Mon, Mar 14, 2011 - Page 15 News List

Women go flipping crazy for world’s oldest pancake race
世界最悠久的鬆餅賽 英國女士瘋狂豁出去

A screengrab shows competitors on the starting line in the village of Olney, Buckinghamshire ahead of the annual pancake race on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP 照片:法新社

Aprons on and frying pans in hand, the womenfolk of Olney charged through the English town’s picturesque streets on Tuesday in the world’s oldest pancake race.

The quirky tradition in Britain dates back to 1445, when legend has it a stressed-out Olney housewife heard the Shrove Tuesday church bells and stormed through the streets, still cooking her pancakes, arriving just in time for the service.

In the Christian calendar, Shrove Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras, is the feast before the fast of Lent, celebrated in Britain as Pancake Day.

Five and a half centuries on, the custom endures in the quaint market town in Buckinghamshire, southeast England — home of the pancake race.

In crisp spring sunshine, the women of the town lined up in the marketplace at exactly 11:55am, frying pans in hand, aprons and headscarves on — and 379m of sheer exertion and pancake balancing ahead of them.

The 16 runners ranged in age from 29 to 61-year-old Deirdre Bethune.

“It’s nerve-wracking,” the pancake racing veteran said. “This is worse than running the London Marathon because this is a sprint.”

The mayor of Olney, Michael Hughes, said the historic race was the highlight of the year, bringing thousands of people into the town and putting it on the map.

“It makes us a little world-renowned place for a moment or two,” he told AFP.

“I can’t see this tradition ever finishing. I will speak for the whole town on this — we love it.”

With the ring of a bell and a toss of the pancake, the race got under way and less than a minute and a half later, childcare worker Nicky Sallis had negotiated the winding streets to cross the finish line first.

“I was just telling my legs to keep going. I feel all right now, it’s just my chest and lungs,” the 37-year-old said as she got her breath back.

Her reward? A few hundred pounds (NT$10,000 to NT$15,000), a clutch of prizes, a place in history and the traditional kiss from the verger of St. Peter and St. Paul Church, Ken Noon.

“Somebody has to do it,” the sprightly churchman joked. “We spend all year doing our duties and then we get the perk!”

















Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top