchester on August 5-6. Entry is £25 a person for Rookie, £80 for Adventure; 0845 009 4365 for details (ratraceadventure.com).
Search through the drawers of any self-respecting outdoor type and you are sure to come across a well-worn, black or navy, long-sleeved thermal top with white stripes down the sleeves. It's the ubiquitous Helly Hansen and until recently it's been the flagship garment of the brand- functional, comfortable and useful, but certainly not sexy. Well, Helly's had an image overhaul, if the new summer range is anything to go by: shorts, T-shirts, vests, hoodies and pants for everything from sailing to adventure racing come in high-performance fabrics and fab colours such as turquoise, charcoal grey and rusty orange. Word is that the original Helly thermal will be available in bright pink this winter, too. I'm first! For stockist details, call 0115 960 8797 (hellyhansen.com).