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Has Devon won Olney Pancake Race two or three times?

Olney Pancake Race

Olney Pancake Race

THE winner – and new world record holder – in the Olney Pancake Race may not be allowed to run again.

Under the rules of the race ladies are only allowed to win three times before they have to retire from competition.

And although 19-year-old Devon Byrne – who won in the annual contest in a breathtaking 56 seconds on Tuesday – has only run the race twice, there are some who say she has won it three times.

That’s because they say the mother of the current queen of the pancake race was pregnant with Devon when she won the contest – in 1993.

Lesley Byrne captured the title three times herself; in 1988, 1989 and 1993.

In Tuesday’s race, teenager Devon retained the title she won last year – beating the previous world record for the 400m race of 57.5 seconds set by Tasha Gallegos in Liberal, Kansas in 2009.

The ladies of Olney compete against their peers in America every year. The friendly competition is in its 64th year.

Olney Pancake Race organiser, Viv Evans, said: “There is a story that the last time Lesley won it she was pregnant with Devon, so some people say Devon has already won it three times.

“It was a world record time. Of course, she can run it next year, but if she wins it then she can’t run again.

“She is going to train even harder.”

Devon, who is a member of Milton Keynes Athletic Club and competes in the heptathlon, won the 2012 race in a time of 58.5 seconds.

She said: “It was a lot harder than last year.

“I think I went out a lot harder. I really felt it at the end and I’m really pleased.”

Mrs Evans said the organising team spoke to their counterparts in Liberal on Tuesday night – and found out that their competitors had been forced to cope with challenging weather conditions.

“They were absolutely devastated they didn’t win,” she said.

“I think even our second and third placed girls beat their winner. But their weather is so unpredictable.

“On Monday it was 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) there, but by Tuesday they were having to use flamethrowers to thaw the course.

“We didn’t have to thaw the road out, but we did fill in the potholes.”

The Olney Pancake Race itself dates back to 1445. It is believed it all began with a townswoman late for the Shriving service at Olney Parish Church.

Hearing the church bells ring out for the service, the woman fled her house fearful of being late. She ran the distance down the High Street to make it to the parish church – still clutching her frying pan and wearing an apron.

Runner-up in this year’s race was Kaisa Larkas-Mossop, with Emma Attwood coming third.

Entrants need to have lived in the town for more than six months, competing in traditional apron, cap, and holding a fying pan with a real pancake.

They must toss their pancake once at the start – outside The Bull Inn – and once at the finish by the church.

The race, which started at 11.55am, saw the High Street shut, with spectators lining the route from the Market Place to St Peter and St Paul Church.

Mrs Evans, who cooked and sold more than 600 pancakes in the Market Square, said: “It was a real, real success.”

Children from Olney Infant School, Olney Middle School and Ousedale School took part in children’s races in the morning, while Ousedale pupils studying food tech also manned a stall.

“These races are so important from our point of view because the girls that race are the ones that want to go on and compete in the big race,” Mrs Evans said.

More than 300 pancakes were also cooked in the church, while a cooking demonstration took part in the Marquee.

A large number of runners also competed to raise money for charity.

Alice Harold raised the most money, making more than £1,000 for Climb – Children Living with Inherited Metabolic Diseases.

 

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